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Review Of Google's AdSense

(Review updated - February 2005)
Editor's Choice

Quick Summary

  • Place ads on your site, earn money.
  • Overall rating - highly recommended - Editor's Choice

Review

If you use Google to search, you are probably familiar with the small text ads (known as "AdWords") that are shown next to the search results.

Google has introduced a program where web publishers can show on their pages, these same type of Google ads, and earn money. This is known as "Google AdSense".

Joining AdSense is free, and I believe most web publishers should be able to design sites which are eligible for the program.

Once you are in the program, from the member's area you can access various statistics, as well as retrieve ads-code to place on your site.

The ads-code that Google generates has a number of nice features, including:
  • You can choose from a wide range of ad sizes.

  • You can choose froma wide range of ad colors (to make the ads fit in with your site's design - or perhaps even stand out if you want to encourage your visitors to click the ads).

  • You can associate differnt sets of ads with different tracking codes. This allows you to see in Google's stats, which sets of your ads are generating displays, clicks and revenue.
Once the ads-code is on your site, initially it will display community or public service ads (which don't pay). However, Google has a spider-program that will soon visit your site once the ads are installed, and gather information about its content. Google then uses this information to try to place the most targeted ads available on your site (as they tend to generate the best response for advertisers).

Google's commission rates are based on the number of clicks your ads receive from visitors (you should not [of course] click on your own ads), as well as how much the advertisers of those keywords have "bid" for click-thrus.

As far as I know, Google has not disclosed the exact formula that they use for calculating commission rates, however there are two tactics that you can use to maximize your income:
  1. Try to place ads so that the receive the maximum number of click-thru rate possible. You could experiment with different sizes and positions of ads to achieve this.

  2. As the ads are targeted to the content of your pages, it helps if your pages about are subjects which have the highest paying keywords. Again, some experimentation may help here.
Lastly, I know that many webmasters may be concerned about showing competitors' ads on their site. Google AdSense avoids any issues with this, thanks to a nice feature in their members' area - you can specify up to 500 different URLs that should never be displayed on your sites.

Conclusion

I really think this is an excellent affiliate program. In particular, I think that it can provide a valuable source of revenue to content sites who could otherwise be struggling to make money from their traffic.

To maximize your AdSense revenue, I would recommend that you do the experiments (with ad sizes, colors, placement, etc.) that I outlined in the review, and/or read one of more of the guides that I've linked to above. That said, even if you just plaster AdSense ads up at obvious locations on your site, provided you have a reasonable amount of traffic, you can make some money.

My overall rating for Google AdSense is therefore, highly recommended - and I'd go so far as to make Google AdSense an Editor's Choice.

Go to Google.com's Adsense pages for more information.


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