Adsense Optimization Tips

Adsense Optimization Tips

Are you earning AdCENTS from Google Adsense on your niche blogs? Today I thought we would take a look at some ways to optimize your Adsense earnings on these blogs with a few tweaks. We’ll be looking beyond things like theme/template selection, ad placement and the like and into some less obvious areas.

You may have already heard of ’smart pricing’, where a very low click-thru rate along with some other factors may seriously reduce your Adsense earnings across all of your sites. However, there is also a more subtle form of ad pricing that Google uses on a per page basis. Google will rank your page based on several quality factors and this determines the percentage of the advertiser’s bid you will receive. Because of Google’s quality assessment you could be showing high priced ads and only making a small percentage on them. It can make the difference between earning 5 cents on a click or 50 cents or even 50 cents or 2 dollars.

Let’s look at some steps you can take to improve your chances at getting the best payouts for the Adsense ads you display on your niche blogs.

A Completed Site

Under Construction

Adsense rules already tell you that you shouldn’t place ads on under construction pages. Beyond that, you’ll often hear that you shouldn’t place Adsense on a brand new domain for 3 to 6 months and to even be cautious to some degree with a pre-owned site. Placing Adsense on a site too early, before all the pieces are in place, can result in it receiving a low quality score from the Google Adsense bot and it may take a while to get re-evaluated.

Part of the completion process should be indexing within the Google search engine. If your site hasn’t been indexed yet or, in the case of a pre-owned domain, not indexed with the updated content, don’t place your Adsense ads. This goes into the calculation of the quality of your site.

On that point, don’t use Adsense as a way to get your site indexed into Google. Some people suggest this but it doesn’t work all that well these days and will result in the site getting a lower quality score by the Adsense ‘bot.

The truly completed niche site will have all of the right elements in place and it will be receiving search traffic from Google prior to inviting the Adsense ‘bot in for an inspection. This will result in the best quality score and thus the best earnings.

Content is _________?

Content is what again?

Yes, you can probably fill in that blank easily if you’ve read enough Internet Marketing blogs. But what do you need to do to crown your content king for the Google Adsense ‘bot?

While you can make things work with short content of about 100 words if you target everything exactly right, most sites will obtain the best quality score by having an article word count between 300 and 1000 words. But the word count isn’t everything. Your article should have a keyword density of 3 to 4 percent. Much higher than that and you may get downgraded for keyword stuffing, much lower and the ‘bot may not be able decide what ads to show and present unrelated ads or the dreaded public service announcements (PSA).

Secondly, the best results come from content that is of decent quality and unique. Content that doesn’t do well with Google’s Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) algorithms or is duplicate content in Google’s search index tends to get a lower quality score. You don’t have to be a great writer, you just have to produce content that relates to the targeted keywords and isn’t an exact dupe of 500 other pages across the Internet.

The Google Adsense evaluation ‘bot also prefers to see more than one page of related content when it spiders a site. For example, if your niche blog is highly targeted toward something like “professional widget cleaners” and has several closely related articles on that topic, you will stand a better chance of getting a high quality score than if you had a page on widget cleaning, a page on your pet dog and a page on local dentists.

Who Are You?

Who are you?

Not only does the Adsense Eval ‘Bot look at your content but it also wants to know about you and your site. Namely, it wants to see links to Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions and Contact Us pages.

The Privacy Policy is required for showing Adsense these days although it used to be optional. If your niche blog has a clear, easy to find, Privacy Policy page the ‘bot will not raise any flags. If you have it tucked away in a difficult to find location, meaning more than one click from your Adsense page for the ‘bot to find it, then, in my experience, you can expect your earnings per click to drop.

Having a contact page seems to greatly increase the credibility of the site in the Eval Bot’s eyes. It’s easy to add a contact page plugin to your WordPress blog and there are other alternatives you can use for static HTML niche sites and Blogger blogs. Even a page with rudimentary contact info like an email address should pass this test.

Having a Terms and Conditions page isn’t a hard and fast requirement although having one seems to help to some degree. This page could just state a few things like, “This information should not be construed as legal or medical advice and is presented for entertainment and informational purposes only.” Having a page labeled About with this same kind of basic information seems to serve the same purpose.

Inbound and Outbound Linking

Tasty Links

OK, most people who’ve read a little bit about Internet Marketing know that you should have both quality and quantity inbound links to your site and how well it relates to its keyword. The Google Adsense Eval ‘Bot does take these inbound links into consideration in determining the quality of your niche site. If you have a lot of low quality, unrelated keyword anchored, inbound links you may get a lower quality score as compared to someone who has a few high quality, high authority, niche related anchored links. This makes sense, doesn’t it?

However, did you know that the Google Adsense Eval ‘Bot also takes outbound links into consideration? The Wii Playing, free cappuccino sipping, engineers at Google aren’t stupid and they know that a site with no outbound links and few, if any, internal navigation links is designed specifically to get Adsense clicks and they’ll downgrade the quality score of these sites. Having the basic on-site navigation is obvious but what kind of external links you should have?

I’ve found that having links to a few sites that seem to be well trusted by Google will help improve the perception of quality on the page. The big one is Wikipedia. Linking to a Wikipedia article on the topic at hand gives your niche blog a lot of credibility to the ‘bot. You know how much Google loves Wikipedia although it may be interesting to see how their new Knol service plays into this. Vic mentioned this one in his recent webcast, YouTube. Placing a YouTube video on your page can also help boost credibility to the ‘bot. Lastly, links to major news sources like CNN, ESPN, MSNBC, the New York Times, Yahoo News and so forth can help too. You can use CSS tricks to make these links less obvious to human visitors if you want but they should be there.

Final Thoughts

Looks like I’m just a few words shy of a $99 eBook with this article. :)

I’ve been applying these techniques to my older Adsense niche sites as part of cleaning up and improving them and I’ve been using them on some of the new niche sites I’ve been kicking off. So far, I’ve seen some considerable improvements in my earnings. If you have any ideas to add to the discussion I’d appreciate them and if you have any questions I’ll try to answer them.


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Comment by Luxury Paris Hotels
2008-08-09 07:32:04

Thanks for these: these are great tips. Particularly the one about linking to authority sites: is better to link to them within the page or is OK just to do it in the blogroll? Lissie

Comment by jfc
2008-08-09 15:31:20

Hi Lissie,

I’d link to them within the article using an alternative style for the link.

2008-08-09 07:55:26

Im glad inspiration hit you because this is a useful post. I am off to find some relevant youtube videos. Interesting whether knol’s will rank as authority

Comment by Jak
2008-08-09 13:46:19

I’ve wondered about outbound linking as well, what would work best and not affect click out rates on adsense sites.
Also wondering the affect of using blogroll links as opposed to maybe reciprocal linking on a static page. any ideas anyone?

Comment by Rich Hill
2008-08-09 14:55:16


Way too cool! I feel like I’m reading them again for the first time, and I am going to heed your advice.

Griz sent me, and now I’m a subscriber.


2008-08-09 15:09:56

Negative impact on CTR is the main reason why most of us who own adsense sites don’t place many outbound links. So I’d like to know where to place those links so that they don’t wreck our CTR

Comment by jfc
2008-08-09 15:42:32

Hi Finish Rich,

I generally put them in the last 3rd of the article, below the fold, and use an alternative link style that doesn’t draw a lot of attention to itself.

Comment by Stay At Home Jobs
2008-08-09 20:05:29

Your second to last sentence you start with “So far” and end with “so far”. Just thought I’d point that out :)

Comment by jfc
2008-08-09 20:22:14

Hi Nuker,

Sometimes I work for the Department of Redundancy Department. :)

Comment by Blogstruk
2008-08-09 20:55:39

Great advice, especially the bit about Wikipedia. It’s rare that I search for something and don’t see a Wikipedia link in the first 5 listings.

Just wrote a fairy tale about the link building topic at hand . . .

Comment by Jon
2008-08-09 22:24:02

Very interesting and detailed post. I would never have guessed about the privacy, contact and TOS pages affecting your adsense revenue. How does page rank affect the payout?

Comment by jfc
2008-08-09 22:41:08

Hi Jon,

I think toolbar PageRank matters more for what it represents, a general impression of how Google rates your site. Beneath the surface, it’s really based on Google’s much more complex internal ranking algorithms. It goes back to the number of inbound links and other quality factors your site has that allow it to rank in Google search results. With that in mind, how well you rank for a particular set of keywords probably has something to do with the payouts you can expect.

2008-08-10 00:33:04

One other aspect of smart pricing … if the advertiser sees good results from referrals from your site, you’ll get better payout. Advertisers can track conversions from their ads through Google, so results can be monitored.

Comment by jfc
2008-08-11 15:25:44

Hi North Stars,

This is true. If an advertiser likes you they may even buy ad space specifically for your site and you’ll get a higher payout as a result. You can see this in action on Griz’s blog a lot.

On the flip side, if advertisers complain about the quality of traffic you send, you may get priced downward.

Comment by Adidas Soccer Balls
2008-08-10 00:49:05

I’ve pulled AdSense from several of my sites, because the CTR on them was just too low. Haven’t seen a big impact on the remaining sites, but perhaps it will improve as time goes on.

Comment by Rhys
2008-08-10 02:32:19

Him Frank! Great article, and very topical!

I’m a firm believer in the idea that Google ranks your payout on the quality of the click traffic you are submitting. I.E, if you submit 1000 clicks with only one follow through, then you will get very low cents, but if your click conversion rate is good, then you will get good returns. (See comment above by “Minnesota North Stars Jerseys”)

With this in mind, I have gone thru my sites and applied code so that AdSense ads are only shown to visitors who arrive from a search engine, but not to social surfers. The logic being that Search customers are actively seeking (the keyword item) and are therefore most likely to buy something.

If you surf to BizBlog from this link, you will NOT see my AdSense ads in the header, but if you look that address up in Google and then click it, you will see the ads.

I’ve done this on most of my sites, and some of them are now returning 50c, or better, a click, instead of the fractions of a cent I was getting before I applied this.

Comment by jfc
2008-08-11 15:30:16

Hi Rhys,

Good call. If you get both social and search traffic or low converting search traffic, such as you get when targeting trends, it’s a good idea to control the display of Adsense to only show it to the best converting visitors.

Comment by Rhys
2008-08-10 02:39:40


I followed the link from Grizzly’s article Making Money quietly to here and I have now added your feed to my desktop because you obviously know what you are talking about!

Keep it up!

2008-08-10 07:37:56

Great tips! I have been getting frustrated recently with Google Adsense as I can’t figure out why one click on a site I get $.01 and then the next click I get $1.50 on the same site!

I need to go through all of my sites and clean them up and tweak the content.

As for the questions about outbound linking. If you want a link to be “hidden” from people so that they don’t recognize it as a readily available link, just style it with some css. Put a class called something like “outbound” or something else, don’t call it “hidden” or something like that, and style it with no underline or hover style, and the color to match the rest of the text. It will still show up as a link to the Google bot, but most people don’t scroll over each line with their mouse looking for links.

Now, off to tweak some stuff to make some improvements!

Comment by trade show booths
2008-08-10 08:46:55

hi Frank,
Thumbs up on the use of images in this article on Adsense Optimization Tips. Are these also from iclipart? I like the cents, site, and links pics(especially the links!). I remember from your earlier article how much work it is to put pictures into an article, so I appreciate the work that went into this (and that’s not even taking into account the quality of content and the thought/knowledge behind the content). I am rambling so I will just say, clever use of pictures!
~ Steve (Mr “trade show booths)

Comment by jfc
2008-08-11 15:32:42

Hi Steve,

The images came from my photo and clipart CD/DVD library, not from iClipArt.

Comment by trade show booths
2008-08-11 22:21:06

hi Frank,
You’ve got a nice collection of images then, and great creative ability in picking the right ones to use.
~ Steve, aka Mr “trade show booths”

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Comment by Stay At Home Jobs
2008-08-10 15:43:27

With posts like this you just forced me to subscribe to your RSS. Damn you!

Comment by Free Stuff Online
2008-08-11 14:27:15

content is king… and ad placement helps too for sure .. i still personally think that your content is your most important tool!

2008-08-11 17:43:44

Hi Frank,

Thanks for the good info. I’ve been reading vics blog and you were able to expand on a few of his ideas, like adding an about me page. But I never would have thought about creating the ToS page or adding “hidden” outbound links. As soon as I get a chance, I gotta update my blog with those.


Comment by jfc
2008-08-11 20:36:54

Hi Kiel,

Remember the outbound links aren’t hidden so much as they are deemphasized as you can see in my comment to “Finish Rich” up above. If you’ve written long, boring, but keyword rich, content few readers will notice the links or click on them.

Comment by cgpandey
2008-08-12 01:25:20

Thanks Man!
I was always wrong in placing ads just in starting of my new blog. I got lot of unique visitors and clicks but can’t able to earn huge amount of money. Now i will improve my content and outbound links.

Comment by jfc
2008-08-12 07:16:19

Hi cgpandey,

There are a lot of other elements that go into monitization. You can see my other articles on this topic listed on my About page. Also, if you’re working Adsense, read Griz’s ugly Make Money Online blog.

2008-08-14 02:51:22

Frank, I remember that ‘hidden’ links are a no-no according to -someone’s- guidelines. This is besides the point that you are linking to trusted sites, of course. Not sure whether anyone’s ever had trouble with that.

Comment by jfc
2008-08-14 05:27:45

Hi YC,

They aren’t hidden, meaning that they’re not accessible as links to a human visitor such as placing them in a hidden DIV or on a 1 pixel image. The links are simply not as immediately obvious as links. I edited your comment as an example.

Comment by Fly Fishing Combo
2008-08-14 13:01:21

Great post as always. Reading your post has made me go back and evaluate all the adsense sites i’ve made. Many of the sites I havn’t touched in months and realize that they were anything but set up properly for adsense.

Comment by Marc
2008-08-14 13:54:16

I noticed that your deemphasized link has a grayish background color. If you get rid of the link attribute=> background-color: #efefef , then the link will look exactly like the surrounding text.

Are you just playing it safe? I’d always thought that hidden links had the same font color as the page background or were single pixel images as you mentioned. Is a link that looks like ordinary text a hidden link?

Comment by jfc
2008-08-14 14:24:02

Hi Marc,

I’m not sure how Google views this. I know they don’t like links that aren’t accessible by a human visitor but they really don’t say outright if they think a totally camouflaged link is taboo if it is visible to a human visitor. While I don’t think they care that much from a SEO perspective, the Adsense team might care more so it’s probably not a bad idea to use a little extra caution.

Comment by ostan
2008-08-15 14:56:17

Hi jfc,

Does google devalue clicks that result from article marketing. I know G pays more for clicks that come from relevant search queries. How do they treat clicks that come from article marketing efforts.

Also I have a blog with 92 posts. I get 200 unigues per day. What do you find is the average post to visitor ratio for your sites. Lets say you set a goal of 3000 visitrs per day. would it be a good idea to create at least 1000 pages of content. Thanks for the help.

Comment by jfc
2008-08-15 15:18:04

Hi Ostan,

I deleted your duplicate comment.

I don’t think it makes a lot of difference to Google what the source of the click was. What they’re concerned about is if the click is a valid click and if it results in a conversion for the advertiser. Visitors from a Google or Yahoo search are much more likely to convert than visitors from a any referral source, be it an article directory, a comment on another blog, a forum signature or whatever else. So, this can come into play so far as how the click is ultimately valued. Griz had a couple of good articles on this a while back: How to Increase Your Adsense CTR and Optimization Tips for Adsense

I’ve not seen any correlation between the number of pages to the number of visitors. I have sites that get about 300-500 visitors a day on 5 pages of content and I have sites that get 300-500 visitors a day on 400 pages of content. Of course, the more indexed content you have the more long tail and related keyword terms you’re likely to hit so it may improve your chances. It kind of depends if you’re going for the shotgun approach or the sniper approach to bringing in search traffic.

Comment by ostan
2008-08-15 17:35:11

Thanks alot for the quick reply. I will use the links you provided at Grizz’s blog. I really appreciate the info that you have laid out in this blog.

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Comment by Bad Credit
2008-08-20 04:32:04

Extremely good tips. There is however one that I’d like to add, namely that the words in the line above and below the adsense ad play an important role in determining the type of ad that shows up. It is quite easy to have ads show up with the items that you want if you insert the keyword on the line above or below the ad.

Try it and you can see how well it works out for you.

Comment by jfc
2008-08-20 07:16:21

Hi Bad Credit,

Akismet doesn’t like you. :(

I pulled your comment from the filter though since it was good.

That’s a good tip. I’ve also seen Adsense react to things like the description and keyword meta tags, H1-H3 tags and other elements. However, I haven’t seen any consistency in how it does this.

Comment by Tim 'Great Post' Keen
2008-08-20 09:58:39

Great Post, Thanks….

Tim Keen,

Let’s see if he’ll allow me to get away with the stupid “Great Post” spam comment. Oops! No, I guess he won’t. My links got deleted. I guess I’m lucky I didn’t get sent to Akismet, this time.

Comment by Wedding hair styles
2008-08-24 09:16:49

Thanks for the tips there is so much to learn and posts like this really help.
I’m interested in your mention of youtube videos. Do they need to have paragraph or so of description or can you get away with just a sentence.


Comment by jfc
2008-09-21 11:20:44

Hi Chris,

I’m sorry I forgot to respond to this question earlier.

Yes, you do still want at least 100 words or so with the video, preferably more. I also will say that you probably won’t see as many conversions on pages that display a video but, if you have one or two pages with a video out of 30 or so total pages it shouldn’t hurt you much while it enhances the legit look of your site.

Comment by smallcomputing
2008-08-24 20:44:23

Thanks for the great tips. As others have said, I was surprised to see that google looks for a privacy policy and a contact page. I need to pay a little more attention to how some of the bigger sites that use adsense operate now, and if they have those.

Also, thanks for the link to Grizzly’s site. I’m about to sit down to each of yours and go to school.

Comment by Sara Oliver
2008-08-27 06:44:18

Thanks for the info….it sheds a whole lot of light on why our results are terrible. I have 1 additional question, what about word press direct, specifically the software they offer with their gold package such as rss, plr, you tube, etc. that generates automatic postings…wordpress states it doesn’t hurt google ranking??? Is this accurate??? Thanks!

Comment by jfc
2008-08-27 07:21:26

Hi Sara,

I’m not familiar with the package you mentioned, however, it’s important to remember that search results and Adsense quality are two different things.

You can get a good search placement, even with primarily duplicate content, based on things like the number and quality of inbound links and the age of the domain. The prime example of this is news sites.

Adsense quality is evaluated on more factors, not just search placement, as Google tries to cut down on the number of MFA (Made For Adsense) sites and provide advertisers with greater value. They been more aggressive about pursuing quality, from both publishers and advertisers, over the past 12-18 months.

Comment by Make Money
2008-09-14 19:50:44

Care to share info on how to not get smart priced - cos I am being smart priced on my soccer site (all clicks currently like <$0.10)?

Comment by jfc
2008-09-14 20:14:27

Hi Make Money,

Soccer isn’t a particularly high paying niche so if the ‘bot thinks your post is targeting something like “Greensboro Soccer” you’ll get very low priced clicks. Even good keywords probably will be in the 25-50 cent a click range at most. For that niche, I’d probably look more toward eBay affiliate.

Also remember that smart pricing is across all your sites, not just one. If you’re getting low paying clicks on that one site but not others then it’s likely a problem with your keyword targeting.

Griz has a good article on the topic of smart pricing that might be helpful to you: Optimization Tips for Adsense.

Comment by roger
2008-10-02 16:31:32

hi frank,
Great post and complements with Grizz posts nicely.

question: how to get the alternate style for outbound links. I saw Elliot answer: not underline, no hover change, color as surrounding text.

how to do that in css ?

Comment by Webmaster Forum
2008-10-08 00:09:57

the privacy policy thing is the newest adsense tip I’ve seen….I will create one for my site now….

Comment by Kyle
2008-11-07 17:36:00

Hi… I just implemented it on my site. I hope it works.. Tnx again

Comment by Busby SEO
2008-11-13 11:52:46

Great advice and reading your post made me go back and evaluate one of my adsense sites

Comment by Article Submissions
2008-11-21 11:00:37

This is intersting, our eCPM is all over the board, some days it is as high as $30 and others it is as low as $1 i just assumed it was because there is all types of content on the site.

Comment by ChristianPF
2008-12-11 17:36:51

Wow… good tips! I wasn’t expecting to learn some new stuff about adsense, but I did! Thanks!

Comment by Funny Junk
2009-02-01 21:34:14

You are right about the putting adsense ads on a site too early. I feel like many websites make this mistake without realizing it. I prefer to wait till my website is completely done and getting some traffic before placing ads on it.

2009-02-05 20:39:13

Great tips and thanks for sharing. I have made some changes to my Adsense recently and can tell you that just a small change can make a huge difference.

Comment by Used Tires
2009-05-09 19:30:34

Great point about monetizing and putting your adsense ads too soon on the website, especially before its been even indexed!

Really awesome article!

Till then,


Comment by Kacamak
2009-06-12 14:52:26

Great point about monetizing and putting your adsense ads too soon on the website, especially before its been even indexed!

Comment by World Cruise
2009-07-06 01:32:10

Now I know when I should put my AdSense code.

Comment by diabolika
2009-07-09 10:30:48

i use adsense since a long time, and i didn’t use to get anything from it, but after reading your post i found that maybe where i do place the ads is my problem

Comment by Steven Lance
2009-07-19 08:41:30

i am using adsense for a long time but i am not earning very much, anyway, thanks for this useful article, it help me a lot as a newbie

Comment by oes tsetnoc
2009-09-20 11:12:59

unfortunately, i am not earning too much at adsense right now. but i will try again to optimize my sites and try your tips

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