|Google Adsense: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Who wants to be a millionaire? Most people heading for the Adsense website these days have generally already had their head filled with promises of being a "millionaire overnight" or even just the phrase "steady income" will be enough to make some salivate at dreams of leaving their boring jobs to be self employed. Unfortunately many quit their jobs way too early and are sorely disappointed when "overnight" success turns into work 10x harder than their old desk job and the amazing "adsense income" doesn't even pay for the electricity your computer is using. It still amazes me that people believe there are secrets to be bought on the web. Any secret worth anything will always remain a secret ... eh, Nixon? Building an empire from a $9.99 ebook may sound possible when you read the gold whisperings of the salesmen but think about it just for a few seconds ... there we go, that clicking sound! Even Jade Goody's Autobiography retails at £16.95 (about $30) and it tells you nothing of any importance.
After the tips and tutorials have let you feeling confused and alone, next we have the Adsense Ready web sites or the "business in a box" purporting themselves as the saviours of the newbie webmaster. These template driven software packages allow you to enter huge lists of keywords and at the click of a button a site of up to 1000 to 100,000 pages is instantly created and uploaded to the web.* Again, let us take those few seconds to just think about that ... got it yet? Let us take the small estimate of only 10 such software companies who sell only one software package a day = after one year there will be 3,650,000 to 365,000,000 auto-generated pages vying for position in the search engine rankings. Of course, there are probably about 100+ such software companies out there and they most likely sell more than one copy a day but my calculator doesn't go that high. Templates for disaster more than anything. Most of these auto generate business models will rely on adsense arbitrage which is the process of paying low amounts on Adwords (e.g. £0.05 per click) for keywords that land on pages where the adverts shown are worth £1.00+ per click. Sounds simple but again, take into account that you are jockeying for position against many other people attempting the same thing and you'll find yourself earning an average of 1p on turnaround. Take the high value keyword "mortgage" - currently there are 163 adwords advertisers bidding to show in the results. At 5p your ad will be shown on results page 14 and will never be shown on a content page. There are easier ways. You have to remember that it's not just you vs. the search engine. It's you vs. a hundred thousand other webmasters. You think you're the only one to ever think of targeting misspellings? Here, try this: morgage, mortage, mortgae - search for those keywords and you'll see that there are already 100+ advertisers. Misspellings have been overrun and they are pretty low volume phrases. There are no back doors to making money with any program, (see our google adsense keyword research tips for more info).
So how do you make money with Google Adsense? Well having spent a long time as an adsense publisher, the best trick I've learned is: there are no tricks and there are no secrets. What you have to do is keep adsense earnings as an afterthought. Put this in real world context (an art that is steadily becoming lost), if you were to focus on the sponsors of an event and build an event around them that's a pretty lousy event. However, if you put on a Monster Truck show Ford will pay you a fortune to advertise as they know loads of people will come. Traffic is the only way to a successful AND LONGTERM business model on the internet. Think of the major ad sense players right now - YouTube and Digg earn millions but they were not created for that purpose. These sites were created to develop traffic and then the income came later. You need to develop something that people want to come to (technical term is "sticky web pages") so that you do not rely solely on search engine traffic. You only have to spend a few hours trawling through the webmaster forums to read about the number of businesses that go under just because of a simple algorithm change. It doesn't even have to be an original thought, you can take a larger concept such as Digg and just make it local e.g. Scotland, Texas, Sydney etc. Trust me, you are more likely to get a decent stream of revenue from being the top of a small niche than from throwing a billion pages at a huge industry. Also, with traffic and a niche comes prestige so that even if you do not rank for the best keywords in your niche you will have a strong base of regular visitors that will keep coming back.
Top paying Adsense Keywords are, in essence, a myth. But if you are determined that the only way forward is to work out the best words that make the most money and build a site around them then I do have some advice. The reason I say they are a myth is because although someone might pay out $50 a click for a keyphrase this is not always an indication of what will actually appear on your pages or of how much adsense will pay you. In most cases these "high paying" lists are created using the keyword addition tool from adwords, or one of the many API tools, where the person enters a word and sees what the bids are. But as part of the adwords model, merchants can place a completely different and much lower bid for banner adverts being shown on content pages through Google Ad sense. Then take into consideration the much secreted Smart Pricing feature where content pages that do not convert well are paid a much lower percentage that those that do. We ran a test on this for the word "mortgage" which the bid selection tells us has a high paying bid of £30 per clickthrough. We built a section totally devoted to this word and set it running. The adverts shown were spot on and the advertisers being shown were the same that were ranking top on the actual Goog site. Average money made from adsenses ads for those pages was £0.57 per clickthrough. (Sidenote: we earned an average £1.23 per click with our regular banner advertisements selling mortgage products!) Now that would work out at as 1% of advertiser revenue being the money made with adsense but that is unlikely. What is more likely is that advertisers were paying much lower amounts for content clicks because of the high level of fraud as everyone and their dog was targeting their keywords. There are loads of "top paying adsense keyword" retailers out there:
Adsense Alternatives? There are two main reasons that you will be looking for an alternative to Adsense. Either you have been kicked off of the program, or all you get is public service ads and/or really low earnings from each clicker. Well, although popular, adsenses strength lies in it's relevance matching capabilities. If your site deals with several products or subject then chances are your ads will never really match the page's content and therefore hardly anyone will clickthrough and therefore you won't make money with any form of contextual advertising. This is particularly common with blogs and forums. Sometimes having just 2-3 good image banner ads through affiliate networks such as Tradedoubler or AffiliateWindow can results in far higher earnings that you ever could get with the ad matching programming. Plus, good selection of advertisers can add visual value to your page, a cluster of text ads can generally detract from such. We have sites with just contextual ads, some with just affiliates banners and some with both. The tip is to change them each month and check the results until you find what works. What's popular isn't always what's best.