A Comprehensive Guide on How to Make Money with Google Adsense

By Spencer Haws |

When somebody asks the question, “how can I make money online,” one common answer is “Google Adsense.”

Through the years, Google Adsense has provided marketers a way to earn money and make a living using their websites. It has proven to be one of the most popular ways to make money online.

So today I'm going to explain how to make money with Google Adsense. First, let's answer the question of what Google Adsense is.

What Is Google Adsense?

Google Adsense provides a way for you to monetize your website. You can set spaces to sell ads on your website and Google connects you with advertisers.

Adsense is powerful because Google uses people's search history to serve up ads that your viewers will want to see. This increases the number of visitors who click on your ads and boosts your earnings.

How does Google Adsense work?

Google Adsense is an advertising network owned by search engine giant Google.

In a nutshell, you need to embed a Javascript provided to you by the platform on your site. The script will show contextual ads that are relevant to your content.

You can make money off the ads if people click on them. (That's right, people don't have to actually buy anything, you get paid when someone simply clicks the ad on your website).

How to measure ad performance

Generating money from Google Adsense depends on three important factors: the CPCCTR, and RPM.

CPC, also known as cost per click, refers to the amount of money you will receive if your visitors click on your ad.

As publishers, you have no control over how much you will receive for each click on your ad. It ultimately depends on the competition in your domain's niche that dictates the pricing, which could also change over time. Nonetheless, you can attract the best possible ads for your site using tactics that will be discussed in a different section below.

On the other hand, CTR or click-through rate refers to the percentage of visitors clicking on your ads while on your site.

CTR is important if you want to earn from Google Adsense truly. While CPC determines how much you will earn, you have very little control over the variables that determine the costs of the ads that will appear on your site. Your CTR is highly dependent on controlled variables or tactics that you can use to increase your ad performance which will also be discussed later.

Both metrics help you make sense of your RPM or revenue per 1,000 impressions. Impression describes the activity that takes place on the site and server every time an ad is fetched.

To compute the RPM, you need to divide your estimated earnings by the number of impressions (how many times an ad was seen on your website) and multiply the quotient by 1,000.

Measuring your potential earnings through RPM reveals to you the bigger picture that CPC and CTR can't show. Essentially, RPM is showing how much money you make per visitor.  Ultimately, it doesn't matter if your site is showing low-paying ads. The important thing is that you optimize your ads for increased performance and higher revenue.

Different ad options

Since you need to get people to click on your ads to make money, Google Adsense offers different ad options that you can show on your pages.

Among the different ad options to choose from, Google confirmed that the best performing units  are the following:

How To Make Money With Google Adsense: How to Increase the Performance of Your Ad Units

You can't just randomly slap your Google Adsense on your page. You need to identify the optimal places where you can set up your ads to appear on your site pages. Doing so allows you generate more clicks on your ads and drive more revenue.

Below are a few different options for optimizing your ad units on your site.

Maximize Earnings:  I use a free ad tester called Ezoic which makes testing different ad placements very simple. Click here to try it out. 

Place them “above the fold”

This term refers to the part of your website page that is visible without having to scroll down.  In other words, this is going to be the very top of your page.

Placing your ad above the fold makes it difficult for users to ignore.

However, it is ill-advised to feature only your ad above the fold and push down your content.  Google has made it clear that websites with top heavy ads could get penalized.  So, make sure you have content on the top of your page as well…not just ads.

Examples of ad placement above the fold - how to make money with Google Adsense
Examples of how your ad should and shouldn't appear above the fold from Online Shouter.

Test your color strategy

Color is a major component of your ad unit. Your choice of colors of your ads will determine how they will perform over time.

You can approach your ad placements in different ways:

Ultimately, no conclusive study support which among the three approaches will yield you the most profile because each site is a case-by-case basis.

Therefore, what you can do is test which of the three works best for your site. Edit the ads based on the approach you want to take and run them for a period. Keep playing around with the ads to see which approach makes you the most money over time.

Put them near your CTAs

Call to action or CTA is an instruction that asks site visitors to perform a particular action on your page.

Examples of CTAs are as follows:

If you are using any of the CTAs mentioned above, you could consider setting up your ads to appear beside them. Since CTAs are designed to grab the attention of visitors towards that section of the page where they are placed, they also cast light on your ads by sheer association.

However, make sure that the ad units that appear beside the CTAs do not attract attention away from your CTAs. While earning from ad clicks is nice, your page's CTA will likely be more important than everything else.

Review & Optimize Your Ads

You shouldn't get too comfortable with your ad layouts.  One of the things I've done for a while now in online marketing, is perfect the art of “testing” my monetization methods.  Not only do I test different ad networks outside of Adsense, but I am always revising just about everything to do with my ads.

I set a monthly schedule and once per month, I go in and compare revenue for my best performing ads from the prior month.  If I have lower performing ads, I will shut them down and new formats and new ad placements.

It's easy to get comfortable with a certain amount of revenue if you are making money online, but you should always be testing to ensure you can maximize your revenue streams.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to get a software or company to test your layouts for you. Ezoic, Mediavine, and AdThrive all do this, but Ezoic has the lowest amount of required visitors. With Mediavine, you'll need 25k monthly visits before you can apply and AdThrive will require a whopping 100k per month.


NichePursuits Rating

I use Ezoic on my Niche Site Project 4 and have gotten my earnings per thousand visitors up to $17.40. That's huge for an ad network! You can use Ezoic to:

  • Manage your ads without any work on your part
  • Make your website faster
  • Increase your earnings by a huge percentage

Click here to read our full Ezoic review

Click here to try Ezoic on your website and boost your earnings

Pick a WordPress Theme That Allows Multiple Display Ad Locations

If you are using an “out of the box” WordPress theme, chances are that your display options for ads are pretty limited.  Luckily, there are more WordPress themes in the market now that allow for greater flexibility with regards to ad positioning.  It used to be that you really could only do an in-content ad and a sidebar.  Now it seems you can test all sorts of different layouts.

While getting a custom theme designed is generally always more beneficial, you can still do a lot of great testing and layout options by picking a decent premium theme.  There are also website “builders” that let you visually build out your pages, giving you greater flexibility with your ad layout positioning.

Choosing a premium theme will give you quite a few options to test your ads, and make sure you are optimizing them on a monthly or bi-monthly basis in order to improve revenue.

Ask visitors to turn off AdBlock

Let's face it – people are averse to ads.

As much as possible, they will avoid ads because they disrupt the flow of the content, which is the reason why they visited your site in the first place.

Therefore, some users install ad blockers on their browsers, so they don't have to encounter annoying ads.

While ad blockers may benefit users, you, as a Google Adsense user, won't.

You need to find a way to ad block users so you can serve them ads.

A easy way to do this? Ask them nicely.

A poll conducted by IAB UK reveals that people are more than willing to turn off their ad blocker if the site asked them to.

If you are running your site on WordPress, ThemeIsle shares five of the best anti-ad block plugins that you can use. Each plugin has distinct ways of asking visitors to whitelist your site so you can serve them ads.

Paginate your content

The increase of mobile users online over the past couple of years proves that mobile is here to stay. Aside from making your website mobile-friendly, you need to tweak your ad strategy that will cater to your mobile audience.

An interesting approach to monetizing your mobile sites through ads is by paginating your content.

Instead of showing the entire content on a single page, you will only show bits and pieces of your content. Users can move on to the next section by going to the next page.

The tactic positively impacts your ad performance as explained in this post at AdNgin. And yes, that's spelled right.

The best reason why you should paginate your content, especially on mobile, is its ability to help increase ad impressions. Every time users click to the next page, the server will fetch the ad to the page again. For example, if you paginate your 1,000-word article into two pages, just like Forbes does, then you can double your impressions as opposed to showing the entire content on a page.

The higher the impressions are, the more chances you can serve contextual ads based on the content on the page. If done correctly, pagination can increase your revenue.

An additional note about pagination

I emphasized doing pagination correctly because it can also bring new problems. For beginners, not everyone is a fan of pagination. Not to mention, it changes how analytics tools will collect data from your site. Instead of taking your content as a single page, it will interpret the paginated content as individual pages in itself.

Nonetheless, if you can overcome the roadblocks presented by pagination, you can begin by the downloading the best pagination plugins for WordPress in this WPDean post that you can use on mobile view. Once you have decided which plugin to use, make sure to test and observe the results and how it impact your ad performance.

Learn SEO

I'm sure most of you know the importance of SEO in building a successful website. (If you don't, we have a whole post about how SEO works and how to optimize your site)

However, I cannot stress this enough:

SEO is key to boosting traffic to your site which of course increases the chances of increasing your ad revenue.

I have covered SEO in depth on this blog and has been a key factor in the success of my Niche Site Projects.

To keep it short, below are the most crucial things you need to remember when doing SEO for your sites:

How to keep your Google Adsense account from getting banned

As mentioned above, there are Google Adsense practices that can get your account suspended. Google is very good at cracking down on users who violate their policies so don't even think of one-upping Google in their own game (i.e.  Never click your own ads, or ask anyone else to click on your ads!).

Examples of unacceptable implementations ~ how to make money with Google Adsense

Below are other practices to avoid so you can keep your Adsense account and earn money from their ads:

You can view more policy violations by clicking here.

No one is safe

Even if you feel that you are following Google Adsense policies to a tee, there's still a chance your account can be penalized.

I got my account banned in 2012 out of the blue. It was only after a couple of months later after creating a new Adsense account when I found out that my ads are generated an unusually high CTR. Back then, I was using a theme with an aggressive ad placement, which most likely led to lots of clicks.

I highly encourage you to strictly follow Google policies regarding ads. There is no point in going behind Google's back by illegally increasing your ad performance when you will eventually get caught.

Case studies of successful Google Adsense performers

Taking all the best practices mentioned above into account, there is still no guarantee that you will generate a steady income stream from Google Adsense. Other factors such as your ability to drive traffic and rank for your target keywords, among others, are essential skills to make the most out of your ad-infused site.

Below are case studies of people who have learned how to make money with Google Adsense.

Harsh Agrawal – $174/month

The ShoutMeLoud owner explains how he was able to generate at least $160 a month from Google Adsense by creating a micro-niche site in this post.

Below are key takeaways from Harsh's blueprint that you can apply on your site to increase ad performance:

Matthew Paulson – Over $100,000/year

Matt built a profitable network of financial sites.  A lot of his success to making money online lies in his ability to attract tons of traffic through unit means. He consistently drives 2.5 million unique visitors a month to his sites. Matt has been able to reap the benefits of not just Google Adsense, but various other monetization methods as well.

To learn more about Matt's methods, you can listen to the podcast I conducted with him by clicking here.

Below are takeaways from the podcast:

Spencer Haws – $10,000/month

Of course, I had to include myself in this post! 🙂

My success with Google Adsense started in 2009 when I began creating niche sites with low competition. Taking this route helped me generate lots of traffic from Google, Bing, and Yahoo! at a time.

I built websites using this strategy, which helped me earn a five-figure monthly income.


My highs with earning from Google Adsense is not without its lows.

After making over six figures a year from Google Adsense back in 2011, my account was unexpectedly shut down in 2012.  You can read the entire epic story of my Adsense account getting shut down here.

Luckily, a few months later, I was able to open a new account and have been earning from Google Adsense ever since.  However, this also made me realize that Google holds a lot of power, so it can be important to not rely solely on one source of income.

I now share some of my more current strategies for building niche sites, and often monetizing them with the Amazon Associates program.

Popular Questions About Google Adsense

Is Google Adsense Free?

Yes. It doesn't cost anything to put Adsense on your site. 

Is Google Adsense Worth It?

Adsense doesn't have a money cost, but it does have a space cost. It takes up space on your website and makes your site look a little worse. Some people, like the crew at DollarSprout, don't have display ads at all.

Others, like Jon Dykstra, almost use nothing but ads to monetize their content.

It depends on what you want your website to look like and how you want your brand established. There aren't many people who I would tell to not apply to Adsense. The worst case scenario is that you decide to not put ads on your site, but it's good to have the option.

The best case scenario is that you could make 5 or 6 figures per month with display ads. That's a no brainer for me!

I'd say yes, Google Adsense is worth it.

Is Google Adsense Legit?

Yes. It is 100% legit.

Wrapping it all up

There's a reason why Adsense remains one of the most popular ad networks where site owners can make a living.

With a steady iron hand in Google that lays down the rules on how ads must be served to your audience, you can guarantee to be compensated well as long as you continue to provide value to your visitors with your site.

Therefore, if you want to make money with Google Adsense, then take the tips and strategies above to heart and apply them to your website today.

If you have questions about how to make money with Google Adsense or comments about the post, please share them below. If you love the article, feel free to share.


By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

Yes! I Love to Learn

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