I remember it like it was yesterday…
“Build up a site, throw Google AdSense on it, and collect checks every month!”
The funny thing was, that sort of idea was actually feasible not so long ago. If you had great content and could get people on your site, you actually could make thousands of dollars a month with AdSense alone.
If somebody told me the same thing today, I’d have to wonder what it is they’re going to try and sell me shortly afterwards, because making money from AdSense is not quite as easy as it was just a few years ago. Here are four reasons why building a business around AdSense may be a bad idea, and what I’d do instead if I were starting out today.
1. Traffic Is Harder To Come By These Days
It really goes without saying, but blogging and internet marketing is a lot more competitive than they used to be. There are so many more sites available on any given topic, which means that the majority of them get less visitors on average than they used to. Chances are, there are better marketers out there who will dominate the search engine rankings and get the majority of the traffic.
Here’s the problem. The entire basis of an AdSense site is traffic. Without traffic, nobody will see your ads. If nobody sees your ads, nobody clicks on your ads, and you make no money. The main factor that determines your success with AdSense is the volume of traffic you can send to your pages, and that is getting harder and harder to control.
You do not need a ton of traffic to succeed with blogging, but if your only monetization method is AdSense, than you’re going to have a massive mountain to climb as you desperately try to push your traffic numbers up.
2. Banner Blindness Means Click-Through Rates Are Lower Than Ever
Even if you have a good amount of traffic, that does not mean you’re guaranteed a good number of clicks.
Ads are everywhere these days, and it’s been estimated that 86% of internet users suffer from something called “banner blindness.” This essentially means that they scroll by ads without ever realizing that the ads are even there.
Obviously, if people aren’t seeing your ad than they aren’t going to click on it. Ad click-through rates are at the lowest point ever for this very reason. That’s not good news if you’re relying on AdSense revenue!
The only real solution you have is to make your ads more intrusive, annoying your readers and pushing more and more people to use Adblock.
3. Adblock Makes Things Even Worse
If banner blindness wasn’t bad enough, plugins such as Adblock may hide your advertisements completely.
This article from PageFair says that there are 144 million active Adblock users around the world, and this number is increasing rapidly.
This puts owners of AdSense websites in a very bad position. In order to maintain revenue, they have to put more ads on their site, and make their ads more intrusive. This in turn, causes more people to install Adblock.
Think back to the days of MySpace, which used to be the world’s most popular social network. Ad revenue started to drop, so they cluttered up the website and added more advertisements. People got annoyed. Then Facebook popped up, which was much cleaner and had very few advertisements. The rest is history.
What will happen once the entire internet is using Adblock?
4. AdSense Puts Your Business In Google’s Hands
Entrepreneur.com writer Thomas Smale recently asked me what my number one tip for niche website success was. My answer?
Keep control of your business in your own hands.
The importance of having control over your own business can not be stressed enough. There is absolutely nothing worse than spending countless hours building your business up, only to have the company you’re relying on shut it down with no warning.
This is why you do not use free web hosting services, and why you do not rely on Google to send you traffic. If that disappears, it’s game over.
You run the same risk when you build your business around Google AdSense. The terms and conditions for AdSense are quite strict, and many people find themselves getting banned from the program completely on accident.
You may think you’re following all of the rules, but it’s easy to make mistakes. Google takes their advertising program very seriously, and are quick to ban if they think you’re causing harm to their advertisers.
Unless you’re a serious authority who is making thousands of dollars a month from AdSense already, you are disposable. Google will not hesitate to get rid of you.
Here’s What I’d Do Instead
Rather than putting all of my eggs in one basket, I’d diversify my income streams and build a business that I actually have complete control over.
I am a huge fan of email marketing because I have found that it offers the greatest reward for the least amount of effort.
Using a service like ActiveCampaign, you can retain your visitors by capturing their email, allowing you to grow your following without requiring a huge number of visitors a day. It’s very possible to make a living from email marketing with less than 100 visitors a day to your blog, where as you’d require thousands of daily visitors to make a living from AdSense.
Not to mention, ActiveCampaign’s autoresponder allows you to send out emails automatically, building relationships and promoting products to people on autopilot.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather develop an asset like an email list that will grow over time than work 10x harder for ad revenue that is guaranteed to drop every month as more and more people begin to use Adblock.
Nobody can take an email list away from you. Even if your website gets shut down completely, that email list will always be there.
See: 25 Guaranteed Ways To Increase Your Email Opt-Ins
AdSense Isn’t Worthless, But It’s Not For Every Site
If you’re not using Adblock, you’ve probably noticed that I run ads on this site.
Despite this, I actually recently removed AdSense from the majority of my websites.
If you’re serious about building an email list, than you’ve got to determine what you’re willing to trade a visitor away for. AdSense does not pay that well for the majority of niches, and if your goal is to retain visitors, than it does not make sense to send them away from your site for a few pennies.
It is true that people who click away from your site on advertisements probably aren’t that engaged with you or your content anyway, but you’ve really got to test things and figure out whether or not it’s worth putting ads on your site.
For my other websites, I have found that even if every single visitor clicked on an advertisement, I would still make more retaining a percentage of them and marketing to them via email.
I run AdSense on this site because the blogging / make money online market pays several dollars per click, and the trade-off actually is worth it. For most markets, this isn’t the case.
While AdSense can still be a good addition to an established website, it no longer makes sense to build a business solely around Google AdSense.
It’s harder than ever to attract a huge number of daily visitors, and click-through rates are at an all-time low.
It’s fair to say that you probably want to get the most reward from the last amount of effort. If that’s the case, you’ll find much better results promoting products, either your own or as an affiliate. Not only will you make more money, but you do not run the risk of having another company take it all away from you.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear how AdSense is working for you, or what other monetization methods you’re using to profit from your hard work!
I am still a loyal adsense guy…ever since they sent me that post card when they were just starting out 🙂
It’s true though that we can’t build MFA sites like we used to. I could remember cool $700 weeks per site back then. Ah, those were the days.
Great breakdown James!
Dennis Seymour recently posted…My Go-to Link Building Strategy That Skyrockets Websites to the Moon
Man, I wish I would’ve been around when Adsense was first starting out. I know it still wasn’t easy to make a killing with Adsense back then but it was definitely easier than it is now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, it just means we have to do things differently if we want to make the most from each visitor. The way I see it, email marketing is a better long-term solution anyway because it offers continuous growth.
Appreciate your comment Dennis!
James McAllister recently posted…Blogging For Money: Starting Your Very Own Web Business!
Yeah, i will agree with you about AdSense is not Worthless. Yes, there are many reasons behind this. It’s a good to use adsense in popular news blog. I saw that some popular news blog make around 8000$ and above. So, its a good thing to understand the business with adsense. Your tips was good. Thank you.
Yeah, it works better with some types of sites than others. The leading factor behind Adsense revenue is the volume of traffic you can send to a page. News sites tend to be so unrefined in terms of topic and also have many recurring visitors, so Adsense works well for them. For average blogs, not so much. It can act as a bit of supplemental income but it’s almost always better to build a business that promotes long-term growth.
Appreciate your comment here, great to meet you Romjan!
James McAllister recently posted…How To Come Up With Blog Post Ideas – The Ultimate Guide
Good topic indeed! Adsense is great but not for every kind of site. Building business around one income source has never been a good idea. Its good to diversify the business.
P.S. in the #2 you have missed “t” in the word “rates”. You may correct it. Thanks
Atish Ranjan recently posted…What is Pastebin? 10 Pastebin Alternatives
Yeah, it used to be a lot better than it is now. Today, authority sites are the way to go in my opinion and the best way to profit from those is to aim for long-term growth. Building an email list and building a base of buyers is the best way to do that, in my opinion.
Thanks for pointing out that mistake by the way, can’t believe I missed that. It’s been corrected.
Thanks Atish, hope to see you again soon!
James McAllister recently posted…Are Online Educational Courses The Next Big Thing?
I’ve just decided to take ads off my site for now.
I had adsense and clickbank banners but wasn’t making enough money from them to warrant having them there.
When I get more traffic I may consider putting them back but for now they’re gone.
I wasn’t familiar with Qadabara but it sounds like a good solution for everyone, not just for those who have high amounts of traffic.
Darrin Benner recently posted…100+ Cute Pick Up Lines That Can not Fail
Yeah, if they aren’t working for you then there really isn’t a point in keeping them up. Personally, I feel there are far better options available.
I believe that you should be working to retain visitors rather than sending them away. I’ve actually removed Adsense from this site since I originally published this article for that very reason – building something that can grow over time is the best way to run a business in my opinion.
Thanks for stopping by and also for taking the time to leave a comment! It was great to meet you!
James McAllister recently posted…The 7 Rules Of Selling All Bloggers Must Follow
“That’s a really good post. Found your blog from your interview in ViralBlogTips.
Some months before, I was using Bidvertiser to monetize my blog. The traffic was above average and it’s good that Bivertiser didn’t take at all to start showing ads on my blog. The only problem I had is that it was not showing earnings above $0.00. I had more than 1500 daily visitors and impressions were pretty high but there we no valid clicks shown. To check whether its working or not, the next day I told my friends to click on the ads. Sadly, even when they clicked ( all of them from US), the earnings were still $0.00 and the click were the same i.e. 0. So I don’t think Bidvertiser is good enough to be mentioned in this post.
And this is my honest opinion. I found Bidvertiser on many top 10 Adsense alternatives but felt like commenting on your blog since this one has a bigger reach.
I hope bidvertiser doesn’t curse me for writing this.
Your blog is really informative and worth a revisit.
One look at your site and it’s obvious why Adsense banned you. In fact, no legitimate advertising network will ever let your site run ads.
Link removed for the safety of my visitors.
James McAllister recently posted…GPT-3 And Beyond: How It Affects Content Publishers
I am receiving a decent amount of traffic but not able bank it in a good manner because of Google dfp ctr issues. So i decided to use chitika along with google dfp. But to my surprise chitika is for no use. I got only 20 cents for 48 clicks. That is ridiculous. Infolinks is better in some manners though.
Thanks for sharing your experience Ashley – how do you like Infolinks?
I know Ezoic can be a much better platform if you can hit their traffic requirements (10k sessions / monthly.) I had a site that made 10x more with Ezoic than Adsense – and that’s not an exaggeration!
James McAllister recently posted…How Many Blog Posts Do You Need Before Traffic Comes In?
thanks for the information. very useful in my case since my account got suspended for unknown reasons. Adsense simply sent me a generic email informing me that my account got suspended because i violated a policy that they cannot specify.
Hi Paul, and thank you for your comment!
I took a quick look at your site (but had to remove it from your comment, sorry about that.)
It’s apparent straight away that your Adsense account was suspended due to the nature of your content. Google Adsense does not allow ads to run on any sort of adult-themed websites. That being said, there are other ad networks that are better suited for this, so I would consider some of those as decent Adsense alternatives you may wish to try out!
James McAllister recently posted…How To Change Your Birthday On Twitter (Step-By-Step Guide)