What is Google AdSense and How it Works?
AdSense is a pay per click advertising program offered by Google, helps webmasters monetize their online content and earn revenue. It is a fast and easy way for website publishers of all sizes to display relevant Google ads on their websites. Basically advertisers pay to Google for each click on their ads through AdWords. Google plays a mediator role and pays the percentage of amount received from advertisers to publishers. Check out separate articles on how Google AdSense works and how much percentage Google shares with publishers.
1. Google AdSense Basics
We will discuss the followings about AdSense before dealing with how it works:
- Why AdSense is best for publishers?
- Types of sites suitable for AdSense
- Some interesting facts
- Ad placement
- Basic types of ads
- How to get started with AdSense?
1.1. Why AdSense is Best for Publishers?
AdSense allows the publishers to make money from each page of their site with minimum effort. Once Google approved your site you can place ad codes in any number of websites complying AdSense policies. This makes it easy for publishers to show ads on multiple sites after a single approval. In case, if your AdSense application is rejected, then check out the reason for the rejection. We strongly recommend to take some time and rectify the mistake before applying again. You don’t have any limits on the number of times for applying AdSense.
Below are the reasons for publishers to choose AdSense:
- No software to install, just ad the ad code on your pages
- No need of affiliate linking and multi-level referral marketing
- You don’t have to buy or sell anything
- Google sends payment directly to your bank account without the need of merchant account
- Reliable payment system, Google pays every month without delay
- AdSense shows highest paid and relevant ads
- Easy to customize the feel and look of ads for different types of sites
Google AdSense definitely works much better than any other PPC advertising programs. Google established AdSense during 2003 which means the program is existing for more than a decade. This long existence makes publishers to trust the program along with Google’s popularity.
1.2. What Type of Sites are Suitable for AdSense?
Google offers different solutions for publishers like AdSense, AdMob and DoubleClick. AdSense is a free program targeted for small publishers to help them display ads on their content. You can use a single AdSense account for placing ads on any type of sites like search sites, forums, content sites and blogs.
AdSense offers various types and sizes of ad units. This will help to optimize your site performance by placing them in a suitable places. You can also monitor the performance with reporting tools from AdSense account. Based on the monitoring, place the high performing ads on pages that receive the most traffic in your site to increase the revenue.
1.3. Some Interesting Statistics About AdSense
Below are some of the interesting facts about AdSense program:
- Google launched the program during 2003 with name content targeting advertising
- The name AdSense was owned by the competitor company called Applied Semantic
- Google acquired the company and renamed it’s advertising program to AdSense
- As per Google, approximately $10 billion was paid out to publishers during 2015
- Google eared $13.6 billion from AdSense in 2014 which is 22% of it’s total revenue
- 2 million publishers use AdSense on 14+ million websites
1.4. Ad Placement
AdSense allows you to earn revenue by displaying advertisements on your content in different places. You can create ad code and show ads in one of the following way:
- Place ads on the sidebar of your site
- Ads in-between content
- Before and after the content
- Place ads on the archive pages
- Use Google custom search box and place ads on the search results pages
You can earn revenue for each click on the advertisement (Cost Per Click) on your site and for each impression of advertisement (Cost Per Thousand Impressions).
1.5. Types of Ads
As a publisher, you are allowed to get the ad code for different formats. Below are some of the basic types of ads in AdSense.
- Content ads having different sizes to suit the required width and height
- Custom sized ads for publishers to create custom ads
- Responsive ads to adjust automatically on mobile devices
- Matched content ads for showing content recommendations
- Native ads to show ads in feeds and between articles
- Link unit ads showing keyword blocks
- Page-level ads for mobile devices
1.6. Getting Started with AdSense
You need three things in order to apply for AdSense account – a Gmail id, a website and phone number and postal address.
These are minimum things to get started, though there are many other eligibility criteria based on your geographical location. For example, AdSense supports only in certain languages and the publisher should have a site with one of these primary languages. Google was also offering mobile apps for iOS and Android so that publishers can monitor their earnings on the go. However, they discontinued the apps effective December 2019 and force publishers to use the mobile friendly website.
Google not only earns their revenue through AdSense program but also shares the commission to millions of publishers. Believe, AdSense can make your life in different direction that you can leave your 9 to 5 job and start living a comfortable life. We encourage all site owners to try with AdSense along with other affiliate programs to monetize your online content.
2. How AdSense Works?
Google’s major part of revenue comes from the advertisement programs like AdWords and AdSense. It picks out the most popular keywords from the content by using its highly sophisticated search engine algorithm. This is the same process of Googlebot crawling your site for indexing in the search engine database. Advertisers look for the keywords and place their bids in Google AdWords. The highest bid ads from the advertisers for those crawled keywords will be displayed on your site when you are part of AdSense publisher program. We will discuss the following parts to understand more:
- Ads are based on your content
- Dynamic content attracts dynamic ads
- Ads can be filtered or blocked
- Google shows targeted ads
- Why seeing irrelevant ads?
- AdSense crawler is different
2.1. Ads Relevant to Content
After implementing AdSense in your site, you may notice the ads are displayed randomly and not most relevant to your site content. The reason here is Google needs sometime to crawl your site content and identify the keywords. Once the keywords are identified from your site content, AdSense delivers relevant text and image ads that are precisely targeted to your site and your site content. So if your content was all about movies and the terms “cinema”, “movie training” and “movie theater” were used frequently within the site content, Google would determine your site was about movies and would populate your site with movie related ads.
And when you add a Google search box to your site, Google exactly uses the same Google search mechanism and delivers relevant targeted text ads on Google search results pages generated for your visitors’ search request.
If you want to influence what adverts are displayed, you must have content that uses keywords and synonyms. Do not put too many random keywords into your content that form no sentence structure or make the content unreadable. If your content is about movies, you will not have to worry about keywords related to movies; the content should contain them naturally.
2.2. Ads are Dynamic
Google AdSense uses technology that goes beyond just a keyword matching. Google grasps your content and automatically deliver ads relevant to your web pages. Even your site has millions of pages, it does not matter for Google to show appropriate ads on every pages of your site. When your content changes dynamically, typically in case of Blogs, Google understands your content and displays relevant ads to match your content.
How AdSense shows appropriate ads rely on how Google understands the meaning of a web page. Google’s grasping technology keeps getting smarter all the time. For example, a single word can have several different meanings, depending on context. Google technology grasps these distinctions, so you get more targeted ads. Below is what Google says about showing appropriate ads:
Google’s ad review process ensures that the ads displayed on your sites are not only family friendly, but also comply with strict editorial guidelines. Google combines sensitive language filters, your input, and a team of linguists with good hard common sense to automatically filter out ads that may be inappropriate for your content.
What’s more, you can block competitive ads and choose your own default ads. It’s your show from start to finish.
2.3. Ad Filtering Options
Google uses various filters to filter inappropriate ads and deliver the ads related to your content.
- Competitive Filter – It enables filtering of advertisements from specific competitors and advertisers.
- Contextual Filter – This eliminates ads not relevant to the content on the page.
- Editorial Review – Google also review the ads manually on certain cases and approve before serving on your site.
You should choose an option for the backup ad when you create an ad code in your AdSense account. If there are no bidding for the ad space on your site then Google will show your backup ad. This will generally a blank space however you can also choose to display ads from another URL, or a solid color instead. As a AdSense account holder, you can also review and block ads from specific advertisers.
2.4. How Google Targets Ads on Your Site
The success of AdSense was due to the fact that Google delivers targeted ads for each single site. Googl does this ad targeting using different technologies.
2.4. 1. Contextual Targeting
Contextual ads are delivered based on the keywords, links and many other factors on the page including typical things like font size. Google tracks everything and match with the advertisements to choose the highest bid ads for publishers.
2.4.2. Placement Targeting
The ad placement is one of the important factor for earning more revenue for publishers. Generally ads shown above the fold area earns more than other ads. The reasons is that advertisers prefer to show the ads immediately when the page is loaded rather than the user needs to scroll down to see the ad.
2.4.3. Geo Targeting
It is easy for Google to understand the primary language of the site’s content regardless of whether it is declared or not. If your content is in a language supported by AdSense program, AdSense will target ads in the appropriate language to your content. In addition, Google ads are geo-targeted to your visitor’s location.
2.5. Irrelevant AdSense Ads
There are two good reasons to see irrelevant ads on a page. One is due to interest based ads and other is due to thin content on a page.
2.5.1. Interest Based Ads – Reason for No Relevancy
Google tracks each site you visit using cookies part of Google Analytics, AdSense, Chrome and many other ways. The major purpose of this tracking is to display interest based ads on Google search and AdSense publisher’s sites.
Let us test it out. Just open bluehost.com on your Chrome and then open a webpage showing AdSense ads. It doesn’t matter the content of the page, you will see the ads related to hosting like below. The content of the page is related to “Selling more on Amazon” but the ads are related to hosting which is completely irrelevant.
The reason for this irrelevancy is simple – Google give more importance to your interest than the actual content on the site. There are few browsers allow you to disable the tracking but it is impossible when using Chrome and AdSense.
2.5.2. Thin Content Shows Irrelevant Ads
There are more possibilities to see irrelevant ads when there are three to five ads on a page with less than 400 words of content. This type of thin content will not only affect ads quality but also affect user experience and search engine ranking. Here’s a simple equation from Google to have a successful site earning more revenue:
2.6. What is AdSense Bot or Crawler?
A crawler or bot or spider is a piece of software code used to find and index the content of web pages. Google uses separate bots for desktop search, mobile search and AdSense for content. The AdSense bot scans the publisher’s website and serve appropriate ads relevant to content. Here are some useful information about AdSense bot:
- AdSense bot crawls the websites once in a week and publisher’s can’t control the crawl rate. Note in case of Google Search Console site owners can control the rate of crawling unlike AdSense bot.
- Google uses separate bots for search, AdSense and Search Console. Thus correcting any crawl issues showing in Search Console (Webmaster Tools) account will have no impact on AdSense ads displayed.
- AdSense bot treats “example.com” and “www.example.com” as two different sites the same way as search bots.
- Use robots.txt file to control the access of AdSense bot. Pages forbidden by robots.txt file will not be crawled by AdSense bot.
- AdSense bot only crawls the webpages from which the ad request is being sent.
- If you are redirecting a page, AdSense bot first crawls your original page to confirm the redirect.
We hope this article has given you a basic idea of how Google AdSense works. Google is basically an advertisement company, hence they display interest based ads rather than content based ads to earn more revenue for them as well as for the publishers. Unfortunately this will result in seeing irrelevant ads on your content. Otherwise, generally Google has all technology and tracking mechanisms to server appropriate ads based on keywords.