How AdSense Smart Pricing Works

AdSense released another new video explaining how their "Smart Pricing" system works.

In short, it allows advertisers to set different rates for each AdSense publisher. So, if one publisher has an audience that is ready and willing to make purchases or sign up for accounts, an advertiser can set a higher a bid for that website alone, while setting lower rates to other websites.

Watch the video...

This is very similar to how the eBay Partner Network works. You earn higher reimbursement rates based on the quality of your traffic.

Which means it behooves us publishers to write content that attracts passionate visitors, ready and willing to make purchases. What are the ways to do this? Moderate blog comments, brand yourself as an expert in your field, write intelligently, and write frequently.

Read more about this on AdSense's blog:

AdSense Releases Optimization Videos

AdSense released a series of videos today that provide tips on how to optimize your AdSense creatives to maximize earnings...

  1. Upgrade to high-performing units

  2. Monetize more content

  3. Optimize search box placement

  4. Opt-in to text and image ads

  5. Use link units

  6. Opt-in to placement targeting

Source: AdSense Blog

AdSense Explains Ad Selection

AdSense today released a video explaining how its system goes about determining which ads to display on your creatives...

You can also read their accompanying blog post here...
Insight into your earnings Part I: Explaining the ad auction - Inside AdSense

This video explains how AdWords' "Quality Score" plays a significant role in determining which ads gets displayed on your website. In the video, they also explain that the number of clicks a particular ads gets on your website is factored into the Quality Score.

This basically confirms what I reported in two earlier blog posts, "How Quality Score Affects AdSense", and "Quality Score Rankings for AdSense".

AdSense Phone Call Consultation

Over the past couple of weeks, folks at AdSense have been calling select publishers for one-on-one consultation. Yesterday, they called me.

I had the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns, while they had the opportunity to provide some personalized help. Before calling me, they evaluated my flagship website,, and formulated some ideas on enhancing performance.

Below is a screenshot of just one of the pages on

I've highlighted the 160x600 ad unit on the side, and the 728x90 unit at the bottom.

  1. The main concern I had was too many irrelevant ads displaying on the side. I don't know if you can see, but two of the AdSense text ads are irrelevant, "Lower Cost Cremation" and "Want a Great Career?"

    Actually, over the years, AdSense seems to be doing a better job of displaying relevant ads on my website than it used to. AdSense confirmed for me that AdSense learns what ads to display based on click history. But AdSense suggested that I need to add more of my desired keywords into the content.

    My primary audience are genealogists. AdSense suggested using more keywords such as "genealogy" on my pages.

  2. I also learned that which ads AdSense chooses is not totally based on contextual relevancy. Advertisers can force their way into your creatives based on how much money they spend, or what your personal viewing habits are. I think Groupon, for example, is spending so much money on AdSense channels that their ads are going to display on your creatives no matter what you do to optimize your ads.

    And in the case of your personal viewing habits, AdSense explained to me that Google watches what keywords you type into Google Search, and figures out what you're most interested in, and displays those ads on any AdSense creative you see.

    There are also location-based ads that can force their way into a creative.

  3. AdSense also suggested I change the Title color of the text ads. Currently, the title color is similar to the anchor text color of my website. My anchor text color is a dull navy blue (#333399), while the AdSense Title color is a bright blue (#0000FF). I explained that I used the bright blue for the Title color because that's a little bit more of a contrast against my anchor text color, and theoretically more visible.

    However, they insisted that if I change it to my anchor text color, it will perform better. I could, of course, go the other way around and change my anchor text color to fit the AdSense color.

  4. They also insisted that displaying both image and text ads will yield greater revenue. I explained that I had done this before, but that many of the image ads conflicted greatly with the subject of my website. It actually looked spammy with all the coupon ads and singles ads. I'll try it out again, but will watch the eCPM closely to see how much more of a benefit I'm getting.

  5. At the bottom of my pages are image ads from ValueClick. ValueClick is an advertising network focusing on CPM campaigns. I use this because a lot of my visitors do not click on ads, and hence I can still monetize them this way.

    AdSense was sharp enough to notice that all of the ads on my pages are managed through their Doubleclick for Publishers (the old Google AdManager) system. DFP is integrated with AdSense, in that I can specify AdSense as a default campaign, so that it displays whenever I have any unsold inventory.

    AdSense explained that it can go further than that, and make my campaigns compete against AdSense. So take these ValueClick ads for example. I can tell DFP what my ValueClick eCPM is, and DFP will display AdSense if AdSense can beat that eCPM.

I followed through on all of their suggestions. I'll be keeping a watch on how these things affect my overall CTR/CPC/CPM, and will follow up later.

Making Money with AdSense for Domains

AdSense for Domains is used with domain names that don't have any content. These are "parked domains", which are just live domain names with no websites attached to them.

Normally when you register a domain name, your domain registrar will display a "Coming Soon" page if you were to type that domain into your browser. AdSense for Domains lets you replace that page with one that makes money for you.

Like most publishers, I have several domain names I registered that I never developed. These domains were ideas that I thought were good at the time, but eventually I lost interest. Just recently, I pointed them to AdSense for Domains.

And I'm suprised to say that I'm making some decent money from it. It's not huge money, but over the course of a month, it amounts to something that makes me say, "Hmmm" and wonder if I should explore it further.

Google's program policies forbids me from telling you how much I'm earning, so I can't give you that level of detail. And AdSense for Domains specifically forbids me from promoting those domain names, linking to them, or referring traffic to them. So, I can't tell you which domain names they are.

The Best Way to Make Money from AdSense for Domains

In short, it's the expired domains that make all the money. These are the domains that used to have websites, used to publish content, and had attracted inbound links from other websites. For whatever reasons, the publishers of these domains decided to abandon them and let them expire.

All major domain registrars have tools to find expired domains. Afternic is a service that specializes in expired domain name sales.

Interestingly, AdSense for Domains appears to monetize these domains through display advertising (CPM). I haven't yet attracted any clicks on these domains; all the money I've earned thus far came from the impressions.

And the traffic I've received is not very much. According to AdSense's reports, it's only two of my domains that are making all the money, with one domain generating about 50-75 impressions per day, and the other about 25-40 impressions. And those two domains happen to be expired domains that I bought. The other domains I have in this program were ones I bought brand new and they haven't earned anything.

The CPM rates are very high, too.

My advice is to register expired domains that used to host content. You can check this on the Wayback Machine.

I'd suggest not spending anymore than $500.00 on an expired domain name. Assuming that domain name used to host a website and had gathered some inbound links from relatively popular websites, it's reasonable to expect AdSense for Domains to earn you about $300.00 to $500.00 a year, per domain.

If you have a website that you've let run stale, and are thinking of dumping it, then just park it on AdSense for Domains. I have a few of these websites myself. The CPM rates I'm earning from two of my expired domains seems high enough, that my stale websites could make more money from AdSense for Domains than with AdSense for Content.

But before you do this, make sure to remove inbound links from your other websites. AdSense's program policies forbids you from linking to your domains. But obviously, it's OK if other publishers are linking to it.

Improving AdSense for Domains Earnings

AdSense for Domains lets you change the colors of ads. I'm not sure if this really helps or not, since much of the revenue is based on CPM than CPC.

You can also specify keywords for each domain, to generate relevant ads.

But the best way to maximize earnings is to find expired domains with lots of backlinks pointing to them.

AdSense for Search Themed Ads

AdSense for Search today announced it now offers themed ads.

Previously, you could customize the colors of the search results in AdSense for Search, while the ads surrounding the results remained the usual default AdSense colors. Well now, you can change the colors of the ads to blend them in with the colors of your search results.

According to the AdSense Blog...

We're taking themes one step further. Each theme now has ads displayed with a look and feel that match the overall style used for the search results.

The result is harmony between search results and ads, which we think makes for a great user experience.

This should be a welcome enhancement to publishers who use AdSense for Search, considering the data showing that CTR tends to increase when ads are blended in with a website's color scheme.

Just wondering why it took so long for AdSense to roll this out!

adsense for search screenshots

Quality Score Rankings for AdSense

Last week I wrote an article entitled, "How Quality Score Affects AdSense", which explained that AdSense will display a particular ad more often if it attracts more clicks and earns more revenue.

Today, I found an article published by the San Francisco Chronicle that backs this up...

A second reason for Groupon's domination surrounds its catchy offerings. A lot of the ads which show up on Adsense aren't compelling or relevant enough to get clicked on. However, a lot of Internet users utilize the web to thrift shop — and the Groupon ads highlighting daily deals can be very enticing for the user. So, this intrigue for users helps Groupon to further boost its click rates on Adsense.

The article explains why Groupon is dominating the AdSense channel as of late. The above passage was just one of the reasons why we're seeing so many Groupon ads.

But it reinforces my point that one of the key factors in ad relevancy is the AdWords Quality Score. The more money an ad makes for Google, the more often it gets displayed.

In this case, Groupon ads are making so much money for Google, that they're displaying these ads more often through AdSense, and giving them higher priority.

So they way AdSense determines which ads to display on your website is not purely based on which ads have the higher bids. But more specifically, which ads get clicked on the most, and which ones are earning the most revenue overall. That's defined as "Quality Score".

AdSense looks at contextual relevancy of your page and then selects a group of ads that match. From there it sorts the ads by Quality Score and displays them from highest to lowest.

If you feel your AdSense earnings are too low (and who doesn't?) consider that AdWords may not have had enough time to build up a reliable Quality Score on the ads that match your content. You might notice that overtime, your AdSense CTR/CPC/CPM rates increase over a period of months, or even up to a year depending on your traffic level, as AdWords is able to collect enough performance data to determine Quality Scores.

The way us publishers can help speed up that process is to make the AdSense ads very visible, make sure that Google can crawl our pages (submit a sitemap), and do what you can to increase traffic into all of your pages.

AdSense for Search as a Dedicated Website

Lately I'm working on a new website that makes Google Custom Search Engine (Google CSE) the primary content. Check it out here...

Google CSE is free to use, of course, because it places AdSense for Search ads into the search results page. And Google CSE is based on the full Google Web Search index, meaning whatever Google has indexed into it search engine, is available to you to build a search engine of your own.

New York Cemetery Records Search Engine

My goal is to create something highly useful for the genealogy community, a search engine that scans burial records in New York cemeteries published on dozens of websites. The theory is that genealogists are a very connected group of people both on blogs and social networks, and if they find this search engine very useful, they will promote it to their friends and readers.

My own cemetery website,, is among the websites that this search engine scans, so therefore I stand to gain a benefit in the referrals. And of course, AdSense for Search shares the ad revenue with me.

But it's so easy to build.

Building Your Own Google CSE

I recommend building a search engine through AdSense. AdSense gives you the option for "Access more advanced features" which takes you into the Google CSE interface. But doing it this way ensures that your Google CSE is linked to your AdSense account.

Your Google CSE itself need only comprise of two pages, the home page (which contains the search box), and the results page. I also added a few more pages of help content. And then I hosted it on a dedicated server that I use for several other websites.

But technically, you could also host this as a blog. You only need a template with no side bar. The home page would be a post, and the results page is also a post. If you wanted some more pages, you can create them as "pages" instead of blog posts.

The trick to making this successful is to create something highly useful, so that it stands a better chance of gaining viral marketing.

Google CSE has a lot of documentation on how to build a search engine. You can build it through their online interface, or you can code it by hand using XML. I started out using their online interface, and then realized there's more customization options if you handcode the XML.

The XML is a little more tricky to understand, and more technical. But basically you have two XML files, one called an "annotations" file, and the other a "context" file. The annotations file is where you define which webpages to include in the search, and the context file is where you define the refinement labels.

Refinement labels allow your users to refine their searches. Such that if they search for "John Smith", the search results can offer them links to restrict their searches to a specific group of websites, such as New York GenWeb. You can also define refinement labels as search terms, which will append a user's search query with a specific keyword offering them a more finite set of search results.

The annotations file allows you to also define which webpages to include and exclude. But you can also specify whole websites to include, or whole file directories. The annotations file can include hundreds of millions of pages if you like.

Promoting Your Google CSE

Thus far I have linked up my New York Cemetery Records website from, as well as my corporate site. And now, I've linked it from this blog post. I'll be linking it up from other sites over the course of the next month.

I also have a Twitter feed and Facebook page dedicated to which I can also use to promote this.

But because the Google CSE I created incorporates so many other websites, I can also write to each of those websites and ask them for a reciprocal link.


So instead of thinking about content that you can create, try also thinking about search engines to create, and publish them as standalone websites.

If you think about it, once you have your Google CSE all built up, you don't have to do anymore work on it. You just let it go. So even if you only get a handful of traffic a day, and just a $1.00 a day in AdSense revenue, at least it's not costing you any hours to operate.

How Quality Score Affects AdSense

Ever wonder how AdSense determines which ads to display on your website?

There are three basic factors...

  • Bid Amount - the cost per click an advertiser is paying for that ad

  • Relevancy - the keywords defined by the advertiser matching the keywords that Google associates with your webpage.

  • Quality Score - explained below...

In short Quality Score identifies the likelihood this ad will get clicked and result in a sale or action for the advertiser. Quality Score is determined by a variety of things, with the click through rate (CTR) being the most significant.

Hence, AdSense first figures out which ads match your webpage based on relevancy, then it looks at which ads will yield the greatest earnings. Earnings is the combination of Bid Amount and Quality Score.

So what can you as a publisher do to encourage more ads with highest earnings potential?

Crawlability: The single-most effective thing you can do is to make sure your pages are crawlable by Google. If Google has your page indexed, it can then determine relevant ads. If it's not indexed, it's only going to display public service ads (PSA).

Submit a site map into Google Webmaster Tools. Use a site map generator (I use A1 Sitemap Generator for non-blogs). For Blogger blogs, here's an article that explains how to submit sitemaps.

Also, make sure every page of your website is linked together. Better yet, make sure every page is linked up from at least two other pages. On a blog, have your articles link directly to other articles within the body of the articles. Try using "Related Posts" links.

Promote Poorly Trafficked Pages: If you visit a page on your website, and notice the AdSense ads are irrelevant, it could very well be due to a lack of historical CTR data. That may mean this particular page of yours is rarely ever visited, and hence AdWords can't determine a Quality Score.

Find a way to give that page more traffic. Link it from the homepage. Create a "Featured Archive of the Week" section on your blog. Take a look at the TITLE and META tags to make sure they are optimized.

Use Consistent Subdomains: AdSense sees "" different than "". Hence, if you have a page that is linked from another page with the "www", and then linked again from yet another page without the "www", you're actually making it more difficult for Google to collect data to calculate Quality Score.

Refine Your On-Page SEO: Google still has difficulty understanding the true interest of your audience, and as a result may display ads that seem relevant, but are actually not.

For example, you may have a blog on that publishes artful photos of floral arrangements, and your audience are primarily hobbyists seeking to appreciate the art of beautiful floral arrangements.

However, AdSense is displaying ads for "Send Mom Roses for Valentine's Day". It's related to flowers, but totally not what your audience will click on.

You have to figure out what ads your audience is attracted to, and then figure out what keywords best associate with those ads ("flower photography", "floral supplies"), and then plaster those into your content and TITLE/META tags.

Will Google Instant Boost AdSense Revenues?

Will the launch of Google Instant a couple of days ago have any effect on Google AdSense revenues for publishers?

It seems like it would.

Yesterday, I published a piece called "Will Google Instant Kill the Small Publisher?", pointing out that Google Instant will cause people to click on search results before typing out their full search queries...

Since one of my important websites is Best Beef Jerky, I entered several beef jerky related terms. One of them being "beef jerky recipes".

As soon as I typed "beef j" Google assumed I was going to type "beef jerky" and immediately showed me results. At this point, a user can see the results and may not even bother continuing on to type "beef jerky recipes".

So if publishers make a shift towards increasing their optimization of short keywords, it seems likely that they will also compete harder for paid keywords. Small publishers that optimized on long tail keywords will also compete for short keywords on AdWords.

In theory, if the bid rates increase on short keywords, publishers should also see higher CPC rates on AdSense.

Also, publishers should see increased CPC rates on AdSense for Search, as marketers look to find bargains on short keywords.

If all this is works out this way, Google stands to benefit big time.

New Look for AdSense Ads

AdSense announced early last month that they changed the appearance of three of their largest creative units (728x90), (300x250), and (336x280)...

The changes include...

  • The Leaderboard (728x90) the ads are now arranged in rows instead of columns,

  • A different font, and

  • The URL (in green) is on the same line at the Title, whereas before it was on its own line, below the Description.

google adsense ads

I don't use any of those creative units, so I can't tell you how overall performance has been effected. Obviously Google is not going to make these changes unless they've demonstrated to themselves it has a positive effect.

However, I've already read from other publishers that their overall revenue has dropped due to fewer clicks. But then again, it's like the "squeaky wheel syndrome", where only the negatively impacted complain, and you never hear from the ones doing well.

Anyways, if you these creative units, post a comment whether it has helped or hurt your overall revenue.

AdSense For Search - Keyword Selection

The keywords you specify when creating an AdSense for Search Box seem to have a lot to do with what ads display on your search results page (SERP).

On, I have AdSense search boxes created for every country and state sections. For example on all of my Australia cemetery pages, I have an AdSense search box configured to search only content found on those pages.

Here's an example of my AdSense search box on Interment...

The AdSense search box in the upper left of my Australia cemeteries page
searches only content found on my Australia pages.

My visitors use this search box to find burial records to help them with their family history research.

So when I created this search box on AdSense, I was prompted to enter keywords that I wanted to associate with this search...

I specified the words "family tree" and "genealogy"

These keywords seem to have a significant effect on what ads are delivered on the SERPs. They don't necessarily determine which ads to display, but more correctly the context of a search query.

For example, on my users always search for the names of people because they are hoping to find burial records. So when someone enters "thompson", it helps that I tell AdSense ahead of time that all search queries on are related to genealogy and family trees. That way, AdSense knows not to display stuff for sports, or technology, or animals, or what not.

Here are a few examples of my SERPs with AdSense for Search ads. Notice that in all three examples, I used conducted a search using the word "thompson"...

This is with "family history" and "genealogy" as the associated keywords.
Note there is only one irrelevant ad ""

This is with "cemeteries", "graveyards", and "tombstones" as the associated keywords.
Note the fewer ads, and only one partially relevant ad "Locate California Thompson"

This is with no associated keywords.
Note that all ads are irrelevant to genealogy research.

The word "thompson" is obviously a very difficult word for AdSense to monetize because it could have so many different contexts. And most of the search queries on are surnames and full names. It really behooves me to figure out the right keywords to associate with these search boxes.

If your website is about guitars, then think about what your visitors are searching for. If it's "gibson" or "fender", then imagine AdSense pulling up ads for Debbie Gibson or bicycle fenders.

The First Rule of AdSense

As you can see from the previous post (dated November 16, 2007) I haven't been writing this blog for awhile.

That's because I had the carpet pulled out from under me.

Around that same time, Google AdSense basically banned this website from participating in AdSense because the domain included the word "adsense". Oops!

I created this blog because I had some tips and observations formulated after several years of participating in Google AdSense. So I figured I could start this blog and just jot down whatever came to mind. I wasn't trying to make this a popular blog, I just wanted to earn a buck a day from AdSense, which was fine with me considering this blog is hosted on Blogger's server (for free).

But when Google AdSense told me I was violating their program policies, suddenly I had no further reason to keep publishing this.

So a few days ago, my domain name registrar told me "" had expired. At first I decided to just let it expire. But then I figured, "Wait a minute, I'm sure I could still do something with it".

So, it's back online. But instead of using Google AdSense to monetize the traffic, I'm using an affiliate program.

I'm not sure at this time if I'm going to go full time on writing this blog, I suppose that depends on how well I do with the affiliate program. Of course, my beef jerky blog and still keep me busy. But feel free to add the RSS feed to whatever you use to track RSS feeds.

Or would it be easier to keep track if I had a Facebook page for this blog?
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