Launched in the summer of 2003, Google Adsense is the largest ad serving network in the world and a major source of Google’s income (around 30%). Websites big and small rely on the advertising network as a major source of their income.

The concept of Adsense is very straightforward.  Website owners who want to publish advertisements add a piece of Javascript to their website. Google then crawls the page and searches for keywords and phrases. It then finds suitable text and image advertisements to place in your ad zone. Visitors to your website may then click on the adverts – if they do, you earn some cash. This is essentially how you make money with Google Adsense.

For years Google would not disclose how much of a cut they take for themselves however in May 2010 they confirmed that 68% of the price advertisers pay goes directly to publishers.  The rate drops to 51% for search ads.

(View earnings per day or month)

You need to apply to be part of the Google Adsense program. The requirements are quite low, however if you don’t own a website with at least a small amount of traffic, you may not get accepted. If you get rejected for the service, please have a look at their Program Policy information.

Types of Ads

There are currently 7 ways to make money through Google Adsense:

  • Content: The main method of making money through Adsense is by integrating advertisements into your website. Publishers can place text ads, image ads or a combination of the two.
  • Domains: Google Adsense for domains allows you to place an information page in your unused domain name. The page resembles a search results page. The publisher makes money when a visitor clicks on one of the ads on the page.
  • Feeds: Automatically inserts advertisements into your website RSS feed.
  • Mobile content: Designed specifically for mobile web pages.
  • Search:  Lets you add a custom Google-Powered search engine on your website. This normally replaces the websites existing search engine so that when a user searches for something on the website they are shown results from Google.
  • Applications: Make money by inserting ads into games and other popular applications.
  • Videos: Make money through websites such as YouTube by inserting non-intrusive ads into your videos.

There are numerous advertisement sizes that you can choose for your website.  In total there are 12 advertisement shapes ranging from small 125×125 pixel buttons to 728×90 pixel leaderboards.

Publishers can also display link units. Link units promote 4 or 5 websites in the unit box. There are 6 link unit ad sizes to choose from.

(Example of a link unit)

(Example of a text ad)

You are only permitted to publish 3 normal ads (e.g. text/image ads) and 3 link units on any page on your website. If you place the code for a fourth or fifth, they will not be shown (leaving a blank area in your design).

How Much Money Can You Make With Google Adsense?

There are many factors that determine the amount you get paid by Google:

  • Traffic: Publishers get paid on a Cost-Per-Click basis therefore the money you make depends on the number of times your ads are clicked.  If your website traffic increases, your income through Google Adsense should increase too.
  • Keyword Price:  Advertisers pay different amounts for different keywords. Generally speaking, the more competitive a keyword is and the more money companies in that niche can make from customers, the higher the advertising price. For example, some medical keywords can cost advertisers between $5-$10 per click. This sounds like a lot however if a customer visits the advertising website and purchases services worth thousands of dollars, it’s worth the advertising cost.
  • Ad Placement:  It is very important that the placements of Google Adsense ads on your website is optimised. The ads should be close to your content but not frustrate the user. Also, more advertisements do not necessarily mean more income. Sometimes less is more. Website visitors may be less likely to click on an advertisement if the website has ads all over the page (more on this issue to follow).
  • Ad Size: The size of the ads you place on your website is very important.  Google recommends that you use 300×250, 336×280, 728×90 and 160×600 banner ads.  These are the larger banners available so if integrated well into your design, they should perform very well. The design of your site and how the ads are integrated with the surrounding area, are very important.

(Creating a new ad unit in Google Adsense)

Assuming you are working hard on growing your websites traffic, the best thing you can to increase your income from Google Adsense is to ensure ads are placed close to your content.

The table below shows the areas Google have found to convert the best (this is known as a heat map).

(Google Adsense Heat Map)

As you can see from the table above, the area just above your content performs the best. Ad zones to the left of your content and above and below your main content area also perform well too. Every website structure is different so the above zones may not perform as well for you if the shape of your site is different, however it’s something to bear in mind when inserting Google Adsense ads into your site.


Adsense is not always the best advertising network to use. In many occasions it is more profitable to have more control over the ads on your site and promote products to visitors that you like and enjoy.

It is also criticised frequently for not making publishers a lot of money but this is not entirely true. Indeed, websites with low traffic usually perform poorly. Adsense performs best on optimised content websites and websites with large amounts of traffic. If your website only gets a few hundred visits a day then it is unlikely that you are going to make more than a few dollars a day using it.

When it is used on the right website and optimised correctly, Adsense is a very reliable source of income. It also saves website owners a lot of time.  Advertisements are automatically displayed according to the keywords on your page so they are always very targeted. This saves you having to change ads regularly and you don’t have the hassle of dealing with advertisers directly either.

If you have a website that is doing well, I encourage you to try Google Adsense out for a few weeks to see how it performs for you.