Are you wondering what adsense publishers should stop doing? Monetizing a website with AdSense is one of the easiest and most popular ways to make money online. As a publisher, you invest a lot of time and energy into creating great content and maintaining your website. However, If you’re using AdSense to run ads on your website, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of it and not making silly mistakes that will cause you to leave money on the table.
Many digital publishers are surprised to discover just how impactful certain actions are when using AdSense. Here’s a list of 10 things that you should avoid doing as an AdSense publisher to protect your revenue:
Relying on auto-ads
When Google first introduced AdSense auto-ads last year, many publishers were quick to implement this innovative solution that offered to manage ad placements and ad optimization automatically. Whilst there are advantages, AdSense auto-ads definitely has disadvantages too for those that become over-reliant on it.
For one, enabling auto-ads puts AdSense in complete control of ad placement, meaning that publishers lose control of where ads are placed on a webpage. This means that ads cannot be strategically placed for maximum visibility which can have a negative impact on earnings.
Google will of course do it’s best to do that for you automatically, but their systems rely on what is good for publishers in general and can overlook the nuances of individual sites. Auto-ads are a great way to get started, but publishers shouldn’t expect leading-edge results from them.
Blocking low earning categories without testing
Whilst AdSense publishers are given the option to block certain ad categories from showing on their websites, this can have a negative impact on revenue. This is because the more advertisers that participate in an auction, the higher the competition which pushes up potential earnings. If entire ad categories are blocked from competing, this can result in a lower CPC. For example:
I have a website serving AdSense ads with a CTR of 1% and an average CPC of $0.35. So for every 10,000 impressions that my site generates, I receive $35 in revenue. If I decide that certain categories are performing poorly and that I am going to block them from serving ads, my click-through rate might rise to 1.6%. However, my CPC might decrease to $0.20. This now means that for every 10,000 impressions my site generates, I will now only make $32 which is $3 less than before.
Of course it can work too. Luckily AdSense provides a simple way to test such set-ups through split testing. If you are blocking categories for performance reasons you should always do this through split testing.
Failing to monitor user-generated content
AdSense policy stipulates that publishers are responsible for ensuring that all content placed on a page with AdSense code must comply with programme policies. It may come as a surprise to some publishers that this also includes user-generated content, such as comments.
This means it is essential to have procedures in place that prevent non-compliant content from being posted. For example, publishers could enable a keyword filter, a CAPTCHA test or simply have a moderation system in place so that each comment has to be manually approved.
Ensuring that all of your content is policy compliant not only protects your account from enforcement action, but can prevent dropping CPMs too. Many advertisers will fail to bid on pages that have content they are unhappy to advertise next to. If users are adding content that will trigger advertiser blocklists to otherwise valuable pages, your earnings will decrease.
Not putting an ad unit above-the-fold
Ad placements and sizes play a huge role in ad earnings, so publishers definitely need to think strategically when placing ads to ensure maximum revenue gains. The concept of above-the-fold refers to the portion of the page that users can see without scrolling down. Advertisers value ad units that are located above-the-fold as there is a higher chance that the ad will be viewed by users, so these ad units will typically earn more revenue than those below the fold. With that said, publishers should not overload the page with above-the-fold ad units as this is likely to have a negative impact on the user experience and can incur a Google penalty.
Relying on AdSense alone for all monetization
AdSense can be a great source of income, but publishers should avoid relying on AdSense alone for their website monetization in its entirety. Aside from the fact that it is risky to put all your eggs in one basket, publishers that depend on AdSense alone for website monetization risk leaving money on the table.
Whilst AdWords demand is responsive and able to fill differently sized units, not all demand is. Much of the highest paying demand available in AdSense and AdX comes via agencies serving into IAB standard-sized units. Implementing non-standard sizes can leave that demand unable to bid and CPMs are lowered as a result.
Not testing on multiple devices
It’s a multi-device world and most sites are set-up to look different on different screen sizes. Units that are in prime placement above the fold on desktop can be forced to the bottom of a long scroll on mobile, or worse, disappear completely. Checking your ad serving on the devices commonly used on your site can ensure that you have effective layouts and placements for all your units. It can also help you avoid policy and placement issues that are only apparent on some devices.
Optimising for the wrong metric
Publishers who chase the wrong metric can find themselves doing hard-to-repair damage to their long-term earning potential. The most extreme example of this is when publishers optimising for CTR or ad unit eCPM and find themselves facing account deductions or even termination.
Less extreme, but more common is publishers focusing on metrics that fail to give the big picture. For example, focusing on page RPM without looking at the impact on session RPM (i.e: it is better to have a 2 pageview session with $2 page RPM than a single pageview at $3).
Not understanding AdSense policy
Many publishers apply and gain access to AdSense without ever actually familiarising themselves with the terms of service. Unfortunately for those that do not bother to read AdSense policies, pleading ignorance is no excuse. Google is not very forgiving and any policy violations can quickly result in account suspension or termination. Once a publisher is banned, it is extremely difficult to be reinstated so staying up-to-date with AdSense policies is essential.
Buying bad traffic
Few things are viewed as dimly by Google as invalid traffic. There are no rules against buying traffic to your site, but if you run ads for that traffic you are vouching for it being genuine and you need to be certain that it is. Good traffic is not cheap. No matter how many claims a traffic seller makes that their traffic is “bot free” and “genuine human traffic”, it is the publisher’s responsibility to ensure that is the case.
Whereas the other mistakes in the article can lower your earnings, this one can cut them off. Google will terminate accounts that pose risk to advertisers and invalid traffic is the fastest way to make that happen.
To summarise, Google AdSense is an excellent platform for those that want an easy and reliable way to monetize their content. However, it should not be treated as a plug-and-play solution if you want to get the best out of it. If you want to improve your AdSense earnings, one of the best and most simple ways to do it is to ensure that you are avoiding the most common mistakes made by publishers.
It is true that AdSense requires little effort and maintenance, but you should always try to stay as knowledgeable as you can on AdSense policies as they are constantly changing. AdSense will do most of the work for you – but you will have to work a little too.
Spending a little time experimenting to see what works best might mean the difference between lots of clicks or none at all. As always, Google’s main priority continues to be providing the best experience to its users. Therefore, if you continually make sure that you are putting user experience at the heart of your website, this will always be reflected in your AdSense earnings. Adsense publishers should stop doing these things and take their business seriously.
Dolly Bagnall – Publisher Communications Assistant at OKO Digital.