Google AdSense: What It Is & How to Make Money With It

Carlos Silva

Feb 01, 20236 min read
What Is Google AdSense
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What Is Google AdSense?

Google AdSense is a free advertising program that allows online publishers to earn money by displaying third-party Google ads on their sites. 

Businesses pay to advertise through AdSense. And site owners get a piece of that revenue based on clicks or ad impressions. 

This is what a Google AdSense ad can look like on a website:

Google AdSense ad

Let’s get into how to make money with Google AdSense and how it works. 

How Does Google AdSense Work? 

Here’s how Google AdSense works in just three steps:

Step 1. Sign Up and Make Your Website Available for Ads 

When you create your AdSense account, Google will review your site to make sure it complies with its policies

Once approved, you will need to add a code to your site. Then you can choose the ad formats you want. And where you’d like them to appear.

Ad formats include in-page (within main body), anchor (edge of the screen), and vignette (full screen). Among others.

Note: You can also earn money by displaying ads in your YouTube videos. To do so, set up an AdSense account from within YouTube Studio.

Step 2. Advertisers Start Bidding. 

Then, AdSense uses an auction to select the ads that show up on your website. 

Usually, whoever bids the highest wins. 

To learn more about how AdSense auctions work and how you can increase demand (and potentially profit) for your ad space, read this AdSense auction guide.

Step 3. You Get Paid. 

Google will ask you to add your payment information and personal details so you can get paid.

Once you do that, Google will pay you at the end of each month for clicks, impressions, and other interactions with the ads displayed on your website. 

You’ll get 68% of the ad revenue recognized by Google

Google AdSense vs. Google Ads

Google AdSense and Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) are two entirely different services from Google.

AdSense is a website monetization program.

It lets website owners or publishers monetize their websites or blogs by displaying ads.

Google Ads, on the other hand, is an advertising platform. 

It helps businesses and individuals promote their products or services on Google's advertising network:

This includes: 

  • Google Search
  • YouTube
  • And the websites that have signed up for Google AdSense

The key difference is that AdSense lets publishers earn money by placing ads, while Google Ads lets advertisers pay to show ads on its network.

How Much Can You Earn With AdSense?

You can’t really know how much money you’ll make with AdSense until you try it. 

The amount depends on many factors, like:

  • How much traffic you get
  • Your niche
  • Where searchers are located
  • Where ads are displayed on your site
  • Etc.

But you can get rough estimates. First, try out AdSense’s revenue calculator

Set your visitor location and site content category (finance, games, health, etc.). And you’ll get a projection of what your annual revenue can look like. 

see how much you could earn from adsense

Toggle the “Monthly page views” slider to see how much you could potentially make based on views.

Want to know a little more about how AdSense calculates your earnings? There are two basic models:

  1. Per click
  2. Per impression 

To calculate per-click commissions, AdSense looks at how often users click the ads on your site and multiplies that by cost per click (CPC).

CPC measures how much an advertiser pays each time a user clicks on an ad. In this case, an ad on your site.

To calculate per-impression commissions, AdSense looks at how often users see the ads on your site and multiplies that by cost per mille (CPM).

CPM measures the cost an advertiser pays for 1,000 impressions or views of an ad.

Various factors, such as your niche, the ad units and formats you use, and your location, will also play a role in these calculations. 

AdSense revenue calculators can give you an idea of what you might earn with AdSense. But you won’t know exactly how much you can earn with AdSense until you actually start using it.

How to Make Money with Google AdSense

Let’s get into a few best practices that can help you maximize your revenue potential with AdSense. 

Follow Google AdSense Policies

Google has strict program policies. Many of which discourage deceptive practices that can boost your earnings. 

This includes things like:

  • Clicking on your own ads
  • Incentivizing others to click on ads
  • Redirecting users to unwanted websites
  • Buying traffic or clicks

And so on. 

Google may disable your account if you fail to comply with their policies

And if your account is disabled, you won’t be eligible for further participation in the AdSense program.

Make sure you read the program’s policies carefully if you’re unfamiliar with its terms. 

Regularly Publish Content 

AdSense is a traffic game. 

Without traffic, no one will see or click on your ads. Which means no revenue for you.

So you need steady traffic if you want users to land on your page. And, ideally, engage with your ads.

The best way to reach your target audience organically is to create high-quality, SEO-optimized content.

This means you need to:

  • Target keywords people are searching for
  • Match search intent
  • Optimize on-page SEO elements

To learn more about creating high-ranking content that drives traffic, check out our SEO writing guide

Target High-CPC Keywords

Regardless of your site’s niche, you should strive to find (and target) keywords with high CPC. 

These are the keywords that can potentially bring in the most AdSense revenue. 

Use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to quickly find the CPC of any keyword.

To do so, enter your keyword into the search bar, and click “Search.” 

Like so:

semrush keyword magic tool

You’ll see a table with lots of data. The keyword’s CPC is in the “CPC” column on the right. 

where to find keyword’s CPC

You’ll also see CPC data for related keywords.

CPC data for related keywords

And other useful metrics, like “Volume” and “Keyword Difficulty (KD%)”. 

volume and keyword difficulty

Volume shows a keyword’s search volume, or the average number of monthly searches for a keyword. 

KD% shows how hard it would be to rank organically on the first page of Google for a keyword.

Focus on writing content around keywords with high CPC, high traffic, and low KD%. 

Place Your Ads Above the Fold

Ad placement is one of the most important factors affecting how many people click on or see your ads. 

And thus, how much money you can earn. 

It’s best to place your ads above the fold. Where visitors can see it without scrolling. 

That can be either at the very top or in the sidebar.

However, always keep the user experience in mind. Visitors are there to read your content, not see and click on ads. 

Think about how to integrate ads without getting in the user’s way. 

It’s tricky and tough to get right. Play with ad placement until you find that perfect balance. 

Tip: You can also let Google place ads for you by enabling Auto ads. Google will scan your site and place ads where they’re likely to perform well and generate revenue. 

But be sure to review the ads Google is placing to make sure you’re happy with where they are and how they affect the user experience.

Use AdSense Experiments

With the “Experiments” page, AdSense lets you test variations of ad units and settings against each other.

It splits your traffic between the two configurations you want to test. And measures performance side by side so you can see which performs better. 

For example, you can test:

  • Different link colors
  • Borders vs. no borders
  • Ad size
  • Ad style (link, banner, image, video)

And more.

Continuously test to make informed decisions. And continuously optimize to increase your earnings. 

Boost Your Site’s Traffic and Rankings

Now you know how Google AdSense works and how to make money with it. And that one of the most important factors is driving traffic to your site. 

Take it a step further by boosting your site’s traffic and Google rankings.

Here are several resources to help you get there:

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Carlos Silva is a content marketer with over 8 years of experience in writing, content strategy, and SEO. At Semrush, he’s involved in research, editing, and writing for the English blog. He also owns Semrush’s Educational Newsletter (4M+ subscribers).
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