If you are using Google AdSense to earn money from your website then, of course, increasing overall revenue should be your main goal. However, to measure the success of your AdSense setup, you should really look at the speed at which you are earning revenue, not just the amount of revenue.
I’ll put it this way – as a website publisher, it’s your job to make your website popular. More visitors to your site means more page views, and more page views means more ads delivered by AdSense.
But what if you bring in double the visitors each month, but your revenue only increases by 5%?
If your AdSense setup isn’t great you could show a lot more ads to people and get almost no return on it. By running the right type of ads in the right places you can drastically increase the amount you earn from each person who visits your site.
This makes your efforts to grow your site more worthwhile. More than that, a good ad setup should annoy your users as little as possible, so you also won’t be selling out your site to chase an extra buck or two.
Page RPM is your key metric. RPM stands for Revenue per Thousand (M being the Roman numeral for 1,000).
AdSense has two RPM measures – Page RPM and Impression RPM. Page RPM means how much money you make every time ads are shown on 1,000 pages. Impression RPM shows how much money you make every time you show 1,000 ads.
Page RPM is a better measure for website publishers, as it means you can see the effect of adding or removing ad units from a page or moving things around. Impression RPM on the other hand is the better measure of ad networks, as it shows them how much money they are making per ad shown.
Using Page RPM instead of just revenue means you can easily compare different months’ performance, regardless of how many pages views your site received. It is the speed at which your site is earning money – every 1,000 page views you will earn this amount.
Page RPM = Revenue divided by Page views (then times the whole thing by 1,000)
If you follow the tips below you can increase your Page RPM. This means you’ll earn more money from the same amount of visitors you currently receive. It’s about making your website work harder for you – and as mentioned the key thing is to not annoy your visitors with ads.
So you’re not only improving your income – you’re also improving your site.
You can use this calculator to work out your Page RPM quickly: Page RPM Calculator (Revenue Per Thousand)
What is a good benchmark for the performance of AdSense accounts?
Once you’ve optimised your AdSense ads, how do you know if you’ve done a good job?
Well, the overall average for AdSense comes out to about $10 RPM. This means for every 1,000 pages that load with ads, you will get about $10 (that is USD). Translate your currency into USD, and use this as a reasonable place to aim for.
Note: There is a huge variation in this figure depending on where in the world you are, and what your site is about. However, it is a reasonable average to work with.
To work out how much money can make from your site, try this useful calculator: How Much Money Can I Make?
Block Sensitive Ad Categories
People already don’t like ads in general. So running ads which especially get under people’s skin is a big no-no.
This means ads about guns, religion, politics, adult themes, etc. Anything that will make people look at your site and think “this isn’t for me” should be avoided. Therefore, unless your site is about something sensitive itself, it makes sense to block as many sensitive categories as you feel uncomfortable with.
Google will encourage you (by sending you emails and notifications) to allow more categories if it thinks your site will make money from them. The logic behind this is that the more ads that compete to be on your site, the more the price will be driven up for individual ads. But you shouldn’t be thinking about the price of individual ad impressions.
As a website owner increasing the number of users that come to your site should always come first. In the long run, you will make far more money from having more users.
Luckily, it’s relatively easy to block sensitive ad categories in Google Ad Sense. Here’s how you navigate to the sensitive categories menu:
You should check this menu for new categories every now and then even if you’ve already set your permissions.
Place your ads Above The Fold
Above the Fold simply means that ads appear on the screen when a webpage loads. Unsurprisingly, people are far more likely to interact with ads if they actually see them – and ads above the fold are seen by every visitor to a webpage.
If you place your ads “above the fold” then they will perform much better than ads which are placed “below the fold”. This improves earnings because not only are people more likely to click on your ads but also any ads which are paying on a vCPM basis will also pay for these ads.
vCPM (or CPvM) means paying per thousand viewable impressions (see below). This is worth keeping in mind when trying to optimise your earnings. It’s extra money, just for putting your ads in the right place.
Read more about Above the Fold here: Above The Fold Definition
Viewability (Active Views)
There was a study done a few years ago which found something like 80% of ads on the internet were never seen by anyone. This was because websites would put ads in the footer of pages (or anywhere below the fold really). So if a person visiting a page didn’t scroll enough they wouldn’t see the ad.
As many advertisers pay on a CPM basis (paying per 1,000 times an ad loads) this was seen as a big scandal – advertisers were essentially paying for nothing.
To solve this problem the online ad industry came up with a metric called viewability. An ad is considered viewable when it is at least 50% on screen for one second. Advertisers can opt to only buy viewable ad impressions (instead of any old ad impressions) by paying a premium.
In AdSense a viewable ad impression is called an Active View, and you can see how much you earn from them by clicking the Active Views tab in your performance reports.
You can also see what percentage of all your ads are counted as viewable with the Active View Viewable metric which appears on the far right. The higher the percentage, the more likely you will be paid for this sort of ad.
Paying for Active Views like this isn’t actually incredibly common, so you won’t make loads of money from it, but it is worth optimising for. And as stated above, having ads Above the Fold makes them perform better anyway, so it’s a win-win really.
To work out how many of your ads are viewable, you can use this Viewability Rate Calculator: Viewability Rate Calculator
Use the best ad sizes
For Desktop computers, the most effective ad sizes in terms of revenue are the 728×90, 300×250, and 300×600. AdSense itself claims that you should also include the 336×280 in that list, however, not many advertisers use that ad size. This means that if you add it to your site, most of the time a 300×250 will just float in the middle of the space. This isn’t a bad thing, but also means you shouldn’t feel bad about just adding the smaller 300×250 if that is all the space you have.
There is a reason you see these ad sizes all over the internet – it’s because they earn the most money.
For mobile (smartphones) and tablet computers there is no absolute consensus on what the best ad sizes are due to there being so many different screen sizes. AdSense itself says that the 320×100 is best, however that ad unit isn’t actually very widely used. It can be used as a type of ad called an Anchor ad, which floats over the top of your page (see below), but it’s not an amazing money-spinner.
The lowest effort, highest reward option for mobile is probably sprinkling a few 300x250s throughout the content, every few paragraphs (with the first one being above the fold).
Other Ad Sizes
The reason why people use the ad sizes listed above is that they perform the best. However, most people have now developed “ad blindness” meaning they don’t even notice ads anymore.
This is mostly because ad placement is generally so predictable. You know they will be at the top and on the side of webpages, so if you just don’t look there then you won’t see them. To get around this, you can use other, less common, ad sizes (of which there are many), and for some sites, these can work very well in generating extra income.
For most sites, however, they just clutter up web pages and slow down your page speed (which is a big no-no).
It’s up to you whether you want to do some testing to see if these work well for you or not. The general rule of thumb is that the larger or more invasive an ad is, the better it performs. However, sites with large and/or invasive ads also lose visitors at a higher rate, so you have to find your own equilibrium.
If you want to learn more about the other options out there, read this guide: The Ad Size Guide
Other types of ads – (Auto Ads)
AdSense has a whole section of other ad types called Auto Ads, which are mostly not very good. These ads work by you adding a bit of code to the header of your site, then simply toggling them on and off.
I would recommend testing them, but keep your eyes on the prize when you do as they are all at least a little annoying to users (reminder: the prize is an increase in Page RPM).
Here is a quick overview of these ad types:
Overlays are a type of pop-up ad which appears within the webpage you are on. These can work extremely well in terms of clicks and money, HOWEVER, they are also extremely annoying.
On AdSense, there are two types of Overlay ads (both for Mobile)
An Anchor Ad is a banner that appears at the bottom of the page (usually a 300×50, 320×50, or 320×100). It floats on top of the page and stays there unless closed. I have never seen anyone make a lot of money from this type of ad, but it continues to be quite common, so it’s probably not the worst option out there.
This is a type of mobile ad which covers the whole screen in between pages being loaded. Google says it only shows these ads to people it will think it will get clicks from, thereby limiting how annoying they are.
As Google Search punishes sites which show this type of ad (for being so annoying) it is pretty hard to argue they are a good idea! Again, I have never seen a site running vignettes make a lot of money from them, so I don’t recommend using them.
In Page Ads
These ads aren’t available to everyone (you need to have over a certain amount of impressions for them to become available).
They are actually not ads in the normal sense, however. They scan your content and recommend other pages on your site to people based on the page they are on. They can also recommend pages on other people’s sites. This type of ad unit is actually pretty terrible for a couple of reasons:
- They don’t work well. Google’s algorithms can match pages ok, but using an ad unit to promote pages on your own site isn’t the best idea (because of ad blindness mentioned above).
- They really mess up your stats in AdSense. Every page that a matched content ad suggests (which is up to three I think) counts as an ad impression. As people so rarely click on these (and even when they do, they only click on one at most) it means your CTR will take a nose-dive no matter what happens. This isn’t useful if you are trying to optimise performance.
In Feed Ads
These ads at least look natural and are designed to go into “feeds” you have on your site – such as lists of blog posts, or products etc. They however are taking people away from your site at a vital moment in their user journey (when they are making a decision) in many cases.
These are worth trying if you don’t mind that happening.
In Article Ads
This is a form of native advertising, which I am personally against in general. Native Advertising means making ads which look like they are part of your content.
To be honest – the AdSense version isn’t bad in terms of the way it looks – they still are obviously ads (but not painfully obvious). The results don’t appear to be amazing, but in terms of adding an extra set of ads onto your page in the easiest way possible, they have a chance of being good money spinners at least.
Don’t annoy your users
It bears repeating – the most important thing to remember when trying to improve the performance of ads on your site is to not annoy your users. You can mainly do this by not putting too many ads on your site.
3-5 ads on each page is optimum. More ads than this is annoying and will slow down how fast your web pages load – which is even more annoying. Also, keep in mind that people are likely to click on one ad at the absolute most per page view. So more ads will unlikely mean more clicks – but it will mean fewer visitors return to your site.
Similarly, ads which annoy your users (like pop-ups or autoplay videos) are generally not worth your time. Ad networks like AdSense will always tell you to try these ads – because it makes them more money.
For individual websites though, more ads rarely means more money in the long term – whereas more users almost always does.