Is it really as easy to make money with Google AdSense as many would lead you to believe? Now that I've become heavily involved with managing Google AdSense programs for my clients, I can see it's not all play and no work.
Unfortunately, a lot of people bought into the idea that there was a lot of easy money to be made and they are now finding out they aren't making nearly as much as they thought they would. Additionally, Google has a lot of prohibited practices when it comes to AdSense, and too many Webmasters are finding out they violated Google's policies after the fact - often because they never bothered to read the AdSense policies in the first place.
Webmasters must not only comply with AdSense policies, but their Websites must also comply with Google's webmaster policies.
Prerequisites for Making Money with AdSense
To make money with Google AdSense you need plenty of traffic coming in to your site or there won't be anyone to click the ads. Website promotion techniques, especially search engine optimization and article marketing will bring more traffic to your site. You also need to have content that will attract the ads with the highest Pay Per Click (PPC) rate that are relevant to that content. Then, you need to lay out your web pages so the ads blend in with your site. Studies have revealed that people who visit sites that contain ads that use colors that are not in harmony with the actual Web site tend to develop "ad blindness". Meaning no matter how much traffic comes into your site, chances are no one will click the ads because they'll be ignoring them. If no one clicks, you make nothing.
Dealing with Competitors' Advertisements
If you offer products or services on your Website, the first thing you'll notice when you begin hosting PPC ads is that many of the ads are coming from your competitors. Therefore, you'll want to put ads on pages that aren't earning you any money, or do like I did and not put ads on your site until you're so busy anyway you'd rather make a few dollars off of your competitors than to continue turning business away with nothing to show for it.
Google AdSense allows you to specify up to 200 URLs for sites you want to bar from placing ads on your pages. The problem is that most times you won't know the competitors are out there until their ads appear.
Google offers three ways to make money from them:
Google AdSense for Content - A variety of size and shape ads for placing in your content are available. These can be text or image ads or both - you specify what you'll allow. Ad units are full ads. Link units are simply a strip of text links that your visitors might want to click. Google allows you to put up to 3 Ad Units and 1 Link unit on each page of your Web site, provided you follow its policies - both for AdSense and for Webmasters.
Google AdSense for Search - This places a search box on your Web site. When a user enters a term and conducts a search, a search results page opens, that hosts more pay-per-click ads. You can customize the color scheme of the search results page to harmonize with your web site.
Google Referrals - Here you make money by referring visitors to use a Google product, like AdSense, AdWords, the Google Toolbar and other Google software. Just like Google AdSense for Content and AdSense for Search, Google generates the code that you paste into the desired location on your web page. You can choose from a wide variety of buttons and text links of different colors. As an example of how Google Referrals works, if someone goes to your site and clicks the link and signs up for an AdSense account, when that person earns a $100 from Google AdSense and receives a payout from Google, you'll also receive $100 for referring them. This is a great idea to me, because you can be the world's worst Google AdSense advertiser, but if an ad dynamo happens to visit your site and uses your referral link, you can make money anyway!
Google AdSense Payments
Google will not issue an AdSense payment until your earnings exceed $100. Unfortunately, there are loads of Google AdSense Forum entries about website operators who accumulated $90 or more in click through earnings only to get banned from Google and not get paid anything at all before they ever reached $100. This may be because Google doesn't take a close look to see if you're complying with their guidelines until it comes time to pay you. So yes, there's a lot more to the story than meets the eye.
Other Programs Besides AdSense
Yahoo and MSN have similar programs, although those programs aren't as well-developed as Google AdSense and there aren't as many available advertisers to display ads on your site. The fundamentals for making money are the same: You still need plenty of traffic, you still need high-paying ads, and you still need to design your site to harmonize with the ads to get people to click.