On occasion, a visitor will write to me at thesitewizard.com asking how they can get Google advertisements to their website. While this may seem very obvious to those who have read my article on How to Make Money From Your Website or visited the list of free advertisers for web publishers on thefreecountry.com's Affiliate Programs: Free Sponsors and Advertisers page, I decided that an article explaining briefly the steps involved will probably be useful for a number of people.
Adsense is Google's advertising network that places those sponsored ads you see on many websites. Google automatically checks the web page it places the ads on and displays advertisements that are relevant to the page. This produces highly targeted adverts for the page, allowing, hopefully, higher returns for the advertiser, the advertising network (Google) and the publisher (you).
You must have an existing website before you apply to the Google AdSense program. If you don't already have one, read How to Create / Make Your Own Website to get started with your site first. The Google AdSense team reviews your site before accepting new applications, so you must first put up a working website and not just some "under construction" page. For example, if you are starting a personal blog, post a few articles about yourself or your experiences first.
When your site is fully functional, apply to Google AdSense. You can find AdSense listed among other advertisers in thefreecountry.com's Affiliate Programs: Free Sponsors and Advertisers page.
Google will then send you an email to verify your email address. Follow the instructions in that message (which is basically to click a link). Once you do that, your application will be sent to the Google AdSense team, one of whom will pop by your website to review it. Don't hold your breath though, it may take a couple of days before they get around to your site. During this time, if your site is a blog, continue to post to it as per normal.
Once your account is approved, you can log into your account to get the necessary HTML code to paste into your blog or web page. The code can be found in the "AdSense Setup" tab. There are a number of options, but the code for the context-sensitive advertisements can be located under the "AdSense for Content" link. You'll be able to customize the appearance of the advertisements, choose between text advertisements, image ads or a mixture of both. Once you have finished configuring, you will be given some HTML code which you can cut and paste into your site.
There are other types of adverts beside the context-sensitve ads. "AdSense for Search" provides you with a Google search box that you can place on your site. When your visitors search through that box, and click an advertisement, it will be as though they had clicked an ad on your site. "Referrals" provide you with ads for specific products.
Make sure that when you insert the code into your site, you insert it as HTML. Instructions for doing this in different WYSIWYG web editors can be found here:
If you run a blog, you may want to paste the code into your blog's template instead of individually stuffing it into every post you make. For blogs hosted on Blogger, one of the free blogging services listed on the Free Blog Hosts page, you can use my tutorial on How to Insert Google AdSense Advertisements in a Blogger Blog to help you insert your advert.
When your earnings reach a certain amount (it was US $10 the last time I checked) for the first time, Google will send you a card by snail mail (ordinary paper mail) with a series of characters printed on it. You will need to log into your AdSense account and enter this series of characters, the PIN, before they will send you any payments. It takes a while before this card is sent (a few weeks after you reach the threshold amount they define, depending on where you live), so just wait for it. You will only have to do this once in the life of the account.
One of the things you must always remember is never click your own Google ads, even if it is to find out whether the site linked to is acceptable for your website's audience. Since (at this time) Google pays AdSense for Content ads according to the number of clicks, clicking your own ads is regarded as fraud, and will, at the very least, get you kicked out of the AdSense program.
Although Google doesn't say this, if you are showing off your blog or website to your family members, make sure they do not click any of your advertisements either. This is the case even if they are genuinely interested in the products advertised. They can always look for it by name in a search engine later if they wish, but for anyone living in your own household, any Google advert on your site is strictly off limits. The reason for this is that clicks from your household will look exactly like clicks from you.
Those who have read my article on How to Increase Your Website Revenue from Affiliate Programs will probably know that if you are just starting out with your site, you probably won't be able to make a fortune from your ads unless you have enough people visiting your website. This only comes after you have done some serious website promotion or advertising.
Be realistic: remember that even if someone clicks your ads, you may just get a cent or two from that click, assuming that Google doesn't discount that click for some reason. In addition, only a very miniscule percentage of your visitors will actually click ads. Put those factors together and you can roughly guess how much you are going to make if you only have a few visitors per day.
If you can, try not to put Google AdSense ads or, in fact, any advertisements at all, if you are trying to sell a product or service on your website. There are a couple of reasons for this:
You may be inadvertantly advertising for your competitors. You cannot predict what sort of ads are going to pop up in the AdSense code for your site. What you see when you load your site may not necessarily be what your visitors see. If a competitor places an ad that Google finds relevant for your page (and it surely will, if Google's context-sensitive engine works correctly), then their ad will appear on your page. You may thus lose sales to that competitor as a result of the ads.
Ads distract your visitors from the real focus of your site. You want your users to read your sales copy, and not be clicking on links to go to some other site even if those links do not lead to your competitors.
If you already have a blog or a website, you can immediately apply to AdSense. If not, start your website now. These things take time to get into full swing, and you should not wait till you're desperately in need of money before starting.
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