The list of activities that you can use to improve your AdSense revenues is long and involved, but so is the list of strategies that you should avoid. In that list, however, some stand out far more than others. What follows is a list of the top-ten practices that you should avoid when creating your Web site and implementing your AdSense ads. Somewhere along the line someone likely told you that you should try one of the practices listed here.
What follows is a list of the top-ten practices that you should avoid when creating your Web site and implementing your AdSense ads. Somewhere along the line someone likely told you that you should try one of the practices listed here.
Don’t do it. The results might be nice for a while. You could temporarily bump up your AdSense revenues. However, over time, the risks become much higher, and ultimately, you’ll probably end up getting caught by Google, which results in losing the privilege to show AdSense ads — and the right to earn AdSense revenues. Ultimately, it’s just not worth the risk.
#1 Don’t Click Your Own Ads
Of all the no-nos you hear about AdSense, this is the most important one. Don’t click your own ads. Clicking your own ads might seem like just the thing to do. After all, you don’t want ads on your site that you don’t know where they lead, and it wouldn’t hurt to bump your income just a touch.
Hold it just a minute! That’s completely the wrong way to think about it. If everyone could just click their own ads and run up their profits, life would indeed be grand, but clicking your own ads is a form of click fraud. Click fraud is when you fraudulently drive up the number of ad clicks from people (yourself included) who aren’t actually interested in whatever the ad promises.
See, AdSense only works if AdWords works, and AdWords only works if people are truly interested in the ads that AdWords users create. AdWords users place their ads for people to see, and Website owners who use AdSense then publish the ads for their Web site visitors to view and (hopefully) click. If no one clicks the ads, AdWords users aren’t charged a fee for placing the ad and AdSense users aren’t paid for placing the ads. If someone does click through the ads but never makes a purchase or completes a transaction with the advertiser, advertisers will quit using AdWords and people like you who want to make money from showing ads will have no ads to display. Make sense?
#2 Don’t Build Your Web Site for AdSense
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times. Don’t build your Web site for AdSense. AdSense is about getting advertisements in front of users. Google has to get those ads out there because the advertisers that are using AdWords — the advertising arm of Google, where advertisers can place their ads to be shown on Web sites like yours — are paying the company to do so. If you build your Web site exclusively for AdSense, the only thing that sees the ads is the crawler that periodically takes stock of your pages.
Build your site for actual, real, live visitors instead. You know, those people sitting on the other side of the computer screen? They play with the keyboard and mouse, and they’re looking for something that they hope to find on
your Web site. They’re visitors, and they’re your site’s target. The more specific the type of visitor, the better.
When you build your site for visitors, you have to put serious thought into how the visitor will use the site. Think about what draws him to your site first. If he’s searching for information or products, what keywords will he use to search? If he’s randomly typing in a Web address, what address will he use? (Don’t laugh. It happens. I usually try the direct URL method of searching before I go to a search engine.)
After you get the user to your site, the next consideration is what he’ll do while he’s there. This is where your AdSense considerations come into play because when the user’s on the site, you want AdSense to be a natural part of the site for him. Only when you build a site this way — for the visitor first and foremost — will you find that you have success with AdSense.
When you build the site exclusively for AdSense, you’re also in the position of being banned from the AdSense program. Google wants visitors to click ads. Your job, as someone who publishes AdSense ads, is to ensure that AdSense ads are displayed to as many potential clicks — that would be visitors — as possible. That means putting visitors first, always.
#3 Don’t Hide Your Ads
I know it sounds crazy, but some people do hide their ads. What they do is hide the text of the ad, leaving only the URL visible in an attempt to make visitors think that the URL is part of a list of links or a blogroll — the list of links to other blogs that you (as a blog owner) recommend. Do I need to tell you that Google frowns on this practice?
You might think to hide the nature of your links sounds like a great idea, especially in the context of blending your ads into your Web pages as much as possible, but it’s not. Don’t be fooled if someone tells you she’s done this and it worked well for her.
If you try it and Google catch any indications that you’re doing something deceptive like this, you’ll be banned from the AdSense program. What’s more, you could also be excluded from search results generated by the Google search engine.
If you intend to show AdSense ads on your Web site, let them be seen. You can blend them with the other text on the page or even make the backgrounds the same color as your page background. Don’t hide the text leaving only the link visible. It might garner you a few clicks in the beginning, but the end results could be disastrous.
#4 Don’t Change the AdSense Code
This one is right up there with the AdSense Don’t in the preceding section. Don’t change the AdSense code. Google takes creating AdSense code very seriously. Although a program generates the code for your Web site, that program is constantly tweaked and improved (just like everything Google).
The code AdSense generates for you is exactly what Google needs to provide the ads that will appear on your Web as well as to track the results to those ads, which are important factors.
Keep in mind that AdSense works only because AdWords works (or it could be that AdWords works because AdSense works; which came first, the chicken or the egg?). The only way to prove that either one of them works is in the tracking that Google does. For that tracking to be accurate, the code provided to make ads appear on your Web site must remain intact, as written.
The only exceptions to this are changing style elements of the code, such as colors, and that should be done only with the AdSense code generator. If you create an ad and then re-design your site to have different colors, you can always go back to AdSense and edit the ad that you’ve created. If you’re thinking of messing with anything that’s not style related, however, don’t — it’s just not worth the grief that you get.
What is that grief? Say it with me: Getting banned from the AdSense program.
#5 Don’t Use Clickbots
Clickbots are another way to commit click fraud. A clickbot is a script or program that’s designed to click the ads on your page, and they’re readily available on the Web, usually inexpensively.
Just because click bots are there doesn’t mean you should use them, though. Clickbots do the same thing that you’d do if you were clicking your own ads, except on a much larger scale. They inflate the revenue that’s generated without increasing the interest in the product or service that’s being advertised.
Now, a common misconception is that people only use clickbots to click their own ads — not true. Some people have been caught using click bots to click other people’s ads, too. These people are usually AdWords advertisers who are trying to push their competition out of the way.
See, each time someone clicks an ad, it costs the advertiser a set amount of money. A clickbot can click an ad dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times, driving up the cost of the ad. This can affect how many times an ad is shown in a given period of time, and it can also cost an advertiser a large amount of money. After the budget limit is reached, that advertiser is out of the way until the next billing cycle, allowing the next highest bidders to have their ads shown more often.
Clickbots form a vicious cycle that can be very costly for the person or company that falls victim to this type of click fraud. If you’re the one committing it, both AdSense and AdWords will ban you from their programs.
#6 Don’t Get Banned for Taboo Content
Taboo content — content that Google’s deemed inappropriate for all audiences — is another way to end up on the bad side of AdSense. Examples include content that refers to
- Certain weapons, including gun
- Illegal drugs
- Designer knock-offs
If your Web site contains these types of content, AdSense doesn’t want ads displayed on it for one simple reason — image. Google, AdWords, AdSense, and all the other arms of Google have an image to uphold. Placing ads for goods or services on inappropriate sites isn’t the way to do that.
Google has to screen some of the Web sites on which AdSense ads will appear. If you have a site that’s likely to be offensive to a large number of people because it contains any of the content listed earlier, AdSense denies your request to put ads there.
Some folks think it’s smart to put the ads on their site and then later change the site and add disagreeable content to it — bad move. If you’re using AdSense and the crawler finds this type of content on your site, you’re asked to remove the content, and if you don’t, you can be banned from the program.
If your site contains any of the topics listed in this section, you might want to look to other affiliate and advertising programs for ways to generate a revenue stream.
#7 Don’t Hold Clicking Contests
Here’s another facet of click fraud. Clicking contests are conducted when someone who publishes AdSense ads creates a contest for which site visitors must click an ad to qualify. The contest is usually monitored with a secondary script that the Web site owner creates.
This artificially inflates the number of clicks that you receive on your AdSense ads, driving up the revenues that your site generates. This is bad for two reasons.
First, you’re creating an artificial bump in revenues. That means to maintain that level of revenue, you have to come up with increasingly creative ways to get people to click your AdSense ads until you’ve reached the point of outright fraud. Never good.
Second, artificially inflating the number of times that someone clicks one of your ads causes the system to be skewed on the Google side, too. The advertisers have to pay more for advertising. Even more troublesome though is that
your site could be taken as a site that generates a lot of traffic and so might benefit from a cost-per-impression ad.
Great news for you if you have a ton of traffic, but if you don’t, you could end up on the losing end of that proposition. Being limited to cost-per-impression ads also means that the advertisers that are specifically targeting your site lose out. In turn, Google loses out on potential revenues.
Now, you may not give a flying flip about the other people and companies in the mix, but you should care that if you get caught using this kind of tactic to increase your AdSense revenues, you’ll lose your AdSense privileges.
#8 Don’t Pay Others to Click Your Ads
Here’s another one that falls into the same category as not using clickbots or holding clicking contests. Don’t pay other people to click your ads.
These kinds of programs are sometimes billed as affiliate programs. People who put them together offer a portion of their revenues to a person or group of people who in turn click their AdSense ads. That’s all great, and it might even work for a little while, but eventually, someone will squeal or Google will catch on.
The penalties for falsely inflating your AdSense revenues can be stiff. You can (of course) possibly lose your AdSense privileges, but there’s a darker side to click fraud if you get caught with your hand deep enough in the cookie jar. Google has been known to prosecute people who commit click fraud, especially in cases that are considered extreme.
#9 Don’t Use Any Other Underhanded Methods
Click fraud is just one of the underhanded methods that some people use to increase their AdSense revenues. Whether you’re using click fraud or some other deceptive practice doesn’t matter though. If you’re trying to get the upper-hand on Google, you’ll probably fail.
That doesn’t keep some people from recommending the wrong methods of increasing Web site traffic and therefore increasing AdSense revenues. What do these people care if you’re kicked out of the AdSense program? You get kicked out doesn’t affect them at all.
It’s much smarter to avoid anything that seems less than honest. I talk about some of the methods that you might see recommended — but that you should never try — in the list here:
By putting one set of content in front of a search engine crawler and then presenting users with another set of content, cloaking deceives potential site visitors into believing they’re entering one type of site when in fact they’re entering another.
Cloaking can apply to AdSense, too. If you’re using cloaking techniques, you could be baiting AdSense ads for extremely high-paying keywords, but the content on your site doesn’t relate to those keywords at all. Site visitors click into your site, but because they don’t find what they’re looking for, they often click the ads that are displayed instead.
Cloaking is a bad practice that Google figures out very quickly. When they do, you pay the price for your deception as in, kiss your membership in the AdSense program goodbye.
2 Duplicate content
Again — just like no one wants to watch reruns on TV — which is why I’m always recommending that you use as much unique, fresh content as you can generate, rather than loading up your site with content found elsewhere.
What makes duplicate content so troublesome for AdSense is that if dozens of sites all carry the same content, a limited number of relevant ads can be shown on those sites. Duplicate content can also indicate that a Web site isn’t regularly updated, meaning that it won’t have as much traffic as a site that maintains dynamic content.
Google wants AdSense (and AdWords) to be successful. So, naturally, the more diverse the sites are within a topic, the more ads that can be shown.Although duplicate content probably won’t get you banned from AdSense, it certainly reduces the effectiveness of your site and value of the ads that are shown on the site. You know what that means: less revenue.
3 Hidden text
This is yet another “helpful hint” you may have suggested to you in the context of improving the AdSense ads that appear on your site. Hidden text involves text that, while present on your site, is colored the same as the background so that it blends into the site and isn’t seen by site visitors only Web crawlers can read the text.
Most of the time, hidden text is used to target a specific keyword that’s unrelated to the actual content of the site. People use this tactic to draw ads for higher-paying keywords because these ads are likely to pay better than the ads that appear based on the actual content that the visitor sees.
The problem here is that the ads that can be influenced by hidden text aren’t likely to be as relevant to your site visitors, which means that they’re likely to get clicked less. That means a reduction in your revenue volume, even if the payment-per-click is higher. In the end, the hidden text doesn’t work because it’s usually more effective to have more clicks at a slightly lower payout than it is to have fewer clicks at a higher payout.
Having relevant ads also means that your site will be more useful to your visitors, making it more likely that they’ll come back in the future and click your ads again.
4 Spreading malware
Malware involves applications that are created specifically for some malicious intent. These days, most malware is created to help the process of identity theft. It’s not at all uncommon for criminals to pay Web site owners to spread malware, even though it’s not exactly a nice thing to do. If you’re distributing that malware on your Web site, Google wants no part of your activities.
Besides, spreading malware is illegal, and the payoff could be jail time. Is it really worth the risk?
5 Using false tactics
Any kind of false tactics that you might employ to trick users into clicking your AdSense ads is forbidden. I know, when you’re looking at click revenues of pennies a day, a lot of different strategies look appealing especially if they increase the amount of money that you’re making.
Just remember, it’s only more profitable if it helps you to build a longterm Adsense revenue stream. If not, and if it seems even the slightest bit out of line, don’t do it. Any risk to your good standing with AdSense means that you could lose whatever revenue stream you’ve legitimately created.