Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Common sense when using adsense

Today we need to talk about something everyone needs to know about these days both for ourselves and for clients which is properly using google adsense to make money. Everyone should be familiar with the rules regarding spamming and fun things like that so I am going to skip over that. If you don't know their policy concerning that just ask and you'll get plenty of answers from the fine folks here. Also I'm skipping the how adsense technically pays part, as I get long winded anyway, again if you need to know, just ask.

The biggest misconception people have when using adsense most times is that it is worthwhile to chase down the keywords and phrases that carry the biggest price tag or cost per click. Everyone has seen plenty of stories floating around where someone testifies "I made $6,731.14 in one day on adsense writing about "selling structured settlements" (Which incidentally has or recently had a cost per click of $64.81 cents), or some similar claim. Is it true?

In some cases it can be true, however that is like catching lightning in a bottle. It is like posting an article to one of those communities like reddit and having it go viral. It does happen, it just doesn't happen anywhere near as much as people wish it did. If it was that easy we all have mansions and a pool boy name Pogo fanning us with palm leaves while we sipped frozen adult beverages and discussed the decline of Hollywood films with a topless Anjelina Jolie. Insert Brad Pitt and make him bottomless if that works better for you, we're open minded here.

The question is if the keyword is that expensive, why not pursue the big bucks using it? There are two very big reasons for that:

1. Everyone that can do a google search knows it is worth that much and chases it down looking for the huge payday.
2. Because everyone is doing that, and it really isn't that common a search phrase, your odds of getting a hit are a joke.

The hairy details are that phrase is so under searched that it only averages 0.1 clicks per day. That in reality means the phrase pays out once every ten days, or 36.5 times per year. What do you think your honest odds are of getting a piece of that pie without getting hit for click fraud, believe me they will check, especially if you are set to get paid on it a couple times a year. It's just that unusual.

On the other hand truly profitable keywords are far more common but they fall into two categories:

1. Fairly high cost per click, but somewhat reasonable to chase
2. Low (by the the $64.81 high standard) and very reasonable to chase

An example of a category one phrase is "insurance." That word has a cost per click of $17.41. That sounds great, but again, how many times do you see that word each day if you regularly cruise the web? Enough to barf up a lung. The odds are that you wont get a click per day, but maybe one every two weeks if you're lucky. At that rate you can potentially make around $450 annually. Will you? Probably not, that is why the big word potential is in there. If you have a huge traffic blog or site, you could make far more, potentially.

"Insurance" gets about 49,900 clicks per day. You have to figure out in your mind how big a slice of that pie you really think you can grab when considering it against ALL the google adsense accounts targeting it. It pays over $17.00 so you know it is going to be highly sought after by tons of writers.

Lets look at a category two example like the keyword "free." Free gets tossed around all the time, but you'll see it is hardly free at a cost per click of $1.06. Here's what makes this a better word to pursue than insurance- it does more than triple the hits per day at 172,680.5. On average it pays out $183,041.33 while "insurance" pays out $868, 645.81 per day on average.

Now before you say "Hey Mandy, are you rocking the ganja? The math doesn't add up!" take off your school math cap and try on your web browser hat. If you open two articles randomly on the web and one has the keyword for insurance, given how often you see it, how likely are you to click on it? More than likely not much at all which is a part of why the clicks for that have to pay more. It is a word we have unconsciously added to our mental ignore list so the demand to get clicks on it carries a higher payout. It's hard to get people to want to click on that word.

On the other hand, if you see the word "free" how likely are you to at least give it a shot out of curiosity? The odds are pretty good because we all like free stuff regardless of the economy. As such, it can pay much lower because it is going to get far more clicks. You don't have to twist arms to give stuff away as much as to get them to read about insurance. Make sense?

But what about the math? If "insurance pays so much more than "free" isn't it worth chasing? Not really. People that make money on adsense that don't have high ranking sites and blogs literally doing thousands of hits per day just don't draw enough attention to make it feasible. In a sense you need to chase quantity over quality. You can be the K-Mart of adsense and make money rather than trying to be the Tiffanys and spend all your energy chasing it.

With all that said and done what does it mean for you? It means be reasonable. The most expensive adsense words in some cases don't even get hit enough to pay out everyday in some cases. Why kill yourself chasing them like Moby Dick? Scale down and look at words in the $0.50 to $1.00 range and aim for lots of small regular hits. Realize it is better to grab those little hits you can snatch everyday than it is to go for the big boys. It is easier to make $2/day on several low paying words people really click on than it is to make $15 on one word per week.

Also remember that the prices can fluctuate rapidly at or near the top. In instances where a phrase winds up in the news like "mesothelioma" the vast amount of people searching to see if they can jump on a lawsuit can devalue the word in the bat of an eye. The other piece of bad news is even with that increase in traffic, your odds of working it into something, getting page rank to grab readers, and then getting clicks is negligible. The little words stay consistent.

In summation, less is more! If you want to know the ten most potentially profitable (not expensive, but profitable adsense keywords), read this gratuitously placed link because I'm too lazy to copy it over here and I've already used up a pile space!


  1. I am so happy to see this article. I am getting so sick of hearing you have to have rich SEO words. I was beginning to feel less like a writer and more of a keyword junkie. I agree. Less is more and my adsense account is picking up without any thought given to it.

    Thanks again. Great Tips.

  2. Ditto.

    I have written numerous posts about this on the SEO blog I write for - usually they have titles like 'When less is more' or something like that - I roll my eyes when new webmasters ask me to optimize for a $20 a click keyword in competition with websites that have ten thousand pages and a PageRank through the roof.
    Like they are ever going to make it up past page eighteen of the SERPs, if that.

  3. Hah! Just finished a project for a client paying good money for articles on mesothelioma. Freelance writers can cash in up front on popular keywords like that - you just have to find a customer who is willing to actually pay for SEO.

    Good advice on the use of adsense BTW, it is all those small hits that add up over time.