One of the ways that solopreneurs can drive revenue using their website is to use an ad-serving engine, and probably the most popular of such engines is Google Adsense. This product from Google lets you serve up ads from the Google network on your site, and pays you every time someone clicks one of the ads on your site.
So if you are in the website content business, this can be excellent way to leverage your content to increase revenue. With the right content and sufficient traffic, you can create a passive revenue stream once all the elements are in place. It is definitely possible to build a solid revenue stream using Google Adsense, as shown in this article on DDIY.
So in this article, I’ll go over some of the building blocks to get a website up and running that serves Google Adsense ads.
The most important caveat that I’ll note here is that it is not an easy setup, but once setup and running with decent traffic, it will have been worth your time. (Especailly if you have a portfolio of websites and are driving traffic to all of them; that’s when Google Adsense can become worthwhile.)
So this guide should be looked at as a template you can follow, and once successfully implemented, is best repeated as many times as possible so that you can build a successful revenue-generating platform.
There are also many outstanding tools out there to help optimize your Google Adsense program once you have it launched, such as this article from Ezoic here.
With that said, here are is a step-by-step guide to launching your website that serves Google Adsense (after this referred to as “GA”) ads.
Create a website using WordPress
You can of course use any website platform you want in order to display GA ads; they do not restrict in this regard. WordPress, however, has to the most highly recommended method because it is just so simple to set up and requires little-to-no technical expertise.
As I have stated elsewhere on this site, you’ll need to have a domain name and preferably server that offers c-Panel with Softaculous. Using your Softaculous auto-installer, you can then install WordPress, complete with your choice of free themes.
Another benefit of installing WordPress like I just recommended is that the theme you choose will automatically give your website a clean, professional, easy-to-navigate design, which is a key criteria for being accepted by GA.
Write your blog posts/create content
This is probably the most critical phase of website development in this case. You’ll need to create content that is real, engaging, and thoughtful – content that you are actually interested in. So really, you should ask yourself “Do I want to read this article?”. If the answer is yes, then you have something that can work.
Do NOT, NOT, scrape content from somewhere else, plagiarize, or otherwise take unoriginal garbage content from another source. There are real human beings at Google who actually review this (believe it or not), and they will make sure that your content is legit.
This is why I stated at the top that the setup process is not easy. Google is not looking to serve up their ads (which, by the way are their main source of revenue – and Google is not a small or unprofitable company, you might know this) on a site with worthless content. That’s not a good brand play for them.
Now, if you have video, infographics, or other visual-based content, all the better. For the rest of this section, however, I will assume that you’re mainly writing blog posts.
So, in addition to the content being interesting, like I said above, try to also follow these guidelines when creating your blog posts:
- Use your real voice, do not try to sound like someone you’re not
- Do your research – verify any factual claims whenever you make them, supporting them with linked or foot-noted evidence. Separate fact from opinion clearly
- Make sure your content is valuable in some way
- Shoot for at least 500 words, preferably closer to 800. If your blog posts are one paragraph each, Google will likely see this at not bringing much to the table. Unless those are some one-paragraph, Shakespeare-like gems, you’re probably going to get rejected
- Avoid grammatical errors as much as possible. This makes you look totally unprofessional.
- Make sure you have a clear Policies page explaining that you’re legit and that you don’t pirate other people’s content or share email addresses
- Include an About page that explains your deal, who you are, what the point of the website it, etc.
Following these basic guidelines should go a long way in creating some content that Google is likely to approve. I have heard that people have gotten their websites approved by GA with only 8 articles, but likely you’ll need closer to 20.
Apply for your Google Adsense account and place tracking code in site
OK, so you have the website launched, you have a good amount of solid blog posts, you’re ready to apply for your account. This process is actually pretty simple, and is probably the easiest thing you’ll do during the entire setup phase of your website.
Just go to GA: https://www.google.com/adsense/start/
Then sign up for an account.(You likely have a google account already, so you can use this same login.) Once you login to GA, you will be prompted on the home admin screen to install the Adsense tracking code.
This process is not that tough, and Google will have some guidance. But to follow our process that we’re talking about here, you can copy the code and paste it into the header.php file of your WordPress theme.To access, login to your WordPress CMS admin, and in the main left menu, go to Appearance > Editor. From there, find the theme header file, and paste your tracking code from GA somewhere between the <head> tags and save.
Get approval status from Google Adsense and revise if needed until approved
Once you’ve added your tracking code to your site, go back to the GA admin home and submit your site for review. This will be a prominently displayed call to action in the home screen if your site has not yet been submitted. Once you do this, GA will review your site and get back to you as to whether or not you’ve been accepted.
This is a waiting game. I’ve never had a site accepted in less than 3 days. But I have heard that they can respond sooner. And have I been rejected? Oh you bet I have, and more times than I’ve been accepted, at that. Here is an example of a rejection email from GA:
In this case, they clearly stated what the issue was: insufficient content. The solution is simple enough, albeit not easy. Just create more content. That means, whatever your content strategy, just do more of it and you’re good. That’s what I did in this case. I believe at the time I had 10 total combined pages and blog posts. I then upped it to 20, sticking to the same content strategies above. There are no limits to how many times you can re-apply, so it makes a lot of sense to first attempt to get approved with the minimal amount of content, that way you can start generating revenue as soon as possible, and then add content as you go.
If Google is totally cryptic and does not give you a reason for why you were rejected, as they have done to me before, revisit the items listed above and ask yourself, in earnest, if you have honestly attempted them. If not, give it another shot, this time with truer intentions.
If you stick to it, you will get the coveted approval email! And in a short time following that, Google will verify your physical address by sending you a gorgeous address verification notice in the mail, like the one pictured below. That’s right, the mail, like the kind that the post office sends.
When approved, select the ads you want to display and add them to your website
If you’ve reached this point, you’re rolling. You just need to select your ads in GA and add them to your website. This is pretty easy also – I’ll be going through how to add them to the sidebar of your WordPress site, but you can also use a feature call page level ads, where the tracking code can be inserted into your header template (as explained above) and GA will dynamically display ads as appropriate throughout all areas of your web pages. But here is the process to create an ad unit and add to your site.
Step 1: Create a new ad unit
- Login to the GA admin home
- From the left side main menu, select New Ad Unit
- Select your ad size (you have many different options here, I prefer responsive because it renders nicely on any screen size)
- Add any additional configurations and click Save and Get Code
Step 2: Place ad unit code into your WordPress site
- Once you save your ad unit, copy the code provided by GA
- Login to your WordPress site
- Go to Appearance > Widgets
- Under the main sidebar, drag and drop and html widget from the left pane into the main sidebar (positioned wherever desired)
- Paste your code from GA into the html widget and save
Boom, you’re rollin! Once this is setup, there is a world of reporting you can pull from GA to get the performance results of your ads, optimize, and track revenue. As stated above, the best goal with a GA website is to optimize traffic, and repeat the process, until you’ve built a strong portfolio of websites that generate revenue.