This might be the thing I have researched the most about Google Adsense. That being, where do you place the ads to make money?
I’ve read more articles than I can count on this subject, and I have tried a lot of experiments on my own. Over the years I’ve come to some conclusions, so I thought I’d share those with others of you struggling with this question.
First, I want to start with some primers.
When I started running Google Adsense on my wargaming blog, some time around 2010, I had a different outlook on blogging and ads. I thought I could push out lot of content, put a few Adsense ads in the sidebar, and get rich. Some of you are probably laughing, and rightfully so. It was a very naive idea but I didn’t know it at the time.
I was researching Google Adsense and seeing these amazing testimonials from people just like me. Those people were earning a living off their blog! I could make a six figure income by having a blog and slapping a few Adsense ads on it? Sign me up!
Needless to say, it’s not that simple. Being realistic needs to be at the forefront of your mind. While I would love to make a living off blogging, I realistically understand that’s pretty unlikely.
I don’t let that thought slow me down, and I will continue to try to earn a living doing this; but, being honest with myself keeps things in perspective.
While optimism is great and motivating, without a healthy side of pragmatism it can lead to disappointment.
This probably isn’t what you think. See, in those earlier days of trying to monetize my site, I had a few “no go” zones – things I wouldn’t do with ads. The big one was not putting Adsense ads in my content. I would put ads in the header, sidebars, etc., but never in the content.
Guess how much I was making with Google Adsense back then? You guessed it, $0.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with having standards you hold yourself to, I highly recommend it actually, but you have to be realistic and set your priorities accordingly.
By prioritizing my content over ad revenue, I was hurting my potential income. As such, my expectations for making money was pretty low. That’s just the nature of the beast.
So, you have to decide how far you’re willing to go when placing ads. It’s different for everyone, and for every site. Just remember, those choices will dictate the your potential earnings.
Google Adsense Placement Tips
Now that you have realistic expectations, and you’ve prioritized, it’s time to place some ads.
I’m not going to bore you all with the heat map image that you’ve all seen a hundred times, or what sizes work best, etc. Instead I’m going to offer advice based on my own experiences – nothing more, nothing less.
Before the First Heading
This placement is one I learned about when doing some research, and it’s proven very valuable. This placement is the 2nd highest in terms of money it makes on my sites.
Anyway, try placing an ad right before the first heading in your articles. If you’re article follows a typical structure then you have an opening paragraph or two, and then a heading as you delve into the article.
Right before that heading place an ad. The logic for the placement is that someone may choose to leave your site after your opening, before the article gets into any depth.
They read your intro and have decided it’s not the article they want. So, give them an ad right where they stop reading and they’ll click it. Trust me.
I have tested this placement as a traditional ad (image/text), and as a native ad. Remember, Google Adsense now offers native ad styles which are great.
I have found that the native ad gets more clicks, but generally it pays less per-click. The traditional ad pays out more per-click but it gets less clicks.
In the end, I’ve found it’s a wash. I make the same if it’s image/text or native.
So, lately I’ve opted for native because I find they look nicer and integrate better, which of course explains why they get clicked more.
In the right niche, this placement as native could be very valuable.
Putting an ad mid-article isn’t surprising to many, but it was to me at first. The ad before the first heading made sense, but I wasn’t so sure about in the article itself.
It turns out a lot of people will click an ad in the middle of an article.
Now, this placement hasn’t been my most lucrative, but it does generate a lot of clicks. However, the niche of some of my sites pays very little per-click, so it’s more an issue of what I write about, not the ad placement itself.
With a good site niche you will probably find this one of your most profitable placements.
As with the before first heading, I’ve found native ads get more clicks but at a lower CPC, while image/text ads pay more per-click and get clicked less.
So, test them out on your site to see which works out better for you.
End of Article
This placement is my highest paying one. I can’t be 100% sure why, but if I had to guess then I’d say it’s because advertisers are willing to pay more per-click for this placement. My thought being if someone read the entire article then you have their interest, you captured them, and advertisers know that and will pay higher than usual for that spot.
Who knows? I could be wrong entirely, but that’s what I’ve noticed anyway.
Anyway, the placement is what it sounds like, right at the end of the article – first thing seen once done reading.
In this placement I have always used the traditional image/text. The reason I’ve done that is because I show ad sizes here like 728 x 90 because they aren’t as tall as native ads.
The shorter height matters to me because I show other things below the article. So, I don’t want the ad to take all the visual space below an article; I want other things to also be noticed by the reader.
I well imagine native ads would do very well in this placement as well, so definitely do some testing.
Not to be confused with what you’ll read below, this placement is immediately before the article – right above the first paragraph.
I don’t use this placement currently, instead preferring the before first heading setup, but if you want to place an ad without it being in the content itself, then this is a good solution.
I used this placement prior to the heading one and it always did well for me. I used image/text ads here since native wasn’t offered by Adsense at the time. This was always my 2nd best placement for money.
Ad Placements to Avoid
I figure it’s worth noting placements I’ve tested and have not performed well historically. I’ll just give a quick rundown.
- Sidebars – With so many people visiting sites with mobile devices, I’ve found sidebars rarely get clicks. Most responsive sites put sidebars below the content, so mobile users never see it, nevermind click it.
- Before the Article – This is a wide range of placements really, but ads that appear before the article rarely get clicked. This includes in the header of your site, and placed above the content – say above the featured image. People skip over these areas to get to the article itself.
- Comments Area – While directly below an article does well, going too far down the page, like around the comments section, has never done well for me. Most readers never scroll down that far to see it because most readers don’t leave comments.
- Bottom of Site – This would be like way down your site, say around the footer but not in it. It might be around your pagination area (next page links). Either way, like the comments area note, it’s rarely seen and very seldom clicked.
Making the Magic Happen
For WordPress users there’s a great plugin that will help you with these ad placements I’ve mentioned. That plugin is Ad Inserter.
I’ve been using Ad Inserter for a few years now and it’s the best one I’ve tried. I’ll be honest, it can be very overwhelming at first to setup. Like, you’re going to look at it and think Holy crap. What did I get myself into? overwhelming.
Stick with it, learn to use the plugin, and you’ll be glad you did.
This has been my experience with Google Adsense placements, and your mileage with it may vary. What has worked well for me may not work for you. What hasn’t worked for me could work great for you.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to experiment and learn, but hopefully what I’ve shared does help you out a little bit.
If you’ve got some Google Adsense placement tips you’d like to share then I’d love to hear it in the comments.