Building an AdSense Business With Free Blogs
When I first started out with AdSense, I had little money to spare on web hosting, and I knew nothing about how to get a site ranked in the search engines or to generate traffic. It took a lot of work, reading, experimenting and failure before I discovered great ways to build my AdSense business.
I feel like it’s about time that I paid back to the community for all of the knowledge and help that I received along the way. Hopefully this post will help you get started in the AdSense business even if you have little or no money to spare but desperately want to try your hand at it.
Normally Google won’t approve AdSense applications for free websites, but there is one exception. So if you're short on cash for hosting and are eager to get started, you might give this a try.
Not long after Google bought Blogger.com, they made AdSense available to Blogger blog owners. Blogger is great because it has an easy interface, Google and Yahoo crawl the blogs quickly, and best of all if you're broke--they're free, and Google loves to give out AdSense accounts to Blogger owners. :)
So if you're looking to get started with AdSense and not spend much money, Blogger is a great way to get started.
Before I talk about how to setup a Blogger blog for AdSense, though, let me tell you what an RSS feed is and how it works. If you already know this you can skip ahead. I make reference to this in the setup instructions, so it’s important to understand.
An RSS feed (as it applies to a blog) is basically a list of all of the recent posts made to your blog. People can use “RSS Aggregators” (software that continually checks up on your RSS feed to see if there’s anything new) to keep up with new posts on your blog. Websites will also want to publish your RSS feed on their sites if your content is good. This gives them fresh content for their visitors. And we all know that content is King in the world of website building.
Blogger blogs come with an RSS feed built-in, and you can use this to your advantage to generate traffic to your blog. I’ll discuss that in a bit, but first let’s get into building the blog.
Create Your Blogger.com Account
Determine Your Blog Topic First
Before you create the blog, you need to figure out what topic the blog will focus on. Think about your skills or hobbies that you’re really good at. You might not be a mechanic, but if you’re really good at working on cars on the weekend, and you love to do it, that would make a great blog topic. Brainstorm your skills and interests to determine what you would enjoy writing about. It’s important that you like to write about it, since you will have to do so to build up the blog!
I will say this: If you have some knowledge on a commercial or industrial topic, this will usually get higher paying AdSense ads. But a hobby blog can do very well also (I know this from experience!).
Create the Blog
Once you have a topic chosen, it only takes about 5 minutes to setup a blog. From the Blogger homepage click the “Create Your Blog Now” link and follow the blog wizard instructions. I won’t get into detail about them because it’s pretty straight-forward, but there are a few points I want to make.
First of all, when you choose your blog URL, make sure that the URL contains the keywords for your topic. For example, if you’re creating a blog about health insurance, “healthinsurance.blogspot.com” is ideal, or “health-insurance” or even “health-insurance-blog” or “health-insurance-12345”. Just make sure that your keywords are in the URL, that will help you be found when people search for your keywords in the search engines.
Also, be sure to pick one of the professional looking templates. I suggest you just pick the plain-white one that is first in the list of templates when you're creating the blog. Once the blog is created, then click on the "Templates" tab and select one of the nicer ones shown there. I'm not sure why Blogger doesn't show you all of the available templates in the blog setup wizard, but they don't.
The Settings Tab.
A discussion of the important points of each settings tab is outlined below.
On the "Basic" settings tab, set your blog title to the keywords you want to show up for in the search engines. That will help you get ranked.
Give a good, detailed description about the benefits of reading your blog daily. You want to get people to add your RSS feed to their aggregators and websites so you can get traffic, and this will help.
Answer “Yes” to the question “Add your Blog to our listings?”. This will have your blog appear on the main page of Blogger when you make new posts (albeit for a brief period of time), and allow people to search and find your blog using Blogger’s search tool.
One other, lesser known detail about setting that question to “Yes” is that if you set it to “No” Blogger will shove “nofollow/noindex” meta-tags into your blog template header, which will prevent your site from getting crawled or indexed. I believe this was done to fight what Blogger called “spam blogs”.
Set the “Notify Weblogs” setting to “Yes”. This will send a notification to Weblogs every time you make a new post. Weblogs is a site that lets people (and search engine crawlers) know when new content appears on a blog. You want the crawlers (and visitors) to hit your pages when you add new content, so be sure this is set to Yes.
You can do what you want on this tab–I personally set the number of posts on the main page to between three and five.
Allow comments unless your blog topic is really controversial and you’re likely to get a lot of flaming (people lashing out at you for what you have to say). Allowing comments is good because it gives more food to the search engines and keeps your blog updating and fresh even when you’re not posting to it.
I usually let anyone comment, and don’t limit it.
If you’re concerned that people might flame you, but you want to allow comments, enable comment moderation so that you have to approve each comment that is added before it goes live.
If you want to be notified when a comment is made, set the Comment Notification Address to your email address.
Set your archiving to daily if you post every day, or weekly if you only post every few days. If you post every day daily is the best way to go, because it gives the search engines more unique pages to crawl and index. More unique content means more traffic to your blog and more clicks on your AdSense ads (I’ll get to adding your AdSense to the template in a bit).
If you don’t do a daily archive (and maybe even if you do), enable post pages so that each post will still have its own unique page even if multiple posts appear on the same archive page. Having multiple posts on one archive page is not a bad thing if you have post pages enabled, since the posts tied all together make for yet another unique page on the blog.
Definitely enable the site feed. If your posts tend to be very short, you might enable full descriptions. But if you have long posts (which I recommend), do not enable the full feed, use the short feed. Here’s why:
If you put the full post in your RSS feed, then the person reading the feed doesn’t have a reason to go back to your blog since they have already read the full post. No visitors to the blog means no clicks on your ads. AdSense has an “AdSense For Feeds” in beta testing, but it’s not open to all publishers yet, so at least for now you need to induce people to visit the blog.
If they can only read part of the blog post, then if they want the whole story they will need to go to your blog. You can plan for this by making sure that your title and the first 255 characters (about the first 50 words) really pull in the reader’s attention. You need to use those first 50 words to make them just have to read the rest.
Also, if your RSS feed appears on websites, you don’t want to give away the farm by showing the whole post. You’re letting websites use your feed so you can get clicks on the posts in that feed and get visitors to your site to build AdSense revenue.
So set the “Descriptions” to Short, write long posts and make the title and the first 50 words count.
The Templates Tab
If you haven’t already picked a nice template from the list, click on the “Pick New” link under the templates tab and select one of the templates that you like and that fits your topic.
If you don’t already have an AdSense account, you can click on the “AdSense” link and apply for one straight from the blog instead of having to go to Google.com to apply. That’s how badly Google wants Blogger blog owners to use AdSense on their blogs! :)
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to paste your AdSense code into your template. Click on the “Edit Current” link if you’re not already there.
There are two methods of setting up your template. You will generate the most clicks by doing the following:
1) Find the section of the template that looks like this:
Put your AdSense code between the </Blogger> tag and the first </div> tag.
Click the “Preview” button to make sure the AdSense blocks look correct and did not mess up the look of the template. If all is well, click “Save Template Changes”.
Note: Once you’ve made changes to your template, if you go and select a different template with the “Pick New” link it will overwrite your changes and you will have to put your AdSense code back into the template.
Setup Your Profile
Once your blog is setup, you want to setup your profile. To do this, click the “Back to Dashboard” link at the top of the browser window. Once at the dashboard, click on the “Edit Profile” link in the right hand column.
Check the “Share my Profile” box, and the “Show my Real name” box, unless you have a really good reason not to. It helps build trust if you have this information showing on your blog because people can see you’re a real person and not some anonymous nobody. Your profile by default will be shown on your blog.
If you don’t mind people contacting you via email, you can select “Show my email address”.
Click “Select blogs to display” and make sure that your new blog is checked.
If you have a photograph somewhere on a website, you can point to it with the Photo URL. I recommend doing this because again, it builds trust and makes you more real and personal to your readers. If you don’t have a picture on the web, or don’t have a website, I’ll gladly host a picture of you on one of my servers for free. Sticky-mail me and we’ll arrange it. Just one of my little ways of paying back to the Webmasterworld community. :)
Go through and fill out the rest of the information. Focus on the “About Me” box, because that will show on your blog pages. Use that description to establish yourself as an expert on the topic that your blog is about. People like to know that they’re reading an expert opinion that they can trust. This box is your chance to prove you have an expert opinion!
Save your profile when you’re finished.
Getting Traffic to Your Blog
Once your blog is properly configured, spend about a week making a good, informative post or two per day. You don’t want to go advertising an empty blog, so it pays to make some good posts first.
You can post to the blog by clicking the “Posting” tab. Make your title be eye-catching while still containing the keywords that the post is most relevant to. For example, if your post is going to be about how to build blue widgets from scratch, and you want to be found when people search the engines for “Build blue widgets”, try and make your title at least start with those keywords. For example, “Build blue widgets – from scratch”. The dashes help the search engines differentiate the keywords from the rest of the title.
You might get some stray traffic from people searching for blogs on Blogger, and your posts appearing in the “most recent posts” list, so don’t be surprised if you get some traffic and AdSense clicks even before you start advertising.
Submit Your Blog to Blog Directories
To get the traffic rolling you need to submit your blog’s RSS feed to as many Blog Directories as you can. If you search Google for “RSS submission site”, the number one result as of right now lists off 55 directories that you can submit your feed to.
With a Blogger blog, your RSS feed is always your blog url plus “/atom.xml”. For example, if your blog url is:
Your RSS feed url is:
This is very important, because it will help attract the attention of the search engines as well as get your blog noticed by people who are searching for information and for content for their websites.
All of this will result in getting in-bound links to your site. Most people will use the title of your blog as the link text for the link to your site, and that’s why it’s important for your title to be the keywords that you want your blog homepage to rank for in the search engines. Having in-bound links that contain the keywords you want to rank for is a very powerful way to get ranked well. I have blogs that rank on the first page of search results for my keywords because of this (some even in the first or second position).
But you don’t want to sit around and wait for the links to start to gather. You want to…
Trade Links With Related Websites
Another thing I do to help get my blog ranked is to trade links with other webmasters who have sites on similar topics. I find them by searching for the keywords I want to rank for. If the blog category is not a competitive, commercial category, you can write directly to the webmasters of the top 20 - 50 results and see if they will exchange links with you.
If it’s a more competitive, commercial category, you can find out who links to the top websites for your keywords by searching for “link:http://www.YourCompetitor.com/”. That will show a list of URLs that link to your competition. Write to the webmasters who own those linking sites and see if they will trade links with you, too.
When you request a link exchange, be sure and make the request personal. Mention something that you like about the webmaster’s site and why you think that your blog is a good match for a link. You might even go a step further and put up a link to the webmaster’s site before emailing them. That way you can say “I’ve already put up a link to your site on my blog and wanted to see if you felt that my blog was a good match for a link back from your site”–or something like that. Take the first step, it’s a good gesture and it helps you get more links. Of course, if they don’t agree you can always take their link down. ;)
If they agree to exchange links, make sure that you have them link to your site using the keywords that you want to rank for. For example, if you want your blog to rank well for “Home Made Widgets”, be sure to have them use the link text “Home Made Widgets”.
You can manually insert the webmaster’s link and description text into your blog by modifying your template. I try to put it in the left or right hand column just below the archive links. To do this, modify your template and look for this code: