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why Adsense may not be a money making solution anymore

 12:41 am on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Adsense, once an ingenius invention that made Google and website owners very rich has now seemingly become a 'waste of time money earning' proposal.

For many website owners revenue from Google Adsense has plummeted and continues to go downhill.

Some website owners blame it on 'the beginning of the year being always slow', others claim its a 'glitch' in Adsense's new algorithm and others still have a third opinion saying that backlinks, on site anchor text and content are the culprit.

Good content is required if you ever wish to own a successful website, whether you post Google Adsense ads or not. Stale sites that don't get updated regularly quickly turn into a pile of dust (online dust).

But undeniably something has changed with Google Adsense that is effecting most websites across the globe negatively re revenue.

In about 2 weeks Penguin 2 is reportedly being released. And according to some insiders this version is even 'tougher and stricter' than the first release, indicating, website owners are going to eat even more dust.

Yet, in my humble opinion it is not content, backlinks, SEO, Panda, Penguin and what not that causes the sharp decline in Adsense revenue.

From my own research over the past five months I am convinced that the drop in Adsense revenue is caused by 2 major changes Google made to its search engine and to its Adsense program.

1. Changes to Google Search Engine:
In the past if you searched at Google for something you would get a list of websites on the left side of the screen and Google Adsense on the right side of the screen.

As a surfer, you either checked the list until you found what you wanted and clicked on the link or you would click on an Adsense link that related to your search.

Either way, websites had a change of getting your business.

Today, Google has added a new feature: 'instant purchase'.

Type in the search term 'Louis Vuitton Bags' for example and on the very top of the search page or at the top right side of the screen Google will now display various listing of Louis Vuitton Bags (similar to Amazon) that you can purchase directly from the google search site.

Just that little add-on takes away the need to search through listings and reduces the chance of a surfer clicking on links pointing to sites.

People are creatures of 'instant gratification, I want it now!' and Google knows that. It's newest search engine module takes full advantage of that want but at the same time dramatically reduces website owners of getting the searcher coming to their site.

2. Adsense Ads are now behavioral based:
In the past Adsense ads matched the content of a website. That was great. If you had an article about 'sleeping disorder' you get ads related to sleeping. A visitor clicking on that article would also be interested in the ads that Google served, thereby increasing changes of getting clicks ... making money.

Today, Google has taken Facebook's approach of serving behavioral based ads. That's great for Google but bad for website owners counting on Adsense revenue.

Why? Behavioral based ads get tiring very fast and visitors don't have a need to click on ads that match their internet behavior.

Just because I visited a Mercedes Benz site for example doesn't mean that every site I go to with Adsense ads now showing me a Mercedes Benz ad is what I want to click on.

That reduces the clicks the website owner is getting, thereby reducing the click ratio.

Anyone using Google Chrome (my stats show most people are) is being tracked by Google for everything they do online. Google then serves Adsense ads up not based on the content of the site but based on the user's 'behavior'.... not good.

So; what's the solution?

Unless you have an active marketing plan and funds to carry out that plan, there isn't much you can do to increase your Adsense earnings, except look for alternative income sources in addition to or as a complete replacement of Google Adsense.

A long article I know but hopefully the insight sheds some light on why your Adsense earnings continue to go downhill.




 1:54 am on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I can't wait for your ebook..


 3:38 am on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I agree.
IMHO both points describe exactly what is happening with Google AND other big companies. It's an "old" phrase but now, more than ever, I believe that "the party is in your website" and you can use Google, Facebook, Twitter or whatever else to get users to your domain.
If you make anything to have happy users in Google, your're simply giving your money to Google Inc.


 3:44 am on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm doing fine with Adsense. No doom and gloom here.

Sally Stitts

 4:55 am on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Ditto. I hope it continues.

In the end, we are all doomed. But, we might as well take the ride, while it lasts.


 5:58 am on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am also doing great with Adsense. Those who are doing well tend to be less vocal than those who are not doing well, so it's easy to get a false impression of how Adsense is working overall.


 12:31 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I see 2 categories:

If you made money from getting clicks for free (or cheap) from Google Search only to point the users to an affiliate program and make some money off of a commission: sure you're doomed.
Simply put Google and the actual manufacturer/importer/distributor can easily offer a better deal than you ever could to that user.

If you have unique things: e.g. you make what you sell, or you offer (your own) copyrighted content, your own community of users, ... you still have something unique. That should be enough to get through this. The @$%^%$#$@ interest based ads really don't help you to do this. I've opted out wherever I could but I can't really go teaching the world how to disable interest based Google ads.
The real problem is that these ads "stick" way too much to the user and annoy them, causing them to install adblockers and simply killing the entire business. I just wish Google would stop doing that.

Anyway Category 2 is still far better off than category 1.

So is there a way from category 1 to category 2 ?
It for sure is not easy. I've never had the intention to be in category 1, but I must say at times in the past it's been tempting. Some parts of some of my oldest website probably is in category 1. It started out as a reading list. As amazon was created and became popular I added affiliate links there and I still sell a bunch of on-topic books.

I'm convinced Google will eventually stop sending traffic to the books sections of my site (if they have not done so already). My strategy has been for years to build an active community and let them interact and help users (it's a forum, and works like a charm). I've virtually no direct income from the forum - ads on forums do not work - but the forum users constantly add new content, new discussion - and Google likes that a lot and likes to send visitors over there.
So how do you make money out of that: well recommend a book to those asking more information - just the affiliate link every so often - nothing blatant, just enough that anybody really interested will find it a few times and eventually click it. Oh and the visitors are happy: they get help from the community and they find an obscure book that helps them even more.
Those that stick around and help others: I try to pamper them a bit - I should do it more I think, cause they are the real value of the community and the engine that keeps it running.


 1:41 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld Nodeju

For many website owners revenue from Google Adsense has plummeted and continues to go downhill.

Some website owners blame it on 'the beginning of the year being always slow', others claim its a 'glitch' in Adsense's new algorithm and others still have a third opinion saying that backlinks, on site anchor text and content are the culprit.

That's nothing to do with AdSense, they are all algo/Panda/Penguin effects.

I can't wait for your ebook..

That's two you're waiting for now:-)


 2:29 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Um, the original post is so full of fallacies I don't even have time to go through them all but here are a few salient points -

The ads that you see in search are not AdSense. They are AdWords Search Ads. They have nothing to do with AdSense or the Display Network. They are not bid the same way (at least by smart advertisers) and user behavior is vastly different.

There is no "Google Instant Purchase" at least not yet. What you are talking about are AdWords Product Listing Ads (formerly Google Shopping) and you are not purchasing from Google, although Google obviously makes money from the click. Generally the same as the regular AdWords ads (although I am paying significantly less form my PLA ads than my text ads because so few of the competitors are there yet)

Yes we are all seeing some interest based advertising and some remarketing ads. But contextual ads still exist, and as an advertiser myself, I know that the interest based advertising and remarketing ads do work. And I have to assume that they are working across the board, or else Google wouldn't be doing it; Google's not in this to lose money. My revenue share as reported in my account is the same as it ever was (and actually I would sink like a stone if all my ads were purely contextual, so I for one am glad for interest based ads)

Also, no way do I believe that most users are using Chrome. None of my numbers across approximately 250 sites (some mine some for clients) support that, nor have I read any such thing.

There's other stuff, but I'm out of time. Mostly I attribute loss in AdSense to:

- sites misfiring on user intent and not targeting people in the buying cycle

- ad blindness because no one can place just *one*

- the rise of mobile

- The complications of AdWords driving out a lot of small business who just don't have time to learn how to manage it properly

And some other stuff I'll get to later.

But welcome to WebmasterWorld!


 3:19 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

A long article I know but hopefully the insight sheds some light on why your Adsense earnings continue to go downhill.

My AdSense overall earnings and Page RPM have gone up for 6 straight years. I expect it to flatten out this year but given where it's at that's OK.


 3:24 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm doing fine with Adsense and agree with Nodeju. All of the people that are in love with Google are just kidding themselves.


 3:32 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm not in love with Google (anyone who thinks so hasn't been paying attention) but I know how to do an *objective* analysis.

I manage my (multiple) organizations just fine, thanks. It's obvious you're new here. Also, I advise you read the TOS for WebmasterWorld; no links allowed.


 5:03 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Those of us doing well with Adsense know that it won't last forever; nothing does. I, for one, have a back up plan if it fails (move into my rental property, etc. to save money) and am socking away as much cash as I can. If it lasts a few more years, then I'll be set to retire. Risky maybe, but what isn't in today's economy?


 5:27 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Changes to Google Search Engine:

In my experience (or I should say my case) this is true. Panda and Penguin (and their updates) changed my traffic, most changes didn't affect my earnings, but there were two that actually did.

First change. I saw a lot of people here complaining that their traffic was lost and never recovered. In my case it was the opposite, my traffic went up considerably, but my adsense earnings went down a bit.

Second change. I changed nothing because I believe in the guidelines I built my sites around (for years). But this time, that change caused the traffic to go back. I saw many posters here telling about recoveries. In my case the adsense earnings went back to the normal average.

There were diff changes on the algo and I can't name it or be specific on the dats, sorry, I've been losing faith on this so I can't be that specific on what those two chances that I mention are. Anyway it was discussed on a thread around here that it was not just traffic, it was a different kind of traffic. I can only say that the first Panda roll outs had didn't punish my websites (pure original content) BUT there are members who suffered and I'm familiar with their posts, they had original content too, so go figure.

But then on March adsense earnings went down, and on april a bit more, and since may... it's been really down, low earnings.

I can only think of the following:

Adsense mechanisms are being affected by Google Search results (the kind of traffic you now get, it's not only about numbers, it's about the quality or relevance). Sure Adsense kinda depends of Google Search because that's mostly how you get the traffic.

Clicks. What a valid click is... remains a chancing mystery. I know many of us are getting clicks but are not being counted as valid as before. It's surprising how some of us have more and more traffic but less earnings.

Stalking ads. Google is trying to make me buy something I don't want. I believe this is a big problem because I perform many searches per day, many are not even related, many are not for me, and many are just because of my work, so it's silly that G is trying to figure out what I'm trying to buy. Google is an information search engine, not a search engine for products. How do they know what searches are for information purposes and those about buying? sure a friend asks me what's the capacity of his cell phone, we search but we are not interested on buying NOTHING.

It goes on: ad inventory. I've been checking my sites as usual and been seeing the same 1 or 2 ads stalking me. You could say I had 25 impressions but I only saw 2 ads. If I didn't click on it the first 5 times trust me, I won't click on it the other 20! and I'm sure this applies to you.

Broken?. Don't know what to say but been seeing Japanese and Portuguese ads that won't make any sense. You might not agree with me on this but G is doing a poor job controlling spammy advertisers who use diff cloned domains for garbage, so you end up blocking 1, 2, 3, 4 sites for the same garbage.

Content. I'm not really sure how G is managing to figure out what's good and original content. Yesterday I saw changes on the SEs, today I'm seeing garbage websites back into first positions.

Groups? on / off?. From where I'm standing it doesn't seem just as Panda 1.0, Panda 2.0 or Penguin 1, 2. It seems to me there are GROUPS or classifications for websites and sites are affected not just by the algo, but also because in what group is G putting them. I don't think Panda or Penguin are treating every website the same.

MFA. The web changed when Adsense made it easy for trashy websites to get in, and some of us noticed this on the SEs, a new boom of websites that now G is trying to clean.

So, I'm just saying. You might agree or not.

MFA 2.0 Am I mad? nope. I'm not mad at all. My sites were not made for adsense, I had other goals and objectives. Sure I invested time and effort on two sites trying to replicate the effect of my other sites and it didn't work, but those were not MFA sites, it was not trash, not garbage content but in fact pure quality original content and the emails I receive from the readers confirm it.

MFA are garbage, but what I'm trying to say is that there seems to be another level of MFA, the MFA 2.0 or call it the way you like it: many seem to complain too much about their earnings, so much that it seems their sites exist only for adsense. No offense, I understand the situation and I don't like the results either, and what I said doesn't mean MFA and MFA 2.0 are related in the quality of the content. Sure, I see members here that I respect due to their knowledge and advice... and they are having a terrible experience with Adsense. And I can't say in any way (in this case and context) is their fault, not at all.

I'm latin so spanish is my first language. I read other forums and you could actually draw a line, a graph, from where white hat webmasters began to suffer and trashy webmasters began to report good earnings. I'm seeing a lot of people with ugly sites without original content, pure MFA, built and gone in a year making good bucks and getting away with it. Dupe accounts, poor control from G. Their advice sucks but they are making money.


 6:00 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi Explorador;

Great article. No doubt there is much truth in what you are saying. Google Adsense is a mystery that's for sure. How to go about trying to get a hold of something that is controlled by a super giant is equally a mystery. In fact, it's a frightening realization that your web business can be made or broken not by your doing but by a third party that runs the entire show.

For my site, which I did not build as an MFA, I have diverted to other income sources. For now these revenue streams are in addition to Adsense. As time passes I'll see how they perform and decide to remove or keep Adsense all together.

I also done the same with the mobile version of my site. We'll see how that goes.

What frightens me most about Adsense is that Google is in control. Even if we were to figure out exactly what needs to be done to increase earnings, tomorrow, Google could introduce a new algorithm that sets everything spiraling again.

Not really a position I want to be in.



 6:34 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Right, which is why many of us say, don't base your living on AdSense, no matter how successful you are with it; any more than you should rely on organic traffic lasting forever.


 8:16 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Adsense .... has now seemingly become a 'waste of time money earning' proposal.

For you maybe but to assume the same is true for everyone is very, very misguided. You have a view that many others do not recognise as being true for them. Some do agree, some don't.

Listening to the chattering of the masses is not always the best way to spend your time.


 10:05 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

I believe one thing we tend to overlook in "Doom and Gloom" is that if some sites are down, then others are up!

On a net basis, if Google were suffering a loss of revenue, they would act, and act fast. I see no reports of Google having revenue problems.

It all comes down to who gets to share the big pie. It could be argued that Google now get a bigger share by pushing AdWords on Google Search, where that money is their's 100%.

Google is your biggest competitor.


 11:13 pm on May 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

IanCP: I believe one thing we tend to overlook in "Doom and Gloom" is that if some sites are down, then others are up!

Yes that has been my impression.

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