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The result is that most publishers who are active in the "high-paying" niches get very low paying ads. Only some very smart and talented publishers get the high paying clicks. Some of them folks are right here at this wonderful forum...
However, the beauty of the system is, it's not only the niche that determines the paycheck, it's much more subtile. If you have for example a high volume jokes site with good quality content, I don't rule out the possibility of decent earnings. If the ads match the quality content well, you might convert high and smart pricing could reward you with more than average ECPM = good cash!
So, my advice would be to make websites about things you can write good quality content about. So if you're funny you make a jokes site, if you are a lawyer you make a site about legal issues.
If you are a funny lawyer... well, you get the point.
When it comes to Adsense, there are only few things we are pretty sure about, one of them is:
Cash follows Quality.
However, that doesn´t rule out:
Cash follows Trash.
But it does mean that providing the Internet with quality content will improve your chances at decent earnings dramatically!
and it rhymes too!
I would add cash follows tons of visitors (sorry no rhyme there)
But that's like saying if you have lots money you are rich, with tons of visitors, AdSense or whatever network will bring you the money, if the question is less general and about adsense, then the contextual game dictates good quality text in addition to a good number of visitors.
From what I've seen, forums don't tend to make money simply because people are there to use the forum, not to click ads. Games sites don't tend to make money because there isn't a lot of text content. Same for jokes and lyrics sites: someone might click to "Buy Janis Joplin on eBay" but those would be lower-paying probably. That's not to say these sites CAN'T make money, it's just that the money per impression tends to be a lot lower.
Honestly, if you have a passion for something, and a lot to say about it, I think you should put up a website, and the heck with how much money it will make or not. Give it a try, create some good content, put Adsense on there, and just see how it does. If it doesn't do well, try something else.
If nothing else, you'll have gotten some experience in what works and what doesn't. :-)
topics that flat-out don't do well with adsense.
Topics with no Advertisers
Hard to make money when there's no money to be had. But this takes some research. You could Google for "widgets" and see 0 AdSense ads (or only generic ads beside the resulting SERPs, and then conclude that there's no advertisers for "widgets".
In fact, it might be the case that "widgets" is too popular and generic for advertisers to get a decent CTR rate on. It might turn out that there are still lots of advertisers for "widget repair", "widget training", and the like.
One solution is to search for competing sites on the desired topic and study their AdSense ad inventory. Lots of relevant advertisers? Ads showing up all day long, even in the wee hours of the morning?
Of course, only looking at competitors will preclude you from finding a sweet topic where there are no competitors. So that puts you back at the Google SERPs, poking around different keywords related to your topic, looking for where the ad money is being spent.
Too Much Competition
Who cares if there's lots of advertisers if you'll never rank for any worthwhile terms and get the free SE traffic? Too much competition can make a great AdSense topic lousy -- for you.
As usual, the actual equation here is complex.
Example: I can't rank well for "earthquake insurance", but I can rank well for "moving to Sacramento". So, my landing pages for terms related to "moving to Sacramento" don't display AdSense ads -- instead, they display an "in-house ad" that says "Pros and cons of earthquake insurance", which takes visitors to an article that will display AdSense ads for the money term that I could not rank well for myself.
In general, if there's a lot of money being spent, then there's probably a way to beat the problem of too much competition -- if you're clever and willing to settle for a fraction of what the big boys are getting.
Topics You Can't Make/Buy Content For
It's getting tougher all the time to make AdSense money without delivering something of value. So if it's a topic you can't build, buy, or steal plausible content for, it's going to be a bad bet.
Topics that are Nevergreen
AdSensers generally hope for "evergreen" content -- pages that you can write once, put up, and then reap an income from for years with no changes. The opposite end of that spectrum is "nevergreen" content -- stuff that requires constant updating and research to be useful to visitors.
Want to target your favorite pop star? Then you may have to constantly revise past material. Childless? Not anymore. Just out of rehab? That was 6 months ago.
This partly depends on traffic's sensitivity to "freshness". People searching for a pop star's name are likely doing so because of something that just happened.
This is another case where a drawback can be turned into an advantage. Can you highly automate "nevergreen" content production so that you can do it with less time investment than any of your competitors? If so, then maybe you've found your niche.
I'd love to do a whole site on nothing but comic books, could generate tons of content myself, but it pays pennies and the traffic is pretty sad compared to so many other, similar fields. IMHO. If there's someone out there making big bucks in the field, I'd love to know.
There is a site in India catering to the Non Resident population and the local people which is primarily a portal for jokes/fun/humour . It is going in for a public issue of shares to raise Rs 60 cr ( USD 13.5 Million) . It claims a profit of USD 300,000 anually from google adsense only.
I think , the trick is 'Traffic' .
I'd love to do a whole site on nothing but comic books, could generate tons of content myself, but it pays pennies and the traffic is pretty sad compared to so many other, similar fields.
If you're not putting together a top notch, original, content filled site based on the assumption that you might not make a lot with adsense, then you are thinking sort of backwards.
You make the site for users, not for potential adsense earnings.
If you can truly make that kick-A comic book site, you'd be crazy not to make it.
If it dominates its niche, you could get the traffic for being an original resource. That means you'd have to be the best at what you do, or do something totally original with the topic.
If you can create that site, then adsense would be the least of your worries. With that much targeted content and the traffic that comes from making a truly original resource (and marketing as such), you can make money from a variety of sources (including adsense).
Now, this is probably more true with a topic like comic books (which has an actual commercial market) and less true for a site with a topic like potato bugs, but hey, maybe not. I hear potato bug farmers have a lot of disposable income.
just type in some of your keywords into the preview tool, enter $100 as the price, and you will see... if its below $1-2, then its better to stay away from this
This is ABSOLUTELY not true. I have first hand experience making quite a bit of money with collectible christmas ornaments. This is niche that pays 30-40 cents. BUT, people who collect ornaments click EVERY ad. I'm pretty sure this is a case with all collectors' topics, where goods are in short supply. People who collect stuff are insane. They click every ad, visit every site, write thousands of e-mails talking to other nuts like them all over the globe. You can make decent money for topics that aren't "hot".
Well, I had a very brief "CTO" stint at a recent startup, now defunct, for quite a promising "collectables" site (in the Sci-Fi area). The bloke running it was sensible and well connected but could not make it pay, but he was trying to monetise the trading aspect directly, and thus in direct competition with eBay et al IMHO.
AS seems to blend in page and site components, eg it can make a half-decent guess at a completely new page on the first visit based on its position in the site directory structure.
Different stuff on each page will simply render that element of the targetting element useless, reducing targetting "quality".
It might also be a signal to G that, unless there is something else especially good about the site, that the site is a dictionary/DMOZ/Wikipedia clone or an MFA...