The easy way to decide if AdSense is right for you

by Martin Reed on 15 January 2008 in Articles

Should I use Google AdSense?

Many websites make their initial revenue through Google AdSense for the simple reason that the program is easy to apply to and is easy to implement. The contextual advertising often helps ensure that the ads being shown to your visitors are relevant to your site’s content, making the ads far more appropriate (and likely to be clicked on) by your visitors.

AdSense isn’t perfect and it isn’t appropriate for everyone

As good as all this sounds, AdSense isn’t perfect – there are many reports of the contextual advertising not working correctly or even appropriately. I have my own example of this – I simply cannot run AdSense on Soap Forum as Google is convinced my website is about body soaps as opposed to television soaps!

Additionally, depending on your niche you may find you can earn more revenue through affiliate programs, private advertising or other ad networks. Remember – Google doesn’t have a monopoly when it comes to online advertising (yet!). In any case, it is always a good idea to diversify your revenue streams – even if AdSense is working great for you, your site should still be making money from more than one source.

Is Google right for you?

Only you can determine whether AdSense is right for your website. One quick and easy way to figure this out is by using the AdSense preview tool. Unfortunately this only works with Internet Explorer, but it is well worth installing as it offers some insightful information by showing you the type of ads you can expect to be served on any page you visit.

Download AdSense preview tool

Installing the Google AdSense preview tool

Once you install the plugin, you simply right-click on any website page to get a preview of the type of ads you can expect to see should AdSense be running:

Using the AdSense preview tool

Using the Google AdSense preview tool

This can be a great help as you can determine the following:

Are the ads going to be relevant to your site and audience?

Poorly targeted, irrelevant ads are worthless. You want to make sure that the ads you serve are relevant to your visitors to ensure they add value to your site and earn you the maximum possible revenue.

What type of sites are going to be advertising on your website?

You should always be aware of who is advertising on your site – after all, you may not want to advertise the websites of your direct competitors, or sites that contain content you do not wish to be associated with.

Who can you approach for private advertising?

Even if you don’t want to use AdSense, this handy tool will allow you to see sites similar to yours that pay to advertise. At the very least, you can now ‘follow the money’ and consider contacting those websites directly to see if they are interested in advertising on your site.

What ads will AdSense show on my website?

These ads aren’t particularly relevant to a TV forum and ‘Clone a Willy’ may not be appropriate for my audience!

Geo-targeting and ad formats

You can also play around with the plugin by previewing ads in popular dimensions and according to your geographical location:

AdSense preview options

Further previews are available via the ‘Choose Options’ link


Have you come across the AdSense preview tool before? Did you use it to decide whether AdSense was right for your site, or did you use it to find advertisers? Are you an AdSense fan or a non-believer? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.

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Smiley January 16, 2008 at 8:34 am

Sorry, but… LMFAO @ “clone a willy”. What an ad!

But I agree with you, Google is not the best advertiser out there these days, I’ve done away with AdSense all together. When people click on Google Ads, they leave your site anyway. Not exactly the best thing for a new site.

Sue @ TameBay January 16, 2008 at 10:48 am

I think some sites – like your soap forum – are definitely too specialised for Adsense to cope with. For example, on TameBay (blog about eBay), we get a constant stream of “have you been chucked off eBay? this is how to scam your way back on”-type ads, which isn’t exactly what I want.

OTOH, approaching people ourselves for highly targetted advertising, we’ve done pretty well. So the last remaining bit of Adsense advertising will be going soon. Even if you don’t want to approach advertisers directly yourself, there are other networks which do as well or better, and might be better targetted for your readers. Advertising is, after all, content like any other, and if it’s not relevent to your readership, that’s as useless as putting pictures of your cat on a business blog.

psytrance January 16, 2008 at 4:33 pm

i’ve been very happy to adsense’s performance on the forums I use it on

Phil the Plumbing Expert January 17, 2008 at 5:43 am

You’re right, Google doesn’t rule the online advertising! there are different ways that you can try in order to increase your revenue. Like Adsense, if it works well for you, then good.. but why don’t you try other options that can help you to make more money?

Hirsutism January 17, 2008 at 5:50 am

According to me google adsense proves more useful for those sites which are less attractive and less informative. If one’s site has google ads on it, it should be less informative and less attractive for people to click on ads by google, and thus made money by adsense.
This is my opinion, what do you think ??

Smiley January 17, 2008 at 11:31 am

..Isn’t the point of a site to retain visitors? :\

Eva White January 18, 2008 at 8:54 am

I would also go with smiley, that the point of a site is to retain visitors, but I would also partially agree with Hirsutism, if the main motive of one’s site is to earn money by adsense then it is better to have a less informative site, so that the visitors who visit the site are diverted to click on ads by google.

Online Furniture Store January 18, 2008 at 10:09 am

That was a great post, very informative, since you explained how to determine whether ad sense is for you or just non-sense :)

Martin Reed - Blog Author January 18, 2008 at 5:13 pm

Smiley – That’s a good ad, eh? Not sure it’s appropriate for Soap Forum, though! Remember that when someone clicks on an ad they leave your site, regardless of whether you use AdSense or not. Sure, you can have ads open in a new window but by that stage you may find it hard to bring that person back unless they are a regular visitor.

Sue – Thanks for your comment; you make a good case for pursuing private advertising, or at least looking at other sources of revenue rather than just Google AdSense.

psytrance – I am glad to hear that! What is the subject matter of your forums?

Phil – Agreed. It is always important to experiment and this is equally true when it comes to generating revenue.

Hirsutism – I am not exactly sure what you are trying to say. There are many great sites out there that use AdSense and generate good revenue. I don’t think AdSense is synonymous with poor websites – however the fact the program is so easy to apply to means AdSense is often found on ‘spammy’ and low quality sites (at least until they are found by Google).

Eva – Of course, it is essential for a site to retain its visitors. Unfortunately the main purpose of online advertising is to send visitors away from your site to others – that is why you are getting financially compensated. This is one reason why I avoid advertising on my home page – you don’t want to lose visitors as soon as they arrive on your website!

Reena – Thanks for your comment, I am glad you enjoyed the article.

Vegas Rob January 20, 2008 at 10:53 pm

I would agree that google is not always the best source of income. In Fact, I have seen a huge drop in overall adsense incomes when adding adsense to a blog that wasn’t doing to well yet. It seemed like it pulled everything else down.

I have heard rumors that having a bad performing site can actually drive down what you are making on other sites.

Nicole Price January 21, 2008 at 9:13 am

Google Adsense works well for my bouquet of sites. I am yet to try other means of monetizing and plan to begin with my blog. I have never used the preview tool nor have I used it to find advertisers.

PS: Your spam protection question is always either What is 2+1? or What is 1+2? Always….

Martin Reed - Blog Author January 22, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Vegas Rob – AdSense income can be rather unpredictable, but that is often the case with all advertising methods (unless you sell advertising on a time based rather than a results based basis).

I don’t think a bad performing site can drive down your revenue on other sites – ads are served based on your site’s content and this will often determine the revenue you earn with AdSense.

Nicole – I am glad AdSense is working well for you, but I hope you have backup plans in place in case this changes! As for the spam protection, I like to keep it simple!

Nicole Price January 31, 2008 at 5:26 am

Yes after reading your post about the breakup of your sources of earnings, I believe I should start working on diversifying my sources of income. I plan to try out the affiliate sites mentioned by you over the weekend.

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 1, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Nicole – Let me know how you get on and if any of the companies I mentioned generate you decent revenue. Good luck!

Camps Bay Self Catering June 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Hi Martin,

Good post, I feel you regarding contextual adverts. I have a car website called Auto Pedigree and the Google adsense gives me adverts for Pedigree dog food.

No matter how many times “car”, “motorvehicle” etc is mentioned in the copy.

Martin Reed - Blog Author June 26, 2008 at 11:40 pm

Camps – I just used the Google AdSense preview tool on this blog. If I ran AdSense I would be serving ads for spark plugs … not particularly relevant for my readers!

Morgan August 14, 2008 at 10:57 pm

I am interested in making money by having sites appear on my website and get revenue per click. Sounds great. Unlike every one of you on the comment page, I am not a computer person. I am a fiction writer and I have no skill when it comes to adding Adsense to my site. Google has no living breathing person to speak with and ask for help.
If there is a site that does not require more than point and click to add other companies to my site please let me know.

Smiley August 15, 2008 at 10:00 am

Google Adsense is pretty simple, Morgan.

Just go to, sign up, choose “text ads”, the size.. and then simply copy/paste the code into your website.

Tom August 29, 2008 at 8:52 am

Clone a willy??????? :)

Adsense definitely can show some strange unrelated ads sometimes. It is especially glaring when it’s an all text ad since the content stands out much more. If it’s some flashing image it somehow doesn’t seem to matter as much (imho).

Nishadha September 9, 2008 at 2:48 pm

This really is a cool way to check out the prospective ads that may appear in my website. I don’t have a problem with the appearing ads , but they are so low value clicks :(