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Thread: Is it still possible to make money with AdSense sites?

  1. #1
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Is it still possible to make money with AdSense sites?

    This question has been fairly widely debated since many people experienced a big drop in their AS income last year. Ophelie of Flippa wrote an interesting blog post recently, which discusses the issue again, based on feedback provided by Flippa users.
    flippa.com/blog/making-money-from-adsense-sites-still-possible/

    Decreased CTRs, and the increased popularity of ad blockers and mobile phones were cited as reasons for the decline. However, the article concluded that there's still hope, 24% of their respondents has experienced an increase in AS earnings. Some of the users' feedback is the usual - do white hat SEO, rank well in G, good sites will rise and the bad ones will disappear.

    If only things were really as simple as that. Writing good content and providing a useful site doesn't always result in increased rewards. The code has yet to be cracked.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

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    I believe depending on Adsense is a MAJOR FATAL FLAW now. However, it can still make money. I had a low CPM site earn ~$800 in 3 months. However, the amount of work I put on my plate for that to happen was pretty incredible lol

    On another note, i wouldn't depend on it.

    They are blocking sites and disabling account left and right this year. Two class action law suits are developing. All flags are red, there's a situation brewing.

  3. #3
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    It can be a major flaw to depend on any single source of income, but that's not the question here. It's about whether these sites still make money. I'm still making some money with AS, just not as much as before. But, according to Flippa's survey 24% have seen an increase in AS income. They attribute this to their use of white hat SEO. I was a bit sceptical of the results.

    If we did a survey of EP members, I think we'd see quite different results.

    PS: Is it possible to have a minor fatal flaw? By definition, anything would be major to whatever it was that got killed off.

    Edit: I didn't explain that very well. Obviously some sites still make money (just less of it). I'm not so sure about the idea that there's as much hope for the future as seemed to be suggested by the survey.
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    aka "meathead1234" Thomas is a Premium Member
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    Of course you can.

    The problem with Flippa's results is they are skewed by idiots who jumped on the MMO bandwagon building 7 page sites with "optimized" templates for CTR/earnings - so obviously earnings are going to decrease. I tend to ignore "surveys" where the main demographic is made up from people who have a very specific MMO mindset. If we knew more about the people who responded that would help (e.g. income). I would guess that most people who saw earnings "drop" had total AS income <$1k a month.

    My best earner on Adsense has one ad unit per page and is outperforming last year (where the old owner had 4 units) by 2.5x and I've seen plenty of sites still performing just fine with Adsense.

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  6. #5
    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Hmm, very interesting. Thanks, Thomas. There's a lot of food for thought in there.

    After I received the email from Flippa about this, I dug into some other recent info on the subject - and found some good stuff! I'll probably blog about it if I find the time.

    The problem with Flippa's results is they are skewed by idiots who jumped on the MMO bandwagon building 7 page sites with "optimized" templates for CTR/earnings - so obviously earnings are going to decrease.
    Totally agree. I was one of these "idiots" trying some of these things. It's not that I'm really a complete idiot - only some of the time. Before I joined EP just over a couple of years ago I'd never even heard of this MMO industry, although I was already earning a living online. I was hugely curious about it. I tried some of these things. Heck, I still try some of these things but only out of interest. I've no idea how much money I ever made out of any of them but I can guarantee that no one would be impressed if I could be bothered to tot it up and report back here. (And if you took my time out of the equation, you'd see a horror story.)

    I tend to ignore "surveys" where the main demographic is made up from people who have a very specific MMO mindset. If we knew more about the people who responded that would help (e.g. income).
    I agree. It would have been helpful to know more about the survey - size of sample, demographics, etc.

    I would guess that most people who saw earnings "drop" had total AS income <$1k a month.
    You could be right about "most people", but some people with AS earnings of >$1k p/m got badly hit too.

    My best earner on Adsense has one ad unit per page and is outperforming last year (where the old owner had 4 units) by 2.5x and I've seen plenty of sites still performing just fine with Adsense.
    That could be very useful info. We already know that the AS advertising people hound you into adding more units and the algo people penalise you for doing so. It might be worth a shot to experiment with reducing the number of ad units.

    Edit for afterthought: but being penalised in the algo would only affect the site if it was depending on organic traffic from G search. No? Or maybe it's the clutter of ads which puts people off.
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    Top Contributor grynge is a Premium Member
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    I think it would be also important to find out what niche the losses have been in and then correlate that to any increase in googles online business and then I would suggest you will find what I have been saying all along, Google now know what converts and as such they now want to keep that converting traffic to themselves or large corporate advertising companies. [Grynge Goes and puts tinfoil hat back on]
    And they thought me broken, that my tongue was coated lead, but I just couldn't make my words make sense to them, if you only listen with your ears ... I can't get in
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    I have a bunch of little sites that I use primarily as a laboratory for experiments to help me understand the business. The only source of revenue is AdSense and a few affiliate programs. Most of the sites are pretty thin and understandably got hit by Penguin and Panda, but the better sites suffered more or less equally with the worst of the lot.

    Interestingly, while the traffic from Google dropped precipitously, the traffic from Bing is more or less unchanged over the same period. Unfortunately, Google used to send about 75% of the traffic and now in several cases sends less traffic than Bing. I'm rooting for more people to take the Bing Challenge!

    If my sites were a real business, I would never want to put all my eggs in one basket. That applies both to the source of the traffic (e.g., search engines) and the source of the revenues (e.g., PPC ads). In fact, I think relying entirely on advertising in any form to pay the bills is dangerous. It harks back to the late 1990s when almost any internet-related business could raise millions even though the founders had no idea how the business would generate revenues. Some of the few who did have revenue projections expected to sell banner ads at what today would be laughably high prices.

    I am sure that AS ads will continue to produce reasonable revenues for some sites. However, I suspect (with absolutely no empirical evidence to back it up) that the trend in search engines to provide more answers directly on the search result page and to provide more relevant results when they do direct people to websites will make the old AdSense ads much less compelling. Of course, since Google makes a boatload of money off selling AdWords, they will also try to learn more and more about you so that they can serve you ads that you WILL find compelling. What that means is that you may be visiting a site about dogs but instead of serving up ads for flea collars Google will be serving up ads for that expensive set of Callaway golf clubs that you were thinking about buying. They are already doing that, of course, but I see that happening more and more in the future. If that is the case, it may be more important to attract the demographic that the advertisers want and perhaps less important that the content be immediately related to the particular interest, just as Rolex and Jaguar will advertise in a polo or yachting magazine even though horses don't wear timepieces and you can't drive a sports car on even the largest yacht.

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