Top 15 Reasons You Aren't Making Money With Google Adsense

15. Your don't understand how to brainstorm for keywords. This isn't meant to offend anyone, but there's a solid chance that you consistently choose the same keywords as everyone else. Niche keywords that you wouldn't easily think of are by far the best keywords for Adsense and 'make money online' keywords are probably some of the worst.

14. Your ad placement is poor. I still see a lot of people that are only using vertical banners in their sidebars. These honestly don't get clicked nearly as often as larger, rectangle units. Inserting large and medium rectangles in your posts will almost always lead to getting more clicks. Vertical banners are a nice addition but are best used as a supplement – not as the primary unit.

13. You have Adsense on too many pages. Yes, I said you have Adsense on too many pages. Adsense should be on pages that do a good job of targeting keywords. When you put it up on pages and posts that don't target keywords well, you will have poorly targeted traffic that either won't click an ad or won't convert well for the advertiser. When your clicks don't convert well for advertisers you get SMART PRICED.

12. Your pages aren't Adsense optimized. If the ads that show up on a page don't match the topical content of the page/post, you have a problem that needs to be fixed. The ads that show up should be very similar to the ones that you're trying to get traffic with. If they aren't, they won't convert well for the advertiser and this leads to you getting SMART PRICED.

Adsense relevancy optimization and onsite SEO are alike in a lot of different ways. To trigger the right ads on a page you should include your keyword in the HTML title, page headings, throughout the text of the page, and probably as a tag or label if your site is a blog.

11. You aren't testing which of your pages convert well. I have started using an Adsense channel on each page that gets search traffic – at least until I know that it converts well. I know that there are a limited amount of testing channels available, but you can run a channel on a page until you know that it's doing well. You can then remove it so that you can test the next page. If a page is converting at a low CTR, you probably have a problem with your Adsense optimization or you have a keyword that doesn't have advertiser bids.

When I implemented channels I was blown away by which pages were doing well. Pages that I counted out were doing well and pages I thought were amazing were terrible. That led to me looking deeper into why some pages couldn't convert to clicks while others could.

10. You target keywords with extremely low CPCs. I generally try to target keywords that have Adwords CPCs over $1. This can be checked with the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. The higher the CPC, the higher the potential to get higher paying clicks.  You can learn more about keywords in our free eBook.

9. Your focus is far too wide. I talk to people all the time that tell me how they're adding 5-10 new articles to their sites each day. This generally leads to a site eventually having thousands of pages, most of which can't ever produce a search visitor let alone a valuable Adsense click. Most people would do a lot better by focusing on a few key keyword targeted pages and getting people to link to them. Ask yourself what types of articles you're adding – what is their purpose? I understand that sometimes we create articles to influence, entertain, etc

. You probably shouldn't have Adsense on those articles/pages.

8. Your ads don't blend well with your site. Unless you have a very strange niche, matching the background color of your ads to the background color of your site will almost always generate more clicks. The color of the titles of your ads (the click-able part) should match the link color of your site or should be blue. There are exceptions but I would challenge you to test this and then try to beat it. You usually can't.

7. You don't know how to get people to link to your pages/posts. If you can't generate links, you can't get ranked. Most people spend all day working on their sites while they should be spending all day trying to figure out how to get linked to. 90/10 is the rule and that leaves you with 10% of your time to spend on your site itself and the rest figuring out how to get linked to.

6. You don't understand how to target a keyword with a post page. This is why you generate almost all of your Adsense clicks on your home page. This problem combined with not understanding how to get linked to causes a nasty inability to get traffic and clicks.

5. You struggle to choose profitable topics. You will therefore probably choose to do 'make money online' because everyone else is doing it. Understanding the metrics of choosing solid keywords is a crucial aspect of making money with Adsense.

4. You don't know how to judge your competition. That means you'll get yourself into trying to rank for keywords that are above your skill set and this causes you to get discouraged and stop working. After a few months you will get more determined and will then continue to pursue the keywords that are above your skill set. This vicious cycle repeats again and again.

3. You have information addiction. Instead of acting on what you know, you try to add to what you know. You know who you are – you argue SEO theory on every site imaginable even though you've never made enough money through SEO to buy a new computer. At some point you need to walk away from the sites you love and start making it happen.

2. You're too lazy to test. There are a lot of metrics you can test while using Adsense. You can test your ad placement, background color, link color, text color, and ad size. If you're too lazy to do performance optimization on any of your sites, you are probably seriously under-performing. I can't stress this enough – every single site will

be different. One theme will work great in one niche, and terribly on another. One unit will work great on one site, and bad on another.

1. You're a blogger. Yes, this can be a huge problem when you're trying to make money with Adsense. It's very easy to get caught up in becoming famous and as a result, you may sacrifice your original goal – to make money. Blogging and Adsense don't work together as well as many people believe and if you lose focus you may lose your ability to make money.

Blogging can work very well with Adsense if you do proper testing, have the right focus, and use it on the right pages. In my opinion most bloggers are probably getting smart priced. Some can still make money and some can't. The ones that do make money could make a lot more if they got their account under control.



  1. LOL, it looks like I’m doing all 15 wrong :) Thanks for a great list, I think it’s really important to separate celebrity blogging from blogging for profit.

  2. A great list. I would add “Your Niche Attracts the Wrong People”. Many of us working to improve our Adsense revenue are at least somewhat interested in technology, and that’s often what we end up writing about. Thus our sites attract more people interested in technology. The problem is that technology advocates are exactly the visitors that can spot an ad from a mile away, regardless of how well it’s been integrated into a site design.

    A study came out about this time last year that revealed that 6% of internet traffic accounts for 50% of ad clicks. Who are these people?

    You need to get out of your comfort zone at least a little bit to find something that the common man can read and you’ll see your click percentages climb higher. If you need an example look no further than the Colorado Lasik Surgery Guide, created by our esteemed leader.

  3. I just don’t get traffic, thats my problem. But I do have a site that gets close to 100 visitors a day and I don’t see a dime from Adsense. Maybe I’ll reevaluate it.

  4. DeMerchant

    You could add a few more from Griz and Vic here like

    – Your content is too good… you want your content to get your site found and ranked in the engines, let your ads offer places to answer the questions people really have
    – Your site is too nice… Griz claims to have a 90% bounce rate… 8 of the 9 probably click the back button, but 1 probably clicks an ad… that equals a 10% CTR

  5. Court,

    I have a page that has a title using my main keyword. However, when I looked in google for the actual terms that people are finding my page with, there are no ads for those keywords. The ads on the page are relevant to the title. Would I be best to get rid of that ad page since the main search traffic keywords people are finding it with don’t have any ads?

    If so, on the bright side, one of the ads on my post is a longer tail keyword and has acceptable traffic, fairly beatable competition, and a cpc over $1. Looks like a good idea for a new post.

  6. Absolutely right on! Very good information on making money with Adsense. It always amazes me how many people think they can just throw Adsense up on any blog or site and make money from it without taking everything into consideration that can make or break their efforts.

    I’m sure Griz will love this post!

  7. You bet I love it Trent – It takes me a quarter mile of blog to say what Court can sum up in a single – to the point – page. (Court couldn’t bring himself to mention the “Ugly” aspect but I notice this theme is a bit on the plain side… ;-) )

    Court – beautiful summation and I hope all is well with you and Mark.

    • Sheesh, Grizz – you only made almost $40k last month…pretty sure you can take a quarter of a mile to say anything you want when it comes to making money with adsense.

      • Alright – which one of you two wrote this then? I’m just going to call you guys Marcourt from now on! :-)

        Hope all is good Mark.

        • No no, Court wrote the post. I’m just lurking in the comments…

  8. Great information! I’ve been thinking of making some changes, now I know I have to make some changes.

  9. Court,

    I used to do all 15 of those things, now because of this site I am about 85% focused on creating niche sites. I am working on just one right now until it actually performs or I realize it won’t. I don’t want to get distracted.

    It is so true when you talk about information addiction. This is something I noticed myself and realized that I need to step away for awhile and focus on actually making money online instead of trying to blog to be famous.

  10. Lorecee

    I have a total newbie question about niche sites vs. authority sites. Is it better to pick a broad keyword phrase for my home page, write niche posts, and then link them back to the home page? Or am I better off picking a smaller niche and posting on subniches within that niche?

    I understand that the broad words and phrases (like movies, music, etc.) can be more competitive, but if the individual posts can rank for themselves and also build authority long term for the broad topic, what’s the harm in trying?

    In other words (to use Justin’s example on SEOzombie), am I better off with a URL like and then making a post on, or a URL like and posting on

    Or am I thinking too hard?

  11. Boy Court, you and Grizz do think alike. You guys even post about the same stuff at about the same time. Weird!

    I thank both you and Grizz for helping us all so freely!

  12. Yah, my biggest struggle is with #15. I have been doing Amazon sites for the past 8-9 months, because they’ve been doing very well for me. Amazon niches are usually product names or product types, but I know that won’t work as well for adsense. I know I need to diversify my online income, and therefore I want to start doing Adsense sites. I have the keyword sn*ping down, it’s just the niche selection for adsense.

    In response to one of the posts, I had written to mark’s e-mail about the free consultation, wanting to just focus on picking adsense niches, since I have the other aspects down for the most part.

    Hope to hear from Mark or you, either by e-mail, or maybe a post, about brainstorming for and evaluating niches for adsense….

  13. I also tried to get the adsense in my theme so it wrapped, but the text wasn’t wrapping around it, and I followed the steps you had somewhere step by step…

    • i also have this problem. How do I get the adsense to wrap around the text? (can u do it in blogger too?)

  14. Hi Court,

    I also read that if you put adsense below your titles that google will penalize the site, is this true?



  15. A hearty AMEN to DeMerchant on the “your content is too good” front.

    When I created my very first Adsense site, I made two huge mistakes. (The first was targeting a low paying niche.) The other BIG mistake was creating the “definitive source” of information. As a result, I got HUNDREDS of emails asking me questions and not a lot of clicks on my ads.

    “No – no – You’re supposed to click on the ADS to get answers!!!”

    When I started creating sites with content that was “just good enough”, I started getting regular checks from Google.

    I just implemented the “remove the ads from non-performing pages” advice given here. Let’s see if I can move from getting monthly checks to getting BIGGER monthly checks!

    • Hey Kathy -

      Hundreds of emails and no adsense clicks sounds like a prime candidate for either an info product you create or an affiliate product. Did you look into either of those?

      Not to get off topic here, but sounds like you might have had a solid potential earner on your hands.

  16. Hey Nomadic Matt,

    Someone in a previous post gave this code which works perfectly to wrap the text around the ad.

    place your adsense code here

    If you want the ad to be the right side then change float: to left. Or change 3px to a higher number to separate the text further away from the ad.

    If you place this text in your singlepost.php file ads will show up on every page the same.

    • what float and where? in the script of the adsense? could you link the the post with the code so I can see it out and just copy it? can you sort of spell this out for me?

  17. I came here from Grizzly’s blog and hoping that you could have added the 16th reason – have an ugly blog like Grizzly’s blog….lol! He’s the main guy, really!

    Anyway, the number one reason should be the main reason for me. Most bloggers are missing the point of being popular first before they can make money online.

    The truth is it is the other way around.


  18. thanks for this. I just realized I need to only use adsense on the keyword pages. The thing is I’m using blogger and I have the adsense code in the main layout for every page. I don’t know coding or how to take adsense off certain pages and not have it show up every page. Is there a website that shows this or can you explain what i need to do. thanks

    • It is possible to easily put Adsense in your post, on Blogger, but 1 at a time. Wich is good because then you can chose on which page you put it. I found some html somewhere but it didn’t work for me.

      To be able to do so, go in Settings, Formatting and chose “No” in convert newlines.

      I use Live Writer to post the Adsense code because directly in Blogger, it doen’t seem to work.

      If I want to change something through Blogger, tags for example, Adsense disappears and the text formatting is out of whack. So it’s back to Live Writer.

      I just keep the code for Adsense in a little file and add it when I want.

      Hope this helps !


  19. You know how you tell yourself you are studying because you have your certification books opened in front of you? But you are really clicking on Stumble Upon to find interesting posts to read?

    Yeah well, I came across yours and had to write to tell you I enjoyed it very much. I gave it the thumbs up, so more people can come across it and enjoy it also.

  20. Thank you for that post. I posted some questions on your article “5 Places To Get Keywords”. I think those questions were answered here but not all.

    Out of the 15 Reasons why I am not making money on Adsense, I think I have 8 on my list. No.3 is too exact for me. I read a lot but do not apply them.

    I will try to follow what I have read here.

    Thanks again for the information. It is what internet is all about, sharing informations.

  21. sucks..any others money making like adsense but not them :]

  22. This is a life-saver article for newbies. I have just begun to consider Adsense, and 15 mistakes to avoid is about the best start I can think of. Thanks for the leg-up.

  23. Good tips,
    I particularly agree with your point about testing – I can’t believe how much I have increased earnings by testing different variations. And it only takes about 5 minutes to set up an a/b test – and wait a few days/weeks and voila – you will likely see a clear winner. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

  24. Thanks for the tips, Court! I really appreciate practicality of all your advices! Regret that I discovered your blog just a week ago…

  25. I am doing almost everything wrong. I will try to follow these tips. Lets see how it goes for me.

  26. I’ve gotten stuck with trying to steer my keyword site, and the stats show it’s going a different way. I finally decided to go with the flow, and not only is it easier, but the results are better. Now I have 10 blogs live, but I need to cut a few non productive ones loose and start a few new ones. Again thanks for your simple yet blunt info about making money online with Adsense. (Insert keyword here!)

  27. Stunning blog post about google. I’m honestly astonished that it hasn’t been told earlier.

  28. RE: Ad sizes

    Effective 2011, these will be the only official ad sizes. Others, including vertical ads, will be phassed out:

    Medium Rectangle 300×250
    Rectangle 180×150
    Leaderboard 728×90
    Wide Skyscraper 160×600
    Half Page Ad 300×600
    Button #2 120×60
    Micro Bar 88×31

    Why? Because they account for nearly 80% of total impressions!

  29. Interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll likely be coming back to your blog. Keep up great writing. Have a excellent day!

  30. Great post. Really helpful information and have learned some valuable advice. Thanks :)

  31. your article is very good and become the inspiration for many the people .after reading this article, I want to change more than ever.

  32. very helpful for newbie like me, thanks for sharing

  33. Wow, I think I had made any mistakes. Thanks.

  34. Hi, I discovered your blog while browsing looking for something interesting to read. I’ll definitely be coming back to read more. I really appreciate the time you’ve put into this. Thanks for sharing

  35. Making money online is not so simple as many people think, make money working online with simple membership websites, or CPA is one of the most often choices, but this is not so easy . One of the easiest ways, maybe not so profitable as CPA is Google AdSense websites, there are a thousands of great templates optimized for this , promotion of niche keywords in search enginesis is very simple.

  36. I’ve done a lot of article marketing and created an article site to supplement my income. I’ve gotten the bug now and want to develop it into a $5,000 a month venture. That’s why I’m here. Thanks guys and gals for getting me hooked on this website.

  37. Great site and more importantly. valuable information thanks guys

  38. Thanks for the information not only from this article, but a lot of the comments are helpful too. I truly think my problem is, it is not a money-making blog. It is more like a flagship. But, I have been thinking more about making it a money-making-ish blog! Ta-ta!

  39. Thank you for separating what to focus on from the fluff. I would also add to have a clear vision statement of your goals online before you venture into the realm of marketing. Decide if you want to make money from adsense or affiliate marketing etc. Then once you start getting results in one area is when you can move to the next area to master in your vision statement. Also a strong vision statement will keep you looking long term which will give you an edge on your competition.

  40. Hi, I discovered your blog while browsing looking for something interesting to read. I’ll definitely be coming back to read more. I really appreciate the time you’ve put into this. Thanks for sharing

  41. I am trying to understand Google adsense so if anyone could give me some more insite I would be very greatful I have got some really good advise and insite and am willing to share what I know for you to better understand but I am new and need much much more. Thank you

  42. The best you could do with google adsense is to make 100$ a month if that makes you happy yes its possible to achieve it but dont expect more. To say the truth to make 100$ you must be very cunning.(Autobloggin via rss feeds PLUS your own posts can do the trick)

    Anyway this is not how you can make money:

    You want to make money? learn php,web programming . Be familliar with joomla and finally make a site to provide some kind of service i dont know what ! for example Book exchange! Or Dating? Or an internet printing service for posters etc.

    Another way to make money is by making a really really good and big portal for something! for example Accomodations etc.

    Also you can make an ebook and sell your own Secret to mythical riches…. you dont have any? Well …. you dont have to! just make people to believe you.

  43. This is a great list, helps alot ! I yet still am amazed of the money people can make from Google Adsense !

  44. money making is the name of my game,i like to make money online and offline `

  45. hi court,
    please the options to be changed while using the adwordkeyword tool is not highlighted please what do i do because i want to break my information addiction and start with something

  46. money making is really needed if you want to have some financial security for your own life ‘;-

  47. i agree with all these thing but after doing everything right still i fail to bring traffic then?