One simple change that could increase your AdSense earnings

In this article I will show you one simple settings change you can make on your AdSense account which could increase your AdSense earnings on your niche sites.

When conducting research for my niche sites I will look for keywords with a certain number of searches and a reasonably good cost-per-click value for the AdSense ads I will be placing on the site (I use the free Google Keyword Tool for this) and once I’ve found what I like I will built a site around those keywords.

How AdSense is meant to work for niche sites

These are niche and very specific sites so the people who visit my sites are not randomly surfing but actually searching for information on the niche I’m covering and as such I’m hoping that once they’re on my site they may decide to click on an AdSense advert which will be relevant to the niche and earn me some money.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work, and that’s what I love about AdSense. If I’m searching for ‘cheap laptops’ then you can be sure that AdSense will display adverts for laptops, but this isn’t always the case as AdSense is a little smarter than that and has knowledge of all the other sites you have been visiting so if you visit my niche site on ‘cheap laptops’ you may actually be served with adverts that are completely irrelevant. An example is that when I use my computer after my fiance has then I will find my searches are littered with AdSense adverts for ‘shoes’ instead of those for ‘cheap laptops’ because Google uses Interest-Based advertising as well as Contextual advertising to determine what adverts to show me.

Why I turned off Interest-based Ads

To me it makes perfect sense to turn off interest-based advertising and only use contextual advertising on my niche sites as the whole method of choosing keywords based on visitor numbers and Cost-per-Click (CPC) and then creating a relevant website relies on that website serving ads related to that niche and the keywords I chose. It makes sense doesn’t it?

By looking at my Performance Reports>Targeting Types I can see that one of my sites does earn some money from interest-based ads but the majority of my sites earn nothing from interest-based and all their money from contextual, but the fact is that Google is still placing the interest-based ads on my site which means I am losing out on potential clicks to contextual ads which are not being shown.

The one benefit of interest-based ads to note is that the average CPC is often slightly higher than that of contextual ads but the CTR is half of what it is for contextual ads, so they are getting far less clicks which means the higher CPC counts for nothing.

You may want to check your own reports before disabling interest-based ads, and please realise that this setting will come into effect for your whole AdSense account and therefore all the ads no matter what sites they are on.

To opt out of interest-based ads do the following:

  1. Sign in to your AdSense account.
  2. Visit the Allow & block ads tab.
  3. In the sidebar, choose Advanced settings.
  4. Click the checkbox next to the Interest-Based Ads Preference so that it reads “Ads based on user interest categories are not allowed to show.”

By doing this and opting out you will decrease the number of ads competing to appear on your website and so if you’ve picked a niche with very few advertisers then you may decrease your potential earnings and few ads will be shown. This is a possibility but if you’ve done your research correctly then you should be fine.

Monitoring the changes

I think it’s important to keep an eye on your earnings along with clicks and pageviews to ensure that your sites are not effected by this change, but it’s easy enough to opt back in if you are adversely effected by only showing contextual ads. I only made this change yesterday but will let this run for at least the rest of the month to see what effect it has but I have a firm believe that it can only be beneficial and should increase my earnings and the number of clicks.

Could this one change earn you more money?

11 Awesome WordPress Plugins For Your Niche Sites

Once you’ve built a few niche sites and got to know your favourite WordPress plugins you will use them time and time again, and so I thought I would share my favoured plugins with you all. This isn’t an extensive list and there are bound to be ones that I don’t include, but this is just a sample of those that really add value to a site and can make your life easier.

All in One SEO Pack

This does what it says on the tin and offers out-of-the-box search engine optimisation for your WordPress blog. One of the better feature is the ability to override post titles so they are displayed differently in search engines which is great for testing without changing your posts url.

Google Analytics for WordPress

Google Analytics is the daddy of monitoring your sites stats especially since Google is where most of your traffic will be coming from. You will need to set up an Analytics account with Google and then you will be asked to paste some code into your site so that they can track it. Simply enter your analytics code into this plugin to authorise your site and it will start tracking.

Google XML Sitemaps

This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to index your site and alert them when you make any changes.

Ozh’ Admin Drop Down Menu

This hasn’t got much to do with SEO and niche sites but it’s the first plugin I install on a new WordPress site as it removes the sidebar menu and provides a horizontal drop down menu instead which helps with navigation in the admin area of your WordPress installation. It really is a must.

Pretty Link Lite

This is a way of shrinking or masking your links which is great for affiliate sites allowing you to display a friendly url as well as being able to track them.

Quick Adsense

This allows you to insert your AdSense code into posts/pages/sidebars with minimal effort. Paste your various advert codes into the plugin and then say where you want them to go. This allows you to experiment with their positions putting ads at the end of posts, the beginning, or even the middle and specifying their alignment so they fit in snugly with your text.

SEO SearchTerms Tagging 2

This increases blog traffic by strengthening on page SEO, increasing the number of indexed pages, and auto converts search terms into post tags so that more of your pages are indexed. This also displays incoming search terms on the footer of your post or on your sidebar which can mean more visits but also helps you with keyword research and perhaps what words you should be looking to optimise or write new content on.

SexyBookmarks (by Shareaholic)

You will have seen this on quite a few blogs (and this one) and it adds an attractive social bookmarking menu to your posts, pages, or homepage. I would click on this far more often than any other bookmarking plugin and you can easily select which social bookmarking links to display.

Strictly Auto Tags

Tagging is a great way to get more pages indexed by search engines and can also increase site traffic but it’s all to easily to forget this and not add any tags to your articles. This plugin will scan your post and add the most relevant and appropriate tags but in a really smart way. Hit ‘publish’ and the tags are automatically added.

Subscribe to Comments Reloaded

This enables people who comment on your site to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries and if you’re running a niche site you want to get as much returning traffic as possible. You can also have this as ‘opt out’ as well as ‘opt in’ so that the box is already ticked when a user comments meaning they are more likely to be subscribed to that comment stream. This may annoy some but it’s easy to either untick or unsubscribe.

Tweet old post

When running a niche site you will probably set up a twitter account for it too but it’s not always easy to keep this updated so why not use this plugin to keep your twitter stream (and your followers) populated with links back to articles on your site? You can specify the age of posts, exclude categories, add additional text, add hashtags based on the tags on your post, and lots more. Then just set the intervals you would like to publish your tweets at.

Knowing when to quit and how to succeed

When I started creating niche sites in May of this year, barely 6 months ago, I had no strategy and when I had success with my very first site which earned me £384.83 ($602) in one month I thought I was onto a winner. If I created more sites like that then I would be rich! Alas that wasn’t to be the case and the site took a big rankings drop after a Google update, and I realised that I was going to have to put a lot more work in if I was to succeed.

The need to diversify

I failed because I depended on one site and one method of income generation, and all the reading I have since made have told me the need to diversify to ensure that I’m less effected my any bumps and slip-ups that come along the way. Pro bloggers like Spencer Haws freely admit to having hundreds of sites, and building up to 30 new sites a month, which is only possible by hiring VA’s (Virtual Assistants), so I’m not going to be making that many sites but I’m still aiming to have at least 10 sites up and running by the New Year.

Why do some sites fail?

The fact is that not all of these sites will be successes, some will hopefully do well, some will do okay, and some will earn absolutely no money at all. There are plenty of external factors that effect the success of a site so that in some cases no matter how much effort you put your site will sometimes be a failure. Some of these include:

  • Poor Keyword – If you didn’t research properly then you could be doomed for failure from the start building a site that no one has any interest in.
  • Low Advertiser Bids – If you rely on AdSense then your site will only earn money if advertisers are paying and bidding on the keyword you are promoting. If a good paying advertisers drops out of the AdWords scheme then you could see your profits drop.
  • Google Ranking – The truth is that initially you will rely on Google for 99% of your traffic. If Google doesn’t like your site then you are doomed.
  • Competition – You may aim for #1 but that isn’t always a possibility. If you are in a competitive niche then ranking on the 5th page of Google isn’t going to get you many visitors.

Most of these come down to the initial keyword research you put into your chosen niche and so I find this the hardest part to do and the success of your site will depend on this. Don’t be too afraid of making mistakes though as this is still more of an art than a science.

Knowing when to quit

I got some good advice from Thomas Sinfield in a comment on my post 1 site or 10 sites? Decisions to be made:

What I tend to do is do the research on a heap of niches, pick a couple and work on them:

1. if I get average results I leave them to settle and focus on new sites 2. if they produce good results I keep working on them while starting new sites

3. if they produce great results I make them a focus and limit my time on new sites.

Not all sites are going to be big hits, even if they seem to all have similar research info. By building many small sites, it allows you to test 10 niches and see which ones naturally take off.

You can then either sell off the smaller sites, or keep them as littler earners.

It’s good advice and this is where knowing when to quit comes in. Once you’ve got some sites set up then it’s usually just a case of waiting to see how how they fare in terms of traffic and AdSense earnings. Your site may starting earning in weeks or it could take months to get off the ground and get indexed, but sometimes a site will do nothing and you should realise that it’s not worth putting any further effort into it and just leave it.

I have a couple of sites like this and they are usually a case of where I’ve rushed in and chosen the wrong niche. I will put those down to experience and not add anything more to them. The sites are still there though and who knows, I may get the odd click from the sites. A typical UK domain only costs £3 a year so it’s a small gamble, and worth the risk as you could stumble upon a great niche. By having many sites you can limit your exposure to this as hopefully the more sites you have the more chance you have of creating profitable ones. Obviously you will also create more duds, but knowing when to quit them will save you time and effort, and allow you to focus on your profitable sites.

Creating new sites quickly

Once you’ve done your keyword research it’s pretty easy to buy a domain, point it to your server, and install wordpress, but what then? Obviously you need content and initially I will start with one one article on the front page, along with a contact page, about page, and a privacy policy page. I think one article is enough to start getting visitors and get indexed. When you have time then you can add more content but it’s not worth spending too much time on other articles on a site that might not have any potential. Obviously there are arguments for having more content at launch but this is the way I do it, adding more content if I think the site is going somewhere.

I’ve written about awesome plugins for niche sites but I haven’t spoken about themes/templates for your site and the fact this there are thousands of themes out there and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. I’ve installed themes before and spent hours editing the CSS and html only to have no visitors to appreciate the work that’s gone into it!

What I needed was a theme I could use for all my sites that was simple to install, simple to customise, and AdSense ready and I recently came across a premium WordPress theme called CTR Theme. I don’t normally pay for themes but this promised so much that I took the plunge and for $67 (£42+VAT in the UK) I bought it and have been very happy indeed.

The CTR Theme features it’s own admin panel where you can change designs (4 different styles included), change colour schemes, add all your AdSense codes, etc and it literally takes 5 minutes to get this sorted and have your niche site online. Also as it has an unlimited site licence you can use it on ALL your sites. Oh and changing the colour scheme on the admin also changes the colour of the AdSense ads so no need to change the ads on your AdSense account!

One of the smartest features of the theme is that it features ad randomisation, meaning every time a visitor comes to your site the AdSense adverts change location which can help reduce “ad blindness” and improve your click-through rate (CTR).

I think it’s best to mention that the links to the CTR Theme are affiliate links but this isn’t me trying to push the product as it’s genuinely something I use on my sites and recommend. It also comes with a 60 day money back guarantee so if you’re not happy then you can get your money back.

Here’s a video that runs through the features of the theme and shows how easy it is to install it on your sites:

Quicker setup = More sites

If it takes less time to make a site then it means you can make more and as discussed earlier I believe this is the best solution to making money and reducing your risk to fluctuations. I will continue to make niche sites in this way and if they show signs of potential then it’s time to develop them and try and make more money!

Mini Update

So as I said in my last post I won’t be putting up income reports anymore mainly because I don’t want the money to be the overall focus of my sites. I do know how to make money online, I think I’ve proved it over the past year, but I am looking to change the way I make money. I could carry on churning out AdSense sites which earn well but I know there is no long term plan in those and that every site has a finite lifetime.

My sites didn’t really get hit that much by the recent Google updates and I only saw a 20% drop in revenue for last month, so I could carry on as before but I am now looking to focus on fewer sites but put more effort into them.

Moving away from AdSense

AdSense is where I’ve earn the bulk of my money, but I don’t see this as a long term revenue stream, and as such I’m looking into more direct revenue streams and building this into the sites I currently own and which are currently ranking very well. I have sites that are #1 or #2 for their main keywords which I believe can be earning far more money than they currently do with AdSense, and so I will either be looking to get money from direct advertisers or from affiliate products and services.

With AdSense my average CPC (Cost per Click) is around £0.40 and the best way to get visitors to click on these is to make your site as poorly constructed as possible with minimal content so the visitor feel inclined to click on these links to find the information they are looking for. That is the crux of it and that doesn’t really make for a good site or really make me proud of the site or my work at all. I want a site I can happily promote and if I can point people towards products they actually want then great as it will mean I also get a better share of the profit too!

I still also want to make a site that doesn’t rely too much on organic traffic and which I can promote as a brand but I know this will take more time than I currently have so that’s on the backburner and will come back to life when I know I have a solid plan.


I bought the ShopperPress theme last week which is an e-commerce WordPress theme that looks very professional and allows me to sell affiliate products or even real physical products if I wished (that’s another story). I managed to get this at a discounted cost of just over £30 which I though was worth a go and I’ve been very happy with it. If you use this affiliate link then you can get it for £30.66 rather than the usual £51.10.

The rewards for selling affiliate products are much higher and it is in my interests to write great content so that the visitor is won over to buy the products I am promoting. This better content should also allow my site to rank better too.

That’s it for now

That’s the end of my mini update but should keep you up to date where I am. Please let me know how things are going with you in the comments or on Twitter.

Niche Website Bloggers Who I Follow

I’m subscribed to quite a few blogs about passive income/niche websites and it’s amazing how much knowledge you can get from these. They generally fall into two categories of blogger:

  • Those like me who are trying to succeed but are making minimal earnings but learning as they do.
  • Those who have succeeded and provide inspiration.

I like it that others are in the same situation as me but I also like knowing that there are also those who are where I want to be. Okay, I’m probably never going to be Pat Flynn but I’m sure I can learn a thing from them all and thoroughly enjoy reading their regular posts.

I recently stumbled across Spencer from Niche Pursuits, and this has to be my new favourite read and I’m learning a whole lotta new things about niche sites especially when Spencer is so transparent with his techniques. The thing you do notice is that all the top bloggers have completely different techniques for backlinking and ranking their sites which shows that there is probably no 100% set way of going about it and no magic formula or get rick quick scheme.

Anyway I thought I would share a list of those who I follow and have made their way onto my rss reader. I’m only including those who are currently active as some have stopped blogging so don’t make it onto here.

Smart Passive Income

Penny on the Floor

Make Money on the Internet

Leaving Work Behind

Niche Pursuits

Okay, so I’ve just gone through my list and I actually haven’t got loads of sites on there although I do follow a lot more people on Twitter and get tweets about their blog updates from there. So this hasn’t turned out to be a great post but at least it’s keeping things moving on this site after 2 weeks without an update.

If you have any reading recommendations then please comment below.