What Is Google AdSense and How Does It Work?

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In a nutshell, Google AdSense is a great way to generate passive income and promote your website with little time or effort required on your part. In this guide, we’ll talk you through what Google AdSense is, how Google AdSense works, how much money you can make, and tips to get you started.

What Is Google AdSense?

Google AdSense is an advertising platform that allows companies to bid in an auction for the chance to advertise on your website or blog. As the host, you can curate who advertises what and where it is placed in your online space.

Top Tip: If you get rejected for AdSense, don’t worry. Spend six to 12 months building your blog/website and viewer base and try again – you will get there!

How Does Google AdSense Work?

Google AdSense is user-friendly and works pretty intuitively. There are some simple steps you’ll need to follow if you want to get started right away. Make sure you’re at least 18, have a Google account, and run a live site.

Here are the steps to follow to when applying for Google AdSense:

Get your website or blog ready – If your website is unique and interesting with a good, consistent readership, there is a good chance you’ll qualify. What will increase your chances is if your website or blog is connected to social media channels and has a strong community in the comments (or, even better, on dedicated message boards).

Get approval – Get started at the gateway, which will require you to give your destination URL. You’ll have to complete your payments information, which involves entering information into these “payments” fields: account type, name, full postal address and phone number. Google will verify this information before approving it.

Sync up your website – Once you have successfully met the criteria and are approved, you’ll need to sync up your website before you activate your account. On the AdSense homepage, click on the “Add site” option. You’ll be prompted to add the URL of where you want the ads to show up. Then click save.

Once this step is complete, you’ll be able to see the types of ads that Google AdSense offers. All you have to do is click “explore” in the Ads card which opens up the ads preview. There will be ad format options like:

  • Text ads – a simple three-headline ad to promote your product.
  • Display ads – banners that go either horizontal or vertical
  • In-feed ads – these are placed in between your feed’s listings
  • Matched content – relevant ads that are generated automatically by Google
  • In-article ads – dynamic ads that constantly adjust for the appropriate device.
  • Link ads – links that take the reader to further ads related to the term they’re interested in
  • Search engine ads – a search bar which gives AdSense results
  • Rich Media ads – video or html ads (they look like little YouTube videos)

If this all seems a little overwhelming, or it doesn’t matter which of your site pages host ads, you can set up the Auto Ads option. This will allow AdSense to automatically run ads on your site, which means Google will choose the placement, what types of ads will run, and which of the most profitable ones will work on your site.

But if you want to keep control of the ads (or ensure you’ve got ads on the high-traffic areas of your site), you can set up ad units, which are virtual chunks of your website/blog. It will show off the space options you have on offer.

There will then be an auction where advertisers will bid for your space. You can then simply choose which ads you want, insert the relevant ad codes into your website, and the ads are live!

A screenshot of Google Adsense's types of ad banners.
You’ll get different advertisers interested in your space!

Google will handle all the advertiser payment collections and you’ll begin receiving payments once you hit the $100 threshold.

Top Tip: To confirm your address, Google AdSense will send you a code via traditional mail. Keep a look out for it!

Advantages of Google AdSense

There are some great advantages to partnering with Google AdSense:

  • It doesn’t cost you anything to set up or maintain.
  • You don’t need to be a tech expert – they can help you through problems you might encounter. You start the process on their dedicated help page. Don’t feel overwhelmed- generally speaking the most fiddly thing you’ll have to do it cut and paste code onto your site. That’s it.
  • There are a good variety of ads, and you can customize just about everything to make sure it suits your website.
  • Google AdSense uses standard encryption to keep financial details safe. They’ll collect the payments for you, so you won’t have to chase anyone.

How Much Money Can You Make with Google AdSense?

The great news is that they pay you more than their competitors: 68% of the total earnings from the ad revenue.

The platform has two ways to monetize ads: cost per click (CPC), which is how much an advertiser will pay for a click from a reader; and cost per thousand (CPM), which is how much an advertiser will pay for the ad to be seen by 1000 people.

How much you make depends on things like your location and your content category. You can check out potential earnings using the Google AdSense calculator. We’ve used a US location and an Arts & Entertainment category to show that if you have 50,000 monthly page views, you can make an estimated $3,372 monthly.

A revenue calculator that figures out how much revenue you can make. The figure is in the middle in blue letters.
We love the AdSense calculator because it's motivating.

However, it’s not only about the bids offered by the advertisers. There are other ways you can maximize your earnings once you’re approved for Google AdSense:

  • Keep the site traffic high, and increase your viewership with high-quality and consistent content. The more site visitors you have, the more clicks your advertisers will get.
  • Prioritize your above the fold, which is the section of a web page that is seen before scrolling. This is prime website real estate.
  • Don’t eliminate the use of text or image ads. While you might prefer one or the other, if you allow both on your site, chances are you’ll get higher bids for your ad space because there’ll be more competitors bidding.
Top Tip: If you don’t want to choose between bidders, you can opt in to AdSense’s help option, which will recommend complementary businesses for your site and its audience.

Google AdSense Top Tips

There are plenty of tips out there to really optimize how Google AdSense will work for you. Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. A responsive website maximizes responsive ads, so be certain that your website speed is as fast as possible. You can do this by using a better website host as well as caching your pages.
  2. Track how your display ad units are performing (in the Ad Units report under the Reports page). In the AdSense Custom Channels, check your individual CTRs, CPMs, etc. Then you’ll be able to adjust your ad content to what works best.
  3. The Google Keyword Planner tool will find keywords that compliment your content. It will warn you off using terms that have too much competition, and which ones are ripe for you to capitalize on and use.
  4. Optimize the use of color whenever possible.
  5. Both the style of ads and what the ads sell should make sense to your audience. Connect the ads to the themes and subject matter of your site. Then tailor these ads to your audience. If your audience likes words, word ads are going to do better. If your audience prefers visual, or artistic/creative, they will probably prefer bright, colorful, even animated ads.
Beachfront Decor webpage featuring digital planner products for the home.
Beach Front Decor’s AdSense ads complement the site’s theme and age range of its target audience. 
  1. Use SEO to drive people to your website – you can even make content related to the ads. If an advert is a specialized popcorn brand, use SEO/keywords related to popcorn, movies, tv, nights in, even gossip, and anything else connected to popcorn. You might have the tools for this SEO search already hooked up to your site’s host! And if you don’t there are plenty of free SEO tools to help.


We know how much time and energy our readers put into organically building their site and an audience – so now is a great time to monetize your page with a passive income with Google AdSense.

As your site grows, so should your income. By following the tips above, picking the best ads for your site, and tracking their performance, could be onto a winner. Give Google AdSense a chance.


Yes! Some people get their friends and family to click on the Google AdSense ads, thinking that will drive up the CPC. This doesn’t work because AdSense can sense the bounce rate after the clicks. This can get an AdSense host in trouble.
You can choose the size and color scheme. We recommend you choose colors that feature on your website so that the ads don’t come across too jarring for your audience.
Written by:
Smiling headshot of Amanda Graham
I started writing for Website Builder Expert in 2022. I love copywriting for ecommerce, website, automation, and website brands and I’ve ghostwritten and content strategised for some of the largest multinational brands in the world. I have years of writing experience for the BBC, including documentaries, scripts, and Twitter campaigns. With such a wealth of experience to draw on, some of my best work on Website Builder Expert focuses on topics such as ecommerce strategies, marketing tips, and small business advice. I hope you enjoy my articles!

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