Quitting Google AdSense

I discovered Google AdSense in 2005 and thought I’d try it out. I didn’t think it would I make a fortune (straight away), but I thought it might pay for at least some of my hosting fees.

Google will only send you your money once you earn over £60. I didn’t think this would be a problem. It took 6 years. I just got my first cheque from Google. It’s for sixty pounds and sixty six pence. I’ve decided that it’s not really worth it for a site with my level of traffic and I've now removed all the Google Ads from my site.

I’m not sure who really does well out of Google AdSense, apart from Google. I suspect there are many people patiently waiting for their earnings to reach £60. I wouldn’t dare to hazard a guess at how much money Google is sitting on for all those people. I think it might be a lot.

Some people with a lot of traffic do better out of Google AdSense. Paul Boag once said that he paid for a cleaner with his site’s Google AdSense revenue. If I did have the sort of traffic that would make it worthwhile then I could probably find a better sponsor that would complement my site better.

I’ve realised that the benefit of Google AdSense for me is small and outweighs the cost. The cost isn’t obvious, but the purpose of this site is to be my voice on the Internet. AdSense distracts from that. I’d rather someone went to another page on my site than get 6p. I’d possibly feel differently if I got the 6p straight away, but I’d have to wait another 6 years to get it. It would also be better if the ads were more relevant, but that rarely seems to be the case.

I wanted to release my AdSense figures for the last six years so other people could answer the question: ‘should I use Google AdSense?’ I think in most cases, you’ll find it’s just not worth it.

This table shows the page views for the pages on my site that have had AdSense. This used to be most of them, but I started to tone this down in 2010 when I decided they were more trouble than they were worth.

  Page viewsClicksPage CTRCPCPage RPMEarnings
2005 7,408 57 0.77% £0.125 £0.96 £7.12
2006 7,582 30 0.40% £0.094 £0.37 £2.83
2007 8,993 55 0.61% £0.092 £0.56 £5.07
2008 17,004 36 0.21% £0.129 £0.27 £4.63
2009 121,054 563 0.47% £0.058 £0.27 £32.92
2010 67,260 267 0.40% £0.030 £0.12 £8.09
  229,301 1008 0.44% £0.060 £0.26 £60.66

Better performing ads are all about trying to make people leave your site. I’d rather people stayed and discovered new bits of my site. In the future I’m going to put more emphasis on this and I don’t think I’ll ever use Google AdSense again.

Terms explained

Page views
The number of times pages on your site were viewed. One person may view a page more than once and each view counts as a page view. Google don’t pay you for a view, they only pay for a click.

The number of times an advert was clicked on. Clicking on your own ads doesn’t count, and they can tell using Internet magic.

Page CTR
The percentage of people viewing a page that click on an advert. Higher figures mean more revenue, but also mean more people are leaving your site. You can increase the click through ratio by making the ads more prominent, but wouldn’t you rather use that space for your own content.

CPC - Cost per click
The amount of revenue you get from Google for every click. On average I got 6p. You need a lot of clicks to make this add up.

RPM - Revenue per mille
The amount of revenue you got for a thousand page views. Google only pay you for clicks, but if the click through ratio is relatively stable then you can use this figure to predict how much money you’d get if your website had more visitors.

HMRC said

Hello. I think you owe us some pennies.

Richard Garside said

@HMRC thanks for the reminder, but I think if you check your records you'll find we're all even.

Chris said

Richard, I understand your frustration, but my personal experience says 'reconsider'. In my first year I made 14 dollars from adsense. 6 years later it provides a full time income. You are someone who has managed to set up a blog (orchard?? switch to Wordpress today) and you can write. Therefore you can earn. The secret is to have a few different blogs on different topics and work out what people want to read about and when they want to click. Local information is always a regular earner for me, but there are other topics that do much better.

Richard Garside said

Richard said 25 March 2011 08:59:46 @Chris I still think you could earn better money by approaching local businesses and getting them to advertise directly with you. Particularly if you have a good site with relevant information and good traffic.

However for this site, my main aim is to help me sell my own freelance services. I decided that ads were a distraction from this and not worth the money they brought in.

It doesn't mean I won't make other sites in the future that may rely on advertising to fund them.