Running an online business is expensive. Hosting fees, site management tools, security measures, digital advertising — the costs add up.
But hold on, what was that last one? Digital advertising...can’t ads also make websites money?
Absolutely. Ads are a quick, lightweight option to monetize your WordPress website and generate passive income for your business. Of course, the world of advertising is complex. To monetize your WordPress site, you’ll want a service to keep you out of the weeds, like Google AdSense.
AdSense dominates the digital advertising space — it’s used on over 10 million websites, and it might just work for yours. In this post, we’ll learn about Google AdSense, how it can drive revenue to your business, and how to install AdSense on your WordPress website.
What is Google AdSense?
Google AdSense is a program that enables websites to display targeted advertisements to visitors. AdSense is free, easy to implement, and supports advertisements in the form of images, text, video, and interactive media.
AdSense is a hands-off approach to online advertising — you only need to worry about where to place the advertisements on your website and your webpages. Google handles everything else, including billing advertisers and determining which ads to display to your visitors.
Google AdSense monetizes on the pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning advertisers pay only when someone clicks on their advertisement. The cost-per-click depends on keyword value, clickthrough rate, and other factors. Revenue is split between the website publisher and Google — publishers take 68% of the revenue for every click. To learn more about the PPC structure, see our Ultimate Guide to PPC.
Advertisements displayed with Google AdSense are highly targeted. Google chooses relevant ads for visitors based on both the content of your website and Google’s ad personalization system, which tracks users’ interests based on browsing history.
Before we continue, note: There are also AdSense alternatives if you’re considering different platforms that might better suit your needs.
Google AdSense vs. Google Ads
They have similar names, but Google AdSense and Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) are separate services for different markets. Google AdSense is for website publishers to display targeted ads on their sites. Google Ads is a tool for advertisers to place their ads on relevant Google search results pages.
Ads and AdSense are two sides of the same coin, but it’s important to know the difference.
How to Add Google AdSense to WordPress
Now that we understand what makes AdSense useful, let’s learn how to link AdSense with WordPress. It’s a three-step process: registration, placing ads, and optimizing the layout of your ads.
Even before submitting your application, make sure that your WordPress site is up to date, free of security issues, and has enough original content to support advertisements.
1. Register for a Google AdSense account.
To integrate AdSense with WordPress, you’ll first need to sign up for an AdSense account.
To get an account with Google AdSense:
- Go to the signup page and click Get Started, then follow the instructions to create your account with AdSense.
- After submitting your site information, you’ll see a page with some code.
- After placing Google’s code, return to your AdSense account, check the I’ve pasted the code onto my site box, and click Done.
- Google will review your application and respond within two weeks.
This code is pasted in the header of your website HTML pages and tells Google to display Google’s ads on these pages. To insert this code on your site, use a plugin like Google’s Site Kit or Insert Headers and Footers. These plugins save you from having to edit the HTML directly.
If your site is approved, move on to the next step. If not, improve your site’s content volume and quality, update your plugins and WordPress core if needed, enhance your site’s security, then resubmit.
2. Place ads on your WordPress site.
Google AdSense offers two methods for placing ads on your website. You can manually choose which pages and locations to put the ads, or you can let Google decide where to place them optimally. In this section, I’ll cover both of these methods.
How to Place Ads Manually
To manually put an ad on your site, we’ll first generate the code for an ad unit. An ad unit is a section of code that displays ads. You’ll want to create different ad units for different locations on your page (i.e. a sidebar ad versus a banner ad) since they’ll differ in type, shape, and behavior.
To generate your ad unit code:
- In your AdSense account, select Ads > Overview.
- Choose the By ad unit tab.
- Under Create new ad unit, select Display ads. Display ads are designed to show in areas of your site outside of your content, including headers, footers, and the sidebar. Alternatively, you can choose one of the other two options:
- In-feed ads appear between links to articles/posts in an editorial feed or news feed.
- In-article ads appear inside the content of your posts, like between paragraphs in a blog post.
- Name your new ad unit. This name won’t be seen by visitors and should help you keep track of its purpose (for example, “sidebar-square-1”).
- On the same page, and choose the shape and size of your ad unit. For size, choose responsive over static so your ads display properly on mobile.
- Click Create.
- Copy the code for this ad unit and save it somewhere you can access later.
Now comes the actual placement. You can put ads just about anywhere on your site’s pages and posts.
To place your new ad unit:
- From your WordPress dashboard, select Appearance > Widgets.
- Click-and-drag the Custom HTML widget into the area you want to display the ad, like the footer or sidebar.
- In the Content window that appears, paste the ad unit code you saved earlier and click Save.
- You can now view the new ad on your WordPress site.
How to Place Ads With Auto Ads
Google’s auto ads feature is an alternative to choosing ad placement yourself. With auto ads, Google scans your website pages and automatically places ads where they’re likely to be most profitable.
To get started with auto ads:
- In your AdSense account, select Ads > Overview.
- Choose the By site tab, then click Get code.
- Copy the AdSense code and use a plugin like Google’s Site Kit or Insert Headers and Footers to paste it into all of your page’s headers.
3. Adjust the layout of your ads.
Be sure to put time into the look of your ad displays. Ads should mesh with the rest of your site and enhance the user experience, rather than disrupt with a buggy appearance. Consider trying an AdSense-friendly WordPress plugin to help you toggle ad positioning and look. Popular options include Advanced Ads, AdSanity, and Ad Inserter.
Alongside a plugin, you might also want to experiment with an AdSense-optimized WordPress theme. These themes are designed specifically with ad displays in mind, and make changing the appearance of your ads a bit easier.
Track Ads on WordPress
You’ve gotten ads up and running, but are they effective? When placing paid advertisements on your WordPress site, metrics are a must.
Fortunately, AdSense lets you track the performance of ad units with its channels feature. With channels, you can sort your ads by variables like page placement and ad size, and determine which tweaks will bring in more clicks. Learn how to use channels on Google’s support page.
Plugins are also your friend here. Options like MonsterInsights, ExactMetrics, and many other WordPress analytics tools report traffic to your pages. Consider enabling Adsense on your high-performing pages to get the most eyes on your ads.
By following these steps, your WordPress website will gain an additional revenue stream that you can invest back into your business and website costs. Focus on growing your brand and refining your WordPress site, and let Google Adsense work for you.