For website builders that are starting out, Google Adsense may seem like a good way to bring in some money.
After the initial setup sequence, it’s pretty much hands-off from there on out.
You don’t have to monitor any costs, talk with affiliate managers, or do customer support.
People just come to your site and consume your content like they normally would.
Then, some of these people click on the ads, the advertiser pays Google, and Google gives you a cut of the money.
Basically, it’s a really nice source of passive income… or is it?
Is Adsense worth it for a small website?
Based on my experience, no.
Keep reading to find out why.
Benefits of Using Adsense
Before we get into the reasons for my answer, let’s look at some potential benefits of using Google Adsense.
After all, it can’t be denied that it’s popular.
Benefit Number 1: No Minimum Traffic Requirement
Unlike other advertising partners, Adsense can be set up on tiny websites, since it doesn’t have any minimum traffic requirements.
In comparison, another popular advertising network, Mediavine, requires your site to have at least 25000 sessions a month.
If you’re new, this will take many months to accomplish – maybe even a year or more if you’re doing things wrong.
Mediavine and similar ‘premium’ ad networks generally pay better.
However, since you can’t use them before your site is already decently big, that doesn’t do you much good in the beginning.
If you don’t want to lose out on money during your site’s early days, you can still use Adsense.
Benefit Number 2: It’s Easy To Set Up
You don’t have to know any fancy backend stuff to get Adsense working on your site.
Once you’ve applied (which can be done here), Google will give you the exact, step-by-step instructions to generate ads automatically.
After you’ve been approved, you can seamlessly increase or reduce the number of ads.
You can also select their placements on both mobile and desktop.
In other words, it’s really easy to use, even for beginners.
Benefit Number 3: It’s Completely Hands-Off
Having display ads on your site is the most passive income you can think of.
You just activate them, tinker with the amounts and placements a bit, and then you just let them run.
As the days and months go by, you’ll see the money starting to add up in your account.
If you pass the minimum threshold, you’ll see a payment from Google in your bank account at the end of every month.
The only thing you need to worry about is tinkering too much with your website.
You need to know you’re still within Google’s terms of service after making changes.
Other than that, it’s pretty much smooth sailing.
With all of those juicy benefits we just went over, you may be tempted to slap some Adsense on your site at this very moment.
But wait a minute, there’s more you need to consider?
Case Study: A Small Website With Adsense
In early 2018, when I was still experimenting with different websites, I built a small one in a broad health niche.
I wrote 30 high-quality articles and optimized the on-page SEO.
After about 5 months, Google started rewarding my efforts and traffic started flowing in.
Since I was merely experimenting, I went on to work on other, more serious sites, and let the 30 posts just sit there for the time being.
By early 2019, the small website was getting around 7k visitors a month.
Experimenting With Monetization
I had already planted some Amazon affiliate links on the site, which only gave me $10 or so every 30 days.
With the new visitors, I decided to monetize the site further with an affiliate offer – mainly promoted with banner ads.
I soon realized that Google didn’t like that very much.
After I placed these banner ads on my site, the rankings started dropping dramatically.
In just a week, my traffic had been almost cut in half.
Once I did some searching around, I realized I wasn’t alone in this.
Turns out Google released a big update in late 2018 that heavily effected many websites, primarily in health niches.
Now, Google had become stricter about what and how you sold on websites dedicated to sensitive health topics.
Unfortunate, but understandable.
Rethinking My Options
After I put up the banner ads, I managed to get 30$ from an affiliate sale within a week.
But I didn’t like the traffic trend I was seeing – not at all.
I removed the affiliate ads, and guess what?
The traffic returned to normal shortly after – indicating it really was the affiliate promotion that set off Google’s alarm.
I decided to look around for other monetization methods but came up short.
This particular niche, it turned out, was really hard to make money off now, unless I branched out (or became a licensed practitioner, I guess).
In the end, since I had other, much more successful projects going on, I cut my losses and slapped some Adsense on this tiny site.
It’s not optimal, to say the least, but it did show me how much Adsense brings in from a small site.
I’ve never actually used it before outside of Youtube (which is a whole ‘nother can of beans), so I was curious to see the results.
Why Adsense Isn’t Worth It
With my 6000-7000 monthly visits, Adsense only gives me between $10-15 a month.
Yup – that’s it.
It doesn’t even surpass my humble Amazon commissions!
And remember, before Google gave me the finger, I earned triple that amount with ONE affiliate sale in a week.
Ok, so with all that being said, let’s look at the bottom line.
Optimizing Your Money Machine
Adsense takes up a lot of valuable real estate on your website.
If you have a smaller site, you’ll likely get nothing more than a handful of dollars to show for it.
Alright, so what should you be doing instead?
Well, it’s a much better idea to use that space to sell products – as an affiliate and/or a producer.
Remember, you want to optimize your earnings as much as possible – that’s what money sites are all about.
(I’ll teach you exactly how to do that, and much more, in my upcoming video course.)
Alternatively, you can use the free space for a signup form and add people to your email list.
There, you can take them through a well-crafted sales funnel and keep pitching them in the future.
Whatever you choose, it will probably be much more fruitful than Adsense.