Top 10 Google AdSense Mistakes


In 2003, Google announced a pretty revolutionary way for website owners to monetize their content easily and automatically. Through snippets of JavaScript code, webmasters could now post ads on their sites and get a share of Google advertising revenues. AdSense took many site owners from earning nothing on their sites to earning thousands of dollars per month. Almost a decade later, AdSense is still a popular choice for monetizing web content.

It’s true that one of the biggest keys to success with AdSense is website traffic. That will never change. If you want to earn from pay-per-click advertising, you need the visitors to make those clicks. But even if you don’t have huge amounts of traffic, you can start earning from AdSense. You can also maximize those earnings by avoiding some of the common mistakes people make with AdSense.

Here are 10 of those mistakes. Avoid them and follow our tips instead to start increasing your AdSense revenues.


Mistake #1: Not Using Channels

It’s important to know which websites, which topic categories and which ads are providing the best results. It allows you to see where you should be adding more content, where you should do more testing, and the like.

AdSense automatically separates your reports based on URL, but you need to go further to track your results by using the “Add new custom channel” feature. You can set up as many channels as you’d like and track a variety of different things.



Set up channels for different ad positions, categories of your web page, specific pages and different ad sizes. When you know what’s working best, it’s easier to maximize your earning opportunities.


Mistake #2: Not Testing Different Ad Positions

To understand the best positioning for your ads, you can certainly use Google’s heat map as a starting point. The darker colors show you the most clicked areas of a web page. Looking at the screenshot below, logic would say that the top and left side of your content, your top left menu and bottom of your content are likely to be your best performers.


However, remember that this heat map is based on a large amount of data. It’s what’s typical for most websites, but it’s not specific to your unique website and design. Use the heat map as a starting point, but always do your own testing to see what ad positions work best.

You can also use services like or Google Analytics’ “In Page Analytics” to do heat map testing of your own pages.

Note that as you test your ads, you should also experiment with the number of ads you show. While you can show up to 3 ad units per page, that may not be your optimal number.

If you want a simple solution for split testing your ads, you can find free code that will allow you to split test your ads right here.


Mistake #3: Not Testing Different Ad Sizes and Types

Just as you should never rest with the placement of your ads until you find the optimum positioning, you should also take the time to test different ad sizes and ad types. To start with, AdSense has its list of “Recommended” ad sizes which include the medium rectangle, large rectangle, leaderboard, wide skyscraper and mobile banner.



Again, these are a good starting point, but you should do your own testing as well. In addition to ad sizes, AdSense gives you the option of showing only text ads, only image/media rich ads or doing a combination of both. We all have assumptions about what will work best, but we can often be surprised when we test those assumptions.


Mistake #4: Not Testing Different Colors and Fonts

Should your ads blend in with your content? Or should they stand out? Common advice is to use the same font family and color scheme as your website. In many cases, this may be the appropriate option, but you won’t know until you test it.

If you are placing ads in the middle of content, blending in seems to make sense. But if you’re putting ads in side bars or outside of the content, standing out might be more appropriate. Test it and find out.

You can even create your own ad unit templates and save them for later use.


Mistake #5: Not Bothering to Set Up Backup Ads

There will be times when AdSense cannot display ads for you. If their system cannot find ads relevant to your page or if there is some other technical difficulty, they will show a blank space by default. However, you can set up an ad on another HTML page and have that show whenever there are no ads available.



By having a backup ad (formerly called an “alternate ad”) in place, you ensure that your pages are always displaying relevant ads to your website visitors.


Mistake #6: Only Using Google AdSense

For many, Google AdSense is the biggest contextual ad earner. However, this isn’t the case straight across the board. Other contextual ad services like Chitika produce good results for their publishers.

The key is to get out there and experiment, finding the best solution for your needs.


Mistake #7: Not Understanding the Rules

Just like in everyday life, ignorance of the rules is never an excuse. If you don’t understand the Terms and Conditions for Google AdSense, you risk losing your account and earnings.

Some common violations that people aren’t always aware of include:

  • Clicking on your own ads: Google WILL find out.
  • Asking anyone to click on your ads for you.
  • Drawing attention to ads by using images like arrows or thumbnails that appear to be part of the advertisement.
  • Not having a privacy policy on your website that complies with data and privacy protection laws.
  • Sharing specific details of your AdSense statistics outside of your gross earnings.
  • Publishing content that violates their terms. For example, pornography, violence, hacking, excessive profanity and a whole bunch more.

Be safe and do read the fine print to avoid any unpleasant surprises. It’s a long document, but it’s definitely worth a read.

Mistake #8: Not Trying a Search Box

Google AdSense allows you to create a custom search box for your website. You can allow people to search the web, your website only or any website(s) you choose. Google ads will appear alongside the search results and will be marked as ads.


While the average site may not have a lot of searches, it is an opportunity to increase revenues through those searches. It’s also very easy to put on your website with no scripts to install. It’s just the same type of copy and paste code as the rest of AdSense ads.


Mistake #9: Not Trying Link Units

Another underutilized link format is link units (formerly called “ad link units”). Link units are a way to display topics related to your particular website page.


When a user clicks one of the topics, they will be taken to a page with ads they can click to get more information. You get paid when a user clicks one of those ads. For that reason, many people shy away from link units because they think they are less likely to get paid because 2 clicks are required. However, keep in mind that someone who is already interested in one of the topic areas is likely to make a click or two to find out more information.

You can place up to 3 link units on each page, but remember to test different positions and sizes too.


Mistake #10: Modifying the Google AdSense Code

This is a violation of the Terms and Conditions, but it’s important to mention on its own. AdSense provides with plenty of opportunities to tweak the size of your ads, the type, color and fonts, so use those available options.

Some people have attempted to change the ad code to hide the “Ads by Google” text or to make the links open in a new window.  Any tweaking could cause you to lose your AdSense account permanently, so simply put…don’t do it.

AdSense is a hands-free way of accepting advertising on your website and it can be a pretty impressive revenue booster, so treat it with care and do the work needed to optimize your performance. Avoid these 10 mistakes and you’ll be well on the way to improve your results. 

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