Is it really possible to make $100,000 a year from Google AdSense (or by selling ads on your website/blog)? If so, then the real question is how much traffic do you really need to make big bucks with Google AdSense?
While it’s true that we can’t predict the Google AdSense income exactly, we can optimize the ads in different ways so as to make the most out of it.
Also, you must make sure that your website category is advertising friendly because your AdSense income depends a lot upon the category of your website. You can use Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool to find out the competition in your industry.
If there is enough competition (i.e. if the suggested bid by AdWords for keywords in your niche is high) then we can assume that Google will fill your ad spaces with high paying ads (see how AdSense works).
For example, if you Google search “loans” then you’ll see a lot of ads so it means that if you have a blog related to personal finance then there will be enough competition for your ad space.
Now I’ve randomly added few keywords to Keyword Planner to find out its suggested bid by AdWords. Here they are:
As you can see, the competition for keywords related to “finance” is very high compared to keywords related to “food”. Of course, the suggested bid is just an estimate and the real cost-per-click varies a lot.
But still, even if it’s $5 then it means a lot. Why? It’s because the cost per click to advertise on Google is very high compared to cost per click on Google Display Network. So if an advertiser is paying $0.50/click on Google then he may be paying only $0.10/click on Google Display Network.
How Much Traffic Do You Need To Make Money With AdSense
Let’s say you want to make $100,000 a year from Google AdSense and/or Google AdSense alternatives.
$100,000 divided by 365 = $274 a day.
So, you have to create either: 274 pages that earn $1 a day OR 548 pages that earn 50 cents a day OR 1,096 pages that earn 25 cents a day (which sounds reasonable, right?). Let’s say you have 1,096 high quality blog posts and you earn $0.25 per click from AdSense.
I have analyzed the traffic and AdSense stats (using Google Image Search) of several websites including my own blogs and websites.
From my analysis, I found that the average Page CTR is around 1% (or it’s something that we can achieve easily). But it really depends upon your niche, web site design and other factors.
In fact I have achieved a Page CTR of over 20% in 2007 for a niche website and was making $100+ a day from Google AdSense alone.
Let’s Do The Math To Make $100,000 A Year With Google AdSense
Let’s assume that you have a Page CTR of 1% and your average CPC is $0.25 (I believe it’s quite an achievable target unless your keywords have no advertiser competition – e.g. a recipe blog).
Some of the top paying AdSense niches are Finance, Internet Marketing, Technology, Web Hosting, Internet & Computers, Software, Health etc. and some of the lowest paying AdSense niches are Entertainment, Arts, Movies, Celebrity Gossips, News blog, Jokes, Wallpapers, Quotes, Recipes, Photo blogs etc.
As mentioned earlier $100,000 a year means you have to earn $274 a day. If your average CPC is $0.25 then you need 100,000/0.25 = 400,000 clicks a year (or approximately 1,000 clicks a day) to earn $100,000 a year from Google AdSense. Assuming that your Page CTR is 1% you need approximately 100,000 page views a day.
Now, let’s say your “Bounce Rate” (it is the estimated percentage of visits to your website that consist of a single page view) is 100%. It means that you need 100,000 unique visitors a day itself to generate 100,000 page views a day.
In a nutshell, you need 100,000 visitors a day to make $100,000 a year from Google AdSense alone (with a CTR of 1% and CPC of $0.25).
Google AdSense Glossary
A page view is what Google counts in your reports every time a user views a page displaying Google ads. We will count one page view regardless of the number of ads displayed on that page.
For example, if you have a page displaying three ad units and it is viewed twice, you will generate two page views.
For standard content ads, Google counts a click when a user clicks on an ad.
For link units, Google counts a click when a user clicks on an ad on the page of ads, after selecting a link in the link unit.
Page Click Through Rate (Page CTR)
The Page Click Through Rate (CTR) is the number of ad clicks divided by the number of impressions or page views that you have received.
Page CTR = Clicks / Page Views
For example, if you received 5 Clicks from 100 Page Views, then your Page CTR would be 5%. (5/100*100=5%)
Cost Per Click (CPC)
The Cost Per Click (CPC) is the amount you earn each time a user clicks on your ad. The CPC for any ad is determined by the advertiser; some advertisers may be willing to pay more per click than others, depending on what they’re advertising.
Page Revenue Per Thousand Impressions (Page RPM)
Page Revenue Per Thousand Impressions (RPM) is calculated by dividing your estimated earnings by the number of page views you received, then multiplying by 1000.
Page RPM = (Estimated Earnings / Number of Page Views) * 1,000
For example, if you earned an estimated $0.15 from 25 page views, then your page RPM would equal ($0.15 / 25) * 1000, or $6.00.
Your account balance (or earnings) for the time period selected.
Source: Google AdSense Glossary
But you are not using AdSense alone to monetize your website, right? You can make more money by selling direct banner ads, in-text ads, CPM ads, sponsored links, affiliate marketing, etc.
Cost Per Impression (CPM) Ads
So let’s say you’re selling direct banner ads and is also selling CPM advertising which is again an effective way to monetize your website.
What are CPM ads?
CPM (Cost Per Mille) stands for Cost Per 1,000 Impressions. CPM networks pays for every 1,000 impressions you generate. If a CPM ad network is paying you $1 CPM then it means that they’re paying you $1 for every 1,000 page views you generate.
CPM Network earnings totally depend upon your traffic quality but you can expect anywhere between $1 – $3 per 1,000 impressions. So, if you generate 100,000 page views a day then you can make $100 – $300 a day from CPM Networks. Again, you can earn $100 – $300 (or maybe even more) a day by selling banner ads directly to advertisers.
Now, you can split the traffic into three as you’re earning $300 each from 3 advertising networks. It means that you need 100,000/3=33,333 unique visitors a day (with a bounce rate of 100%) to make approximately $274/day.
Again, if you have an authority blog then your bounce rate will never be 100%. In that case you can expect an average page view of 1.5 per user. It means that 50% of your visitors exit from the landing page and others visit more than one page on your website.
All in all, you need approximately 20,000 visitors a day to generate 30,000+ page views and it can earn $274 a day which translates to $100,000 a year in advertising revenues.
Need a little more help reaching that $100,000/year goal? Add commissions from Affiliate Programs as well into the equation and you can hit that $100,000 goal with much less traffic.
In fact, in 2008 I was averaging $200+ a day from less than 200 daily unique visitors with affiliate marketing. It was possible because when it comes to affiliate marketing it’s all about traffic quality and not traffic quantity.
How To Optimize Google AdSense
You can optimize your AdSense ads in several ways. For example, you can try text ads only, image ads only, text & image ads to find out which ad format is performing better.
Google recommends wide ad formats like 728 x 90, 336 x 280, 300 x 250, and 160 x 600 as they’re more advertiser friendly.
When you use the recommended ad formats, your AdSense ads should perform well because of increased competition. Why? Because the recommended ad formats by AdSense are the most popular ad formats and hence almost all advertisers must be targeting those ad formats.
So it increases the competition naturally and Google will be showing the highest paying ads on your website. But it’s also a good idea to try different ad formats as Google is now offering a variety of ad formats (including responsive ad units).
I would recommend A/B testing on your website to find out the best performing ad formats. Like, you can do A/B testing by trying different ad types, ad formats, ad colors, and then by placing your ads at different sections on your website (above and below the fold) to find out which position is offering the best CTR).
But what if your AdSense earnings are low even though you have good a CTR? In that case, I would recommend ad controls though Google mentioned that blocking any ad will reduce our potential earnings.
It’s a myth that filtering ads can prevent ‘low-paying ads’ from appearing, so as always, we recommend blocking only those ads that you feel are unsuitable for your users.
Finally, you can tweak the AdSense click-through-rate by using an AdSense friendly template for your website/blog. But make sure that your website is not ad heavy as it will impact the user experience in a negative way.
I have recently published a blog post that was essentially a reverse of this topic. It’s basically about what it takes to hit your traffic and income goal (assuming a traffic goal of 1,000,000 pageviews and an income goal of $3,000 per month).
I have subcategorized the topic into:
- How Much Traffic Does Your Blog Need To Make $36,000 Per Year In Ad Revenue — tells you how many pageviews are required to generate $36,000 (that is, $3,000 x 12) in advertising revenue (affiliate income will be a bonus for you) per year based on real case studies and examples.
- How Many Blog Posts Do You Need To Generate A Million Pageviews Per Month — tells you how many blog posts your website might need to generate one million pageviews per month.
- How Much Money Should You Invest In Content Marketing To Generate A Million Pageviews Per Month — tells you how much money should you invest in content creation to hit your traffic goal although it differs on a case-by-case basis.
- How Long Does It Take To Reach Your Traffic Goal — tells you how much time your website will take to hit your traffic goal using my own blog as a case study.
In other words, it’s written to decode:
How Much Money Should You Invest In Content Marketing To Generate 1,000,000 Pageviews And $3,000 Per Month
Here you go:
It’s the result of a homework that I did with a goal to increase the traffic of my blog 5x from here. So, it’s written purely based on my own traffic insights plus few case studies and traffic numbers of different blogs in different niches.
There’s every chance that the actual figures applicable for your own blog could be a lot different from mine. Needless to say, it ultimately depends upon your website’s niche, authority, and marketing efforts.
Also, your final income levels could be a lot higher or lower than the figures that I have mentioned as again, it depends upon your website and its different metrics.
Happy Blogging and Happy New Year! :)
First Published: July 2012; Last Updated: Sunday, January 3rd, 2016