June 28, 2012
Picture this: you’ve had AdSense on your site for about 6 months now. Things have been going well. You’ve tweaked your display units a bit, and you’re making about $50 a day – way more than enough to cover hosting and domain costs. Everything is cool, and then you check your email one morning and see this email, totally out of left field:
After reviewing our records, we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we’ve found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google’s share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.
Please understand that we need to take such steps to maintain the effectiveness of Google’s advertising system, particularly the advertiser-publisher relationship. We understand the inconvenience that this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.
If you have any questions or concerns about the actions we’ve taken, how you can appeal this decision, or invalid activity in general, you can find more information by visiting http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.
The Google AdSense Team”
Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon scenario!
You can always appeal the ban, but don’t hold your breath – there aren’t a whole lot of success stories out there in regards to Google reactivating banned AdSense accounts. If you’re going this route, AdSenseFlippers have put together a helpful list of recommendations for the appeal process.
Why Did This Happen To Me?
What seems to be a pretty common cause for an AdSense ban is when changes are made to a site that break the AdSense TOC (Terms and Conditions).
Some other common reasons for being banned from AdSense are:
* Click fraud (when Google suspects that you’re clicking on your own ads, or asking others to do so) or getting “click bombed.”
* Creating multiple AdSense accounts
* Placing AdSense units on websites with copyrighted or questionable/banned content (porn, warez, drugs, gambling)
* Using link building services such as BuildMyRank
* Displaying more than the allowed number of units on a page
* Tampering with AdSense code
Regardless of the cause, a disabled AdSense account may seem like an absolute disaster for some site owners.
There are a lot of people out there making good money by allowing Google to serve targeted ads on their websites, many of whom are using AdSense exclusively. In the context of this article, we’ll call that “putting all of your eggs in one basket.” It’s always good to have multiple sources of income on your web properties – or, at the very least, have a backup plan.
So have you found yourself banned from using Google AdSense? Fret not, webmaster! You still have your traffic and rankings, and earning these are much more difficult than monetizing said traffic. You just need to find an alternative advertising program that works well for your niche. Here are some more-than-viable alternatives to AdSense to get you back on your feet.
Popular AdSense Alternatives
* Infolinks/Kontera – These are quick and easy inline contextual ad solutions. Certain words in your website copy will be highlighted, and when a user’s cursor goes over the word, an ad is served. When these ads are clicked, revenue is generated for you. These services can work quite nicely for informational /micro niche sites. If you ran a network of micro niche sites, AdSense was probably your best option, but when you’re dealing with a very specific topic like stamp collecting or antique boat restoration, contextual ads could prove to be a nice alternative. If you’re running a WordPress site, check out the WP Kontera plugin.
* Clicksor – Clicksor is another service that offers in-line text ads, but they also have banner ads, pop-unders, and interstitial ads.
* Chitika – Chitika allows you to display targeted, search targeted, mobile and local ads on your site. This can be a good alternative for people with a lot of US and Canadian traffic, but international traffic is more or less ignored.
* Bidvertiser – Bidvertiser offers banners as well as inline ads. This service may work well in larger niches, but I’ve heard that they don’t have a very diverse pool of advertisers, which means that the resulting ads may not be as accurately contextually targeted as what you were displaying with AdSense. Still, it’s worth a shot, especially if you’re in a broad niche.
* AdBrite – AdBrite offers in-line page ads as well as banner and text ads. I have personally used AdBrite with minimal success, but to be fair, I didn’t experiment with it a whole lot.
* Media.net – Media.net offers different sized content ads, “web bar” units, search targeted ads, and mobile ads. They have been known to pay better than AdSense in some niches (apparently health and financial sites work well). If you apply for an account and don’t hear back within a week or so, send them a follow-up email.
* Commission Junction – Affiliate marketing is a whole different ball game, but there’s a lot of money to be made there. I have personally done pretty well with CJ in the past. You have to apply for each affiliate account, and there are loads of them. If you decide to go the affiliate route, there are lots of options available to you, another significant
one being Clickbank.
* eBay Partner Network – You get paid based on the number of clicks that you send from your site to an eBay site. The eBay affiliate program uses a relatively new affiliate payout system called “Quality Click Pricing.” Under this system, the amount paid to affiliates is calculated by an undisclosed algorithm, and therefore it’s not always clear how much you’ll make per click, but people seem to do pretty well with this network.
* Amazon Associates Program – Make money by linking to Amazon products. There’s a wide range of products available, so this could work for many industries, but results will obviously vary from one niche to the next. If you’re running a WordPress blog, you can use the ReviewaZon plugin to add Amazon products to your site. Here’s an example of someone who has had a lot of success with the Amazon Associates Program.
The fact of the matter is that many of these networks simply don’t pay as much as AdSense does. That’s primarily due to the fact that Google has a fantastic variety of advertisers in almost every industry imaginable. So you’ll have to do some experimenting and see which advertisers work best for your particular niche.
AdSense might be the most widely adopted ad program, and there’s a reason why it’s so successful. With AdSense, Google makes it easy for anyone who owns a website to earn some money without having much prior marketing experience. They’ve made it incredibly simple for publishers, and that’s why they can get away with taking a large chunk of the revenue generated by the advertisements.
Diversify Your Income Streams… Or Else!
Again, if you’re running ads on your site(s), it’s probably a good idea to have multiple revenue sources. Using one ad platform as your main source is just asking for trouble, especially when Google is known for closing AdSense accounts without any explanation.
A friend of mine recently received the dreaded “ban hammer” with no explanation, and I definitely feel for him. I have quite a number of small sites generating income primarily via AdSense, and I’d be pretty bummed if I had the rug pulled out from under me all of a sudden.
The moral of the story? Diversify your income streams! Ideally, you’d have multiple projects, and among those projects you’d have multiple methods of monetizing in place. If you’re relying solely on AdSense to monetize your web properties, it’s time to do some experimenting and see what else works for you. Get started today!
John Vantine is an SEO and all-around web nerd at Wpromote. He loves live music, rock climbing, a good slice of pizza, and the great outdoors. You can find more posts from John on the Wpromote blog.