Yo, Dan here.
Despite the fact that it feels like everything is going wrong with the world––shootings, elections, our favorite sports players getting busted for being drugs cheats (Oh, Maria!)… the collapse of the European Union, anyone?––we’re keeping our optimism set firmly to full power and smashing through the phases of setting up our native arb site.
We’re actually making real headway now. (In reality, we’re a couple of weeks ahead of this blog series so I’m delighted to say we have a spreadsheet starting to fill with green numbers that mean profit, profit, profit! Screenshot below! And after just a few weeks of running traffic! But all in good time… we got there by not rushing anything and doing everything step-by-step, so that’s how we’re going to lay it down for you guys too.)
In this blog I’m going to tell you how to get the AdSense and Content.Ad ad widgets set up and running on your site. This is important because, well… no ads means no income. The process is a little technical but nothing you can’t do by following what we show you here and/or getting your Google on.
Firstly, so’s we’re all on the same page, a couple of terms to define.
What is a widget?
Most importantly a widget is what they put in beer cans to make sure you get a good head on your beer when you pour it out the can.
Less importantly, it’s what people call the little boxes filled with adverts that you can put on websites. Here’s one from the Fox News site:
In proper speak, it’s “what the ad or paid content link is delivered via”. While everyone else calls them widgets, in Google AdSense they’re more commonly referred to as ‘ad units’ (there’s a subtle distinction, but it doesn’t matter right now).
What goes inside the widget?
The fill is the ad or link to some other paid content that goes in the widget. The fill can be made up of just text, just a picture or a mix of both. As we’ve found out already choosing what sort of fill goes in your widgets and where your widgets are placed can dramatically affect our, and your, earnings (more on this in later posts).
And finally, the fold?
This term comes from the (soon to be extinct?) world of newspapers and is used to differentiate the bits “above the fold”, i.e. at the top of the paper and visible when it is on a shelf or newsstand, from those “below the fold”, which are not and which are therefore less prominent.
For websites, “above the fold” is used to refer to the parts of a webpage that are visible without scrolling.
WIDGET/AD UNIT PLACEMENT
You need to choose where to put the widgets on your site. Some people go for cluttered layouts with a heap of widgets everywhere. However, as we said in the first blog in this series, this project is not about what we want: we need to think of our users.
Therefore, we choose to place our ads close to the content our users are interested in, but not to obscure it or detract from it. We have some widgets above the fold and some below.
Here is the layout we use. (Excuse the poor graphic! from this it should be pretty clear that neither of us are graphic designers!)
SETTING UP ADSENSE WIDGETS/AD UNITS
Creating the AdSense widgets is relatively painless. Log in to AdSense and go to the MyAds tab. Click on “+New ad unit”.
You’ll be presented with various options of how you want your widget/ad unit to behave. This is the sort of thing you’ll optimize as you develop your site.
We started our site with 3 AdSense ad units (see Google’s rules and regs below): two 728×90 banners, one above and one below the slideshow content, and a 336×280 widget at the very bottom of our page. We also have a “right rail” (equivalent to Google’s large skyscraper) to the right of our content, but that’s used to house our Content.Ad ads rather than AdSense ads.
In general, just go with Google’s recommendations to start with. So, choose “Text & display ads” for all the ad units you create. There’s two reasons for this. Firstly, Google know what they’re doing: it’s in their best interest to have ads that perform well (remember, they’re getting paid by the people who advertise with them as well as you). Secondly, you can change and optimize these settings once you’ve set up the ads (which is going to be one of the really important ways you can turn your site from making a big or small loss to making a small or big profit).
Then click “Save” and your ad unit will be created and your code snippet presented in the following screen:
By the way, leave the “Code type” setting set to “asynchronous”. This dictates how your ads load: all you really need to know, and all I understand about the process, is that asynchronous ads reduce load times for the AdSense ads on your page.
Placing The Code Snippet Into WordPress
This bit is slightly trickier.
First, select the ad code snippet and copy it. Then go to your WordPress site.
There are a few ways of how (or rather where) to add the AdSense ad unit code into your WordPress site. We experimented with WP QUADS––a neat little plugin that makes things pretty straightforward–– but in the end we’ve used the Code Snippets plugin because it’s a bit more flexible in the long-run, although, in the short-term, it does require a little bit more coding savviness.
Once you’ve installed the Snippets plugin, go to Snippets on the main WordPress menu and select “Add New”.
You need to give your widget a name, add the code and add any notes about it.
You can copy what we’ve done: you don’t need to understand exactly how it works but you should be able to figure it out backwards if you study it carefully/use Google: all this little bit of code does is make sure that this widget is positioned above the Theia Post Slider slideshow text (Theia Post Slider or “TPS” is the plugin we use to create our slideshows –– Jake’s going to give some more details about this next week).
You need to do this for all of the ad units you create. (We actually got Rob from Native Ad Buzz to help us to set up the Snippet code for the widgets that appear beneath the slideshows because their arrangement is a bit more complicated! Get in touch with him if you need some help!)
Checking The Ad Units Work
Once you’ve done this you’ll see the widgets on your site but it’ll take a little while for the ads to start coming through.
E.g. if you account is still under review at this point, Google will only serve blank ads on your site, but once the review is complete, you’ll get an email and, if successful––which it will be if you’ve followed our instructions–– they’ll start serving real ads on your site.
Also, even if your account is up and running, when you create a new ad unit it’ status will be “New”: it might take a few hours to start serving ads. You’ll know they’re running properly when you see “Active” appear in the ‘My Ads’ section of your AdSense:
You should then start to see numbers appear in Analytics (even if you’re not running traffic to your site, as you’re editing your site the ads will receive impressions that will be recorded by AdSense/Analytics).
At this point it’s also worth pointing out something else important that you need to do in AdSense. When you create a new post, you need to add the URL (e.g. www.mywebsite.com/mynewpost/) to AdSense to tell it to track stats from that particular URL. Do this via: My Ads>Content>URL Channels.
Google’s Rules and Reg
Google have certain limits on how many AdSense widgets you can put on a single page.
In fact, here I’m going to link you to the Google AdSense FAQ page: https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/1346295?hl=en-GB
Read it. All of it! There’s no point playing fast and loose with Google. We’re almost totally reliant on AdSense in the first stages of our plan (sure, later on we’re going to diversify) so we want to stay onside with them at all times: no shortcuts, no cutting corners, no trying to game the system: we play by their rules and we’ll end up making good, consistent, reliable profits.
Also, don’t click on your own ads! As tempting as it may seem (even just to see if they are working) Google’s all seeing eye knows when you’re clicking on your own ads and doing this can get your account shutdown. (This goes for your friends, family and computer-literate pets too.)
Setting Up Content.Ad Widgets
The process for doing this is pretty similar for AdSense. Except it’s even easier. Firstly install the Content.Ad WordPress plugin and connect it to your Content.Ad account by following the plugin instructions.
Then login to Content.Ad, go to Widgets and click “New Widget”.
Again there’s a bunch of options you can select. Again, the defaults are good for most of them.
Domain – add the domain of your site here
Widget Type – we’ve only used “Thumbnail and text links” so far: this is certainly the standard use you’ll see on most native arb site.
Desktop/tablet layout – this is the only one you really have to change: this dictates how big/the proportions of your widget. For a “right rail” choose 1×6. For a “3×3” choose, you guessed it, 3×3.
Press “Save & Continue” and Content.Ad will give you the code snippet to paste into your site.
However, if you go back to your WordPress and click on the Content.Ad tab on the main sidebar menu, then you should see that the widget you just create has already been conveniently linked to your WordPress site! All you need to do is hover over the name you gave the widget and click “Activate”. It will then display on your site without you having to do anything else!
You can also edit properties of your Content.Ad widgets from within this WordPress plugin, which is really useful.
That’s it! You should now have your AdSense and Content.Ad widgets/ad units created, activated and live on your site. You are now, finally, ready to make money!
In the next installment, Jake is going to run through some productivity hacks that will help you manage your site and things you should definitely already be in the habit of doing. Then, I’m going to take you through how to optimise the s*** out of your site so you can get profitable A$AP.
Until next time,