Google sends me cheques

GoogleOkay, they’re not very big cheques, but the ads on this site apparently get clicked on by enough people that Google sends me cheques. Okay, only one cheque so far. It was for $120.47 – that’s enough to pay for my hosting fees.

Although, I hear you asking, how can an obscure personal blog get enough visits – let alone clicks – for Google ads to work? This is an obvious question, with a pretty interesting answer, that if I have it right, suggests that web ads are a special case of search ads.

A quick tutorial. Google has two advertising programs: AdSense and AdWords. AdWords enables advertisers to submit ads that are displayed against particular words or search terms (e.g. “negative gearing”). AdSense enables web page authors/publishers to give-up space on their pages for ads to shown. Google matches the AdWords advertisers with AdSense publishers in order to maximise the chance of visitors clicking on the ads.

I am a member of the AdSense program, but it’s really token involvement. You’ll see only a single text-based ad block, capable of showing two ads, on any page. I’m not exactly running an advertising honey-pot, here.

However, apparently certain pages on this site are popular enough to attract a significant amount of traffic. The top pages are (in order):

Now, I haven’t run the stats (yet), but of the above, the only pages with ads that seem likely to generate clicks are the Best Man Speech, Cheesecake Recipe, Positive Gearing Analysis and Investment Book Reviews. These aren’t pages that change at all often, so it’s not my regular readers (!) who are clicking on those ads. I think this is the norm for blogs – it’s not the regular readers generating advertising revenue.

The ad revenue comes from those who arrive on the site via web searches. Near 80% of all visits come from search engines. The top search terms of visitors are:

  • “best man speech”, “best man speeches”, and “bestman speeches”
  • “cheesecake recipe” and “cheesecake recipes”
  • “positive gearing”

Those terms account for a third of all search visitors, and there are several other variants of those. What it strongly suggests is that there are people searching for particular terms, and instead of clicking on the paid ads in the search results they click on a link to one of my pages. And then, once they’ve arrived on one of my pages, they click on a paid ad.

One explanation is that the pages on my blog provide a type of advertising filter. Perhaps the search engine , say Google, is not able to fine-tune the paid ads when all it has to go on is the term “best man speech”, but when Google can utilise all of the words in one of my pages, it does much better. So much so that people click first on a real page, not as a way of getting everything they want, but as a way of giving Google more information on what they’re after.

And a diversity of topics on a blog lends itself to being used by Google in this way. Typically a blog will focus on a single topic and build up a readership that is strongly interested in that topic. But those readers aren’t likely to be clicking on ads anyway. So my atypical approach of rambling wildly about many things doesn’t build up much of a readership, but it does enable Google to use my content to optimise its ads and hence pay me a small commission when people click on them.