10 reasons why Adsense sucks for your blog

Adsense has been around since 2003 in its current form, and for many users represented the best option for webmasters to make money from their websites. For a long time, though, blogs weren’t permitted to add Adsense. Eventually, Google relented and a boom followed in Adsense. There have been a number of stunning Adsense success stories, too.

Now, though, after using Adsense for a number of years, I’m becoming rapidly disillusioned for a number of significant reasons. (As this story updates, and gets comments, I’ll be adding links throughout the story updating facts as far as I can).

1. Revenue per click is falling. While Adsense TOS prevents me from telling you what it is, I can tell you: From the first year to the third year, the revenue per click has dropped by more than 33% for my sites, AND IT IS STILL dropping. In the second year, it dropped by 10%, then in the third year, it dropped by nearly 27%. And since the beginning of the fourth year, it has dropped by a further 2% in only 3 months.

2. Adsense takes your advertisers and gives you pennies on the slot. For many websites, using Adsense allows advertisers to use your blog to reach your audiences rather than pay a lot more: in many cases, you can get your ad (albeit amonth others displayed for a few cents a click compared to purchasing a proper link or a larger ad block or image). It’s like a one-night stand, except in many cases, it doesn’t even last one night. It’s displayed and it’s gone. Many larger blogs now forgo Adsense because of these problems.

3. Their advertisers compete with YOU. If you are using your blog or website as a way to sell your own services or business or products, often you will find not just related products, but also directly competing products and competitors, who are paying you cents to steal customers who would pay you dollars. Does this make sense?

4. You don’t get paid when Adsense ads are not clicked, but the ads still get ‘viewed’ by individuals. In many cases, the ads are given prominent spots, but the reader doesn’t click. Does the reader see them or not? The readers have read many ads, but never clicked for a variety of reasons. But they have read the ads. You don’t get paid, usually. Occasionally, you will be paid for impressions, but not usually.

5. Clicking on Ads takes readers away from your blog. Do you want your readers to leave? Of course, you’d rather they didn’t, but if you place the adsense blocks in the ‘optimal’ positions, you are virtually guaranteeing that your readers will leave by clicking on an Adsense link. But usually readers won’t come back after viewing the linked site. They may, as I do, view the advertisers site, note the URL and either go to a search engine or close the window entirely.

6. For low-trafficked websites, Google Adsense just not generate anything more than peanuts for your traffic. With pageviews in the hundreds or low thousands per month, there is hardly enough traffic to earn more than a few tens of dollars per month. In fact, using the valuable advertising space for Adsense actually will not help to add value to your blog or generate much revenue.

7. Inappropriate ads often appear on your blog. On my ESL website, I’ve had links to all sorts of weird things; and on this blog, I still get weird links to websites completely unrelated to anything on the website page. I’m not talking pharma ads or adult ads, which Google prohibits. But still, the webmaster can’t choose what ads do appear on the website. This means that webmasters and site owners rarely have control of who is advertising. This is not a good thing.

8. Google is very strict on click fraud. To the point that one suspects they are even taking legitimate clicks and counting them as invalid. Of course, you aren’t able to monitor which clicks on your ads are invalid, or any statistical information, leaving you to guess about how many clicks are being discarded.

9. Google also bans Adsense publishers for instances of click fraud. Though many may deserve the banning, I’ve read of a few webmasters who would likely never commit click fraud, yet were banned for no apparent reason. Additionally, they weren’t notified of the particular infractions, discouraged from appealing, and the whole affair was conducted in secrecy, a secrecy that does not befit a major US corporation. Of course, when you are banned, you lose your account, your money, and your reputation is slighted. Google, of course, offers no proof. You are banned without a trial, or even a specific charge. And there are serious issues with the security of Publisher’s accounts.

10. It’s not smart to put all your eggs in one basket. Why? Because if you are serious about developing your blog as a separate income and business, you MUST develop multiple sources of revenue. Relying only on Adsense is perhaps the dumbest decision you can make, especially because you put your business at the mercy of just ONE supplier, Google. As many bloggers found out this week, this can have disastrous consequences when Google, who also provides search engine traffic, website rankings and a variety of other services, also provides a large percentage of your traffic. Many blogs were subsequently stung by Page Rank downgrades, resulting in lower earnings potential and possibly less traffic. In some cases, Google even deliberately removes websites from the rankings because they claim the website master is abusing the Google search engine.

Looking forward to your comments.

Disclaimer: This website currently uses Adsense on its pages, has about 5% of its traffic from Google and may utilize some other Google services, such as gmail, analytics and so on. But InvestorBlogger is seriously unhappy with Google’s recent performance on its Adsense, PR rankings, and the way that Google is becoming a ‘Be Seen to Do No EVIL’ force.

5 Qualities You Need in Your Business Partners…

This post is a follow up the question I asked earlier today: Do you have what it takes to be your boss?

There are so many skills that go into running a successful business that it’s difficult just to isolate five important skills, but I’m going to attempt this, by saying that employees who wish to be considered, not just management material, but also owner material, need to have each of the following qualities… Guts, Vision, Knowledge, People Skills and, of course, Money.

Guts and Glory
Guts is the least talked about quality and stands as the core quality in business. Good entrepreneurs, either experienced or not, need to have guts: the sense of conviction that what they are doing is right, the bravery to follow through, all the time listening to others, and ability to accept criticism, while staying true to their vision. Guts really aren’t something that you can learn either in a book. You either have them or you don’t. Signs that people don’t have guts include failing to stand up for principles when things are tough, caving to pressure without a fight, and even being afraid to sacrifice FOR your beliefs. It’s the guts that provide the drive for success in business, because things won’t always be easy: financing will fall through, customers (big and small) will desert you, employees will quit, …

Where’s the passion?
Guts is of course predicated on something even more fundamental, though: vision. Without a vision of what you want to do, how you want to achieve, and where you will end up, as an entrepreneur, it’s going to be tough. You will be tossed about on the sea of whims of whichever customer group is your current majority, you will hear your customs and give them what they THINK they want, not realizing that what they THINK they want isn’t really what they want.

Parents in our school often come in and ask us to teach their kids more vocabulary and more language and more grammar… and yet it’s the same parents who would come back in six months and ask us why their kids no longer like English, why their English isn’t as fluent as kids from the school up the road, or why their kids’ four skills is falling behind their peers. And we’d have to say, “That’s because we’re doing what YOU asked us!” Success in business needs a vision; and it’s that vision (it’s specific nature, language and philosophy) that will help you to find the customers you need.

To know or to inquire?
Employees who look for work in our school often display a lot of experience of many years of working in other language schools, language systems, or in education, or … whatever happens to be the education fad of the moment. And, truly, they bring a lot of wonderful skills and experience that benefit our students all around.

But, when you’re considering an employee or employees as possible partners, it’s that focus on education above all else that becomes the problem: are the teachers familiar with accounting? Can the teachers deal with financial issues? Will they know what to do when the IT systems break down? Do they know what makes our business different? Are they willing to learn all of this and more…?

Often, employees we work with are tied to their past experience, and are unwilling or uninterested in learning new things, changing practices or making their work new. In the past year, we had to reassign duties from one position within our business, because technology made about 20% of one job unnecessary. Yet, the employee assigned those tasks originally felt it was unnecessary to improve the systems by simplifying things, or using computers, or whatever. Yet, in many respects, handling those issues had become simply a way for her to pass the time unproductively, while much more important needs were unaddressed, needs that would determine the future of the business and its profitability.

Worst of all, though, isn’t the lack of knowledge of important business functions, though, it’s the lack of willingness to deal with them: some say “I don’t want to know about that”, “who cares about that?”, “that’s your job, not mine!”, etc.. are all comments that I’ve heard over the years. One of the fundamental qualities of a successful entrepreneur has to be the willingness to stick one’s ness into every aspect of one’s business: whether it’s sales, marketing, production, cleaning or whatever.

It’s all about the people!
But sticking your nose into different parts of your business has to be accompanied with some sense of people skills: the ability to relate to, understand, or even walk a mile in the shoes of, other people. For without people, you don’t have any customers, you don’t have any employees, and you won’t have any suppliers. The people that will propel your business to success are all around you. To that extent, the ability to work with those people and to motivate them to do a good job is a prime quality.

It’s that ability that will allow you to say: “I know where you are coming from” or “I understand your concerns.” At the same time, empathy with other people will help you to avoid pride and arrogance that comes with phrases like “Well, I told you so.” So what if you told me so, I had to learn it for it myself… “I told you so” does not help your clients, colleagues, or bosses to do better, it merely allows you to squwak about how right you were in the first place. In other words, your mind is closed to new ideas.

Ka-ching: Putting it where it counts
But last and perhaps the most important of all, is money. It’s not that the money is important in and of itself. It’s that the money represents a serious commitment on the part of a future partner to the business: that the partner is going to be with the business through thick and thin; that the partner understands that things aren’t always going to be rosy, or even just rose-tinted.

The commitment of money to a deal signifies that an entrepreneur (or even a potential partner) has accepted that the risk of losing the money is also possible. It’s odd because, as an employee, the venturing of money in deals like this is often the riskiest kind of behavior for them. Why? Because the money risked comes out of their sweat and blood. There’s no other source.

Yet our employees often made bad financial decisions for themselves, and for our business. Typically, we found employees trying to save a penny, not realizing that it was costing almost as much anyway, if not more.

A good example: we contracted for a photocopier that cost $2200 per month, but found that each bale of paper we had to use cost $25 or more each than regular 70GSM paper. We also found that we had to call the repairman almost every week with problems wasting time on everybody’s part. We couldn’t get work done properly. We couldn’t get a tax receipt for the photocopier (meaning we couldn’t deduct the 5% tax from the annual tax bill… don’t ask me how we ended up with such a lousy deal!). If we used 6 bales of more expensive paper each month, plus 5% tax that means our total bill was already $2450 per month. Don’t forget to factor in lost printouts, frustration, wasted time, and poorer quality printouts. If we wasted even 15 minutes a week of our time calling the repairman, then that’s like $1200 just there over a month wasted. That didn’t include the cost of running a back up laser printer for when things went really bad… etc. etc.

After running a business over seven years, we’re all much more sanguine than before about risking our money. We know that without taking the risk, accepting the risk, and then moving forward, we stand no chance of being successful. Make no mistake, though: that risk isn’t just glossed over, it’s understood, it’s assessed. We know what it means. That money is the life-blood of the business, it needs to be accounted for, managed and spent wisely. As such, being a partner in a business without risking one’s own capital, no matter how much it is, isn’t really understanding what the business is about. It’s only about the good times, it’s only about the icing on the cake.

So, if you need to find a business partner, and you’re looking in your employees for possible partners (after all, who knows the business better?), you’d be wise to consider carefully who would make a much more stable business partner.

Do you have what it takes to become your boss?

Last night as I tried to go sleep, I found myself turning over the ideas for this post in my head. In our business, we’ve hired employees, some of whom were excellent, some of whom were decidedly not. To those who were excellent, we are always faced with the challenging question: how can we adequately reward those who do their job well?

So, after salary increases, additional benefits, … we were always left with this question: Is the final step to reward employees giving them a share in the business? It certainly is a step worth considering if you found your employees worth it. But how would you determine who can and who can’t become partners in this fashion?…

In my mind, the next post tries to answer some of that question. Do tag your comments on to the end as you finish reading it…. What would you think?