One of my hobbies is the SEO of my personal web sites. Recently my Adsense Click Through Rate dropped to zero for over a week and I had to do some investigating to find out what was going on.

I do SEO not so much for profit purposes as it is a personal interest in statistics and improving the search ranking of my site on various topics.  Running Adsense on my personal blog pages does help to cover the costs of running my domains. While I don’t make a sizable profit through Adsense, it does help cover the some of the cost-of-ownership and hosting of my domains but it doesn’t provide me the lavish luxuries of buying real estate or expensive high-performance Italian automobiles.

Royalty-Free (RF) Clipart Illustration of a Rearing Yellow HorseRoyalty-Free (RF) Clipart Illustration of a Rearing Yellow Horse

Recently I have been working on improving my site’s SEO performance. I have been very careful to limit my site modifications and improvements to ‘white hat’ techniques. While ‘black hat’ techniques may make you rich in ‘a few short days’ I don’t feel that’s an honest way to proceed and thus it’s not of interest to me and on top of that, using those techniques will get you banned from AdSense.  About a week ago my Adsense impressions (generated when you view my pages with Adsense ads on them) maintained their normal rate (750-1000 a week) but my click-through rate on advertisement dropped from 6-12 clicks a week to zero.   There are a few explanations for this weakened income, as follows:

1) Google Adsense decided to start showing CPM ads vs CPC ads. CPM advertisements are ads which Adsense pays you simply for displaying them. If you have a large populous of ad-blind users which tend not to click advertisements, then CPM can make you good money on Google Adsense.  If like myself you rely on a select number of search oriented users clicking on interesting advertising relevant to their search, or CPC, they can reduce your income to near zero for a while until they start showing CPC ads.

2) Google Adsense has detected that a reasonable number of your click-throughs have come from repeat users/abusers and other suspicious resources. I’m not sure how they determine this, my guess is that they look at repeat source IP’s over an extended period of time and suspect that you have friends or enemies clicking on your advertisements repeatedly. I suspect this goes deeper than just IPs, possibly cookies, Google accounts and other ways can be used to see if the same person is continuously clicking ads across your Adsense enabled sites.  Having friends and associates repeatedly clicking on advertising is considered a violation of the ToS (Terms of Service) and it is frowned on. These type of ‘fake clicks’ will usually show up as Click Throughs without payment on your Adsense report.

3) You’re Adsense publisher ID has been hijacked by someone else and applied to disreputable websites or other tasteless subjects in which Google doesn’t want to run it’s advertisers ads on.  This can be done intentionally to destroy your reputation with Adsense but it can also be caused by someone copying your content onto their site. You should take the time to research the feature in your Google Adsense Account Settings under Access and Authorization and limit Adsense advertising to your domains only.  Once activated this will begin to show you the sites which have illegitimately used your publisher ID on their domains, you may also notice some legitimate sites and IP addresses show up in that list such as Google domains and Google IP addresses.  It’s best to add these to your list of accepted domains as they may include Image Search and other Google features. You can find common Google IPs by searching “Authorized Sites, Adsense” on the G.

4) You’re running an unsavory site yourself which may contain questionable content. I know there are a lot of ways to make money on the Internet, but if you are not following Google’s strict ToS (Terms of Service) you are hurting your Adsense account and have a high risk of eventually being banned.  If you’re not sure what the ToS are, then I recommend going back to Google Adsense and checking the Terms of Service you agreed to when signing up for an Adsense account.  If you can’t run Adsense advertising on your site due to the content there are other advertising services available as well as affiliate services which can provide you income on your risque sites. Do a search for affiliates and especially if your site caters to a specific target market, do a search on that market + the term affiliate.

5) You do not have a privacy policy on your site.  This is important. In the internet age people need to be informed about how their information is being used on your site.  You can see my own privacy policy which applies for all of my Adsense enable sites. (3 out of 23) and inform your users!  Put the link in an easily accessible location on your website as I have done with mine and you will be covered in that instance.  I have read that not providing a privacy policy can get you banned from Adsense, and thus it is an important and easy to implement feature on your website.

6) You preview your own pages to much. While this might seem like an innocent practice, the people who pay for Cost Per View (CPM) views may be inaccurately charged by your own views of your site. Each time your refresh and view your website to check your ads, you’re costing them a small amount of money. Google Adsense has no tolerance for this, from what I have read on other sites, so you need to be very careful about viewing your own published pages on an IP address which you have logged into a Google service under.  I KNOW, it’s totally innocent, you want to check how your site is reproducing the content. I have a problem with this myself, I always worry things will come out formatted weird. Really, you’ve designed your site well, right, then limit your self page views!

7) If your page impressions and your click throughs drop to zero while your website statistics themselves say you are still getting many viewers, someone or something may have hijacked your web site and replaced your Adsense publisher ID with their own. Look through your Adsense setup and make sure that the numbers are your own. A good way to do this on a dynamic site is to view the source of your website through your web browser and see what publisher ID is being used in your Adsense code sections. Apparently even some plug-ins and widgets for popular blogging software have been known to hijack Adsense advertising on people’s sites.

8.) Finally, as was the case on my site I suspect, apparently, you need to check your Google Adsense account regularly.  Google recently updated their Terms of Service and were waiting for me to agree to the new terms before they continued paying me for click-through advertising.  While my Adsense account was reporting impressions it was not recording click-throughs, and thus not recording Adsense payments per click.  Once I agreed to the updates ToS my Adsense click-throughs started to re-appear and things seem to have gone back to normal. When I went to my ‘Adsense Settings’ I was presented with a new ToS that I had to agree to. My evidence for this is shown below.

Improved Adsense Perfomance after new ToS Agreement - Click For Full View
Improved Adsense Performance after new ToS Agreement – Click For Full View

I saw on various Adsense support and discussion forums while trying to find a resolution for my problem that if Google has an issue with what you are doing with your Adsense account, they will send you email warnings in advance, and it’s in your best interest to act very quickly to resolve the issues. Although the emails seem to be fairly cryptic you can probably find the problem by looking at the Terms of Service and comparing them to the content you host on your site.

I hope this post helps anyone having problems with their Adsense click-throughs or impressions and will help you resolve issues with the income from your site. Please post your comments below as I’m always interested in hearing other people’s opinions.

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