This is a very tricky question. There is a lot that goes into AdSense and advertising through Google. Traffic, in terms of daily hits, is only one factor of the equation. Still, it’s arguably the biggest, and it’s certainly one of the easiest to manipulate, so it’s worth looking into. How much traffic do you need to make any serious returns with AdSense?Table of ContentshideZero TrafficSetting a GoalBeing RealisticThe Effect of NicheThe Low ScenarioThe Medium ScenarioThe High ScenarioPaths to SuccessWritten by James ParsonsRelated Posts
Here’s one thing. Absolutely nothing stops you from signing up for AdSense at any time. Google will happily display ads on your site, though they might not be the top tier priority ads other sites enjoy, or will they have high bids. On the other hand, Google will just as happily start accruing pennies and nickels in your AdSense account, where it will sit until you reach a payment threshold.
There’s a certain argument in favor of running AdSense from the beginning, even though you know you aren’t going to make much money from it. For one thing, you get to see your monthly revenue and can watch it grow, even of the growth starts out extremely minimal. It’s data you can use and correlate with other actions you take, so you can monitor it as a success metric.
For another thing, it’s hard to raise a site with no ads and then implement ads later. Regular readers will be turned off when ads suddenly start appearing. It’s a more noticeable effect when you add in banners, but even AdSense text ads can be disruptive enough to turn off or drive away regular readers. However, if you grow with the ads already in place, readers will be used to them.
Setting a Goal
So we’ve established that you can run AdSense on a blog that gets no traffic whatsoever. You don’t need any traffic to use it, but that’s not really the question we’re investigating. The title asks about hits to use AdSense, but what it’s really asking is hits necessary to profit from AdSense. You can use AdSense to make 10 cents a week, but why would you bother?
What you need to do is determine what sort of success you want with your site. Do you want to make $10 a day? $50 a day? $1,000 a week? $1,000 a month? These are all quite different goals, and will require different levels of traffic to achieve.
One suggested minimum is to strive to have at least 250 visitors every day. Why 250? There are plenty of reasons.
- It’s proof that your content can support at least a reasonable sized audience.
- It’s proof that you’re going to be gaining organic traffic rather than just paid traffic.
- You have a good source of data to analyze to determine user demographics and actions.
- You have enough of a viewership that you can split test layouts, content, landing pages, and ad placements among other things, and have enough data to draw reasonable conclusions.
- You have enough of a viewership that you can become one of the competitive players in your niche, rather than just another low tier blog.
- It takes a while to rack up that much traffic regularly, which shows dedication, which helps convince advertisers you’re worth investing in.
Of course, 250 visitors per day is not very much. If you’re using CPM ads – that is, cost per thousand impressions” ads, you’re going to reach that CPM level every four days. CPM ads are the lowest paid, because views aren’t nearly as important as clicks. A display ad might have a CPM of $2, which means with 250 daily visitors, you’re making $2 every four days. That’s only making $15 a month from your ads.
Are those numbers a little disheartening? If you’re new to blogging, I can understand why. It’s easy to look at a number like 250 daily visitors and bemoan the fact that such a goal is nearly unattainable. At the same time, even if you do manage to achieve it, you’re only pulling in the price of a cheap meal at a cheap sit-down restaurant every month. It’s enough to make many bloggers quit on the spot, or turn to black hat techniques to make a quick buck.
This is why the number one thing you need to do, when setting a goal for your advertising revenue, is make sure that goal is reasonable. Sure, you can make $100 a day, or $500 a day, or even more. You just can’t do it right away. It’s a long term goal, something you spend years working to achieve. In the mean time, you have to be able to subsist on lower views and lower payments, without faltering in your marketing.
The key to modern web marketing is a constant flow of value. You need to have an active site with posts constantly, though it’s up to you how often you post. I’ve seen successful blogs that post three times a day, and I’ve seen equally successful blogs that post once or twice per week.
Let’s set up a few hypothetical scenarios. We’ll set goals at $600 per month, at $1,000 per month, and $5,000 per month. I’ll call these scenarios Low, Medium, and High.
There’s one more thing to consider before we continue, and that’s CPC versus CPM. CPM I’ve already explained; it’s the cost per thousand views. It doesn’t care about clicks, it just wants you to have more traffic so you can earn more money.
CPC is cost per click, and it doesn’t care about views. Rather than building up traffic as your only means of making more money, you can also do things to optimize how people interact with your ads. A higher click rate – that is, more clicks per 1,000 viewers – is better for earning more money.
CPC is harder to monetize, because you’re never going to have an extremely high click rate. Google calls 2% a decent CTR, which means 2 out of 100 visitors to your site click the ads. We’ll run with that for our calculations.
The Effect of Niche
Okay, so I lied; there’s one more aspect to cover before we get into specific scenarios. That is the niche in which you’re operating.
Some niches will naturally pay more than others. Something like auto insurance can have a high CPC value, because the companies that bid for ad spots are willing to pay more. This is, of course, a function of the profits they make. A successful ad policy signup can make a company thousands over the course of a year or two, so they’re willing to pay a significant amount to get those customers. On the other hand, something like “chicken soup recipes” isn’t going to pay more than a few cents, because the profits of having someone click that link are probably on the same order of AdSense profits as yours.
For calculations, I’m going to assume a mid-range niche without too much competition. Just know that finding a better niche – or even just better keywords within your current niche – can boost your earnings passively.
The Low Scenario
With the low scenario, you’re trying to earn $600 per month from AdSense. That works out to be $20 per day, which is a nice, easy number to use.You might like:
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With CPM, we can assume that you’re going to be earning around $2 per thousand views. With CPC, in a mid-range niche, you could consider a value of 50 cents per click to be reasonable. You can get much higher with some niches, or much lower with others. The low scenario is going to be a lower-end blog, though, so you’re probably going to pick a niche that has minimal competition, even if the value isn’t great, because you don’t have the resources to support it until it makes money. As for your click rate, we’ll go with 1% here, both for ease of math and because it’s a reasonable CTR for a low-to-mid level site.
To make $20 a day from CPM ads via AdSense, you would need to earn 10,000 views per day. That works out to be 300,000 views per month.
To make $20 a day from CPC ads, you will need a total of 40 clicks. At a 1% click rate, that’s 1 click per hundred views, so 4,000 views per day. That’s 120,000 views per month.
These are some pretty high viewership numbers. Getting even 4,000 people to visit your site per day can be a daunting task. You really need to have a significant amount of value provided to your customers to reach that kind of level, which can take years to establish.
As you can see, if you want to earn more money from that kind of traffic, it’s generally easier to boost some of the other factors, like your keyword CPM/CPC, or your click rate. Growing traffic is slow enough that you can gain more value from other optimizations more easily, while you grow traffic in the background.
The Medium Scenario
In the medium scenario, we’re looking to reach $1,000 per month with our calculations. For a mid-tier site, we can consider you’re going for a bit more of a competitive niche. This will increase the value of both your CPM and CPC, but will lower your click rate in general. For nice round numbers, we’ll go with a $4 CPM, a $1 CPC, and a .5% CTR. To make $1,000 per month, we will need to reach $33 and change every day.
To make $33 per day from CPM, we will need 8,250 views per day. That’s around 247,500 per month.
To make $33 per day from CPC, we will need 33 clicks. If we have a half-percent CTR, that means one click out of every 200 views. That’s 6,600 views per day, or just under 200,000 views per month.
In this scenario, the numbers are a little better, and you can see now why so many people go for niches with higher values on their ads, even when the competition is fierce. A smaller slice of the pie can still be more valuable than a full pie at a lower cost.
The High Scenario
This scenario wants you to make $5,000 per month from AdSense. That’s a whopping $167 per day. Now, a lot of high profile sites can and do make this much or more, and you’re aiming to be one of those high profile sites. We can assume here that your CPM is even higher, because you’re targeting a very valuable, but also very competitive, niche. Let’s say your CPM is going to be $12. Your CPC value is great too, at $5, and you’ve managed to optimize your site to have a CTR of 2%. Many would call this a nearly ideal scenario.
To make $167 a day via AdSense CPM, you will need 14,000 views per day. This works out to be 420,000 views per month, which is top-tier traffic.
To make $167 a day via AdSense CPC, you are going to need 34 clicks on average. At a rate of 2 clicks per 100 views, that’s around 1,700 views per day, which is around 50,000 views per month. That’s astonishingly low, and immediately lets you see why high-value CPC keywords in high-traffic niches are the most targeted in all of web marketing. It also lets you see why most people skip CPM; even in a good situation with CPM, that’s a ton of traffic to achieve the same results with much less CPC.
Paths to Success
As you can see, there are several ways you can optimize your site to make more money. You can:
- Grow your traffic so that you earn more based on pure volume.
- Switch from low-earning CPM to higher-earning CPC.
- Encourage more people to click your ads so you have a higher CTR.
- Switch your targeted niche or keywords to one with higher values for your CPC.
- If CPM, include more ad units so one view counts towards more than one set of 1,000 views.
There are different ways to accomplish these goals, as well. We’ve written about some of them before, and there are fantastic resources out there for all of them. Let’s see what resources you can use, shall we?
With CPC, one of the most important aspects of earning is the placement of your ads. Ad blindness is a very real phenomenon and it leads people to ignore your ads as if they hadn’t even seen them. Ad placement, then, is an easy optimization to make so long as you have the right software installed and the right amount of traffic to use for testing. We wrote about it here, and you can find more advanced guides for using heatmaps elsewhere.
Growing your traffic will also have a great effect, assuming you aren’t growing it artificially in a way that hurts your CTR. Buying traffic is safe enough, but you can’t go out and get untargeted traffic or bot traffic and assume your CTR is going to stay the same. It’s slightly more effective for CPM ads, though, and buying real but untargeted traffic is a good way to boost those. The problem there, though, is that you might end up spending more on the traffic than you get in return.
If you take a look at MonetizePros’ guide to average CPM rates you can see one other source of optimization you might not have considered; ads in other locations. Video ads can be great, as are mobile ads. If you have a niche where you can attract and target viewers or mobile visitors in addition to your display ads, you can make quite a bit of money in addition to your normal display ads.
Hopefully, this will give you some idea of what sort of metrics you need to look for, and what traffic levels you need to aim for, to reach specific monetary goals. Start there; pick a goal and a niche if you don’t already have one, then strive to optimize your content, keywords, traffic, and ads for success in that niche.