Don’t let Adsense get you down

chart.jpgAll too often we see complaints about a sudden decrease in adsense and often curse it as one of those things over which we have no control, to be fair I have seen this myself which caused me to do a bit of research on the matter and find a solution.

During January I noticed earnings for a site drop from around $200+ per day head towards $100 which is a large drop and pretty unacceptable so an investigation was needed.

I have used Shawn’s Adsense chart tool to illustrate.


A pretty ugly chart as far as earnings go I am sure you’ll agree, it’s easy to curse and swear at adsense and feel helpless but it’s also easy to do a little more investigating to see what the problem was, a quick look at the clicks show that its not the site or traffic that seem to be causing the downturn.

Clicks seem healthy enough with no major variance and I confirmed traffic was unaffected so I now know that my problem is pretty much down to a poor payout for the usual clicks I am getting. I know the seasonal changes and the usual dips around the weekend that can affect earnings but this was very different.

It is at that point I decided to properly test the Competitive Ad Filter supplied in the Adsense account under the ‘Adsense Set up’ tab, this feature lets you list url’s that you don’t want to appear normally used to stop your competitors ads displaying on your website, however it can also be used for weeding out some low paying advertisers, arbitragers and MFA sites. A 200 url limit is imposed which could do with being increased to be fair.

Sites such as AdsBlacklist can create lists of low paying made for AdSense (MFA) sites in seconds although I believe you have to be a registered member there now to use the generator but they do offer 1 month for free which would let you test this out should it be an issue for you.

Taking the list and pasting it into my competitive ad filter brought earnings right back up and above where they were before for that website with an almost immediate turn around.


This is a real life example using the CSV file from adsense, coincidence?
The adsense increased by over 50% in a matter of days and I’d like to think it was because of the action I took, either way it’s something to check and try if it happens to you.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.


  1. I have found the the filter does have a good effect. Also having alternative ads in place should a PSA show up on your site.

  2. Have you not taken the huge growth of Firefox and the free Adblock add on? I’ve used Firefox for a couple of years now and almost never see ads anymore. Or does Adsense not work that way?

  3. Adblock doesn’t block AdSense advertising as far as I am aware tecwzrd, it blocks pop-up ads and banners of your choice that.

    Mattew, yes your right, having alternative ads in place is a good idea, I can’t remember that last time I seen that happen on my sites which is good but certainly worth implementing.

  4. I used to place MFA site on Adsense, but I realised there is not much change in terms of earnings. Moreover, there is only a limit of 200 possible sites that can be added to the competitive filter list. Perhaps, I wasn’t doing enough. Soon after, I removed the sites for MFA.

    But after reading this post, I might consider filtering MFA sites again. These are really just turning my earnings upside down.

  5. Scott,
    Adblock when used together with Adblock Filterset.G Updater is poison to webmasters. It blocks Adsense and even the new AuctionAds. I agree with tecwzrd that with the proliferation of FF, PPC income is going downwards.
    But this is not the point of this blog post. Thanks for the tip on low paying keywords filtering. I’ll try them out.

  6. As Amos pointed out with a good filter set like Filterset.G (which is what I use) then really every page is going to be mostly ad free.

    Screenshot with ads on CG

    Screenshot without ads on CG

    I mostly read CG (and this site) through Googles RSS feeder which is also ad free.

    From what I understand Adsense is paid per click but if less people see the ads the click through ratio would be less also IMO which was my point about a “possible” reason why ad revenue might also be less.

    Granted Firefox is considerably less used but it’s gaining traction quickly and IMO the ability to block ads is a HUGE driving factor. Firefox is used by 20% of UK users as of this Jan article.,1000000121,39247539,00.htm

    I think that’s also why you see more and more sites offering “premium” services for a small fee to help offset the declining ad sales.

  7. Your correct Amos I did a bit of reading and Filterset.G does indeed filter adsense, not specific to this post or the problem I had as my clicks were unaffected but a very valid point all the same, thanks for pointing that out to me.

    In one way it’s an early lesson to diversify your income streams and not rely on any sole technology or company, on the other hand certain websites can only survive paying their bills & justifying time invested through displaying ads and filters & plugins like this offer a way to take that content unfairly perhaps?

  8. Wow, I just found this site and I’ve already gotten several very useful tips that are immediately applicable. If I’m not mistaken Scott won one of the bigger SEO contests not too long ago - I’d love to hear some lessons learned from that as well. Great job and thanks guys I will be checking back regularly, no doubt about it.

    P.S. Just tried the filter for the first time on a couple high traffic but HORRIBLY paying sites. We’ll see if it gets any better. Thanks again!

  9. As long as you can recoup costs (and/or profit)for running it with ads it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

    As for if it’s fair that’s highly debatable IMO and personally I didn’t ever click on ads before using the ad blocker but now that it isn’t cluttering up my viewable space it makes for more enjoyable surfing.

    I do pay small (i.e. less than $20 yearly) fees for some of the sites I view if the content is worth it though.

  10. Hi Carlito, glad you found us, I did win the V7N SEO comp with a little help from the Hulkster maybe worth a blog post to document it, it was last May 2006 that finished, that was a nervous evening in my household about 8pm as the datacentres had a few variations.

  11. Terrence Walker says:

    Wow, I would have never thought of that. Great post! I was starting to notice a difference in my ad tracking, but couldn’t quite figure out why things weren’t adding up. Maybe this technique can help.

  12. I’d like to think that filtering MFA sites actually works, but no one has explained to me how it could make a difference. After all, Google is determining which ads to show based on their bid. If the low bidding MFA sites appear on your site then doesn’t that mean that there are no other higher bidders?

    I’ve seen such declines with my earnings too. I always bounce back without doing anything.

    Not that I’d expect you to take the revenue hit, but it’d be interesting to see what would happen to your earnings if you cleared out the competitive filter list.

  13. This type of information is something every beginning, midlevel and even advanced Adsense publisher needs to know.

    Thank You Very Much. . .

    Consider this site subscribed. . .


    BTW I’m using wordpress for my site as well with Gregarious? Is that the plugin your using for the Digg badge and other Social Bookmarking?

  14. Enrique says:

    I don’t get it. Perhaps I didn’t read your example well.

    If those ads are showing, then they should be the highest paying ads.

    You said that clicks were ok, so your visitors were clicking on those ads.

    If you filter those ads, then adsense will be showing lower paying ads.

    Any thoughts?

    • Ads displayed on your website are not necessarily the highest paying, your site oculd be targetted directly by low paying advertisers.

      • Scott,

        Site targeted ads must still compete with other ads. The CPM paid for targeted ads must average out to what Google calculates for the CPC ads for them to be displayed. So regardless of the ad type, Google aims to show the one that will generate the most revenue. At least, that’s how I understand the system.

  15. Thats a very good example, l also have seen my incomes from a site is a lowered down from 15$ to 5$ in one month without any reason. So what should l do, you advice to do what ? Using these tools will help me ? oke l will try. thanks.

  16. Great, AdsBlackList really does work, I guess.

    But does it justify the membership fee?

    And is there any free site which does the same?

    Surely, they arent the only one in the field.

  17. Wow - this is a good idea - didnt think it could effect earings.

    Thanks for the tip.

  18. yet another post that shows me how little i know. I will have to look into the competitive ad filter.

  19. Wow, I never get any money from adsense, but I’m definitely going to apply this knowledge and see if I can get that to change. Thanks so much. I love this site.


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