For AdSense approval traffic volume is important, content not that much. Don’t tell me otherwise.

By | September 19, 2020

Most bloggers want to monetize their blogs, eventually. If you search the web for ‘monetizing blogs’, you will get thousands of links to websites sharing best strategies to monetize your site.

Firstly, almost all of them have something to sell to you for sharing their thoughts on monetization. Secondly, they will preach that it is all about the quality of the content, everything else is secondary. Thirdly, the putative authors of those articles or videos will say that follow the best practices of the program you want to join, and your application for monetizing site traffic will sail right through. Actually, my experience shows that nothing can be further from the truth.

One of the most frequently recommended strategies for monetizing site traffic is to use Google AdSense or something similar. Of course, there are other ways to monetize a site, such as affiliate marketing, creating and selling products, accepting donations, etc., but Google AdSense is very popular with bloggers thinking of monetizing their site. Consequently, Google AdSense and/or affiliate marketing are two strategies that are often recommended by most ‘experts‘ on website monetization.

So, what are the requirements or best practices to follow for acceptance to the Google AdSense program. Gleaning from various sites and forums, you will find the following.

Wikipedia lists:

Wikipedia AdSense Income

Wikipedia AdSense income best practices
Screenshot source Wikipedia
OKO Ad Management
OKO AD Management’s 10 AdSense Myths, Busted article on Google AdSense says:

OKO Ad Management AdSense

OKO Ad Management AdSense myth busted
Screenshot source OKO Ad Management UK
Horse's Mouth-Uno

From the Horse’s mouth:

Does your site provide good user experience?

Does your site provide good user experience?
Screenshot source: Google
High quality content and follow Google webmaster guidelines

High quality content and follow Google webmaster guidelines
Screenshot source: Google
Have a privacy policy

Have a privacy policy
Screenshot source: Google
Best practices to avoid policy violations.

Best practices to avoid policy violations.
Screenshot source: Google
Horse's Mouth-Dos
Another one from the horse’s mouth

Three types of sites that have quality revenue.

Three types of sites that have quality revenue.
Screenshot source: Google
A blog site

A blog site: an AdSense favorite. Traffic volume is inconsequential?
Screenshot source: Google
Monetizing with AdSense is a breeze. LOL! Whatevah!

Monetizing with AdSense is a breeze. LOL! Whatevah!
Screenshot source: Google
AdSense loves Forum sites.

AdSense loves Forum sites. Even with low traffic volume?
Screenshot source: Google
Free online tool site

Free online tool site: another AdSense favorite.
Screenshot source: Google
High ranking content

High ranking content
Screenshot source: Google
Keys to success

Keys to success. Only if it were that easy they make it sound.
Screenshot source: Google
Product Experts
One from the experts:

Website eligibility

Website eligibility
Screenshot source: Google
Recommended answer from an expert

Recommended answer from an expert
Screenshot source: Google
Answer from a product expert

Answer from a product expert
Screenshot source: Google
Answer from a platinum product expert

Answer from a platinum product expert
Screenshot source: Google

AdSense: rules and requirements

So, in a nutshell, what all the domain experts are telling us is this—in order to be accepted by Google AdSense, you need to meet these criteria.

Firstly, have one of these three types of sites:

  1. A blog site
  2. A forum site
  3. A free online tool site

Furthermore, all these sites should follow AdSense program policies, Google publisher policies, and Google publisher restrictions.

In addition, you need to ensure that your site:

  1. Provides good user experience
  2. Content is family friendly and doesn’t violate policies
  3. Adheres to Google Webmaster Guidelines
  4. Has a privacy policy

Finally, you need to ensure that:

  1. The content you publish should be high-quality, unique, niche, original, and authoritative
  2. You use AdSense approved language
  3. Your quality of writing is high
  4. You have a well established site with around 40 to 50 posts, with an average of 1000 words each
  5. The site uses SSL.

Traffic volume

Kindly note that almost all of the domain experts say that volume of traffic or the domain age aren’t important for acceptance to the program. However, tucked away on this page is this requirement from Google:

Do you want to learn how to monetize your website with Google AdSense? If so, the most basic of Google AdSense tips are what types of sites make the most money with Google AdSense. The simplest answer is a site that has a lot of content focused on a particular topic with a high volume of traffic. But more specifically, here are the three types of sites you should aim to create if you want to earn AdSense revenue.

Now, Google doesn’t mention what is considered ‘a high volume of traffic‘—1000, 2000, 5000, 10000 visitors/day. Therefore, although there is a sundry list of dos ad don’ts, one requirement not clearly highlighted by anyone, including Google, is the traffic volume. Matter of fact, as I have mentioned already, most putative domain experts opine that traffic volume is not an important requirement, at all.

AdSense: Opaque rules and vague requirements

Thus, after perusing the requirements for acceptance to the program, I thought to myself, “Hey, except for traffic volume, which isn’t important anyway, I meet all the requirements for Google AdSense. So, let me submit my site for review; it should get approved.

So, after completing all formalities, I clicked on the ‘submit‘ button. My first submission didn’t complete the approval process because of staffing issues due to COVID-19. However, the second submission was reviewed, but was rejected with the following message:

Rejection note

Rejection note. Unclear and unspecific much?

Now, read the rejection note closely. It states that, ‘it does not meet our program criteria‘; however, doesn’t state which ones.

Furthermore, it states, ‘If you are able to make changes to meet our program criteria, you may reapply for AdSense in the future.

Wait, what?

You aren’t telling me which program criteria I am not meeting, yet you want me to make changes to my site to meet your program criteria. Seriously?

Finally, it says, ‘Please note that we may not be able to respond to inquiries regarding specific reasons for our decision.

Ok, great! According to Google, I don’t meet the program criteria, but they don’t tell me which program criteria I am not meeting.

However, I can makes changes to my blog to meet the program criteria—I don’t have a clue about which program criteria I don’t meet—and then reapply.

What a great feedback! Kudos to you all for the originality.

Effective Feedback

Now, throughout my corporate career, I was always advised that the best feedback is a feedback that is SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Consequently, I have practiced that mantra all my life. Most importantly, searching Google for ‘rules for giving feedback‘ returns the  following results, the top 5:

9 Rules for Effective Feedback

6 Rules For Effective Feedback

The 12 Simple Rules of Giving Feedback

The Four Rules of Effective Feedback

8 Golden Rules for giving feedback

Can you guess, what all of them list as one of the rules for giving an effective feedback?

Yep, you got that right. It says, ‘Be specific.

So, some of the best sites out there say ‘give specific feedback‘, yet Google’s feedback to content creator is as vague as it can be.

Go figure!

Help from AdSense community forum

The response from Google was not helpful to me in any way. As far as I can tell, Omygdala:

  • Publishes unique content
  • Publishes content that are family friendly and doesn’t violate policies
  • Has high quality of writing
  • Is 4 years old and has 53 blog posts and 8 pages
  • Uses SSL
  • Follows, to the best of my knowledge, AdSense program policies, Google publisher policies, and Google publisher restrictions.
  • Has a privacy policy
  • Has an About me page

Therefore, I sought help from the AdSense community. Next, I posted the following question in the AdSense community forum.

What's wrong with my site?

What’s wrong with Omygdala?

My question generated the following response

Product expert response.

Hey Google! A product expert says he can’t see anything obvious.

So, one of the product experts didn’t find ‘anything obvious that doesn’t meet the program criteria.

The person, however, did make an observation about the low traffic volume of my site. I responded thus:

My response

My response to the product expert.
My response to the product expert

My response to the product expert

Basically, I told him three things:

  • Firstly, my traffic was split 50/50 between organic search and direct.
  • Secondly, based on my research and observations, for Google, traffic volume is the single most important selection criterion to be accepted by AdSense; everything else is secondary—an eyewash.
  • Finally, I brought attention to a few web sites the violate Google’s program and publisher policies, and restrictions, yet AdSense has partnered with them just because they are high volume sites.

The above response of mine elicited the below response from another product expert. This person’s response was the nicest thing I have heard about myself and my blog in a long time.

The person thought that my site’s About Me page was ‘one of the best, if not the best, about-me pages that will ever be seen in AdSense forum.

That’s a wonderful thing to know, eh!

Another product expert responds

Another product expert responds and says I have one of the best, if not the best, About me pages.
Do what your heart tells you and your mind justifies!

Do what your heart tells you and your mind justifies! Yup, that’s what I am gonna do.

Furthermore, the product expert advised me not to change my site or my writing style to get approved, and maybe I should stick to my site’s slogan and look at other means of monetization

So, two product experts did not find anything wrong with my site. Both of them had some nice things to say about my site, yet Google had rejected my request saying that I did not meet the program policies.

Way to go, Google! Go, conquer the world. Wait, you have done that already. Ignore that, then.

Big fish, little fish

According to Wikipedia, Google AdSense serves ads on over 11 million sites. In 2014, it accounted for 22% of Google’s total revenue. So, AdSense is a cash cow for Google, I’d say. And you will not make that kind of money if the sites you partner with doesn’t have enough traffic volume.

So, I do understand that it makes business sense for Google to give primacy to site traffic over everything else while reviewing sites for acceptance to the AdSense program. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that, for AdSense, all that matter is website traffic volume, content be damned. You may have the most original content, but if your traffic volume is abysmal, then you will never get approved for the program.

Therefore, Google needs to be open about it. Why hide behind the excuse of program policies while rejecting sites, when you can just say that you don’t have enough traffic volume for us to make money off you.

Be bold, Google! You own the world anyway. So, you can tell it on our face. We are grown up, we aren’t snowflakes, and we will not be offended if you speak the truth about your business policies.

To be fair though, on Types of Sites Having Quality AdSense Revenue page, Google does mention ‘site that has a lot of content focused on a particular topic with a high volume of traffic‘ make the most money.

However, if you go to the AdSense Home Page, Google makes it look like it is a walk in the park to get accepted to the AdSense program.

I find it hilarious that their slogan is, ‘Creating content takes time, making it profitable shouldn’t.

Seriously? That’s simply not true.

I know, because I have tried. I have quality content and you have rejected my application.

We value your content

We value your content. No, you don’t. You value the traffic.
Screenshot source: Google

By the way, shouldn’t you have a footnote associated with that slogan, which should effectively read, ‘You will need to have a high volume of traffic and should be compliant with AdSense program policies, Google publisher policies, and Google publisher restrictions.‘ That makes the slogan and requirements of the program complete, and leaves no doubts in the mind of the content creators wanting to get an AdSense account. Anything else and you are being disingenuous and dishonest in your marketing campaign.

As I have said, be truthful. We will not take offence. You are too big, anyway, for little people like us, the content developers.

Lessons learned:

Firstly, it is my fault for not paying attention to the requirement that traffic is important. I fell for what all the experts were voicing. I should have paid closer attention to what Google was hinting, but not stating explicitly. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have even thought of applying for AdSense approval.
Secondly, Google should mention very clearly that volume of traffic is important. For e.g., it should say something along these lines that if your site does not get a minimum of 1000 visitors/per day or on average cannot maintain 30,000 visitors/month, please don’t apply for AdSense. Otherwise, it is a colossal waste of time for the person applying and the person/bot reviewing the AdSense application. Matter of fact, while submitting the AdSense application they should, if possible, automatically check the volume of traffic that the site is drawing. If that number falls short of their benchmark, then, they should disallow submission of that AdSense application.
Thirdly, according to the product experts, more than 95% of AdSense applications are rejected. To be in the 5% accepted group, your site should draw thousands and thousands of visitors day in and day out. Chances are that even if you are approved initially, but your site stumbles for some reason and the traffic to your website collapses, you will probably be dropped from the program. Therefore, for the vast majority of the content creators, you are better off not even trying for AdSense if your traffic is inadequate. If you like to blog and are passionate about it, then, just do so without expecting induction to the website traffic monetization hall of fame. Hope that one day you will have enough readers or subscribers who can donate some money for you to run your site. Else, bear the expenses of running your site out of your pocket, if you own your own domain or use, Tumblr, etc., to host your site.
Fourthly, I did not market my site at all. Hence, traffic to my site is pathetic. I know that. However, I refuse to grovel to anybody and beg for backlinks/inbound links/incoming links. I know many people who tried that strategy and felt humiliated. Most of the times, the established sites/bloggers they reached out to did not even respond to their request for backlinking. And sometimes when they did they were rude and obnoxious to the noob content creators. As for me, I love to write; hence, that’s what I’ll do, traffic or no traffic. Monetizing my site traffic, I couldn’t care less about it anymore. Not taking that route anymore with any contextual ad network out there.
Fifthly, what I am writing about is not just restricted to Google AdSense. It’s competitor Media.Net, the second largest contextual ad network in the globe, also has the same opaque rules. They, too, talk about similar requirements—quality, unique, authoritative content, yada, yada, yada. Yet, I got a rejection note from a bot within 10 minutes. The bot probably just checked the traffic to my site and invoked the reject algorithm.
Sixthly, look around you, there are many sites out there that are abusing the AdSense program guidelines, yet they are in the program because they are very profitable for Google. They don’t generate any unique content. Matter of fact, many of them just recycle content. Often times, they just copy and paste. Yet, they draw multiple thousands of visitors every single day. Therefore, their transgressions are forgiven. At most, they get a gentle rap on their knuckles.
Seventhly, many firms suffer from ‘Multiple Identity Disorder‘—one that they project to the world to manage their carefully crafted image and one that’s their real identity. To the outside world, they will be ‘holier than thou‘ while on the inside they are actually ‘unholier than thou‘. Hence, they will say and sell a certain message to the world, but in practice their acts will be something else entirely.
Finally, Google AdSense home page says, ‘We value your content‘. No, you don’t. You value my site’s traffic; content is secondary.

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