Why Google Adsense Is A Bad Primary Source Of Revenue

I just recently had my Google Adsense account disabled after having it been active for over eight long years.

The reason?

Google sent me one of those canned auto emails below:

–>

Hello,

After reviewing our records, we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we’ve found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google’s share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.

Please understand that we need to take such steps to maintain the effectiveness of Google’s advertising system, particularly the advertiser-publisher relationship. We understand the inconvenience that this may cause you, and we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

If you have any questions or concerns about the actions we’ve taken, how you can appeal this decision, or invalid activity in general, you can find more information by visiting
http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

–>

What do they mean by my account “poses” a risk of invalid activity?  I think basically it means that I have not violated anything, but my account poses some sort of risk of generating bogus clicks.  The email doesn’t even tell me which of the dozens of sites I have running Adsense ads is causing the risk.  But Google is known for not telling much of anything when they ban advertisers and publishers.

At first when I saw this email, I was a bit annoyed.  But after a few minutes I just chuckled because I couldn’t believe how badly Google treats their advertisers, publishers and customers.  It could be very easy for one of my competitors to come to one of my web sites and generate bogus clicks on the Adsense ads.  Would that be my fault?

Since my Google Adsense commissions generated about 0.000001% of my yearly revenues, it really doesn’t mean anything to my overall online business.

Now, if you are using Google Adsense as your primary source of online revenue, then you better think twice about switching over to a better revenue model.

With a business model revolving around Google Adsense, you have absolutely no control.  They can literally shut you down overnight whether you are making $1 or $100,000 a year in Adsense commissions.

I have heard horror stories of people having their Adsense account shut down and losing tens of thousands of dollars in commissions (Google doesn’t bother sending you any past commissions).

Over my long Internet marketing career, I learned that the best way to build a successful online business is around a model that gives you a lot of control.

I love paid traffic because it is controllable and predictable.

I create my and sell my own products because I control the front-end and the entire back-end.

I have built dozens of email lists in various markets because I want to have control over my prospects and my customers.

You can’t have any of that if your business model revolves around another company or individual that can close you down.

My advice:

1. Buy targeted traffic

2. Build an email list (if anyone tells you that email is dead, get off their list!)

3. Sell your own products (that add value) to your email list.

Build a business around this business model and I guarantee you will be successful.

Does it require a lot of work?

Yes!  There are no push button solutions to building a long sustainable business.  Just dedication, persistence, motivation and good old fashion hard work.

I think having my Adsense account may be a blessing.  It will allow me to work on other parts of my business that are more rewarding and profitable.

If you are currently making money with Google Adsense, you should continue to work on it – but only as a supplimental source of revenue (i.e. filling in excess ad inventory).

You never know when you might get the same email.

Feel free to share your own Adsense story.

Cheers

Gauher Chaudhry

112 comments

  1. Tom

    I feel you and I envy you because you are independent. I am a SEO guy and every single website I built from 2011-04 got hit just after starting to make money. They were quality websites and I put my every brain cell into them. It was becoming harder and harder to start another projected and be motivated…and determined after getting slapped and now my confidence is completely ruined and I am so lost.

  2. Hi Tom, I love free traffic, but once again you are at the mercy of the search engines. Once they change a rule, all your sites lose their ranking and back to square one.

  3. That’s horrible!… and yet too funny. A client of mine got (word for word) the exact same email when he tried to apply google ads to his Coupon site.

  4. Ed

    You can get banned from sites that sell traffic as well (also Google) – what sources of paid traffic do feel are best???

  5. Bill

    What is your take on paid traffic via google adwords?

    I love paid traffic and adwords used to be my favourite source of paid traffic until I got banned by google 3 times in a row.

    I am now doing SEO and faced the same issues as Tom.

  6. I totally agree with you Gauher.

    In fact, I’d even take it a step further and say that even if you are using paid traffic, you need to build that email list. Otherwise you’re equally at the mercy of getting shut down by your traffic source, even if you’re paying them!

    Anyone doing any sort of affiliate/online marketing without building an email list is on a long endless goose chase, constantly hunting down campaigns and starting from scratch.

    Yes, you don’t have a J-O-B, and yes there is amazing potential, but you’re still slaving away endlessly. That’s “quick hit cash”, not a sustainable business.

    Before I start on any campaign now, I always ask myself “what can I do to make sure this income comes in as long as possible?” and “if I’m at google’s mercy (for example), what can I do to minimize the impact if they give me the boot”. If I don’t like my answers/solutions, I either work on them, or find a new campaign/market.

  7. Hell Yeah!…

    “2. Build an email list (if anyone tells you that email is dead, get off their list!)” That’s what I’m talkin about. Google throws it’s weight around like it owns the Internet, killing off the same businesses that made it what it is in the first place.

    I don’t rely on anything from them at all…Anything Google sends me in the way of traffic is What I consider extra…

    Thanks Gauher

  8. Bill: Do what I do. Get remote servers all over the USA with different IP address and open up new adwords accounts with a new identity (relative?) and new credit card. It has been working like a charm for me for years now.

  9. Hi

    Got this link in my email as a subscriber. Anyways, yeah it’s always BAD when we depend on adsense solely as our means of monetizing our websites. I’ve started 2 blogs in the past month, but I only have adsense currently as a monetization method. Earned a few bucks here n there, but it’s only temporarily while i get my blogs more establised.

    You’re quite lucky to even have had an adsense account for 8 years! Damn …..lol. My blog is based on blackberry cellphone repairs and other cellphone news. If I have my adsense as long as you it’d be great 🙂

    Peace and I’m out!

  10. Guess what I got this email from adwords 2 years ago and I had just made $1100 in 1 day then the next day adwords set me a similar email. To hell with them just move on they will crash some day.

  11. Kip

    That is too funny. I just got the same email from G today. I had about the same reaction. Oh well now I won’t see that 100 dollar check each month.

    With the way that g treats ther customers on the Adsense side and on the Adwords side I don’t see how they stay in business but I don’t really care either.

  12. DJ

    I too got the same email from Google Adsense over a year ago. I was crushed. I had about $6,000 in my account that Google STOLE from me. However, to my surprise they did pay for the prior month which I thought they would keep.

    I think what happened is that I was paying for traffic to some of my sites with Adsense ads on it. The traffic was from Yahoo Content which I believe was sending a lot of garbage traffic. Never ever buy traffic from Yahoo Content, its complete garbage.

    Anyway, it really hurt having my Adsense account disabled, however, I did find a way around it and got another account. But its always in the back of my mind that Google can disable that account at any time for no reason. I’ve had my Adwords account disabled for about 1 week because Google claimed someone hacked into my Adwords account of which I found no evidence of. I’ve had campaigns running for month on Adwords (making me money), then all of a sudden you get a B*TCH SLAP and your campaign is dead.

    I even had 1 of my websites which was making about $1,000 per month from Adsense at the time removed from Google Search Results. I was so pissed! I have no clue as to the reason. But after requesting a re-inclusion the site re-appeared after about 3 weeks but traffic was way down. It took months to somewhat come back.

    You can never rely on Google. They are unpredictable and don’t care about the small guy. They are constantly changing “stuff” which irritates me. Forget getting someone on the phone or by email to help you! Google and even Facebook are moving towards working with only the BIG bands in my opinion.

  13. The Dreaded Google Nazis ! and Facebook isn’t much better. The way I see it you either pay someone to constantly do your SEO or just pay for advertising. Take your pick.

  14. Gauher, read my latest post here: http://www.affhelper.com/googles-hypocrisy-exposed/

    I try to play by the rules as much as possible, but sometimes you need to market you content aggressively, especially in today’s economy. I post nothing but quality content, but I still managed to get a penalty.

    After I got their little message I came to conclusion that getting your competition penalized is easier than I thought.

    I hope I can resolve this issue with them, but I wasn’t going to sit quiet and not say anything, so here is my Round 1 with Google lol

  15. Google!!!! The day will come (as in all business industries) when they will be begging those of us who have websites to park their advertising on because one day, they will meet their match and their search engine monopoly will have been outdone. Just like retail owners are tripping over everyone backwards now with customer service. Google will be outdone by the same technology they use themselves eventually – not soon enough though.

    Your 3 step method is really as complicated as it can get. Build the email funnel, send the traffic and market your own proven product. No one can back a product better than the developer.

    Sounds all good to me.

    Take care Gauher

  16. Hi Pawel, GREAT POST. Somebody had sent me an email a few minutes after I started directing peopel to this post about your blog post. I have retweeted your blog post to make peopel aware about Google’s shenanigans. It is a no-win situation with those guys whther you are an advertiser or a publisher.

  17. Build your lists guys because the traffic you have today can be lost tomorrow. Same for google accounts.

    If you want free traffic different then SEO, then I suggest you traffic from the social sites. It has lower conversions usually, but not always.
    Even if you manage to get free traffic from no matter what source (organic, social, backlinks from other sites…), send it to your squeeze pages and that should save you lot’s of nerves and make your business more stable and long term.

    There is one thing that you must have on mind. Never relay on only one traffic source and only one source of income and you are pretty much safe 🙂

  18. Kurt

    Haven’t been hammered by Adsense yet, but I did get the Adwords boot. And just FYI, simply inactivating or “deleting” a campaign that they have issue with will get you banned after a period of time. The URLS and keywords in campaigns stay in your account even if you delete them.
    I discussed the situation with a google rep to no avail, even though I inactivated after the first notice and deleted the campaign after that, they could care less.

    With that said, like Tom, I’ve spent countless hours doing the SEO and linkbuilding thing, only to see my traffic and profits disappear overnight.

    I have tried MSN, Facebook, and some other second and third tier PPC but none of them converted for me.

    It truly is disheartening to have everything you work so hard and so long for be worthless overnight.

    I have gotten to the point more than once that I shut off multiple hosting accounts and responder services, lists and all, because I was so frustrated. It feels really good to occasionally unsubscribe from the “Gurus” lists, (Except for Gauher) and delete all the emails in my inbox just to start over.

    Thanks man for being real….

  19. True, I am really interested in the outcome of their anti-trust case. Google tries to enter every profitable market and they are doing a lot of damage in the process. Thanks for retweeting by the way.

  20. Rohan

    The same thing happened to me a few weeks ago Gauher, I think I sent you an email expressing my strong dislike towards google.
    The good news is that we are now forced to become BETTER at marketing online.

  21. Bwahahahaha!

    Well have you done anything “else” recently where you mentioned a google product? They took my adsense account back…in 2008 I think. You might think it was the arbitrage-nope. At the time I was using the beautiful and wonderful, and now quite dead, GoClick for some nice penny traffic. They sent me an email saying THAT was ok. But the DID close me down a few months later, 24 hours after I wrote a long detailed proof (with screenshots) that showed how bad their content matching was….well that was it. Account closed.

    They took my adwords account in the big sweep of 2009, so I bought your ppv course. But I was already doing pretty well with this thing called “mobile” so decided to stay on that path instead. But I was still pretty mad so I wrote a pretty confrontational piece about the adwords banning-and my site went from PR3 to PR2 within the week. hahahhahahaha

    Bottom line; Shoemoney is correct on this point, “don’t make google look stupid.” I would add that, that can manifest in many ways; writing bad things about them (with valid points and proofs) like I ddi, or doing LAZY and/or careless arbitrage, sloppy and/or MFA sites full of poor content or PLR, running adwords campaigns for “questionable” products or on sites that don’t look real businesses.

    But all’s well that ends well; like you, it was a blessing in disguise-I found my true calling elsewhere. I’m now about…1000 days in a row profitable in mobile (that’s 3 yrs right?) AND I make money with multiple adsense and adwords accounts since I cracked that puzzle about a year ago.

    If you get a chance, do a search for the Microsoft guy who just posted his “why I quit working for google” article this week.

  22. Hey Gauher:

    I truly believe in Karma … what goes around, comes around.

    One of these days, all of the games that G, (and I don`t mean God, although they act like they are), is playing with their paying clients will come back and bite them in the a**.

    Wayne

  23. This is one big reason I hesitate to even get started with Adsense sites. I wish there was a good alternative to Adsense that wasn’t so down on the small guy trying to make it. I don’t want to do a bunch of Adsense sites then get banned like you and countless others have. I don’t have a backup plan either. I am a newbie so not up there enough to know how to create my own product. Guess I better leave Adsense alone and learn something more reliable, lol.

  24. art

    Hi Gauther:
    Your strategy sounds great. How do you implement it? Do you use your name and personally create your products or do you have others create your products and use a pen name? Are you creating ebooks and video courses? Using optin pages with a special report or sales letter? Art

  25. Hey Big G!
    Sorry about your ban bro.
    But thanks for sharing.

    When I was banned, I thought my LIFE was over. What gave me hope was when you said in your webinar that even Google account for less than 10% of your whole traffic.

    That was when I knew that there is LIGHT indeed at the end of the tunnel .

    Once again, sorry about the ban.

  26. Hi Gauher,

    What goes around comes around. The day, when
    will be here soon when the forces in the market place
    will take care of Google. It is already happening.

    I have always wondered, what the two founders that
    started Google as a small business, would have
    done, and thought, if some company had shut them down,
    without any warning or notice, when they were starting out,
    and then not paying them for the service provided.

    I I could meet these guys, this will be my first question
    to them.

  27. Julie

    Not surprised, seems they can shut down any google account
    for any reason.

    I had my google adwords account shut down for something to do
    with my affilaite links. The crazy part is the few campagnes I
    had were disabled for about a year. NO ADS SHOWING ANYWHERE

    AND… They took almost 200.00 that I had in my account. I questioned
    them about it a few times and ofcourse they did not give any response
    about why the funds were missing from my account.

    Sorry this happened to you Gauher, at least your still in
    good spirits after loosing your Adsense account.
    Glad it didn’t hurt you much.

    BTW..Thanks for the great post.

  28. Sorry to hear about what happened to your account Gauher. You are right. I’m using Adsense as well but it’s not my primary source of income. Like you said, it’s just too flaky. They can take away your account at any time for the slightest issue. Never depended on Adsense for primary income and never will.

    Good advice.

  29. Aghper Jan

    Hi Gauher,

    you mentioned “3. Sell your own products (that add value) to your email list.”
    can you elaborate a bit on this point?

    thank you
    Ahper

  30. If you don’t have money for PPC, learn SEO. It’s another of those activities that keeps on giving.

    Ideally have multiple streams of traffic. That way, if one dries up, the others keep giving.

  31. i am thinking will it be same as publishing kindle, as there is nothing i can control, i have no right, i can be shut down any times

  32. Anders

    Yes, we know it. G-Sucks!

    I am using gmail and also starting to regret that after the new “improved privacy”

    Many of my google searches have changed modified to my previous searches.

    Not good.

    I want a neutral search- hot dang it:-)

    Wasted 6 weeks on my life on SEO. I can´t believe some people still do regular seo.

    Mobile seo maybe, but it will soon be saturated cos it pretty easy-right now.

    But you can still be deindexed anytime

    Paid traffic rules, when you know what you are doing. PPV, PPC, Banner Advertising, Retargeting.

    And no: Email ain´t dead. Just treat your list with respect and don´t spam people.

    Peace & happy thoughts 😉

  33. Danny Barsa

    Paid traffic to an adsense website is a nono, as per their terms and conditions (they consider it arbitrage, and it is forbidden). I suppose Gauher’s account was in his name, and some human reviewer probably connected him being a paid traffic guy with his adsense account. That would be their “perceived risk” towards Gauher. That is enough for them. It reminds me of some similar horror stories regarding paypal accounts and their deffinition of “too much risk”.

  34. Just had the same thing happen to me two days ago. I could not believe it! Oh well, there are so many other ways to make money online. I hope Google go broke I really do. It’ll teach them a lesson not to treat their customers with disrespect.
    Grant

  35. Thanks for the important and timely information about Adsense. I received quite a few warnings from Google in regards to violation of terms and conditions. I guess it is better to be safe than sorry, find alternative contextual ads, there are plenty of them out there.

  36. Sam

    When flood erodes Oak/Mahogany trees other little trees should take caution.
    Let Google continue to ban and PANDA around, there is temptation for them to bite the hands that are feeding them.
    When a tree grows in the forest and suppress or dominate other trees from growing around it when it is going to fall there won’t be any other trees around to support its fall, then it will fall and chatter into pieces.

  37. Hi Gauher,
    Thanks for the advice, I was about to build my own port-folio of adsense sites after spending a few quid ($) on around seven adsense courses ranging from $7 WSO’s to full blown $497 so far!
    I take your advice seriously and that’s why I’ve been on your list all these years.

  38. Well I got the same emails as pawal. I also got some that said simply “death Rte webmaster this site contravene our terms.”

    NO saying try to resubmit it or anything.

    So I have now had over 50 sites details indexed and another 10 had a penalty. The most aannoying thing is that some had been ranking no 1 for years and have been replaced by blatent affiliate sites with worse content. My content was prifessionally written in some cases by doctors.

    So i am now $5k down per month by a company that makes 2.7 billion in advertising. And have just reolaced one affiliate site for a worse one.

    So my family are going a little hubgry until i built that income bacj up.

    So whats the best list building course?

    Sorry about the typos this box is not mobile friendly

  39. Bernie

    It’s sad, but it does not surprise me. Google has two sets of rules. One for large branded advertisers, and another for affiliates. As stated in the blog, the only way to beat Google is to develop your own products. Yes, SEO is slow and hard to implement without knowing what keywords convert for your product. I would start a small PPC campaign on MSN/Yahoo to test what keywords convert. Then I would go the SEO route via article marketing. Slow but steady.

  40. Hi Gauher

    welcome in the club 😉

    I had my adsense account terminated

    They didn t bother to tell me why.
    ( But I knew it anyway .. 😉 )

    I used to have 500 Euro per month in adsense.
    So no big deal.

    My strategy on that was simply to accept it.
    I never complaint or reacted to that.

    After a while ( may be 2 years ) I applied for an adsense account.
    Using my real data.

    Bingo – I got a new account.

    Now I have about 5 Euro a month.
    Who cares?

    I guess they lost 2000 $ in revenue / month
    but they can afford it obviously.

    Don t be evil
    but don t be like google either.

    Frank
    -germany

    http://OfferMonitor.com

  41. Jan

    Hi Gauher

    I think there may have been an adsense slap. I got the dreaded email too. 2 days ago, and I’ve read about several others, all around the same time…

    Not good…but IM is always changing. PAid traffic coming closer and closer 🙂

  42. Hey Gauher,

    its indeed sorry that your adsense account was banned.. but screw Google… i decided i want nothing to do with google anymore when my adwords account was banned 2 years ago..

    and indeed.. my business thrive and got better and stable without google adwords..

    thanks for sharing your story…

  43. Hi Gauher,

    Sorry for the ban. Nothing new with Google though. This has happened in the past and will continue to happen in future. I hear, at present, Bing is emerging out to be a good traffic source and have recently come across quite a few posts, which suggest that how Bing is technically better poised than Google to dethrone the latter.

    I really have no clue about the truths but people do seem to be concerned about Google’s attitude towards their associates, at the moment .

  44. So that’s it.Google sent the same message to me 3 years ago.I really think Google is becoming a devil to us marketers.They want us out and goes very far including lying to get what they want.

    You know : Money is power and we are only ants in their eyes

  45. I received a similar email few months ago. In my opinion I didn’t do anything wrong, so I called them in Ireland to ask what did I do wrong. I found out that I got banned because one of my sites was hacked, and at the same time I was sending traffic to few other sites that were hosted on the same server. So the reason why my account got frozen was the low quality website. I actually got my account back by cleaning the server ASAP. I was really surprised to get my account back 🙂

    Anyhow, I totally agree not to rely on AdWords. I rather build email lists just like you mentioned.

  46. About Adsense,

    I am doing business on the internet since 1998, and am doing adsense since the day it openend, and you know what? Today my adsense income is 10 times lower than 10 years ago, and the sites I created then didn’t change much. Google changed, and is focusing on getting there own properties to rank high ( Google maps, Google news, Google profiles, etc..) a,d eve, if your sites has good content they try to get it lower in the serps. Even today I see another trend, they try to puch everyone into the Google + asking ME in my adsense panel to add Google + codes into my sites. But why would I bother when I read that people ony go there for three minutes when they login. It just means nobody cares about it, everyone goes today to Facebook and twitter and Pinterest. Just like Microsoft lost the game by thinking the Internet was only a temporary trend, Google lost the game by thinking nobody would go social, and I think it is to late for them to reverse the trend, even if today everyone still use there search engine, but in my eyes if eg. Facebook creates a performing search engine, and I am sure they are working on it, it can best be that in a few years Google goes same direction as Altavista, AOL or Yahoo. For me at the moment (and this can change fast) my main source of traffic and income is Youtube (also owned by Google), I just post nice interviews and below the product link going to the clickbank or shareasale product. IF it is a product with a good conversion it works, but I agree that I should better send them to a squeeze page OR and this is the future ( and what I will implement at this moment) to a Facebook app that also collects the emails in the database.

  47. *Definitely* don’t put all of your eggs in *any* of the Google baskets. Any revenue generated by any of Google’s products should be supplemental to your primary bread and butter income source(s).

    Even though it is nowhere near as big as Adsense (at least not yet), give media.net a try instead of (or in addition to) it. Good luck, fellow IMers. Be persistent and don’t give up!

  48. Wilkie

    I think Gauher is right. If google wants to bring out a law and then punish you for it later, its their call and not yours so get over it.

  49. Aghper: Point three means to create a product targeted towards your list (i.e. Forex trading if you have a Forex list) and sell it to them. Make sure it is of high quality and you will have a steady stream of repeat customers for future products.

    Rick E: You should continue to build yoru portfolio of sites, but have your primary source of revenue unrelated to Adsense. Maybe a Clickbank ebook or CPA offer.

    Art: Have your product outsourced (i.e. Elanec) and then use a pen name for that niche.

    All dynasties come to an end. Google’s dominence will eventually dwindle down.

  50. sam

    Bill: Do what I do. Get remote servers all over the USA with different IP address and open up new adwords accounts with a new identity (relative?) and new credit card. It has been working like a charm for me for years now.

    Which VCC do you use? is it reloadable?

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