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4 Crucial Things to Know to Secure Google AdSense Approval for Your Blog

Updated on September 22, 2017
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Cedric earned a bachelor's degree in communications studies in 1999. His interests include history, traveling, mythology, and video gaming.

After several attempts, I finally received full Google AdSense approval for my personal blog. The following are insights I’ve gained during this long and often exasperating process. As with the case of all such recommendations, I dare not say full AdSense approval would be granted by observing all of my suggestions religiously. However, oversight in any of them is almost assuredly an immediate reason for rejection.

Before All Else, the Important Difference

In recent years, Google implemented different tiers of usage for AdSense account holders. Very simply, there are now two types of AdSense accounts. Hosted and non-hosted.

A hosted AdSense account is the approval given when one applies through AdSense partner websites such as YouTube, HubPages, and Blogger. The criteria for approval are less stringent and approval is quick. Once received, the account holder is able to immediately earn from ads displayed on the partner website he or she applied through.

Importantly, a hosted account only permits revenue earning from one partner website i.e. the one where the application was made. If you have applied via YouTube, you would not be able to earn ads revenue from Blogger sites or HubPages hubs. Needless to say, you would also not be able to display AdSense ads on any other domain.

In stark contrast to this is the non-hosted Google AdSense account, otherwise known as a full or “standard” account. This account permits AdSense ads on your own websites or domains, in addition to all AdSense partner websites. When web articles provide tips for quick AdSense approval, they are invariably referring to this type of account. Finally, a non-hosted Google AdSense account is the one that is far more difficult to secure approval for. It’s also the one with the most potential for significant revenue earning.

This write-up will exclusively refer to the application process for a non-hosted Google AdSense account.

The Basics for Non-Hosted Google AdSense Approval

These have been regurgitated endlessly. They are still important, though, so I’d briefly run through them.

  1. You must apply using a top level domain that you own or have the authority to manage. A top level domain is a www.mydomain.com, etc.
  2. Approval is primarily determined by analysis of your provided domain by Google AdSense staff.
  3. You must have an “about” section detailing who you are and what you write about.
  4. You must have a privacy policy informing viewers of the use of cookies, etc, in your site. Especially important is to highlight the use of the Google DoubleClick cookie.
  5. Your website must have clear navigation and an easy, obvious way to contact you.
  6. Other than a privacy policy, you must have some form of copyright policy. This should explicitly state your observance of international copyright laws, as well as indicate your standard actions should there be a copyright dispute.
  7. For certain countries, your domain must be of a certain age before approval is considered.
  8. Naturally, your site must have a substantial amount of content. Take note that few people can say for sure what that quantity actually is
  9. You must not have any form of adult or contentious content.
  10. Needless to say, you must have a minimum amount of traffic. Your chances are really grim, to say the least, if you are getting two to three visitors a day.
  11. It vastly helps if your SEO enhancements are properly done.

First Crucial Area to Note: Google AdSense is a Business, Not a Service

When apply for Google AdSense approval, you are actually applying to be a business partner.
When apply for Google AdSense approval, you are actually applying to be a business partner.

Google AdSense is an advertising business, not an online service. This seems silly for me to highlight. However, take a look at rejection queries in AdSense’s official forum, and you’d agree way too many people fail to note the difference.

Bluntly put, even if you fulfil all of the above-mentioned criteria, it does not mean you would immediately be granted approval. Even if you fulfil all of the conditions admirably, it still doesn’t mean you would receive fast approval.

To use an offline analogy, fulfilling the criteria of “having good navigation,” “having privacy policies,” etc, is akin to a job applicant merely fulfilling basic application criteria of “two to three years related working experience” and “being a team player.” There are still interviews and suitability assessments to survive. When AdSense approval is denied, it is always the case of a negative assessment subsequently made.

Making this situation more challenging is the fact that Google AdSense is the most successful online advertising entity ever. Their own website proudly states they have millions of successful publishers. Thanks to that, they can afford to be very fussy over who they pick as partners. In fact, I would say they need to, if only to preserve their premier status.

Again, why do I harp on this? Because this is the single most important truth to acknowledge when striving for AdSense approval. Everything else stands on this. Everything else revolves around this. To know why, please read on.

Second Crucial Area to Note: Interesting, Original, Substantial Content

The word "interesting" is a cliche. But it summarises the sort of content Google AdSense is looking for.
The word "interesting" is a cliche. But it summarises the sort of content Google AdSense is looking for.

On the official AdSense forum, I regularly see bloggers and webmasters demanding to know why their applications were rejected when they have tons of “original,” “well-written,” interesting content.

Many of these receive scathing replies. I originally sympathised with these applicants, that is, till I realised what everyone else is trying to put across.

To again use the job application analogy, having interesting, original content is but the bare minimum. It’s a case of fulfilling the conditions leading to a job interview.

It then becomes completely unbeneficial if what you write about have been covered hundreds of times by other websites. For example, tech reviews of popular gadgets. Or movie reviews. Or game features.

To relate to what I mentioned above, remember that Google AdSense is a very successful advertising business. It already has tens of thousands of high-traffic, well-performing sites covering these popular topics. Why would it need another one?

Realistically speaking too, what are the chances of a new website competing against these top global sites? Especially when the new site is repeating the same points albeit in a different style of writing.

Now, I must emphasise I’m NOT saying there are dead topics. I’m not saying you have no chance of an AdSense approval if you are a tech blogger, movie reviewer, etc. What I’m imploring you to do is to individualise your writing perspective.

In other words, the old journalistic trick of changing coverage angle.

You can write about the latest iPhone release. But please do not just list already known strengths and weaknesses. Give a thought to how you can make your coverage stand out among thousands of others. Can you compare the new phone with something else? Or subject it to some form of truly unusual test? Maybe, examine a function that’s often ignored?

If you’re reviewing video games, please do more than just sharing your opinions about the game. Frankly, unless you’re a celebrity player, how many readers would care? Instead, try angles like relating the game to something else. Or examining other aspects of it. Perhaps you have some sort of unique playing experience that you and only you could derive from the game.

The gist of it, do whatever you must to stand out from other applicants. While it still wouldn’t guarantee AdSense approval, know that your chances are at least enhanced.

Third Crucial Area to Note: Copyright

Copyright infringements can take down your website within a day. If there are such threats on your site, why would anyone want you as a partner?
Copyright infringements can take down your website within a day. If there are such threats on your site, why would anyone want you as a partner?

This is a dicey area. Made worse by Google being painfully minimalistic when mentioning it in its policies and guidelines.

Made even worse by the fact that the Internet is flooded with all sorts of conflicting information and examples.

I’m no copyright expert, but I can assure you that even a lawyer wouldn’t be able to give you the complete picture because many situations are a matter of who can debate better. (I’ve encountered such situations in my full-time job) Thus, I can only provide the following recommendations. All revolve around avoiding copyright infringements like the plague.

  1. Never, ever, use images directly downloaded from Google, Bing or Yahoo image searches. The default is that you do not have the permission to use any.
  2. Even if you have received explicit permission, you should still attribute ownership and be ready to remove the material. (The latter should be clearly mentioned in your copyright policy)
  3. If an image requires you to buy it before usage, do so or forgo it. Do not use the comp or preview version.
  4. All screenshots, trailers, excerpts of games, movies, performances, etc, belong to their respective content creators. Most content creators tolerate the use of such material in reviews and write-ups because they practice a policy of let’s-not-antagonise audiences-and-fans. That said, they still have the legal right to demand for their materials to be removed from your website. As precautions, be prepared to do so and always attribute ownership clearly. Do not foolishly rely on examples of other people getting away with it too, always assume that you wouldn’t. In short, do not ever give Google AdSense a reason to frown on your content.
  5. Many people cite “Fair Use” to defend themselves when debating copyright. With all due respect, I think few of us can actually define what Fair Use is in the legal world. Strictly speaking, Fair Use involves the situations of using copyrighted materials for “commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, and scholarship.” All these become incredibly murky when in the midst of academic commenting, you’re making money from ads. Again, to play it safe, attribute proper ownership. Make it clear as well that you are always willing to remove all such materials if requested.
  6. Naturally, you are really going to worry Google AdSense if every page of your site is using some sort of copyrighted material standing on the Fair Use doctrine. Avoid that.
  7. Do not embed images hosted on other websites. Do not embed YouTube, Vimeo videos too. All other (mentioned) reasons aside, it’s a sloppy practice. What happens if the source goes offline without you knowing?
  8. Be careful with plagiarism of words. Follow the journalistic practice of using inverted commas when direct quoting, and keep such quotations at a minimum. Rephrasing a-swanky-hotel into a-hotel-that-feels-swanky is also still plagiarism. Such word repositioning is nowhere near being original content.

To summarise, Google AdSense is a large, profitable business working with many major brands. The last thing it wants is its clients complaining about publishers being copyright threats. To save itself the frustration, Google AdSense wouldn’t even discuss the matter with you. It would just ignore you entirely.

Fourth Crucial Area to Note: The Nature of Traffic

In the world of online traffic, nothing beats that coming from a simple search engine query.
In the world of online traffic, nothing beats that coming from a simple search engine query.

There are various online debates involving this. I’m firmly of the belief that search engine traffic is a must for Google AdSense approval.

Consistent, high quality, search engine traffic.

Not to say other forms of traffic are unimportant. However, the priority is always search engine traffic.

Some would argue against this. A common challenge is the question of what’s so wrong with social media traffic? Wouldn’t the traffic brought in by an influencer posting on his or her Facebook account promise great conversion?

Yet, let’s be brutally honest. How many applicants are influencers when applying for AdSense approval?

There’s also the fact that social media traffic is almost inevitably in the form of temporary spikes. Within days it dwindles. The moment the applicant stops promoting actively on social media channels, overall traffic begins to drop too.

To put it in another way, AdSense values traffic that is natural, organic, and without the need for the applicant to constantly manage some form of promotion. SEO is the foremost method to achieving this. This is the actual reason why strong SEO is paramount for any site applying for Google AdSense approval.

In addition, it greatly helps if your search engine traffic is primarily tier one in nature. Tiers are used to differentiate the geographical origins of online traffic, with tier one traffic typically being from the US, UK, and Canada. Advertisers pay most for tier one traffic. Having plenty of tier one traffic thus translates to a simple case of you being more profitable. More attractive too for Google to grant you a non-hosted AdSense account approval.

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