ScribblingGeek earned a bachelor's degree in communication studies in 1999. His interests include history, traveling, and mythology.
In 2018, I successfully obtained Google AdSense approval for my blog after two tries. The following are insights I’ve gained during the long and often exasperating process. As with the case of all such recommendations, I dare not say full full approval is assured as long as you observe all my recommendations and guidelines. However, oversight in any of these areas is almost assuredly an immediate reason for rejection.
Before All Else, the Important Difference Between a Hosted and Non-hosted Adsense Account
In recent years, Google implemented different tiers of approval for AdSense account holders. Very simply, there are now two types of accounts: Hosted and non-hosted.
Hosted AdSense Account
A hosted AdSense account is the approval given when one applies through partner websites such as YouTube and Blogger. The criteria for approval are less stringent and approval is quick. Once received, the account holder is also 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. Thus, if you have applied via YouTube, you would not be able to earn ads revenue from Blogger sites. Needless to say, you would also not be able to display AdSense ads on any other domain.
Non-Hosted AdSense Account
In stark contrast to the hosted account is the non-hosted Google AdSense account, informally known as a full or “standard” account.
This account permits AdSense ads on your own websites or domains, in addition to all partner websites. When web articles provide suggestions on how to get AdSense approval, or how to optimize your website for monetization, they are invariably referring to this type of account.
Lastly, a non-hosted account is the one that is far more difficult to secure approval for. It’s also the one with the most potential for significant online revenue earning.
This write-up will exclusively refer to the application process for a non-hosted account.
13 Things to Know and Do Before Applying for Non-hosted Google Adsense Account Approval
These have been endlessly regurgitated. They are still important, though, so I’d briefly run through them.
- 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.
- Approval is based on analysis of your provided domain. The task is performed by Google AdSense staff.
- You must have an “about” section detailing who you are and what you write about.
- Your website must have clear navigation and an easy, obvious way to contact you.
- For certain countries, your domain must be of a certain age before application is even possible.
- Naturally, your site must have a substantial amount of content. Take note that few people can say for sure what that quantity should is.
- You must not have any form of adult or contentious content.
- Needless to say, you must have a minimum amount of daily traffic. Your chances are really grim, to say the least, if you are getting two to three visitors a day.
- It vastly helps if your SEO enhancements are properly done. In recent years, a mobile-friendly and fast site helps too. You should also be using a reliable, fast, and secure web host.
- Google is exceptionally sensitive about certain types of content. For example, YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) content. If you write for such genres, ensure you thoroughly research and understand Google’s increasingly strict standards for such articles.
- High E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) of your domain would naturally boost your chances of approval.
1. First Crucial Area to Note: Google AdSense is a Business, Not a Service
Yes, AdSense is an advertising business, not an online service. This might seem silly of me to highlight. However, take a look at rejection queries in AdSense’s official forum, and you’d soon agree that way too many people fail to note the difference.
Bluntly put, Google is under no obligation, at all, to grant you approval even if you fulfill all of the above-mentioned criteria. Even if you fulfill very condition admirably, it still doesn’t mean you would receive fast approval. Everything hinges on whether Google wants to have you as an advertising partner.
Making this situation more challenging is the fact that Google AdSense is the most successful online advertising entity ever. The AdSense 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, they have to, if only to preserve their premier status.
Again, why do I highlight this? Because this is the single most important and painful truth to acknowledge when applying for approval. Everything else stands on this. To know why, please read on.
2. Second Crucial Area to Note: Interesting, Original, Substantial Content
On the official 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.
These complaints receive scathing replies, if any response at all. I originally sympathized with these applicants. Then I understood what everyone else is trying to put across.
To use the job application analogy again, having interesting and original content is but the bare minimum. It’s again a case of only fulfilling the minimum conditions leading to a job interview. There is still the actual interview to survive.
You might have hundreds of properly written articles on your blog. However, if your articles do no more than regurgitate content already covered by thousands of other blogs, your chances of getting Google AdSense approval are practically nil.
To further relate to what I mentioned in (1), remember that you are negotiating with a very successful online advertising business. It already has tens of thousands of high-traffic, well-performing sites covering popular topics. Why would it need another one? Realistically speaking, 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?
Not to mention, search engine optimization is at its toughest for such topics. Especially for new sites.
But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying popular topics are dead topics and unsuitable for monetization. I’m also not saying you have no chance of securing AdSense approval if you write for a competitive niche. What I’m imploring you to do is to individualize your writing perspective.
In other words, the old journalistic trick of changing coverage angle.
You can write about the latest iPhone release. You can also blog about the latest blockbuster movies. However, please do not merely list or repeat already known strengths and weaknesses. Do not use superficial language like “nice,” or “great” or “okay” too.
Give lots of thought to how you can make your coverage stand out among tens of thousands of others. Perhaps you can compare the new phone with something else? Or subject it to some truly unusual test? Maybe, examine a function that’s often ignored?
If you’re reviewing video games, please do more than just share 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 less-known 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 the crowd. While it still wouldn’t guarantee immediate or fast Google AdSense approval, know that your chances are at least improved.
3. Third Crucial Area to Note: Copyright
This is a dicey area. Made worse by Google being painfully minimalistic about copyright requirements 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 many such situations in my day job) Thus, I can only provide the following recommendations. All involve avoiding copyright infringements like the plague.
How to Avoid Copyright Infringements When Writing Online
- Never, ever, use images directly downloaded from Google, Bing, or Yahoo image searches. The international legal default is that you do not have the permission to use any.
- 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)
- If an image requires you to buy it before usage, do so or forgo it. Do not use the comp or preview version i.e. the low resolution version with watermarks.
- All screenshots, trailers, and excerpts of games, movies, and 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-antagonize-audiences-and-fans. That said, they still have the legal right to demand for their materials to be removed from your website, should they want to. As a precaution, be prepared to do so and always attribute ownership clearly.
- Never rely on examples of other people getting away with copyright infringements to defend yourself. That’s just plain stupid. Always assume that you wouldn’t be as lucky.
- Many people cite “Fair Use” to defend themselves when debating copyright. With all due respect, I think few of us can actually legally define what Fair Use is. Formally speaking, the term strictly involves situations of using copyrighted materials for “commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, and scholarship.” All these words become incredibly murky when in the midst of academic commenting, you’re making money from ads. Again, play it safe by attributing proper ownership. Make it clear too that you are always willing to remove all such materials if requested.
- 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.
- 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? You'd have a flood of broken links.
- Be careful with plagiarism of words. Follow the journalistic practice of using inverted commas when direct quoting, and keep such quotations at a minimum. Know too that rephrasing a-swanky-hotel into a-hotel-that-feels-swanky is also still plagiarism. Such word repositioning is nowhere near being original content.
- Lastly, know that copyright owners can request your webhost to intervene should you ignore their takedown requests. Worse, they could request Google itself to delist you from search engine results. The latter, if approved, could result in you losing your account.
To summarize, Google AdSense is a large, profitable business working with many major brands. The last thing it wants is its clients complaining about smaller publishers being copyright threats. To save itself the frustration, they wouldn’t even discuss the matter with you. They would just ignore your application.
4. Fourth Crucial Area to Note: You Must Have Substantial Organic Traffic I.E. SEO Traffic
There are various online debates involving this. In short, I’m firmly of the belief that search engine traffic is a must for quick Google AdSense approval.
Consistent, high quality, search engine traffic. In other words, organic traffic brought to you by proper search engine optimization methods.
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 traffic brought in by an influencer posting on his or her Facebook account promise great conversion?
The answer is yes. Yet, let’s be brutally honest. How many applicants are influencers when applying for 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 on social media channels, overall traffic begins the plunge.
To put it in another way, Google AdSense values traffic that is natural, organic, and without the need for the applicant to constantly manage some sort of promotion. It values organic traffic that would grow by itself over time too. In turn, SEO is the foremost method to achieving such organic traffic. This is the actual reason why significant SEO traffic is paramount for any site applying for 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.
With advertisers paying the most for tier one traffic, having plenty of it thus translates to a simple case of you being more profitable. While I wouldn’t say this ironclads your application, it definitely increases the likelihood of success. Subsequently, it also helps to maximize earnings after you receive approval.
Good luck in your application! Remember too that one rejection is no reason to despair. Always improve and try again!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Scribbling Geek
Scribbling Geek (author) from Singapore on February 07, 2019:
Hope it's of help to you.
Adeniyi Faith on February 07, 2019:
Thanks for this useful post of yours.
Scribbling Geek (author) from Singapore on March 04, 2018:
Hi Elyn. Glad to be of help!
Elyn MacInnis from Shanghai, China on March 02, 2018:
Thanks so much! This is just the information I was looking for!