Google Adsense Penalty - How it Cut My Blog Traffic Nearly in Half

Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of Google. This post is by no means a Google bashing or rant about their products and services. I use a lot of the Google products for some very productive work - including Blogger which I do promote significantly. Additionally, I know some of the Google employees and have visited their campus. I believe Google is one of the most exciting places to work in America today.

However, the background to this post is that I felt that there might be some benefit to getting some small advertising revenue utilizing Google Adsense with this blog. Considering my traffic was running nearly 1000 visits a day this seemed like a good option based on the content and history of this blog.

I've used Adsense for quite a few years now in my earlier web work and have found it to be beneficial for high volume web pages. At one point some years ago I was able to make $10-$50 a day in revenue - that was a very unique case due to a popular surge online for a specific topic. In this case I was expecting about $1 a day since advertising tied to blogging is not a very competitive space. Ads such as hosting centers or blogger tools don't drive significant payout revenue as do some of these top paying Adsense keywords.

Some people make a living on Adsense revenue but it takes some significant savvy with deep traffic knowledge to do that. Others try to scam Google by building false links back to fake sites that have the high paying keywords just smattered throughout the site to generate profits. This aggravates Google and gives honest online workers a bad name.

Adsense Penalty

On December 16th I decided to implement Adsense on Blogger Tips Pro having not paid much attention to what was going on with it in the last two years. Within one day I dropped from 943 visits to 757 - not really much concern since I do get traffic dips. By day 2 I was down to 682 visits falling down to 534 by day 4. That is when the alarm sounded for me!!

What I hadn't realized was that as a result of the Adsense scammers, Google has been been penalizing web site search rankings based on their usage of Adsense to try and remove false content sites from the search results that rolled out in 2012. However, the impact was high as noted by Aaron Wall of Seobook.

I really didn't think that I had a lot of ads above the fold but felt that my traffic was much more important that a few dollars a month in revenue. I removed the ads on December 24th. But, the real question is just how much my traffic will be hurt from this point on when I went from a growing 900-1000 visits a day now down to 600-700 a day as you can see here:

Traffic dropping due to Google Adsense penalty

Clearly, the Google Adsense penalty is real and can hurt your traffic. Don't believe me?  Read this statement and take a look at Google Page Layout Algorithm & Penalty.

If anyone else has experienced this effect I would love to hear from you - especially if you were able to revive the traffic back either by ad placement or removing Adsense all together. Also, if you're from Google please chime in - I think all of my readers would like to know more.
  1. Are you sure that this dip is due to AdSense? Most of my blogs have a traffic dip like this in December, as people in the Western world get busy with Christmas. Personally I wouldn't make any assumptions based on what happens in December.

    1. Hi Mary,

      Excellent question! No, you are correct that I can be absolutely sure it is AdSense. However, the dip was too dramatic and did not occur to the extent last year at the same time (40-50% drop). Additionally, Google clearly points out that your search engine rankings will be automatically scored differently by placing AdSense on your site - so, you must tread very carefully there. It would be a good test to try this during mid-week of a non-holiday time to see the result but I'm not sure I'm willing to take the chance.

      If you or others have some thoughts or direct results it would be great to see. Thanks!

      - Don

    2. In addition Mary,

      Take a look at this statement which seems to confirm my results:

  2. Don, I used one of your excellent tips to help a friend with his website (he wanted a static website for his personal trainer business) and then ended up reading this post about your experience with AdSense.

    Well, my wife and I have been with AdSense since 2004 and as you have noted, we make a living from it. I tend to agree with Mary Curtin that your conclusion is not scientific and is more likely a coincidence (I wish I could see how you placed your ads). Around the time you experienced this, there were a lot of algorithmic changes (in fact there are so many updates to Google's algo now that it is hard to keep up). So the kind of dip you saw is fairly standard these days.

    So as long as your page does not have lots of ads and no meaningful content, there is nothing to worry about using AdSense. I will typically use 2 or 3 units per page and do just fine.

    Having said that, if you were making a buck a day, it is fine not to bother, but to make so little with almost a thousand daily visitors is also below industry averages. I am assuming that your problem is that you attract primarily webmasters and content creators who are less likely to click on ads.

    1. Hi Jay,

      Thanks for the comment - however, I am not convinced that what you say is true. I don't want to alarm your clients if they are already ranked and making money with AdSense - they won't notice any difference. You are right that the point is not about losing all traffic - and I agree that if you have AdSense already that you're probably not knowing the difference. I have also been with Adsense since 2004 and noted that I have actually made some significant profits with it in the past.

      But, to counter both yours and Mary's argument - two days after I took AdSense off my site my traffic just back to its original levels of 900-1100 visits a day and has remained there (plus growing) from about 600-700 a day. That is too significant a difference to say it was coincidental in my mind to drop nearly 40% and jump up 40% when AdSense was added or deleted.

      You assessment on my readership is correct - there are not many contextual ads that relate to building blogs technically and those that do have little competition so the Adwords CPC is low in this space.

      It is clearly stated by Google that AdSense will affect your search engine rankings since 2012 and that you need to be very cautious. I will certainly admit that I may have made a mistake in ad placement but understand now that caution should be applied. I would strongly advise that everyone read this article:

      Since my traffic levels did come back I may make the attempt again but not after digging into the AdSense placement guidelines and incremental rollout.

      Thanks, Jay.


  3. I just wanted to add that visits to my main blog always go up in December and it's January when I generally see a drop. I do have a few Santa related posts on my main blog, so you would expect a slight increase in visits in December, but even on some of my other blogs I rarely see a drop in December. For me, it's always January when I see a drop. Maybe I need to post more interesting blog posts in January!