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Customizing WordPress with Google AdSense Ads

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Placing ads in your WordPress blog may not earn you a big wad of cash, but Google AdSense makes the process easy enough that it's worth the effort. Miraz Jordan shows how simply you can get rolling with AdSense.

To earn a living from a blog, you have to invest serious time and effort. But if you receive any visitors at all, chances are good that you can earn at least some pocket money from ads. This article, based on WordPress 2.6.2, shows you how to pick up some passive income from your blog with Google AdSense ads.

Getting Started with Google AdSense

Google AdSense ads are contextual; that is, the service figures out what you're writing about in your blog post and then presents ads that are probably related to those topics. The context determines which ads will appear at any time. This approach increases the chances that the ads will be relevant and of interest to your readers.

Step 1: Sign Up for Google AdSense

To sign up for Google AdSense ads, visit http://www.google.com/adsense. Work through the signup form, and within a few days your new account should be approved.

Step 2: Decide Where to Place Ads

Once you're signed up with AdSense, take a good look at your blog to determine where you'll place the ads. In the sidebar? In or below the header? At the foot of the page? Below each post? There are many possibilities, and the AdSense Help Center offers some tips on the best spots for generating revenue.

Step 3: Establish Ad Sizes

Next, you need to know how many pixels tall and wide the available ad spaces are. Many WordPress theme designers use common sizes for layout elements. Those dimensions often match the ad sizes available through AdSense.

If you're good with CSS, you may be able to pick out the relevant dimensions from style.css in your blog's theme folder, but it may be quicker to get out a ruler and measure. I use Free Ruler for Mac OS X (see Figure 1). A Google search can suggest many possibilities for Windows users as well. Measure all the spaces on your blog that you think you might like to use, and note the dimensions.

Figure 1

Figure 1 With Free Ruler up on screen, I measure the space where I've placed a Google AdSense ad. It's around 500 pixels wide by 70 pixels high. My post about photography has attracted an ad about photography.

Step 4: Choose Ad Formats

With your available ad dimensions noted, log into your AdSense account, click the AdSense Setup tab, and choose AdSense for Content.

Select the type of ad unit you want (text and/or images) and continue through the steps of the wizard (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2 The Format pop-up list offers a wide range of ad sizes. Refer to the dimensions you noted earlier to choose the size you need.

Choose ready-made color palettes or select colors that match your blog.

Work your way through the rest of the wizard, choosing the features for this ad location. When you reach the Choose Ad Channels page, stop and think for a moment. It's useful to be able to track how different ad placements work. Give each ad placement its own channel. For example, Figure 3 shows that I have one placement for ads at the bottom of the page on my KnowIT blog, another for ads at the top of that blog, and various other channels for other blogs.

Figure 3

Figure 3 The channels I've set up reflect all the ad placements across various blogs.

The final step of the wizard gives you code to add to your blog. Figure 4 shows the code for one of my ad placements. (I've obscured the publisher number and ad slot information.) Copy the code that Google gives you for use in your own ad.

Figure 4

Figure 4 The code for one of my ad placements (with personal data obscured).

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