I’ve been asked a few times in the past whether I think a client should put Google Adsense on their website. This question normally comes after they’ve just read a book called “How to get rich quick on the Internet” or some other similar title.

Google Adsense works by displaying ads on your website – that it automatically matches to suit the content of the page. Google then pays you a few pence each time someone clicks on an ad.

Whether you should use it or not completely depends on your business model/what your website is used for. If you are a small business and your website is advertising your services then you almost certainly shouldn’t use it – for a start, even though you can customise the look of them, they’re still ads and you wouldn’t advertise other people on your business cards/brochures would you? And secondly – and crucially – the ads are going to display content relevant to your website… so if you’re an electrician in Bristol, and your page is all about your electrical services in Bristol and Bath, then you’re going to get ads about other electricians in Bristol and Bath showing up on your page! Which you certainly don’t want! Taking it even further, if you pay Google for ads (Google Adwords – a topic I’ll cover another time) your ad might show up on your own website (depending on your settings)! Then you’ll pay Google if someone clicks on your ad, from your website, when they were reading about you anyway!

However, if you’re a magazine website, or information website, then yes, it may be a good way of earning more revenue. Especially if you have a lot of traffic and want to be able to give people solutions to what they’re looking for. There are pitfalls though of course – I recently saw this picture on twitter – whilst the Telegraph are discussing the dangers of a certain drug, an ad tells people where they can buy it!