Note: I was inspired to do this post largely by Xfactor's monsterously generous threads.
I've been doing Adsense for a looong time. It's not my only source of revenue, or my biggest. But it IS my favorite (more on that below).
I see a lot of bad information, bad advice, mis-information. The plain truth is that Adsense can be a terrific way to make money, that it can generate substantial income, and that it isn't really all that hard to do - if you do it 'right'.
With this post, I'll lay out an outline that you can use to get to $100/day with Adsense. While the $100 figure is somewhat arbitrary, it does take time & effort, so there's a limit to what you can do, HOWEVER, nearly everything can be outsourced, so once you understand it, there's no reason you couldn't scale it up almost indefinitely.
Adsense is a 'numbers game'. How much you make is directly proportional to how much traffic you generate, what percentage of that traffic clicks on an ad (your CTR), and how much you earn per click.
This approach is based around niche mini-sites. The general idea is to find 'keyword phrase groups' - niches - that you can rank on Page 1 for quickly. You'll create these sites using well-optimized templates that will give you high click-through rates.
HOW THIS PLAN WORKS
There are 3 "Pivot Points" for this plan:
The first Pivot Point is traffic. For this plan, we're going to rely exclusively on organic, or search traffic. We certainly don't want to pay for traffic (PPC), and 'referral' traffic, such as article resource box clicks, is nice but not where we're going to put our efforts.
Given that we're looking just for search traffic, we are going to focus our efforts on finding keywords/phrases that have good search volume and minimal competition. The goal is to achieve Page 1 SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) for each target keyword.
The second Pivot Point is conversions. Conversions are the percentage of visitors that click on an ad, plain and simple. The higher the conversions, the more we make. Our target is 5% (1 click per 20 visitors) though it isn't unrealistic to expect 10% or higher.
Conversions are largely dependent on our site layout, and this is one of the keys to the plan. There is no shortage of opinions on layouts i.e. static vs. blog, ad placements, # of ad blocks, etc. What I can say is that I've tested many, many different type of layouts. For the sites I'm talking about here, I've found a particular Wordpress theme that gives me demonstrably better CTR (Click-Through Rates) than any other. The theme is called BlueSense (you can get it here: BlueSense: An Adsense Ready SEO Wordpress Theme). It's a free theme.
Finally, the third Pivot Point is revenues. By this I mean revenues per click. While there's no way to know in advance how much we make per click, and it will vary even for the same keywords/phrases, we DO know that some niches/topics/keyword phrases perform better than others.
Obviously we want to target the highest-paying Adsense clicks we can find.
FWIW, I average $1 per click. Some are higher, some are lower, but that's about average (last week I had TWO clicks that were over $8 - each!).
How do you target high-paying clicks? Think high-CPC keywords. While the CPC isn't what's being paid for ads on the Content Network (where you are showing ads), you CAN get a 'relative' idea.
Some of the 'usual suspects':
Financial - investing, Forex, insurance, foreclosures, mortgages, credit, loans, etc.
Health & Fitness - dieting, weight-loss, quit smoking, cures, etc.
School - vocational schools, training, advanced degrees, scholarships & grants, etc.
You don't want to target the 'primary' keywords, of course, but look for related and/or 'secondary' keyword phrases. And that's where the gold is: there are ZILLIONS of these 'secondary' keyword phrases that are there for the taking! Which brings us to...
This is the single most important aspect of this plan. The goal is to find relatively high-search-volume, low-competition 'keyword phrase groups'. Each group becomes the basis for a site, with a single page devoted to a single keyword/phrase.
This is not nearly as hard as some might imagine. First, you'll want to get yourself a tool that does basic keyword research, but also gives you 'competition' numbers. I'm a fan of Nichebot (you can sign up for a $1 trial at NicheBOT | Keywords | Keyword Phrases that drive Huge Traffic), but there are plenty. MicroNiche Finder (Micro Niche Finder.) is very well-respected. Market Samurai (Niche Marketing Product - Market Samurai) is another good one and offers a free trial.
My criteria for creating a site are that I can find at least 10 thematically-related keyword/phrases the EACH have at least 50 searches per day (1500/month), and competition under 40,000 (phrase-matched, or in quotes).
Realistically, I want search volume over 100/day and competition under 20k. This is not nearly as hard to find as you might think.
BTW, you want to track your SERPS. You can do this with a spreadsheet, but that can be tedious. Traffic Travis (100% Free SEO Software | Traffic Travis) has a free trial, but it's limited to 5 projects, however that should be enough when you're starting out. They also have a 7-day trial of the unlimited version for $5).
Note About Ranking: Since we'll be going for organic search traffic, it's important to understand how that works. Where a page is ranked depends on the search term. Assuming your page is properly optimized (on-page optimization - we'll go over that), than where you rank is a function of 'total backlink value'. "Backlink value" is the number of backlinks times the 'rank value' of each backlink. The 'rank value' is Pagerank plus 'Trustrank' of the link itself.
To give you a simplified example: Consider two identical pages. One has 10 PR-1 backlinks. The other has 9 PR-1 backlinks and 1 PR-3 backlink. The second page will rank above the first page. The 'trick' to ranking your page is to get an overall 'total backlink value' higher than the competing pages. If your page has the highest 'total backlink value' than you'll rank first. Second highest will rank second, etc. By optimizing each page, choosing a 'good' domain name, and going after relatively low-competition keyword phrase groups, we'll be able to get those top SERPS listings.
The key therefore is finding high-volume, low-competition keyword phrases, optimizing our pages for them, and building up enough 'backlink value' to get to Page 1 SERPS.
I won't go into a whole backlinking course, but I'll give you a few tips - plus my 'secret weapons'. First, don't worry too much about 'NoFollow' tags - they still count for backlink value, just not as much as if they were 'DoFollow' from higher PR sites. Second, don't worry too much about building backlinks too fast. Unless you're using some automated system to build thousands of backlinks at a clip, this shouldn't be a problem. Remember also that even if you add 100 backlinks in one shot, they are most likely to get indexed much slower over time.
My 'basic' backlinking routine is as follows: When I create a page, I tag it using Onlywire (Bookmark & Share - The Power of the Button | OnlyWire) and submit it separately to StumbleUpon and Digg. I'll also re-write the page somewhat and submit it to Goarticles.
Note on backlinks: where ever possible, I use the targeted keyword phrase as the anchor text, and point it to the appropriate page. Where I can get two backlinks, such as Goarticles, Ezinearticles, etc., I'll use the same anchor text with one link point to the appropriate page, and another pointing to the domain home page.
My Secret Weapons: In addition to the above, I use Comment Kahuna (Comment Kahuna | Free Link Building Software) and Unique Article Wizard (Unique Article Wizard - Submit Unique Content to Hundreds of Websites). Comment Kahuna is free and works well, letting you find as many blogs to add links to as you could want (NOTE: Read the post you're commenting on and make reasonable comments. It's good Karma). UAW is not free, but can get you hundreds of backlinks for any keyword very quickly. I consider it my most valuable paid tool.
You should also be taking advantage of Google's Webmaster Tools. Look at the sites that your backlinks are 'sticking' to and go back to them where possible for other backlinks.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Research, research, research! Use your keyword tool(s). When you find something promising, make sure you can uncover at least 5-10 related keyword phrases.
Purchase a domain name that has your 'root' keyword/phrase. This is VERY important!
Now create your content. You want to target ONLY 1 keyword per page. Use that keyword in the title and H1 tags (if you're using Wordpress, put it in the post title - that's your H1 tag).
Launch your site. Each day, focus on one of the pages (bookmarks, Digg, etc.). Whatever other tools you are using, UAW, etc., put in the effort and focus on one of your keyword phrases each day.
TIP: You can get decent articles written for $1.50 - $2.00 or so at Amazon Mechanical Turk (https://requester.mturk.com/mturk/welcome) - just MAKE SURE to check them for plaigerism! (just take a few sentences and search them in quotes).
Track your progress!
If you've been careful in your keyword research, you should start to see results in a week or two. Once your site is up and everything is indexed, spend a few minutes each day adding more backlinks for each site.
If you've picked your topics well, you should start to see good results.
Based on 5% conversions and $1/click average, you should be getting $5 per 100 visitors per site per day, with not too much effort once they're built and indexed. If you build two per week, even with these minimum numbers, you'll hit $100/day in just a matter of months.
PS - there's a TON of great information to be had reading Xfactor's terrific thread (http://www.warriorforum.com/adsense-...s-learned.html)!