How to create a Forum with WordPress and monetize it with Google Adsense

If you are building a community site and think that it might benefit from having a forum, this could be a great thing, and the main reason is that you don’t need to create any content, other users will do it for you!

The only thing you need is to keep them engaged, posting regularly and you got yourself a winner!

Now the only negative side is that CTR in forums is usually low, but this can be some extra income.

Here are the steps you need to do:


Install WordPress

Skip this if you already have a WP site.

Install and configure the bbPress Plugin

This is the best Forum software for WP

Use a theme with bbPress support

I recommend you go to Themeforest, and search for a theme which works fine with bbPress

Create the forum list

You can also create subforums and categories if needed.

Install this free plugin to add Adsense units

It’s called bbPress Advert Units, and it lets you choose where you want to add your ads inside the forum.

Add your Adsense ad units and decide where to show them

These are the options you have:

  • Between posts
  • In the body of the first post
  • At the top and bottom of topic pages
  • On individual forum pages
  • On the top level forum page

That’s it! As long as you have a reasonable amount of users who post in the forum, you should get more and more content (meaning more and more visits), and your revenue should go up


Everything you need to know about Adsense Arbitrage

This is the definition of Arbitrage:

Arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of price differences between markets

So for example, if you could buy an iPhone in Canada for $600 and sell it in the USA for $700, you are practicing arbitrage.

Applied to Adsense, the idea is this: you are going to pay for traffic, expecting to make more money from Adsense than you are expending in traffic.

To make it simple, it could be like this:

  • You build a website and put Adsense ads
  • You spend $500 a month in Facebook ads driving visitors to your website
  • With that traffic, you make $1000 a month with Adsense

So, at the end of the month, you are making $500 with that site (Income – Expenses)

In the past, people used Adwords to drive traffic (for example, they would bid in a cheap keyword, and redirect it to a page related to another, more expensive keyword), but Google was not happy with it, so if you are going to do this, I recommend you use a different traffic source (for example, Facebook ads).

The most important thing here is knowing your numbers. You need to know how much each visitor is worth to you, so you know how much you can spend to get that visitor (actually, you need to know these numbers for any kind of business you might be in, not just arbitrage).

Let’s say that out of every 100 visitors, 5 of them will click on your ad (5% CTR), and each click is worth on average $1 (EPC).

So out of those 100 visitors, you made a total of $5, meaning each user on average made you $0.05.

Now if you can get visitors at less than 5 cents, you will be making money. If they cost you exactly 5 cents, you are breaking even, and anything over 5 cents, you are losing money.

(That’s why it’s really important to know your numbers)

So if you can drive traffic from Facebook (and assuming the conversions stay the same, since different kinds of traffic can have different conversion rates) for less than 5 cents, you are in business!

The next step would just be scaling up. If you are driving 1000 visitors a day, each of which costs $0.03, and each one makes you $0.05, you are earning $0.02 per visitor, so the math would be:

1000 x 0.02 = $20 / day

Now if you can scale up to 10000 visitors a day, all things being equal, you would be making

10000 x 0.02 = $200 / day (which is a much nicer number)

And then the sky is the limit!

Of course there is much work involved:

  • You need to create content regularly
  • You need to test beforehand to know your numbers
  • You need to test your ads. If you are using Facebook, for example, you need to split-test the ad image, title, text…

So like with most things in Online Marketing

  • The idea is simple
  • You need to work hard, test and learn a lot before you can make it profitable

Top 10 Adsense alternatives

In my opinion, Google Adsense is the best paying advertising solution for your site.

It has the highest number of advertisers, and the bids are usually higher than in any other network.

However, it is not the only solution.

Here are some reasons why you might want to use another alternative:

  • You like testing
  • Your Adsense account has been banned (yuck!)
  • Your website does not adhere to the Google guidelines
  • Google is the devil and you do not want to get near anything that starts with a G.

For those cases, here are the best alternatives:

It gives you access to the Yahoo! Bing Network, meaning lots of advertisers. The downside is that they are a bit strict, and that they need to approve each site you want to place ads on.


They have what is called “In text ads”, meaning they will highlight certain terms in your site and add a link there. It has good reviews, and it’s one of the biggest networks.


They are a big advertising network. You can get paid via Paypal, and the minimum payout is $10.


They have multiple ads formats. They won’t approve every single site you submit, so it might be a bit hit or miss. Minimum payout is $50, and pay via Paypal or check


You can get paid via clicks or conversions. The advertisers bid on the sites they want their ads to appear. The minimum payout is $10, and you can get paid via Paypal, check or wire.


They are specialized in popunders. Approval and account creation is a pretty simple process. The great thing is that you can claim your payment any time you want. If you earn at least $5 a day, you can even get paid daily.


Similar to PopAds, they have a ton of inventory in many countries, with desktop and mobile traffic. You can get paid via Paypal, Payza and Paxum.

Vibrant Media

Good company with a catch: your site must receive a minimum of 500.000 page views (not visits) per month, and getting approved is not so simple. They offer different kind of ads, like popups, banners, in-image…


A bit less strict than Vibrant, you can get approved if you get 50,000 page views a month. Minimum payout is $20, and they have popunders and other ad formats.


A very popular network with pop-unders. They sspecialize in the following niches: entertainment, videos/movies, games, dating, finances, software, gambling and more, which to be honest, are not the best friends with Adsense, so if you have a site related to those niches, give it a try.

Amazon Display Ads

They have what they call “Amazon Native Shopping Ads”, where they show contextual ads (similar to Adsense), with Amazon products, based on the keywords of your page. But instead of getting paid per click, you get a commission from every sale (this is good if most people purchase, not so good if they don’t).



What is Adsense Smart Pricing and how to avoid it?

Back in april 2004, Google introduced what they call “Smart Pricing”.

Before that, advertisers had to pay their bid price for each click, regardless of whether they made money (ie, a sale) from that click, which means some of them were receiving tons of clicks, but not so many sales.

So, in order to avoid people fleeing from Adsense and moving into other platforms (Yahoo back then [Bing Ads these days], now Facebook, etc), they did the following: for pages that were giving advertisers few sales, they lowered the price of each click, which means that advertisers pay different prices depending on where the click comes from.

Before Smart Pricing came in, the only thing us (publishers) had to focus on is sending as many clicks as possible, but after that, we need to take into account the quality of those clicks if we want to get paid more, simply put.

The thing is, since Google is so opaque most of the times, we don’t know for sure what affects Smart Pricing, so the only thing we can do is try to get quality traffic. However, these premises seem to be correct:

  • Smart Pricing is calculated across the whole Adsense account,  so if you have some high quality sites mixed with low quality, your ad prices might go down overall.
  • Smart Pricing is evaluated on a weekly basis, which is good, since that means that if you fix what needs to be fixed, your earnings can go back up quickly.
  • Smart Pricing is tracked with a 30 day cookie, so sales for an advertiser can come within 30 days (the visitors don’t need to purchase straight away).

So what can you do if your earnings are getting lower (with a similar amount of clicks)? I can recommend 2 things:

  • Try to see if one or more of your sites (or pages) might be causing this. If so, temporarily remove ads and see if after one week your revenue goes up. If this does not help, check with other pages, until you find the culprit, then remove ads from that page altogether.
  • If you are driving paid traffic to your sites, stop that for a week and watch again your revenue.

Here are some tips on how to prevent Smart Pricing

  • The main thing is, try to keep advertisers happy. If they make money, you make money (and Google on the side), everybody is happy.
  • Make sure to have high quality content on your site (which is likely to attract “better” visitors)
  • Try to get most of your traffic from high quality sources (search engines being the best)
  • Keep your content relevant

So that’s it! Since Google does not give away too much information, we can just guess, and do trial and error.

What is Adsense for Search?

When you think about Google Adsense, probably the first thing that comes into mind is the typical text or image ad.

But there is another way to earn money from Google Adsense: adding a search box to your site.

How does it work?

With the code you get from Adsense, you will add a custom search box to your site. When users use that box to search for content, and click on the ads that appear, you make money. So simple!

So adding this serach box is a nice way to complement your ad units. The great thing is that some people who might not click on your ads, will perform a search (using their own terms) and might generate some extra revenue for you.

Of course, it’s not perfect; it has some disadvantages  too:

  • You have no control over the keywords that the user enters (they might be entering low paying keywords when searching)
  • Instead of 68%, you make 51% of each click

The bottom line is this: you are most likely to make money out of the usual ad units, but you can use Adsense for Search to make some extra revenue out of those people who arrive to your site and can’t find what they are looking for, so definitely have a look and play with it a little.

What you need to build a successful Adsense site

Here are the 3 parts of the equation involved:

Keyword Research

One of the most important. Two reasons:

  1. Since you are aiming to rank your site at the very top of Google, you will need a keyword (or ideally more) that you can rank more or less easily.
  2. As we saw before, different keywords have different EPC (Earnings per Click)


This one is pretty simple. No traffic = No money

The best traffic source is SEO traffic (people who find your site via Google).

There are also some people who try to get cheap Facebook clicks to drive traffic to their site (usually with viral content), and expect to make more money with Adsense clicks than what that traffic costed. I haven’t personally tried this myself so I cannot comment on it.

So we are not only talking about quantity, but also quality.


The % of visitors who click on your ad. To improve this you can work on:

  • The site theme
  • Different ad sizes
  • Different ad placement

So that’s mostly it!

Spend some time doing proper keyword research.

Then work on getting traffic

Once you have those two (which are, in my opinion the most important), test and tweak, so you can maximize earnings.

Then rinse and repeat 🙂


The best Adsense ad sizes

When choosing your ad size, you have multiple options, but what are the best ones to use and why?

According to the official Adsense website, these are the top performing ad sizes:

On desktop:

  • 336×280 large rectangle
  • 300×250 medium rectangle
  • 728×90 leaderboard
  • 300×600 half page

On mobile:

  • 320×100 large mobile banner

Aside from those, there are many other sizes, but the nice thing about the above is that there are many more advertisers targeting those sizes, meaning more competition, meaning more revenue for you. Since those are the standard, ad designers tend to create banners in those sizes first.

The people at Labnol have compiled the following chart where you can see the average CTR for each size:

Also, in general (although this rule is not 100% accurate), wider sizes tend to get a higher CTR (since, well, they are bigger, thus more noticeable).

Those sizes have been tested across multiple websites and seem to be the winners, but as always, there is room for testing.

Bear in mind that size is just one part of the equation. Placement is at least as important as the size you choose

10 Adsense Mistakes to avoid at all costs

In previous articles I talked about things to do with Adsense.

Here are some of the things you should NOT do:

If you want to get your account alive, don’t…

Click on your own ads

This will only earn you a few dollars at the most and, if you get caught by the big G, you might get your account banned. Definitely not worth the trouble!

Have your ads on low quality content sites

If your site consists only of scraped, non unique content chances are your love story with Adsense won’t end well.

Be aggresive with ad placement

Make sure the visitor experience is good and the rest will take care of itself

Encourage users to click on your ads

This is a huge violation of the Adsense Terms

Host copyrighted content

That’s a no-no

Link to sites with pirated software/content

Also a no-no

Break the Adsense TOS

What else can I add? Make sure to read them careful. Better safe than sorry!


If you want to earn more revenue, don’t…

Place too many ads

This completely ruins user experience; users are likely to leave your page quickly if they get stuffed with ads. This is a case where most of the times, less is more.

Forget to test

Test everything: colors, placements, sizes… What’s working on one website might not work on another.

Be satisfied

There is always room for improvement

The Top 6 WordPress themes for Adsense

Here is a list of some of the best optimized Adsense Themes.

However, and before I start, let me clarify something: there is no doubt that having a good, optimized theme helps improving your CTR.

But bear in mind there are still many factors for having a successful adsense niche: the quality of the traffic, the niche…

Why am I saying this? Because one might thing that by having a good theme all the work is done, when in fact the theme is just one of the factors.

So here are some of the themes that I like:

CTR Theme

This one is especially designed with Adsense in mind.

Link | Demo

Divi Theme

Not just for Adsense; it’s a feature packed multipurpose theme.

Link | Demo


Multiple layouts, mobile optimized

Link | Demo


According to their own description, “Truemag’s ad “hotspots” are strategically placed throughout this content-driven theme to attract the eye without compromising the user experience”

Link | Demo


Created to get viral traffic, but it’s also optimal for Adsense

Link | Demo


Great theme for a blog (magazine style) with responsive Ads system

Link | Demo


It offes multiple themes in one. Some of them are not too attractive, but they have been built with CTR in mind, so no complains about ugliness if it makes money 🙂

Link | Demo

How to get a high EPC in Adsense

EPC or Earnings Per Click is a simple idea: how much you make (on average) every time someone clicks on one of your ads.

So that means you want to have a high EPC.

Let’s see some tricks / ideas on how to get more money:

Target the right niche / keywords

Some niches pay more than others. Why? Because there is money being spent in them!

At the end of the day, if you earn money with Adsense, that means that there are advertisers willing to pay for those clicks.

Niches like insurance, lawyers, health… tend to pay pretty well (the only problem is ranking  well, of course).

Find profitable keywords

Once you have your niche decided, use a tool to find high paying keywords and write content around those keywords.

Get quality traffic

Make sure your traffic is not junk (SEO traffic is usually good), or Google might decide that your site is not worth getting properly paid.

Try to get people to click on the top ad

Usually, the ad that appears first in your site will be the one that pays the most (per click), so you want your visitors to click on that one.

Geography matters

Clicks from different countries are not worth the same. If most of your traffic comes from countries like USA, Canada, UK, Australia… you will get a higher CPC than other countries where clicks are cheaper.

Use text and image ads

Google will usually display the top paying ad, so if you are using just one of them you might be leaving money on the table

Pro tip:

Connect your Adsense and Analytics account to get all metrics and have better information!

Ninja tip:

Test, test, test! Test everything: placement, colors… there is always something you can improve 🙂