Adsense Bad For Green Blogs

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!

I’ve been looking forward to October 15th for weeks now. Today is Blog Action Day, and as I posted some weeks back, we joined up and promised to post something helpful about protecting the environment on our green blog Tangergreen.com about the toxicity of the world’s most widely used herbicide, Roundup. Tangergreen is our place to share our hopes and cares about our planet, and having it is the preventative measure my husband decided we should take so I don’t come to the SEOigloo blog raving about Global Warming!

Our business plan behind this hobby blog was to share what we know about green living, organic farming and other environmental concerns while monetizing our efforts with Google Adsense. For beginners, Adsense is an advertising program in which you agree to have other businesses’ advertisements appear on your blog or website. It is a nice way to earn a little extra income if you love to write.

However, having launched this blog several months ago, we’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that Adsense really stinks for green blogs. I write about dangerous cleaning products and get served up ads for the dangerous cleaning product companies. I write about toxic toothpaste and get toxic toothpaste ads. And, as you can see if you click on my Tangergreen link above, I write about a dangerous herbicide, and get tons of ads selling toxic herbicides! This is, to put it mildly, lame.

Within your Google Adsense account, there is a place for you to block specific URLs. The main object of this is to enable companies to block their competitors’ advertisements from appearing on the site. We have attempted to use this feature to block unwanted ads from environmental enemies’ websites, but it’s a bit of a hopeless effort. I’ll block 10 URLs, refresh my screen, and see 10 more undesirable ads appear. I could spend all day doing this and not get rid of the offenders. The result is that the efforts I’m making to publish helpful reading materials for green folks are looking like hypocritical hogwash. It’s sending an absurd message when I say “Don’t buy from Arm & Hammer; they test on animals” and my article is covered with ads for Arm & Hammer.

I am not an Adsense expert. I appreciate the little stream of income my Adsense sites bring in, and I enjoy using my skills as a copywriter to create articles I feel are of genuine use to people. My other hobby sites serve up great ads which are normally quite relevant to the subject, but this situation with the green blog is leaving me scratching my little green head.

Should I:

1) Forget about earning money and publish the content without ads? The humanitarian in me would like to say yes. The overworked business person in me says, “are you nuts, Miriam?”

2) Structure my posts in some other way so that when I am trying to do an expose on a harmful product or company, I hardly mention the product? Somehow, I feel that my post titles and content will lack snap and clarity if instead of writing “Arm & Hammer Tests on Animals”, I say, “Some companies which produce white products in small orange boxes do animal testing”. That seems like bending over backward in an attempt to avoid triggering unwanted ads.

3) Is there some other way for me to get relevant, subject appropriate ads going? Again, I just play around with Adsense. I’m not an expert. Is there any chance I’ve missed some type of channel specific option in Adsense that would enable me to get a certain category of ads showing on my blog…such as Environmental Ads, as opposed to anything goes?

Are green companies not spending enough on advertising to make running a green blog profitable for the blogger? Are green companies spending their advertising dollars someplace other than Adsense, so that my hope would have to be to get ‘real’ ads on Tangergreen.com, rather than Adsense program ads? Is there something bright I can do to continue to publish this blog and make a bit of money for my efforts? As you can imagine, I’m not earning a penny on it the way things are, and I would be most interested in my readers’ suggestions, particularly if you have had an experience like this with Google Adsense.

In the meantime, Happy Blog Action Day!

10 Responses to “Adsense Bad For Green Blogs”

  1. on 15 Oct 2007 at 8:14 pm David Mihm

    Miriam,

    Is there a way you could set up a “negative” channel and change the AdSense code you are serving for each of those posts? That way, you could track the income that was coming in from those “bad” companies & donate it to a worthy Green cause? Sort of like an “offset” ? Just a thought!

  2. on 16 Oct 2007 at 1:44 pm Lori

    Is there another channel of income besides AdSense? For instance, could you offer books from Amazon on living green (and gardening, and other related topics), and carefully control the book categories your blog displays? I’m not familiar with that, I’m just brainstorming.

  3. on 16 Oct 2007 at 2:18 pm admin

    David,
    That’s a very interesting suggestion. I wouldn’t have thought about that, and I appreciate the creativity of the suggestion. I’m afraid it would still be sending the odd message, however, that I am condemning something at the same time as profiting from it…Hmm…tricky. Interesting suggestion, though!

    Lori,
    You know, I’ve fiddled with Amazon.com ads on another site I have, and have never made a penny from the program. I spoke to the Cre8asite folks before getting into that program, as I recall, and the general consensus seemed to be that the system is something that one seldom makes any money from. Too bad, huh?

    On the other hand…maybe it would work on a site like this? It’s not working on the other site I’m using it on, but if I put the very best books I could find up, that could be an interesting experiment. I’ll give that some thought. Thanks!

    Miriam

  4. on 16 Oct 2007 at 3:31 pm jim

    Have you tried using AdSense’s section targeting to block out sections of text that mention harmful products, and then using it to highlight a paragraph that talks about something environmentally responsible?

    Heres an example:

    Rant about dangerous products goes here…

    use only “non-dangerous” keywords here…

    Hope that helps.
    Jim

  5. on 16 Oct 2007 at 5:43 pm admin

    I’ve just emailed you, Jim. I’d really like to see and post that code. Sorry the blog comments didn’t accept the html! I’m really looking forward to seeing this.

    Miriam

  6. on 17 Oct 2007 at 12:17 am tinkerbellchime

    Wonderful post. I never thought about it, but it makes sense that a green blog would have this problem. I’d love to see the code that Jim mentioned, if you don’t mind sharing. Miriam, someone told me that the average website makes less than $100 per month from AdSense. That’s not very encouraging. Maybe you and your husband can start your own “Green Only” search engine? I’d promise to use it.

  7. on 17 Oct 2007 at 9:01 am Lori

    I had an idea last night – what if you created a “green” e-book with helpful tips, suggestions for products, etc. and sold it at Tangergreen for a modest fee, like $5.00? This would be very similar in concept to your Mexican dress website.

    That way, you could make some money from your blog but control the content completely.

  8. on 17 Oct 2007 at 10:52 am jim

    Hi,
    I tried to reply to your email three times, and it kept getting rejected with the message that it contained spam content… lol

    So, I’ll direct you to Google’s help page on adsense section targeting:

    https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=23168

    Just place the paragraphs that contain the “bad” information within the ignore tags. I feel your pain, I have worked with a site on home furnishings, and because the main menu contained the word “blog”, adsense would serve up ads on bloging software, and “how to make a fortune blogging” e-books.

    Best of luck,
    Jim

  9. on 17 Oct 2007 at 3:58 pm admin

    Wow, Jim,
    I completely struck out in enabling you to share with me. I’m so sorry about that! I can’t believe my dumb email program rejected you, and I was so hoping you’d write to me.

    Thank you for the link. It’s exactly what I need. I really, really appreciate this, and it looks like this will help other readers, too!

    Hi Tinkerbell!
    Oh, wouldn’t a green only engine be awesome??? Greengle? Heh heh.

    Hi Lori,
    That is a super idea. Those digital downloads are great fun. If I find the free time to invest in creating something like that, it could be a really neat thing. I’d want it to be very high quality.

    Thanks, all!
    Miriam

  10. on 17 Oct 2007 at 4:12 pm Lori

    Yeah, I’m partial to digital items myself =)

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