First off, NEVER, EVER, place arrows pointing to any AdSense ad product. I did that above because it’s an image to make it clear what this post is about.
Now to the heart of the matter.
Are AdSense link units worth using? Do they make money?
I’ll cut to the chase.
Yes, they are… NOW.
A while back I found they were useless.
Now they’re quite good.
What’s the difference?
The difference is AdSense finally improved the landing page, which is the page where visitors go after they click the link unit.
The thing with AdSense Link Units is a visitor must click twice to generate revenue. First they click the link unit ad, then they must click a link on the landing page.
For the longest time the landing page looked terrible and results were worse. I made squat from them (I’ve tested them periodically over the years).
However, recently a Fat Stacks reader told me he’s having good results and that I should give them a shot again. So I did and was pleasantly surprised.
What are link units?
Link units are a type of ad that are text links. The text is usually keywords related to the content of the page (at least that’s the goal and AdSense does a decent job as does Media.net).
The key is they look like navigation options, which while it’s kind of sneaky, is arguably helpful because it brings the visitor to a landing page with a list of options hopefully relevant to what the visitor is seeking.
You do not earn revenue on the first click. The visitor must click a link from the list of links on the second page (i.e. the page they go to after clicking the link unit ad).
Here’s what the AdSense Link Units look like:
How good are my recent Link Unit results?
They don’t perform as well as ad units, but the incremental revenue makes them worth using.
As with all ads, the higher up on your page, especially above the fold, the better they’ll perform.
I had excellent results with a horizontal unit directly below my post title, but that didn’t perform quite as well as an ad unit so I returned to using the ad unit (even though I don’t have Nessie Arrows any more, the ad unit still performs very well).
I had decent results with a horizontal link unit in the header, directly under the main navigation. I removed this because I thought it looked a bit too aggressive. However, this is a very good place for link unit so if you wish to maximize ad revenue at any cost, a horizontal link unit in your header above or below navigation is a good place.
Currently, I’m using 2 link units.
The first is a horizontal link unit just below the fold.
The second is a horizontal link unit at the very bottom of the website below my AdSense matched content unit.
Together the 2 link units generate about $60 per week. While that’s not huge money, it’s revenue I’d likely not have if I didn’t have those on the site.
Suggested Link Unit Placements to Test
- In the header (horizontal)
- Top of sidebar (vertical)
- Below Title (horizontal)
- Just below the fold in content (horizontal)
- Bottom of site (vertical or horizontal)
- Bottom sidebar (vertical)
- Aligned left, right, above or below design elements in your content
- Inside tables
Obviously you don’t want to put link unit in all of the above places.
The key is to test placements and see what looks okay and performs.
I do NOT put Link Units in the most lucrative spots. I just don’t like the look, but that’s just me. I could more than triple my Link Unit revenue if I put 2 units above the fold.
If Link Units Work for You, Try This
I’m doing this as well.
If you find link units work well and you promote an affiliate merchant that generates good revenue for you, why not test your own link unit ads with affiliate links?
Talk about an easy thing to add to your site.
After all, if advertisers are paying for link unit clicks, there must be money in them.
I do this with a twist. I use lists of link phrases to further entice the clicks. I discuss this strategy here.
Why I like AdSense Link Units
1. They’re unobtrusive
AdSense link units are pretty small so they’re unobtrusive. You can put them in a lot of spots without them being too annoying. That said, the “Ad Choices” text, especially the little triangle icon, looks bad. If it weren’t for that triangle icon, I’d be more aggressive with link units.
Moreover you can customize the background and text color to blend them or make them stand out.
2. High cost per click
Due to AdSense TOS, I can’t tell you how much the average click is for me, but it’s pretty good. Because it’s a 2-click process, the money click is fairly valuable.
3. Nice incremental revenue
I love incremental revenue. Whenever I can add another revenue stream to a website, I’m happy.
4. Improved landing page
Adsense’s improvement of the landing page was the impetus for me adding link units to my niche sites. It’s also the impetus for this Fat Stacks post suggesting you now give them a shot.
5. Ad variety
The key to adding incremental revenue vs. cannibalizing existing revenue is ad variety. Different visitors respond differently to different ads. While some may click a traditional ad unit, others may respond to link units.
Of course, there may be a bit of revenue cannibalization going on, but as long as overall ad revenue increases, it’s worth using.
AdSense isn’t the only link unit ad network I use. I use Media.net ads extensively which I review here and provide more information about getting approved with Media.net here. If you’re new to display ads, read my super popular AdSense alternatives article here.
Finally, learn a LOT more about how I generate 5 figures per month display ads on niche sites with my popular Niche Tycoon course.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.