Google Adsense vs Affiliate Marketing: What’s Best?

Making money online

You probably have read tons of online success stories about making money online. 

Some say they've been doing five figures a month in passive income with Google Adsense while some say affiliate programs pay more even with less traffic.

Google Adsense vs. Affiliate Marketing has been a topic of hot debate among bloggers and digital marketers.

But, what pays the most money?

Are building authority sites that are monetized with Google Adsense easy to grow?

Do affiliate sites have the potential to make more money with less traffic?

We've all scratched our head trying to decide what works best. 


In this post, you'll learn:

  • What is Google Adsense?
  • The pros and cons of Google Adsense.
  • What is Affiliate Marketing?
  • The pros and cons of affiliate marketing.

What is Google Adsense?​

Google Adsense is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to monetize any website that follows Google's TOS.

An advertising placement service by the search engine giants, Adsense is particularly designed for publishers who want to display text, video or image ads on their website to make money. 

It is a PPC model of advertising where you get paid per click and also for the impression the ads in your website receive. ​Hands down, it is probably the highest paying PPC ad network I've been using.

While I see most bloggers scratch their heads learning how to get an approval for Google Adsense or complaining about multiple rejections from Google, it's relatively easy to get an approval if you follow the Adsense policies.

You should never miss out on publishing high-quality content when it comes to getting an approval for Google Adsense. You also need to make sure that your website's navigation is clean and fluid.

While Google does not say anything about what word length your contents need to have or how many articles, a handful of those will keep you on a good side.

Make sure you have pages like Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, and contact pages setup, as they make sure you understand the electronic environment on the internet and the laws pertaining to your business. 

Once you are all set, you can sign up for Google Adsense, implement text or display ads and wait for their approval. ​

When you get approved, ads start to display on your site and you'll make money with the impression and clicks they receive.

The Pros of Google Adsense

Whether you are just a beginner blogger or someone who is already experienced with the world of internet marketing, you already know that Google Adsense is the easiest and one of the best ad networks you can implement on your blogs.

It is easy to start a blog focused on making money with Google Adsense because unlike "buyer keywords" that grow difficult to rank every other day because of competition, high search keywords that are not focused on any products are easy to rank for and monetize.

​Here are a few benefits of using Google Adsense as a primary source of monetization: 

1. ​Advertisers' growth with Google Adwords

It sounds bizarre when you learn that fact that millions of advertisers are still competing with Adwords despite ad blockers rising. 

This comes with benefits for bloggers as they get highly relevant ads, with more CPCs, more money, and more space filled.

Sounds good, right?

​2. No products required

Though having a product of your own keeps you on the safe side when it comes to making more money (only if you have good traffic and a product worth buying)​, Adsense beats the requirements.

All you are required to have is a running blog, contents and traffic to monetize your site.

It reduces the hassle of working on sales funnel, traffic channels, and costs among others. 

On top of that, some high searched keywords might not have any relation with a product.​ Good enough to use Adsense now, eh? 

3. One ad account, multiple sites​

Am I the only one who gets bored to sign up for different affiliate programs and lose track of them over time? (If they make only a little money?)

With Google Adsense, the whole process of setting up ads gets really easy. You have an account, you add your websites, you create your ads and implement them by editing the CSS or using a plugin.

It's that easy!

You also avoid the time spent to sign up on different sites and logging in to check how much money they made. ​

4. Have your control

Yes. You are free to block ads that you feel aren't suitable to your website or your readers.

For example, you are running a tech blog that is focused on tutorials. You'd want to see ads that are related to the technology industry only.

Find ads/advertisers other than what you require and you are good with what you require.

5. Ad sizes and responsiveness​

Most ad or affiliate networks come with limited ad sizes, which in some cases might need to be customized to your website's design.

With Google Adsense, you get the power to implement whatever ad size you require. From display ads to in text links, you have control over everything.

On top of that, you also do not need to worry on the responsiveness of ads served by Google Adsense as they adapt to different screen sizes suitable for a great user experience.​

This also lets you utilize and monetize the whitespaces left on your site.​

6. Because it's Google​

Do you still need explanations? If you, then...

Adsense ads are served by Google. They approve ads and remove the ones that are not fit.

While some networks display adult visual graphics or ads that are not suitable for your viewers, the same is not true for Google Adsense.

Google is serious about both advertisers and publishers and you don't need to worry about the kind of ads that get displayed on your website. They try to keep it as relevant and contextual as possible without hurting your user experience.

The Cons of Google Adsense​

Everything has a down side. Google has too.

While Adsense is being considered one of the highest paying ad networks out there, a lot of affiliate marketers, and bloggers call it a waste of time to start building sites focused with CPC model of advertising.

What I feel and have seen is there are sites worth millions of money and raking in tons of cash all because of Google Adsense. ​

​But, there are still some disadvantages of Google Adsense and here are a few:

1. The approval process​

It sounds weird but I've seen a lot of bloggers who run sites with good content and traffic say that their approval request was rejected by Google Adsense. 

​On top of that, if you are a blogger living in Cuba, Crimea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria, you can't be a part of Google Adsense.

Pro Tip:

Make sure your website/blog abides by Google Adsense terms and conditions. Make sure that you have an about page, contact page, TOS page, earning disclaimer and privacy policy included so as to remain as authentic as possible.

​2. Blocked Ad accounts

I've never had my Adsense account banned but a lot of people close to me have reported that their ad accounts were blocked for no reason. 

Google does not specify a particular reason why your Ad account was banned. This is sad.

Business Insider reported that a 19-year-old lost $46,000 in 2014 and there are tons of other news and blog posts that read kind of similar. 

​On top of that, Google is always constrained in explaining publicly about why an Adsense account is banned and how they track fraudulent behavior on the web. 

Pro Tip:

Do not complicate things. Stop buying/sharing/asking for clicks and never display ads on contents with stop words that are mentioned by Google. Make sure to read Adsense terms and conditions at least once, completely.

3. You need tons of traffic to make money

​While there are no specific requirements for traffic to get an approval, you surely do need heck loads of traffic to make good money. 

But, their profit shares are high, right?

Adsense for content pays 68% share and Adsense for search does 51% which is not bad. 

The CPCs are low, generally in between $0.2-$1 for my sites and the CPMs are much lower. 

This demands more traffic to make real money, unlike affiliate networks where you could promote a high valued product and get more in commission even with fewer page views.

Pro Tip:

Work on your on-and-off-page SEO. Find keywords with tons of search and try to rank for them. Promote your content on social media and get the traction.

​4. Language restrictions

If you are blogging in your local language, you need to make sure that it is acceptable under Adsense terms and conditions. ​

Google AdSense supports contents in 39 different languages and if your site does not have content included in its terms, prepare to get banned.

Pro Tip:

Work on English contents and try to go international. This helps drive more traffic to get better traction, in turn keeping you ad account safe.

5. Verification and payment threshold

One major problem that I've faced with Google Adsense is the verification requirements.

They send a "pin" by general mail and in a country like mine, where the postal service is rather not effective, there's no guarantee that the mail will reach to me.

I've had to request the pin twice before getting it in my hands. ​

On top of that, you also have to wait to make the first $10 before you get the pin for your account verification. ​

Similarly, unless you have $100 as unpaid balance, you are not going to get paid.

Pro Tip:

Get a PO Box so that you can keep track of whether or not the postal mail arrived. If you did not get one, you can verify with your documents after the third request.

​What is affiliate marketing?

Marketing Sherpa estimated that a total of $6.5 billion was earned by marketers worldwide in 2006 and the trend is evolving at a much faster rate today. ​

​Unlike Google Adsense where you get paid per click or per impression, affiliate marketing is a process where you can make money online with conversions. 

Conversions, in a sense, that the links you share on your website or social media channels not only get clicked but someone buys the product from the website you are an affiliate with. 

In fact, the gist about affiliate marketing is you'll be promoting products that other people or companies designed and earn a piece of the profit for the sales you make.​

You find a product, you join in as an affiliate, you make sales with your referral links and you get paid. That is how affiliate marketing works.​

Just like Adsense niche or authority websites, affiliate marketing does not require your time and effort to create your own product. Not just that, you also don't need a system or a platform to sell.

It's all create by e-commerce websites in whatever industry they are in and all you are required to do is to sign up as an affiliate and start marketing your website to make conversions and increase sales.

Affiliate marketing is something that I'm particularly passionate about considering the profit and the competition the system has.

Promoting a third party product puts me in a place where I compete with a lot of marketers trying to earn commissions just like I am. It's all about finding the right product, writing a great copy and marketing the content so that it can get traction on search engines and social media.

In fact, there are tons of affiliate ideas and products that you can promote. You can sell almost anything that comes down to your interest.

I'm particularly fascinated with Amazon affiliate program because there are tons of products I can choose from and despite the low commission of just 4-10%, it's not difficult to make five figures a month.​

With affiliate marketing, I also mean the involved type of affiliate marketing where I have total control over what product to promote and how.

The Pros of Affiliate Marketing​

Affiliate marketing is a model being worked, tested and recommended by most online marketers today.

Unlike Google Adsense that requires tons of traffic, clicks, and good CPCs to make a good chunk of money, affiliate marketing can generate the same revenue even with very little traffic.

All it requires is finding a profitable niche, focusing on long tail keywords, writing an in-depth converting content, building high-quality backlinks, promoting on social media and driving traffic to make the conversion. 

​Here are a few benefits of using affiliate as a primary source of monetization: 

​1. Easy to setup

Starting an affiliate blog or a website is easy. 

All you need to do is find a product you are going to promote, sign up as an affiliate and tracking the conversion.

Each time someone buys a product, you get paid a certain commission.

2. Less marketing skills required

While having the knowledge of content marketing is a plus to make chunk load of earning as an affiliate, there is no need to worry even if you are a beginner.

Affiliate networks provide detailed guides and tutorials that help you gain more knowledge about how you can generate traffic and make sales.

On top of that, there are several blogs and marketers who can guide you through the basics of starting an affiliate website and marketing it so that you get the traction. 

3. No products required​

Just like Google Adsense, you require no products to start an affiliate website.

Affiliate networks list products from different vendors in different industries.

You'll be promoting a product developed and designed by a third party and you don't need to create something for yourself.

Find a product, write a few contents about the product, place your affiliate links, drive traffic, make sales: it's super easy.​

4. Possible growth​

There are several high paying affiliate networks that you can join and start generating money from those networks.

The area of growth is unlimited.

Amazon and Clickbank affiliate programs are some of the most popular ones but it's not just limited with the two.

Most e-commerce businesses run an affiliate program and if your website is related to those in any way, you can start promoting their products and generate sales through your affiliate links.

5. Self-sufficient campaigns​

While a lot of online businesses require a little extra effort in taking orders, shipping products and worrying about payment gateways, affiliate websites are self-sustaining.

You start a campaign and let you network do all the work for you while you sit and see the commission you are paid when the order completes.

​The Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Just like Google Adsense, affiliate marketing has its own drawbacks.​

It is profitable, yes. It is competitive as well.

'Buyer keywords' is what changes the game and puts you back if you do not know what you are doing other than writing great posts and creating your affiliate links.

A lot of marketers and online business owners work rigorously to build backlinks and strengthen their off-page SEO.

I strongly believe that the competition in affiliate marketing is ten folds compared to that with Google Adsense sites. But, it has also grown more profitable.

Here are a few downsides of affiliate marketing:​

1. The competition​

Like I already mentioned, buyer keywords are what make affiliate marketing model tougher than you can imagine.

A lot of online marketers and bloggers can be focusing on the same product or brand that you are promoting.

Talk more about competition, companies, and e-commerce websites also do their SEO and social media promotion to stay ahead and thrive.

So, if you don't want to jump into the pool of thousands of people trying to rank for the same keyword and get into the competition, affiliate marketing is not for you.

Pro Tip:

Get used to competition. Going online means taking a step ahead and joining the pool of people who look forward to standing up and keep moving.

2. Keyword research​

Keyword research plays the pivotal role when it comes to staying ahead and making money through affiliate marketing.

Yes, there is competition.

But there are also streamlines and gateways where you can rank without much work and this is where keyword research comes into play.

I do not mean keyword research is a drawback, but lacking the knowledge of keyword research is taking you nowhere.

You need to know what keywords are profitable for you and what can come down to your budget.

Similarly, it also eats a lot of your time researching keywords, long tails and LSIs that you would want to rank for. 

Pro Tip:

Keyword research takes time, yes. Invest your time to brush up your basics and once you have the know-how, you will only see progress.

3. Investment


Is starting an affiliate website not similar to starting a normal blog? The same investment on domain and hosting server and we are good to go. Was not that we've learnt?

Partly, yes.

But when it comes to affiliate marketing you need to use a few SEO tools to keep track of all the metrics of your site and your competitors.

And, all SEO tools are not free.

Without investing in tools, you can not analyze different metrics that help you gain more ideas and give you a better picture of your online business.

Pro Tip:

Do not refrain yourself from using tools. Spend if you have to. There is always something to gain.

4. No control over programs

Some affiliate networks can be shady and scam you even if you make sales promoting them.

Similarly, a lot of bloggers have complained about good affiliate networks like Amazon closing their account without any detailed notice.

Most of all, if the products are competitive elsewhere, your affiliate conversion can decrease as well. You rely solely on your merchant.

Pro Tip:

Read reviews about your merchant before starting an affiliate website. Make sure you follow the terms and conditions properly.

5. Pay on sale

This is probably the biggest demerit of affiliate marketing.

The conversion in sales is what is called a conversion in affiliate marketing.

If you send traffic and if the visitor does not buy any product, you make nothing.

The merchants only offer you a commission when the sale is complete and if the merchant loses the sale, you earn nothing.

Pro Tip:

Promote products that you've used and tested. If there is something that you do not know about, get an expert and work with him.

What pays the most money?

Google Adsense or Affiliate websites, what is more profitable then?

Well, for me, it is both.

It all comes down to your input, your keyword selection, the quality of articles and several on and off page SEO factors.

Google Adsense has worked really well for me and so has affiliate websites, even when the later one is what I consider a bit tough.

With difficulty, I mean more focus on productivity and development and the same goes for both the models of monetization when it comes to growth. 

Internet marketing is all about testing and what can work the best for oneself.

You are to make your own decision.


There's no winner when you are comparing Google Adsense and affiliate marketing.

Both models of monetizing websites and earning money online have worked, is working and will work forever.

​Make sure you stay focused and have the patience to grow your online business whatever you choose.

What has worked for you? Google Adsense or Affiliate Websites? Write us in the comments below!

Naman Nepal

Founder of Blogger Monk, Naman is an inquisitive (or marginally obsessed) blogger and the hustler in the field of digital marketing.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Rajan - December 22, 2016

Great write-up comparing two aspects of monetization. What has worked more for you? And do you write your own content especially for amazon niche sites or hire writers?

    Naman Nepal - July 4, 2017

    Hi Rajan,

    I’ve been building sites targeting both Adsense and Amazon Affiliate. I still see a lot of gaps in the online market that can be addressed with a bit of a research on keywords.

    While Amazon Affiliate sites are relatively difficult to grow, considering the fact that the major keywords that convert are “buyer-centered,” the profit it yields with the hard work you implement with quality content and effective link building is what can sometimes outcast Adsense revenues for the same amount of work.

    Adsense targeted sites are relatively easy to grow but they also require a lot of testing when it comes to keyword research and ad placement. However, high search volume keywords are equally comparable to Amazon Affiliate site keywords if you talk about difficulty!

    The best way to start is to get started on one particular revenue model and take it from there.

    In regards to writing articles, I do most of the initial work, plan content strategy, write a few articles and train freelancers I can find on Upwork and have them work on the website.


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