Alternate title: “Why the eff aren’t my Google Ads showing up?!?!” If you’re a new or fairly new blogger like me, with grand hopes of monetizing your blog to develop an additional income stream, this post is for you. We’re going to troubleshoot Google AdSense on your blog. Or my blog. Or whatever.
My Blog and Its Meager Progress
I’ve posted before on the glamorous life of a newbie blogger and the
pathetic very tiny income that I earn from it. Obviously, I’m not in this gig to get rich right away. But my hope is that over the next two, three, five years, whatever, I might get a little bit of an income stream from it that would be some bonus money. And in the meantime, it’s fun to use the blog as a sort of investment diary. As a bonus, I’ve made some fun online friends and have learned a lot from other blogs and investors, too.
So without putting a lot of pressure on myself or the blog, I’ve been keeping a bit of a lazy eye on Google AdSense.
What’s Google AdSense?
Let me back up just a minute in case you’re super new to blogging, or haven’t started your blog yet. Google AdSense is a service that puts dynamic ads on your blog for you. You start your blog, post content for a little while, and then open an AdSense account. Someone at Google reviews your website to make sure it meets their terms of service requirements. Generally speaking, you have to post semi-regularly for a certain length of time, and you can’t have too much non-family-friendly content. A few swears are ok, but loads of foul language, porn, or things like that will get your account denied.
If your website is approved, Google will give you a code that you can incorporate into HTML ad boxes on your site. You can build your site in WordPress, add HTML content boxes, and plug in the codes for your AdSense ads (or use a plugin). When a visitor views your blog page, Google will populate the HTML spaces with advertisements that are supposed to be targeted at the user.
For bloggers, this is a great way to earn revenue without having to work too hard for it. We have to write our blog posts and maintain our own blogs, of course, but we don’t have to manually put in different ads or do any tracking. Google handles all that for you. You get a small amount of money (a little over a buck) if a reader clicks on an ad on your site, and a super small amount of money (like pennies) if a lot of visitors see the ad.
It’s nice. When it works.
So What’s the Problem?
The problem is that it’s not working! I’ll admit that I haven’t been watching it like a hawk. I noticed toward the tail end of July that there were a couple of days that I checked and I had zero revenue. Weird. Every once in a while, though, I get zero-dollar days, so it’s not unprecedented.
I forgot about it for a couple weeks or so, but when I looked again in mid-August, I saw that it was zero again. And again a few days later. That’s weird. I was at work at the time, so I resolved to look into it when I had more time to investigate.
I finally looked at it again today. Now I see that for the past 30 days, my revenue has been zero. Crap. Something is definitely going on. Now I just need to figure out what.
Steps to Troubleshoot Google AdSense
I loaded my website and noticed that none of the ads were populating. This isn’t something I normally pay too much attention to. (Apparently I haven’t noticed that the ads have been blank for over a month.)
My first thought was that there might be something wrong with my Google AdSense plugin. I logged on to WordPress. The plugin was already updated to its latest version, so that wasn’t it. I disabled and re-enabled the plugin, and then refreshed the page. No change.
Next, I double-checked the settings on the plugin itself. I moved around a couple of the ad positions to see if that would get it working again. Nope. Grr. Now I’m starting to get mad.
The plugin could be defective, especially since there was a WordPress update fairly recently. I disabled the Google AdSense plugin and found another one. This new plugin required me to manually enter the HTML code for each ad. That’s one extra step, but fine. I logged into the Google AdSense website to get the automatically generated HTML code.
Oh no. Now I see the problem.
Address Verification Issues?
I logged in, and this was what my home page looked like. First, you can see that I’ve gotten zero revenue the past 28 days. That’s not good. But second, you see that skinny red bar at the top? There’s the real problem. In case you can’t read it, it says “Your ad units are not displaying ads because you haven’t yet verified your address (PIN).”
I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, so I clicked on the Action button. Then this screen popped up:
Son of a… I vaguely recall that when I signed up for AdSense, it had some account verification requirements then, and said that it would do an additional verification later around the time it was planning to issue a payment. But I figured that I’d get plenty of notice about that via email. I also figured that if I didn’t verify my address promptly, they would just hold payment, not turn off the ads. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.
Google first sent me a PIN on March 24, 2016. I never got it. Our local post office is not the most reliable, unfortunately. And if it was one of those little postcard-sized notifications, there’s a chance that it got mixed up inside the weekly grocery store ads and I threw it away.
In any event, I didn’t get it. Also, you see that part at the top of the page where it says “In the meantime, your account remains active, and you may continue to show ads and accrue earnings”? Not true. Maybe it’s true for the first few months, but once you get to four months, the ads clearly stop. Mine stopped four months to the day after they sent the notice. This is so frustrating.
No Secondary Communication
The crazy part about the whole thing is that Google has other contact information for me, but it didn’t reach out in any other way. Google could have sent me an email to the email address is registered with AdSense. It could’ve used my cell phone number, which is registered to my email (Gmail) and probably also with AdSense and my domain name (also bought through Google). I can’t believe that a secondary communication isn’t part of their protocol. Google is normally so good with all of their procedures. This mess-up with AdSense is one of the very rare occasions where I feel like Google just completely dropped the ball.
Unfortunately, the only way to fix it is to request a new PIN and wait for Google to mail it to me. I will be watching the mail like a hawk for the next 4 weeks. Hopefully it will come quickly, so I can re-start the ads. In the meantime, enjoy the white space, folks!