Types of AdSense And How To Use Them For Maximum Earnings

Types of AdSense And How To Use Them For Maximum Earnings

There are currently six broad types of AdSense, the last three of which you can safely ignore for now (and probably forever)…

  1. AdSense for Content
  2. AdSense for Search
  3. AdSense for Mobile
  4. AdSense for Video
  5. AdSense for Games
  6. AdSense for Shopping

AdSense for Content is what you might call “regular AdSense.” It is the one you will want to add to your site if you are just starting out (and the one this article will focus on).

New to AdSense? Check out our AdSense Primer article first.

AdSense for Search (which allows you to add a search box to your pages — one that earns you money!) is the next type you will want to add to your pages. Learn more about it here…


The remaining types of AdSense are more obscure, at least for the beginner. They are worth mentioning, though, in case you run into them on your travels and wonder if you’ve missed something important.

Get content ads right first, then think about expanding your AdSense portfolio.

A Closer Look at AdSense for Content

1. Sizes…

Google provides a wide variety of ad formats… there’s one to fit into just about any position on any page! Think of them as “coming in three basic shapes,” each provided in three basic sizes (S, M, L!)…

1) Horizontal

Billboard (970 x 250), Super Leaderboard (970 x 90), Leaderboard (728 x 90), Large Mobile Banner (320 x 100), Banner (468 x 60), Half Banner (234 x 60), Mobile Banner (320 x 50)

2) Vertical

Portrait (300 x 1050), Large Skyscraper (300 x 600), Wide Skyscraper (160 x 600), Skyscraper (120 x 600), Vertical Banner (120 x 240)

3) Roughly Square

Large Rectangle (336 x 280), Medium Rectangle (300 x 250), Square (250 x 250), Small Square (200 x 200), Small Rectangle (180 x 150), Button (125 x 125)

4) Responsive

Like dynamic page design that controls how a page displays depending upon the device being used, a responsive ad unit allows you to control the ad sizes on your page. You can get more information on responsive ad units here:  https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/3213689?hl=en&ref_topic=3641113

5) Custom Size

These are fixed-size ads for which you can customize dimensions. Use these types of ads sparingly as the number of advertisers targeting these ads will be limited. Replacing standard ad units for custom units could negatively impact your income. More information on custom-sized ads can be found here: https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/3289364?hl=en&ref_topic=3640746

You’ll find all the formats at…


If this list seems overwhelming, let’s narrow down the choice to just four units…

  • Large Rectangle (336 x 280)
  • Medium Rectangle (300 x 250)
  • Wide Skyscraper (160 x 600)
  • Leaderboard (728 x 90)

Why these four? Because they are the sizes recommended by Google themselves (and by many of our customers). Put simply, they’re the units most likely to maximize your AdSense earnings.

Does that mean you shouldn’t use any of the other shapes and sizes? No, it doesn’t…

  • You might have a small corner of your site that is just perfect for a 125 x 125 button.
  • The 234 x 60 half banner could be your best-performing ad unit.

…but you need to start somewhere, so it makes sense to start with the recommended units (particularly the two rectangles) before experimenting with other sizes.

2. Text vs. Image Ads…

Just as there are recommended sizes to use, so there is a recommended ad type: text ads. The majority of our customers report their best results using only these and ignoring image ads.

But image ads exist, and you certainly shouldn’t discount them. For some site owners, image outperforms text. The only way you will know what works for your site is to test both.

If you allow Google to show text or image ads in a particular unit (and you can specify this when you build the unit), it increases the available inventory of ads for your pages. Google claims that the more available inventory, the more competition there is for your ad space, and the more opportunity to earn. That could result in increased revenues. Image ads show in rotation with text ads. On a page by page basis, Google’s technology determines whether text ads or image ads are likely to make you more money, and it serves the best ads to your page.

That’s the theory. The jury is still out.

Image ads are optional. For the full details about image ads, see…


There’s a risk with image ads. They might “smell” like advertising. People look at text ads almost as content. If you feel that image ads might be right for you, after reviewing the details about them, run a test. It’s easy enough to drop them if your Click-Through Rate on image ads is poor compared to text ads.

3. Link Units…

Link units come under the AdSense for Content umbrella, but they’re different from the ad units discussed so far.

For a start, they look different, as you’ll see here…


They come in two basic formats…

  • Vertical link units (120×90, 160×90, 180×90, 200×90). Many site owners use these near the top of the sidebar.
  • Horizontal link units (468×15, 728×15). The 468 unit can work well at the top of the content area.

Other than looking different than regular ad units, link units perform differently…

When visitors click one of the links, they’re taken through to a page of related ads (much like a search engine results page). You won’t receive any money for this first click, only for the second click, if visitors click on one of the related ads.

If this makes you think that link units aren’t as profitable as text or image units, you aren’t wrong. However…

  • They can be tucked away in areas of the page that are too small for “regular” ads.
  • They’re not an alternative to text and image ads, but an added extra. Google allows you to display up to three regular ad units on a page plus up to three link units.

So even if you don’t make your fortune with link units (and you probably won’t), they’re still a very useful add-on.

4. The Dreaded Blank Space

Sometimes, not very often, Google will be unable to fill an ad unit with advertising.

Whenever this happens, the space is filled with…

  • A blank space (this is the default).
  • A solid color of your choice.
  • Ads from another URL.

You have the option of selecting which one you prefer when you build the ad unit.

What’s next? Calculate how much you could earn from AdSense and subscribe to the SiteSell Newsletter for more AdSense and other website monetization tips.


SiteSell is a privately held Canadian-based company that helps everyday people start profitable online businesses.