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How to Get More Revenue from AdSense Link Units

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AdSense link units

AdSense link units are textual ads that fit in small spaces while delivering widely varying results.

They deliver different results because they work for some sites and not others. The site topic and geographical reach are factors that impact performance.

Webmaster forums have plenty of comments from some publishers who have succeeded with link units and others who have failed miserably.

For example, experiments with local sites often have weak results. Possible reasons include a lack of inventory because local advertisers — with a heavy emphasis on retail — favor display ads rather than less-impactful text ads.

Their results also depend on where a publisher places them on a page. Not surprisingly, a link unit at the bottom of a long page will not perform as well as one in the middle or near the top. They also seem to perform poorly in sidebar columns.

When to Use Link Units

Still, AdSense link units have strong potential for squeezing more revenue from a site that already has display ads.

A total of three display ads per page has been a general rule of thumb for many years in part because Google insisted on it. Google insisted on it for a good reason: Too many ads will make the page too busy, slow it down in browsers and create too much competition for visitor eyes.

Eventually, the company loosened up the rule, but the impact of too many ads on page performance is unavoidable.

The problem of page performance for link units is far less worrisome. Although they do require another javascript for each unit, they don’t have any images that also impact performance.

Their small size offers another advantage. Publishers have more options on where to place them on a page.

Some page design naturally ends up with extra spaces with nothing in them. Link units can fill those random spaces.

But putting the ads in those small spaces still doesn’t guarantee the kind of revenue performance that makes link units worthwhile.

Link Unit Performance

A niche national site owned by this company,, gets nearly the same impression RPM (revenue per thousand) from link units that it does from AdSense display ads. It’s a surprise because display ads are much larger and more visually impactful than link units.

The surprising performance of these small text ads is likely the result of three factors:

  1. The limited options for where to put display ads.
  2. The extra options for where to put link units.
  3. Plenty of experimentation.

That last factor is especially important. The experimentation has included both placement and color options. Changing colors seems to have had little impact on revenue performance. Placement testing seems to have the most impact.

Either way, these results come from one site plus some others. No two sites are exactly the same, so site publishers should experiment as much as possible to find the right combination of factors.

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