Want to make some quick money with almost no work? If you don't already have AdSense ads on your site, you should think about getting started.

Google's AdSense places contextual ads on your web pages, and keywords defined by advertisers are matched to your site's content by Google. You make money each time someone on your site clicks on one of the ads. You can set filters so your competitors' ads aren't displayed on your site, and you can restrict the ad content by region and language.

This article will point out a few ways you can manage the ads on your website so they make you more money. We'll talk about three key issues: ad design, ad location and keywords.

You'll be surprised to learn just how much control you have over these elements--and you'll be delighted to see how much more money a few small changes can make you.

Designing for Dollars
Yes, "content is king," but good design is the crown jewel. Spend a few minutes getting the look of your AdSense ads right, and the payoff to you is priceless.

  • Tweak the color. Make the ads blend into your content so they'll be perceived by visitors to your site as supplementary or supporting information. Visitors are much more likely to click on links that look like part of the content they're reading.

You can change the color of the background and the color of the links to match those on your web pages. There are two ways to do this. One is a cinch: Use the pre-formatted colors that Google offers. The other requires a bit of HTML knowledge: Hand code the colors so you get an exact match to the ones on your site.

As an alternative design plan, consider changing the colors from time to time to keep things fresh for returning visitors who might suffer from "ad blindness"--viewers often automatically filter out any content they've seen before.

  • Align the images. Use images on your site as "captions" for the AdSense ads that appear. Now, of course, they won't have a direct relationship to each ad because you don't know exactly which ads will be placed on your page. The purpose of the images isn't to explain the ads, but to draw the eye and then lead it down or across to the text. Since that text is your ad, the image has just increased the chances that the ad will be clicked.

If you try this strategy, be aware that Google's algorithm is always looking for ways to get your ads to make you more money, and that could mean it might override your default settings. If you've asked for a four-ad banner, but Google knows that three ads will make you more money because of its keywords, then the images you've carefully aligned for four ads will be out of whack.

  • Run from the border! Unless... Borders separate the ads from the content. This visual separation works against your careful attempts to integrate the ads with the content. (Remember: Your goal is to integrate the ads as much as possible so they appear to be just one more valuable piece of relevant content on your site.)

For that reason, you should not use any of the pre-set borders Google gives you.

But if you use the "image caption" trick described above, Google requires that you use a border or a line separation between the images and the ads. The solution is to create your own line separation that's consistent with other design elements on your page.

Location, Location, Location!

When we talk about the location of your ads, we don't mean where they appear on each page.

What we're emphasizing here is that there are methods of setting up AdSense ads to appear on pages other than your own website pages. Increasing the variety of pages you put AdSense ads on can really boost your click-through rate. We'll also tell you about the kind of website page on which to never let an AdSense ad appear.

  • Extend your reach with AdLinks. When you sign up for AdSense, you also have the opportunity to display AdLinks. These are text links that take your visitor to a page of AdSense ads when clicked. The text links are related to the topics on your site, just like AdSense ads, but you get more of them and they might cover a wider range of relevant topics.

If space on your site is limited, AdLinks are a terrific idea because they're much more compact than AdSense ads. The downside is it takes two clicks (one on the text link and one on the resulting ad) before you make any money from them.

  • Put AdSense ads in RSS feeds. If you have more than 100 subscribers to your RSS feed, you can apply to have AdSense ads appear whenever the feed is pulled by a news reader. The ads are matched by the content of the entire feed, not just the title and teaser.

You need to put a snippet of code, provided by Google, into your feed, and the ads are then rendered when a reader downloads your feed. The text-based AdSense ad is converted to a graphic that remains stable even after it's downloaded by the reader. (If the ad remained in text form, the news reader would detect a new article each time the ad changed and would reload it.)

  • Use Web Search on your site. Putting a Google Web Search box on your site adds functionality for your visitors and potential ad revenue for you. When your site visitors search, Google places ads directly related to their search topics on the results page.

This has two benefits for you: You keep traffic on your site longer because visitors don't have to leave to do a Google search; and, of course, you make money when they click on one of the related ads.

  • Keep your sales pages for your own sales. Do not place AdSense ads on any web page designed to sell your visitors your product. This includes your salesletter as well as any page on which they can make a purchase. You'll make a lot more money by having your customers buy your product than by having them click away on an AdSense ad. Don't mix the messages by giving them more than one thing to "buy."

Keep the AdSense ads on your content and news pages, add them to your newsletter archive pages, but don't put them on your sales pages.

Follow the Money
The amount of money you make from AdSense ads is partly determined by the value of the keywords in the ads--in other words, how much advertisers have paid to use those keywords. Try to attract the big-money ads to your site by generating content that includes those high-paying keywords.

  • Find the expensive words... If you've signed up for Google's AdWords program, then you already have some resources to help you determine the cost of different keywords. For the rest of us, a bit of detective work is necessary.

Start with Google itself. Do a Google search using the keywords you want to use on your site. Pay attention to the wording of the ads that show up in the right margin--the ads at the top have the higher-paying words in them. You can piggyback on the ad revenue for those words by using them in your site's content.

You can also find the pricey keywords by tapping into keyword databases. Try these three:

www.bestfreekeywords.com
www.factsaboutadsense.com
www.toppayingkeywords.com

  • ...But not at the expense of your credibility. It might be tempting to create all your content around certain high-paying keywords just to benefit from the click-through payments. However, your visitors are savvy enough to know when they're being manipulated, and they won't tolerate it.

If your content ceases to be useful, relevant or interesting to them, they'll stop coming to your site entirely. And you'll have lost not only the high-paying click-throughs, but also the bigger money from product sales.

Final Thoughts
The only criteria Google has for ad placement is relevant content, so AdSense puts your site on an equal footing with much bigger, "more valuable" sites. It's not your bank balance that competes with the big guys for ad revenue but the quality of your content.

Google doesn't actually reveal how much you can make from running AdSense ads on your site--and other site owners are restricted in how much information they can release to the public. Therefore, specific numbers are hard to predict.

It's safe to say, though, that with almost no effort it's possible to bring in a little money, and if you apply yourself, it's possible to make a bundle!

Derek Gehl is Entrepreneur.com's "E-Business" columnist and the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses.