Adsense also looks at search terms

I had been wondering just how much information Google Adsense uses to select the right contextual ads. Specifically, do they use the referring page also. I just got part of the answer:
Adsense: after search on Antwerp

A blog post of mine on Live Traffic Info briefly mentions Antwerp. The Adsense ads on the page normally show geeky ads (‘blogs’, ‘XML’, ‘bandwidth’, … I write about technical stuff too much, mea culpa).
The page also shows up high in Google when you search on antwerp traffic info. Now if you click through on the Google Search Result, you have a very high chance of getting “Antwerp” related ads. Which to me looks like Adsense also takes into account what page you just came from – at least if it’s a SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
(note: it does not work for “brussels traffic info” – apparently no advertisers for Brussels)

This is a list of things Adsense can take into account:

page related
page title, URL, keywords, language
site language, keywords(when Adsense has no info about the specific page)
visitor related
country (from IP address)
user language (from browser)
visit related
previous shown Adsense ads
referring page, search query
ad related
Adword price, ad performance, relevance

7 thoughts on “Adsense also looks at search terms”

  1. When a user enters a keyword which shows up in the url (i.e. “”) AdSense considers this to be a seperate page. Since it’s very likely that AdSense does not yet have this page crawled it can only look at the URL itself. It will consider the domain name, directory name and filename, but most importantly, any parameters like “q”, “search” and “keyword” to target on.
    After the page is crawled by AdSense it may start to match a bit broader. Here’s a good way to proof this: set up a page which contains a story about, ehrm, flowers for example. Now call that page like using an url like ‘’. It will show ads about cars. Wait a few hours, or a day, and call that exact same URL again. You’ll notice that it may still target cars sometimes, but more likely it shows ads about flowers.
    Often, the “keyword targetting” works better than “content targetting”. To always target based on the keyword you could decide to exclude the AdSense crawler in your robots.txt for your search script (not your entire site!), or pass a unique session ID in each URL. I’d go for the first approach however, the latter would just flood the AdSense crawler with URLs, delaying crawls to other pages on your site. Pfew, long comment šŸ˜› Cheers!

  2. Just for the record: geeks don’t click ads, so blogs like mine and yours probably aren’t money makers, but the ideas can be applied in more consumer-oriented blogs. And it’s still fun to play with it and see the results of your modifications.

  3. Excellent topic and you covered it nicely. Adsense is indeed a huge player in the online advertising world and any Google Adsense tips and guides are appreciated. Of course, while millions of publishers are running Adsense, only a handful are making serious money off it. As far as Iā€™m concerned, the best way to make money with Adsense is to develop a website on a niche topic that should also be something you are interested in. Hobby-related sites have the best chances of keeping you, as their webmaster, happy and involved, and this will soon show in the number of visitors and the amounts of money you make.

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