Interview with Tony John – Ruling Silently
I started communicating with Tony John when we organised AdSense webinar (watch it here) few weeks back, and couldn’t stop myself from asking him many more questions about his life, blogging career and technical aspects of Google AdSense.
Mr. Tony John (popularity known as Tony Sir) is one of the first Indian bloggers who have made it big. He is one of the biggest AdSense earners from India, and has been blogging since 1998 just when search engines came into play and most people were even not aware of SEO.
We start this interview with couple of questions about Tony John, followed by some technical and most common questions on AdSense and a few more. So let’s start rolling.
About Tony John
Q1. What was the reason you left a comfortable life in USA and returned to India? How do you feel the difference?
I lived in USA for more than a decade and have been actively blogging when I was working there. Even though we had a very comfortable eco system with lot of good friends and a very well paid job, I had an inner call to return to my home country and live the rest of the life here. My blogging income gave me the confidence to leave my job and return to my home country.
Q2. You are probably the first blogger from India. I don’t think any of the current Indian bloggers were even aware of blogging when you were actively on it. How do you compare today’s blogging with how it was 10 years ago?
When I started blogging, I had no intention to make money and I never thought I could make money from it. I was just doing it out of passion. Only about 5 years later, I realized I could make money out of it. Eventually, I switched to blogging as a business instead of just passion. Today, it is a passion blended business for me. Most of the new generation bloggers start with only one goal – make money. After a lot of hard work, they would earn some money. When they get their first cheque, they would quit their job or studies, which is the biggest mistake they are doing. There wasn’t much competition 10 years ago, but that is not the case any more. It isn’t easy to rank blogs in search engines. No matter how good your blogs are, the search engine traffic could go split on several blogs and the traffic you get could be very low, which would make it difficult to sustain blogging as a business.
Technical Questions about AdSense
Q3. As recently your Adsense account was disabled for the first time ever by Google. Would you like to talk about the incident and reasons why it actually happened?
I started using AdSense since the time the program was introduced. I was in good relation with Google and have several contacts within the AdSense team. I have an account manager as well. With all these, I never thought Google would disable my AdSense account. However, recently Google disabled my AdSense account for some reason that I still believe is not a valid reason to disable an AdSense account. According to Google, we are passing PII (Personally Identifiable Information) to Google servers on some pages that are serving AdSense Ads. Surprisingly, the pages Google reported as violation are the “Forgot Password” page and “Manage Email Subscriptions” page. In both the pages, when user submit their email address in the site, we would send an automatic notification to their email address and that notification contains a link back to our website. That link contains the email address of the person, so that we can identify the user from the email id embedded in the url as querystring. Google considered this as a violation in the form of passing personally identifiable information (email id) through URL. I tried my best to convince Google that there is no compromise on private or personal information in this specific case but unfortunately, Google went ahead and disabled our AdSense account.
Q4. It is a very rare scenario in which Google re-enable a disabled AdSense account. How did you get your account back?
You are right. Once disabled, Google rarely re-enables an AdSense account. But I was pretty confident that I could get it back since I have done no violation of policies. The first thing I did was, approaching my direct contacts with AdSense team. Unfortunately, they were not much helpful and suggested me to go through normal appeal process. But I wasn’t in a hurry to submit the appeal because once rejected, I have no second chance. Finally, I got some help from one of my contacts in Google AdSense team in USA. He gave me some information that there was an internal discussion within the team and my account will be re-enabled if I fix the PII issue and submit an appeal. I had already fixed the issue and I went ahead and submitted a very carefully drafted appeal. After 2 weeks of long waiting, I received the notification that my AdSense account is re-enabled. You can read my article on how to submit an appeal effectively and get AdSense account back.
Some Most Asked Questions on AdSense
Q5. Do Account age/type and country also matter in earnings and better CPC or is it just about niche & keywords?
Account age doesn’t affect directly, but there are some ways it can matter indirectly. For example: if you own a site since 10 or 15 years, then over a period of time you would have got many direct advertisers who would put placement-targeted ads on your sites. That will give you good CPC since placement targeted ads are the best way to get the highest paid ads.
Q6. Please share your experience on different Ad sizes and types and which ones result in best CTR / CPC.
Google keeps giving me a lot of suggestions asking me to try different options. However, what I have found is, the CTR and CPC can vary mostly according to the niche and placement. In some websites text ads seem to be performing well and in some other ads, display ads are performing better. We can’t generalize any one type of ad or one size is better than others. In most cases, I use both. There are certain sites where the audience are really matured and they usually ignore display ads. In such cases, I would go for text ads. Same goes true for different size ads as well. In most cases, I have seen 336×280 ads give the highest CPC but it depends on the placement as well. I would recommend a 728×90 in the top header just below the primary title and page summary, which is performing the best for me in most of my websites.
Q7. Do Valid clicks with high CTR result in BAN?
Of course not. Just like you, Google also like to see high CTR but only valid clicks. If your readers are clicking on the ads out of interest, then it is perfectly alright. In some highly targeted niche websites, CTR could be very high, especially if you have too little graphics and minimal ads. However, one side effect of high CTR is, it may trigger a manual audit and Google may thoroughly review your site for compliance when they notice high CTR. So, make sure your site is fully compliant with AdSense policies.
Q8. How to avoid click bombing?
The best way to achieve this is to stay away from provoking people and avoid showcasing your revenue reports. Most people will envy on your achievements and try to click-bomb you.
Q9. How to keep your account safe in case of click bombing?
First and most important thing is, try to avoid click bombing on your site. Once you notice click bombing, I would suggest you to wait and watch for a couple of hours. If it continues, then remove the site from “authorized sites” list and keep it unauthorized until the click bombing stops.
Also, report the invalid activity to Google. If it doesn’t stop after 1 or 2 days, check your stats and see if it is coming from a limited number of IPs. If they are, then you can block the IPs. In most cases, what I have seen is, the bad guys will get tired after 2-3 days of click activities. If your account is in good standing, there is nothing to worry and Google will do nothing other than canceling the invalid earnings.
Q10. Can we access multiple AdSense accounts from Single IP?
There are absolutely no problems in accessing multiple AdSense accounts from same ip address. I operate 3 separate AdSense accounts for the businesses I am associated with. Also, I login to numerous AdSense accounts of other people to help them troubleshoot their problems.
This can become a problem only if you own several accounts with the intention of cheating the system. In that case, if Google finds out one of the cheating account, it may be able to trace down other accounts logging in from the same IP and disable all of them if they all have matching account owner information.
Hot Questions Young Bloggers are Asking ..
Q11. Long term vs short term blogging – Which one should one go for?
You can do a balanced approach of both. There is nothing wrong in achieving your results using short term blogs, if that is what you like to do. Build one or two long term blogs and at the same time, you can work on couple of short term blogs that can bring you money in short time. Most businesses have short term and long term goals. Why should the bloggers be different? For example, I am building an Indian travel blog with some long term goals of making it one of the best travel blogs in India. I’m not expecting this blog to make any money during first few years. But I have other short term blogs that are making money but they may not exist more than a few years.
Q12. Should I quit my primary job/study and get into blogging?
I am strongly against anyone quitting their studies to become a fulltime blogger. Blogging, just like any other business, should be considered as a fulltime career only after you finish your studies. Even after studies, I would recommend you to do this as a part time activity until your blogs become successful and you start making really good money. I started blogging in 1998 and I was making more money from my blogs than my American salary. But I continued my job until 2011. I quit my primary job as a software architect in USA just a few years ago to become a full time blogger after returning to my home country.
Final Two ….
Q13. We would like to take this opportunity to know about your successful project http://www.indiastudychannel.com/. How did you plan it, and where do you drive majority of traffic from? It’s so much of work, so you do have a team which works on your projects right?
IndiaStudyChannel was originally developed to help my brother on his engineering project. The teachers and other students were impressed on this project, so we decided to host it as a public website. With lot of hard work, the site started picking up good traffic and today it is the most visited educational websites in India. Majority of the traffic comes from organic search. We don’t have an office or office staff. The entire show is managed by the webmasters and a small set of volunteering editors who work part time and from their own home.
Q 14. Final words
Stay focused on your blogs, don’t keep starting new blogs every day. Most bloggers fail because they get attracted by seeing false income reports in the internet and try to imitate those bloggers.
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Also read -> Guide on Getting Google AdSense Approval with Ease
About the Author
Gaurav Jaggi is a professional digital marketer, SEO consultant & a realtime guide for aspiring bloggers.