How to show ads to only search engine visitors using Who Sees Ads

May 24th, 2010
HOW-TO, WordPress FAQs, WordPress Plugins

Perennial Weblog Tools Collection community favorite Who Sees Ads can be used to show ads only to certain visitors – such as people who have arrived on your site from a search engine. It’s a useful way to improve your click-through-ratio, and please your regular readers by hiding ads from them.

This is a quick introduction to using the plugin. Showing ads only to search engine visitors is extremely simple – Who Sees Ads can do much, much more. Check out the links at the end of this article for more information.

NOTE: Although the plugin says it’s for WordPress 2.5, it works fine with WordPress 2.92. I haven’t been able to test it with 3.0 yet because I don’t have any 3.0 test sites indexed in any search engines yet. Anyone else know if it works with 3.0?

If you don’t want to do this with a plugin, you can do it with some simple PHP, see here.

1. Install and activate Who Sees Ads.

NOTE: If you use WordPress Firewall (and I recommend you do), you’ll need to deactivate it while you install, activate, and configure this plugin.

2. Click “Who Sees Ads” under “Settings” on the dashboard.

3. Under “Edit Contexts” type a name for your context, preferably something descriptive like “Search Engines Only.”

4. Drag the “if Visitor comes from a search engine then Display” box from the “Possible Rules” box to the “Active Rules” box.

Who Sees Ads? Screenshot 1

5. Paste the code for your ad (from Adsense or wherever) into the “Ad Code” box.

Who Sees Ads? Screenshot 2

6. Under “Edit Context” select the context your just created. Code for your new context should appear. You can now copy and paste this into posts or into your theme templates.

Who Sees Ads? Screenshot 3

That’s all you need to do to get this very simple configuration to work – but wouldn’t it be nice if you could drop that PHP code into a widget? You can, but you’ll need another plugin for that.

7. Install and activate Samsarin PHP Widget – this plugin allows you to add widgets to your sidebar that can execute PHP code.

8. Go to “Widgets” under “Appearance” on the dashboard.

9. Drag an instance of Samsarin PHP Widget to your sidebar and position it where you want the ads to appear.

10. Paste the code from step 6 in the widget.

Don’t forget to turn WordPress Firewall back on if you turned it off.

For a look at some other things you can do with this plugin:

9 Ways to Make Your WordPress Blog “Smart”

Hiding Advertisements For Single Posts

And of course visit the plugin homepage for even more documentation and ideas!




  1. quicoto (39 comments.) says:

    Nice. The idea is great, we don’t have to spam our regular readers with ads :)


  2. Jean-Baptiste Jung (4 comments.) says:

    That’s a good technique to maximize your income. You can also do this without even using a plugin. I remember seeing a snippet which shown how to do it.

  3. Andrew@BloggingGuide (90 comments.) says:

    This is a really interesting plugin. Using this plugin would increase loyal readers because ads will be hidden from those that are there on your site mainly for the info. I will definitely use this plugin.

  4. Babs (37 comments.) says:

    I stumbled upon the conflict between WSA and WordPress Firewall back when I first read your post about Firewall. :P So it is cool to reactivate the firewall after working with WSA?

    You don’t really need another plugin to place ads in your wigedtized areas. If you go to your Widget page you’ll see that WSA has automatically created widgets for all of the ads you’ve run through it.

    • Klint Finley says:

      Oh sweet, I didn’t realize that it created widgets for you. I’ll update accordingly.

      I haven’t had any trouble w/ WSAs and WP-Firewall since I turned the Firewall back on.

  5. Ajay (11 comments.) says:

    Never heard of this plugin and never felt a need for it. You probably need this plugin if you are displaying only one advert. If you are rotating your adverts or using Adsense then probably you don’t need to hide adverts from regular visitors.

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