How to add ads.txt files to WordPress websites without plugins in 2 minutes

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Is it really that difficult to upload a small text file to your root folder that you need a plugin? Or is using plugins just what website owners do when they don’t want to pay a developer?

Most often when we try to find a solution for a website problem such as ‘how to add an ads.txt file to WordPress’, the advice coming up will be to use a plugin. But do we really need a plugin for every little task on our site? Can we maybe try to avoid security or compatibility issues by doing certain website tasks manually instead?

Jump straight to a step-by-step video tutorial

My answer would be: ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ to the questions above. As with most things in life: ‘No, it’s not difficult, even for non-techies, if someone shows you how to do it step by step like in the video below’. And ‘Yes’, often we just assume it’s too difficult and we go for the next available plugin.

But, let’s have a look why that’s not always the best idea, and how easy and quick it actually is to do it manually with an FTP programme.

How to fix the Google AdSense ‘Earnings at risk’ message

When you log in to your Google AdSense account, you might see an ‘Earnings at risk’ message.

How to add ads.txt files to WordPress websites without plugins in 2 minutes How to add a Google Adsense ads.txt file to WordPress without plugins in 2 minutes. 3 different ways of uploading your file to the root folder and check that it's uploaded successfully.

To remove this risk, it’s recommended to upload a small file to your website to make your seller’s information transparent.

You can of course use a plugin to add the text file. There are plugins for everything today, however, there are a few reasons why you should keep the number of plugins to a reasonable minimum. 

Why should I not use plugins for everything?

First of all, every plugin you add to your site will slow it down, often just a little bit, but it all adds up. Is that really so important? Yes, very important, because readers and search engines don’t like slow sites. That said, not every plugin will slow down your site to the same extent, but more about that a little later.

Another point to remember is that the more plugins you add to your site, the higher the risk will be that you might encounter incompatibility issues on your site. That can lead to a real headache after a software update. 

And then there is your site’s security. Plugins might have some vulnerability that can make it easier for hackers to get access to your site. 

Therefore, I’d recommend that whenever you can add something to your website without the use of a plugin, you should. Especially if it’s something small like a text file which you will have to add once and then will most likely not touch again for a very long time. 

Don’t misunderstand me, plugins are a wonderful addition to any WordPress website, they make it possible for developers and non-developers to create beautiful and well-functioning websites without any coding. I use plugins too of course, but I will always check first if there is an option to do it manually, especially when making small, one-off changes such as adding an ads.txt file. 

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How many plugins should I have on my site?

I hear you asking ‘How many plugins are too many?’ or ‘How many plugins should I have on my site?’ – students ask that all the time. There is no recommended number, it depends on your website and what you’re trying to achieve. Something else I’ve seen over the years and I think is really important: it’s not the quantity of the plugins, but the quality! A poorly coded plugin can slow down your site, whereas all the other plugins on your site can run smoothly. 

Some plugins are so complex, it would be very difficult – and probably impossible for any non-coders – to recreate those incredible options on your site. Plugins like PageRank SEO or this absolute fantastic grid plugin, I’m so thankful for and they really take WordPress websites to a different level. 

However, what I’m trying to say is that you should always think twice before adding another plugin, and spend a little time to figure out whether there is an option to add the desired function easily without the use of a plugin. Especially if it’s something simple, such as adding a bit of one-off code, then the more desirable option would be to integrate that without the use of a plugin. 

If you want to make a change to your theme’s file, you will need to create a child theme first (you can watch my full video tutorial on how to create a child theme) and once that’s done (you just need to do it once) you can make changes to your theme files such as function.php too. And because the changes are added to the child theme, they will stay there forever and won’t be overwritten with the next theme update. 

If there is no easy way of doing it without a plugin, please make sure you read the reviews on the plugin (the negative ones too, not just the top three), check when it was last updated, whether it’s compatible with your current WordPress version and who the author of the plugin is. 

Anyway, back to Google AdSense. Adding an ads.txt file to your root folder does not need a child theme, it’s really simple using any FTP programme and only takes 2 minutes. I like to use FileZilla as it’s easy to use, it’s open-source and even recommended by WordPress, but any File Transfer Protocol (FTP) programme will do the job. So, if you have one already, use that one, the instructions are pretty much the same with all of them. If you don’t have one yet, google for Filezilla or click the link above, check the requirements and download it – it’s free. 


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How to add ads.txt file to WordPress without plugins – step-by-step video

  1. I will show you how to upload the ads.txt file (or any other text file) to the root folder of your website in less than 2 minutes.
  2. I will also give you a detailed overview of your local and remote site in your FTP client
  3. How to find your root folder
  4. Show you 3 different ways how to upload files to your website
  5. How can you check that you uploaded the file successfully
  6. How to add additional information to your ads.txt file if you run ads for other sellers

You can also find written instructions below the video, but the video will give you more detailed information.

How to use FTP to upload files to WordPress for Beginners

Log in to your Google AdSense Account, or click the link in the email they sent you after applying for it.

How to add an ads.txt file to your website's root folder

If you see there an alert on top of the page, click ‘Fix now’.

how to remove google earnings at risk message using FTP

If not, you can just go to ’Sites’. Click the Down arrow, to open the ‘Create an ads.txt file for…’ message.

How to add Google ads.txt file to root folder
Download your Google ads.txt file

Click ‘Download’ and your ads.txt file will be downloaded automatically.

If you run ads for other sellers, contact them and ask for their ads.txt information, then just paste it into the text file you just downloaded from your google AdSense account. Please watch the video for detailed instructions on how to do it.

Connect an FTP programme with your hosting account

I use the FTP programme ‘FileZilla’ in this video. To learn how to connect a FileZilla account with a Siteground hosting account, please check out this video ‘How to connect WordPress with FTP – step-by-step‘ for an easy to follow video tutorial.

Once you have Filezilla downloaded, log in to your FTP programme, open your root folder which is called ‘public_html’ and upload the ads.txt file you just downloaded to that folder, with a double click, or via drag and drop. 

transfer file to root folder of website using FTP programme Filezilla
How to transfer a file to root folder in Filezilla

Check if .txt file is uploaded to root folder correctly

Open a new browser window and enter your domain name followed by /ads.txt. If you uploaded the file correctly you will see the information of the text file in your browser window. It’s very short and doesn’t look like much, but that’s all you need to keep your seller’s information transparent. 

How to find out if a .txt file is uploaded to your root folder correctly
How to check if .txt file is uploaded to root folder correctly using your browser

If you ever change your ad seller, just open the file in your FTP programme, and add or overwrite the information. That’s it! Very easy to do even for non-techie website owners and there is no need for a plugin. 

That’s it, I hope you found this post helpful, to learn how to add an ads.txt file to your WordPress website without plugins, by using an FTP client.

If you want to know more about plugins and how they work and affect your site you can read this very detailed article.

Please let me know in a comment below what you think, we love comments. And feel free to read this about nasty comments, if you’re interested in why some people leave hate comments. 

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