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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 ads.txt files 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?
My answers to the questions above would be: ‘No we don’t, of course, we can add txt files without plugins’ and ‘Yes, by using fewer plugins we can improve website security and have less compatibility issues as there are fewer plugins to keep up to date’.
As with most things in life, it’s not difficult to add a txt file without a plugin, even for non-techies, if someone shows you how to do it step-by-step like in the video below it’s actually really easy and quick to do. Often we just assume it’s too difficult and we go for the next available plugin without checking if it’s easy to do old school.
But, let’s have a look at why that’s not always the best idea, and how easy and quick it actually is to add ads.txt files manually with an FTP programme.
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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.
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 Rank Math 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 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.
Do I need to create a child theme?
If you want to make a change to your theme’s files, 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. Using a child theme is the easiest and safest way to modify an existing theme because the changes are added to the child theme, they will stay there forever and won’t be overwritten with the next theme update.
Add a text file to your root folder with FileZilla
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 for most 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.
If you are enjoying this post so far, would you mind to share it with your network? Yes, it’ll mean a lot to me. However, sharing helpful content on social media will benefit you too. People will realise you are someone to go to for great information. Just one click:Did you know that plugins can slow down your site and some can add a security risk to your website? See how easy you can add an ads.txt file to your root folder in 2 minutes without plugins using an FTP client. Click To Tweet
How to add ads.txt file to WordPress without plugins – step-by-step video
- 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.
- I will also give you a detailed overview of your local and remote site in your FTP client
- How to find your root folder
- Show you 3 different ways how to upload files to your website
- How can you check that you uploaded the file successfully
- 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
If you want to add an ads.txt file with FTP, you will first have to log in to your Google AdSense Account or click the link in the email they sent you after applying for it.
If you see there an alert on top of the page, click ‘Fix now’.
If not, you can just go to ’Sites’. Click the Down arrow, to open the ‘Create an ads.txt file for…’ message.
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 access 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.
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.
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 the Filezilla 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.
If you’re interested in more WordPress tutorials on how to start a blog with lots of clever WordPress hints and tips. You can check out our full index How to start a blog in 2021 Index- step-by-step WordPress tutorials so far and I’ll keep updating this index as the WordPress tutorial guide develops.