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DonnaCavalier

Google Zaps Sites With Too Many Ads Above The Content

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Just in case you noticed any changes, here's something from Matt Cutts today.

 

http://googlewebmast...mprovement.html

 

In our ongoing effort to help you find more high-quality websites in search results, today we’re launching an algorithmic change that looks at the layout of a webpage and the amount of content you see on the page once you click on a result.

 

 

As

we’ve mentioned previously

, we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change.

 

 

More blah blah blah...

 

 

and then another interesting tidbit...

 

 

If you decide to update your page layout, the page layout algorithm will automatically reflect the changes as we re-crawl and process enough pages from your site to assess the changes. How long that takes will depend on several factors, including the number of pages on your site and how efficiently Googlebot can crawl the content. On a typical website, it can take several weeks for Googlebot to crawl and process enough pages to reflect layout changes on the site.

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So...I wonder about this. Some of the very best websites have a lot of ads stuck all over them above the page fold. I have my doubts on whether they will be penalized for it. I've been wondering about the case with sliders above the page fold that appears before content. It's becoming common. I've been experimenting with it and have concluded that they can be annoying due to load time. The same thing can be said for ads. If the Google gods decide sliders are a user issue, then we have to tend to that too.

 

Once again, site design and marketing is held hostage to Google. Am I only one getting really sick of this?

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This is nothing unexpected, there has been talk about this due to patents for some years and definitely ever since Panda a year ago. I wonder how much of what Mr. Cutts says is really 'new' and how much is simply newly admitted.

 

 

So...I wonder about this. Some of the very best websites have a lot of ads stuck all over them above the page fold. I have my doubts on whether they will be penalized for it.

...

I've been wondering about the case with sliders above the page fold that appears before content.

...

Once again, site design and marketing is held hostage to Google. Am I only one getting really sick of this?

Those sites that Google believes have enough stature (think navigational queries) will never be touched unless sufficient publicity forces some minimal finger slap. What I watch is not those types of sites but rather Google 'partner' sites - if they change or are penalised then G is serious. If not while smaller less associated sites are then G is simply playing the PR game. Time will tell.

 

Re- sliders et al... if you have to ask then... seriously, I don't know. I suspect it will come down to what appears above the fold: if the header, nav and ads extend too far down then... often increasing page width and/or eliminating a sidebar can 'raise up' content... the appropriate mix is a test situation based on a business decision. As a usability professional I suspect that your 'feel' is likely reasonable going forward until more details come forth.

 

Re- hostage to G... Perhaps it is time to put the effort into looking beyond G for traffic and for revenue. That is a business decision. Your (as in individual webdev) business decision.

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Perhaps it is time to put the effort into looking beyond G for traffic and for revenue

 

I'm using Bing more. It bothers me that millions of site owners have to make business decisions based on the practices of ONE search engine.

 

While I support Google's love and devotion to the user experience, when do they start to cross the line? We've had much worse design distractions, like frames, blinking/spinning images, 3D, etc.

 

There's a nice article on this: Google announces above-the-fold algorithm change

 

 

Google’s Algorithm Change in a Nutshell

What Matt Cutts described is essentially this (interpreted through my own understanding): If you muck up your site above the fold with so much pollution that site visitors have a difficult time getting right to the content that page’s search result refers to, Google’s now going to get even more annoyed. Because users get annoyed. And while users get annoyed at an emotional level, Google’s getting annoyed is algorithmic – which means your site will feel Google’s wrath.

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I don't mean to play devils advocate, but I don't see an issue with this - it makes total sense. I really think this is more so for sites with Adsense blocks above the content and as the first thing you see. If you really think about it, Google will probably lose money from adsense by penalizing those sites who place the ad boxes above the fold, so In my opinion they are sacrificing that in order to preserve the quality of results.

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Hey Evolver, I know you!

 

It is odd, as you say. It's good that Google is still promoting content as the critical part of a web page. Both people and bots want and need it. But distractions can be blamed on so many things and on some types of sites, like the entertainment and fashion industries, its the images that convey the message - not text. This frustrates users too. Some of these artistic sites are nearly impossible to figure out and its easy to abandon them. So, what does this mean? Will Google start penalizing not just ads that are distracting to users, but other design techniques too?

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Interesting. My best performing ad is a big leaderboard ad that is right below my header. I still have content above the fold, but I'm wondering if I'll suffer because I have the ad first.

 

I've also noticed a decrease in search traffic over the last 2 days. Coincidence? I'll let it go a few more days and maybe try a trial without the ad in that place.

 

Grrrr.

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This seems to instruct webmasters to... "Load the left and right columns with ads and float your content at the top of the center column."

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How about the page that you are viewing right now... the header is... what? 300 pixels high..... then a big adsense that is nearly 100 high.... the first line of the post is over 600 pixels below the top of the browser window.

 

That's pretty extreme in my opinion. I've seen sites getting whacked (apparently) for higher content.

 

Just tossing this out to see what people say.

 

ADDED ==============

 

heh... look at this.... in the Webmaster Central article comments...

 

DanielRoofer says....

 

Now perhaps you could explain why it's acceptable for Google to go ahead with this "not a very good user experience" approach to above-the-fold ads in their own search result pages, but when small businesses do the same they suffer loss of revenues because of your hypocritcal policies? You are starving small websites of the opportuniy to earn revenue while creaming it off yourself.
Edited by EGOL
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You are starving small websites of the opportuniy to earn revenue while creaming it off yourself.

 

Yep. I REALLY don't like this. It's no wonder why marketers don't like usability folks! :saywhat:

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Thanks for sharing this humourous snippet with us. Won't change a thing.

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I think the GOOG can figure out what an ad is and what isn't, and I betcha the algorithm isn't weighing this too much for a sites homepage. So it's gonna say, OK, if the homepage loads and the content is pushed down, it's probably using some kind of splashy/slider/featured content. But if said page is just that, a sub-page, blog post, etc, and it has all this crap above the fold, then it's likely advertising so let's penalize it.

 

Just my 2 cents on how they're probably thinking about it.

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Gonna affect less than 1% results so I don't expect it to have much false positives like first iteration of Panda had.

 

<<<removed link>>>also i think it'd id all those heatmap optimized wp themes

 

Actually a #goodmove by Google IMHO

Edited by iamlost
no random outing of sites

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I wonder how many people have not made changes already though. When Panda first rolled out a lot of SEOs were saying that adverts above the fold were a problem, although that turned out just to be a coincidence. But many people may have rejigged the adverts.

 

Another interesting move by Google though - they told everyone, again. They could have changed the algo and not said a word and waited for the community to work it out. Maybe Google has finally realised that if it really wants people to create better quality sites (based on their criteria, not yours!) they just need to tell people what they are going to hammer next.

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One has to be careful when reading Google or Googleer comments. And to remember the scale that G works at. For instance: that 1% of results = 1% of queries = ~30-million queries each and every day that will be impacted in some fashion.

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One has to be careful when reading Google or Googleer comments. And to remember the scale that G works at. For instance: that 1% of results = 1% of queries = ~30-million queries each and every day that will be impacted in some fashion.

 

 

Agreed. But still don't think there'd be chances of false positives in this particular algo. It's much more an open/shut case than what Panda algo attempts ( site quality )

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Is it though? If I sold banners at the top of my site that were just images, with the links being blocked by robots (as every advert should) how would Google know that was an advert and not a part of the site?

 

Maybe we should keep a beady eye out for people with photography blogs complaining about lost traffic....

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OK, so lots of people up in arms about this, but are we aware yet of any site that has actually suffered?

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Doubtful, Jon,I think these statements tend to be more about warning signals ahead of an algo change.

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