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Pubcon info: Content/Ads position is becoming a ranking factor

 5:24 pm on Nov 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google announced In Pubcon that Content/Ads position on a certain page is going to be a factor in ranking.
First off, hasn't Panda already addressed this issue.
2nd. Looking at Google Search page most of the results are under fold while the ads positioned above and colors are merged.

3rd. Adsense keep asking to put more ads on a page.

4th. To what extent this is a factor? 10%? 20%?

5th. Why 2M traffic site/brands with premium accounts can select variety of ad formats while others don't have that option.
Is it a fair play?

[edited by: Zivush at 6:16 pm (utc) on Nov 10, 2011]



 3:43 pm on Nov 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Very interesting reading for sure.

Why is it nobody speaks about content farms anymore and most posting are feeling under attack? Panda and these major algo changes were for the content farmers. I haven't heard that term. Did Cutts use it lately?

Google doesn't mind a loss in terms of market share. Less government scrutiny, throw off Bing who is copying them, etc. More profit with less market share is the holy grail for Google.

Spam team can say whatever they want. They are to me seeming to be the ones left out of the loop. The ones fighting the good fight, but it's full of futility.

Lastly don't think this ad discussion from Google has nothing to do with Bing or a future Microsoft ad program. Scare the crap out of the millions of webmasters about too many ads, then why don't you try to launch a freaking new Adsense like program. Poisoning the waters? Right, that's too evil and nobody is smart enough to think that way.

Shifts in Google beliefs are indicated by actions. Just because one fragmented group is yelling for quality search results, it doesn't mean that the big boss is going to listen. That big boss hears the stock.

There isn't a memo on this stuff. It's at the top. The philosophy changed. Content farms? What a red herring. If not then do tell why we haven't had threads about it and that people complaining about Google affecting their living and organic traffic aren't using content farmer in their discussions. If this was so, the Pubcon or whatever would have had "content farmer" and such in their promo papers. It would be everywhere. Ask Cutts why Google is at war with us over organic traffic. Ask a smart question.


 4:36 pm on Nov 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

How about ads that expand to cover up most of above the fold content, on page load, and forces users to click the close button.I see more and more of these ads these days. Do people treat this as spam?


 4:41 pm on Nov 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

People think that lots of ads are spam sites/MFAs and the like. But also more ads mean more income that can be invested into the site's quality and content.


 4:56 pm on Nov 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

The push for less ads could not have started at a worse time than in a middle of a holiday shopping season. Neither Google nor webmasters would benefit from that. However, we've all seen examples of companies, big and small, not doing what's in their best interest. I also don't see how less ads on OTHER sites would help Google long-term if that's a short term hit they are taking now to gain something later. You could have argued less ads on THEIR sites would be more appropriate but no such luck, ha?

What is it, Google trying to cool the overheated Internet marketplace? If that worked, they would be the ones taking hits now and in the future because if they kill the little guys (OK, I admit, everyone has a different definition of "little" in this case), less people would use a search engine. If all that's left of the Net is Amazon and eBay and a few other megasites - you don't need Google. You'll just head straight for the megasite you want and search for what it is you want right there.

Anyhow, I think that this newfound aversion to ads stems from them using human raters more often and closer to the output of the algo than we realize. Humans hate ads, nothing you can do about it and you're guaranteed to get more negative ratings if you have more ads. Might as well embrace it if you depend on the output of your Internet rater sweatshops so much.

In addition to that, after reading the leaked rater guidelines, I see an interesting detail in there: the samples given describe a Ukrainian rater logging in and rating English sites. What do you think they will more quickly respond to: the amount of ads and the overall look of your site or what's actually written in there?

Google is becoming a big Web design pageant. Great for your Web design business! Not so much if you thought your content matters more than how your site looks...


 6:27 pm on Nov 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm obviously no longer among the elite that recieves notices from Adsense about ad placement at my site. I suppose that's, in part, because Panda decimated my site: income and traffic down between 50-60% and never recovered from the first iteration.

I used to hear farily regularly from Adsense reps. The current ads are in the same placement they used to advise and encourge:

Leaderboard at the top

300x250 ad at right and bottom of each article

Anyway, without any guidance, I've decide to ask my web developer to remove the top leaderboard ad after being in that place for almost six years. Time will tell if it makes a difference.

I keep telling myself things can't get much worse. I know, I know. I'm naive.

Season's Greeting, Google.


 12:19 am on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google uses Reasonable Surfer patent for links position (Patent granted in 2010), this year Google applies similar concept to content. Above the fold for both links and content possibly gains more weight from Google perspective because they think that people might not scroll down the page. Some research data (clicktale) shows only 22% of the visitors scrolled all the way to the bottom.


 8:51 am on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is Google assessing this visually or form source code? Would CSS rules that position elements in a different order to the document flow help?


 10:03 am on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

It seems like the goal of Google is to show as many AdWords as possible on the search results and have all other ads low enough on the pages that do appear in the search results that are not put there by Google so that few if any people will click on any ad that does not line the pockets of Google. If an ad is clicked then it will be Google that gets the revenue almost all the time.


In 2007, Schmidt said Google would be a 100 BILLION dollar media company. To get to this level means they will be raiding your refrigerator and taking the bite of dinner you just put in your mouth out of your mouth to feed to the exotic animals at the plex or to use as fertilizer for the organic garden if it is anything less than a Kobe steak.

Isn't there some point at which it is possible to have enough money?

Hopefully Microsoft will at least get an adsense alternative or equivalent so if people are not willing to stop feeding Google all the data used to continually do this type of thing they can at least generate revenue from contextual ads without feeding Google more money.


 10:35 am on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't see this as news. Nothing new here.

Google has always favored sites that have no or very few ads, and in the last few years also started heavily penalizing affiliate ads.

Paid links and ads are bad unless it's google that is doing it.

I would be surprised if a large number of webmasters haven't already trimmed the ads on their sites in the last few years.

As always, don't listen to the pr and propaganda guys, follow the actual search results. Google's actions have been screaming at full volume lately, not hard to hear or understand.


 1:44 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why is it nobody speaks about content farms anymore and most posting are feeling under attack?

I don't understand it either.

I was in a pubcon session where they asked how many people there had sites with over 10,000 pages. Almost every single hand in the audience went up.

But no content farms.


 2:13 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

@ freejung:

There's a lot in that statement if you unpack it, because it implies that it is an indirect or emergent factor in Panda -- that while Panda isn't actually measuring the percentage of ads directly, it is measuring things (presumably behavioral metrics) that might be impacted by ad positioning.

I think you hit the nail on the head.

But again, you have the problems of measuring user behavior on sites that don't have google analytics installed.

Traditionally, pundits believed that the "back to serps" speed (i.e., how quickly a visitor who clicked on a SERP result returned to the SERPs to look at other results)was the most "reliable" metric, since google could measure that rate with pretty high certainty.

So, what exactly were they measuring, and how?


 2:15 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well the following report of that Q&A session is a lot milder:


They’re looking at algos that try and figure out how much content is above the fold. If you have so much stuff (ads) obscuring content above the fold, you may want to think about that. What does the layout of your site look like when someone lands on your page? Do people see content or something else that’s distracting?

The above sounds like the reporter was taking notes verbatim.

My reading is that they haven't implemented anything regarding ads yet, it's just a warning (similar to how they warned a full year in advance about page speed before it got incorporated into their algo).


 2:40 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why do I suddenly see website headers... 120px tall with nice company logos and all, being squeezed down to 20-30 pixels, to change the location of "The Fold"?

/sarc wait, no really.


 2:42 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

(Microsoft does have an ad program for publishers; it's been in closed beta for years. No idea if they ever intend to open it up. I've sent it tens of thousands of impressions at various times, and I don't think it's brought in five bucks yet, nor are the ads particularly relevant. They just don't seem to have the advertisers yet - at least, not anything that works for any of my niches)


 3:15 pm on Nov 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

@netmeg, which is the reason why I'm suggesting all this ad discussion is completely relevant. It is very prudent, yet very malicious for Google to poison the minds of all webmasters regarding too many ads. Afterall, since Google climbed to success, the push was always more ad units! MFA was a self imposed spam issue. If this wasn't a bunch of S then Google would change the adsense policy to a REDUCED number of ads. Again, Cutts doesn't run Google and issue directives.

We need a poll here. Who has removed ads and affiliate link this year. Who believes that ads affect organic traffic? That there is the true and most relevant issue that regulators may need to look at more closely in the future. For this very reason I don't think you're going to hear anything about ads affecting rankings. Say enough to scare or plant a seed and the mission is accomplished. Don't think for a second that Google cares if some webmaster reduce ads. I suggest they don't have a shortage of "billboard space". Obviously they don't.

If Microsoft was smart, they would do a search ad program. For that I would put it on every site I own. I would only have the one. If you catch my drift.


 6:19 am on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

One word comes to mind - Irresponsible

- Who is Google to say how you can and cannot monetize your site under threat of banishment?
- Who is Google to get away with borrowing EVERYONE'S content and then doing EXACTLY what they preach not to do? (ads above results, barely distinguishable from content, etc)
- Who is Matt Cutts to be throwing gasoline on an already sore subject, or fear mongering in general?

Bottom line - Google is NOT the content, they are the ranking tool, and they'd best remember that - SOON.

Also - spam sites do what works and often copy quality sites in the process. When Googlebot confuses something that looks like spam but isn't and makes the quality site pay is that not theft? Google's the equivalent of a tollbooth operator and he/she's been cranky long enough. I think it's time for regulation.


 6:45 am on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

As a user, I hate sites with tons of ads, especially above the fold, so I'd be happy to see less of them when I do a search on Google.


 1:50 pm on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Who is Google to say how you can and cannot monetize your site under threat of banishment?

The owner of the search engine property, and until their users or some government entity tells them otherwise, they still have the right to decide they don't want to display sites overrun with ads on their search engine property. Which still belongs to them, whether it's got 20% share or 70% share or 99% share.

(And if you ask most non-publishing users, they're going to agree with fewer ads every time)

There's not a whole lot of point to pinning your hopes on Microsoft; they have made the wrong move at almost every single opportunity. If this were darts, they're only hitting the BOARD about once in every twenty tosses. They might get it right some day - but I for one probably won't still be alive to see it.

So I say again - if you are dependent on your web income, use common sense. Less is more. I have a business to run, and I for one would prefer to show fewer ads to more traffic, rather than the other way around.


 5:16 pm on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Seems to me, if google could really identify all paid and unnatural links as they claim they wouldn't need to worry about the number of ads on a site - almost nobody is going to 'naturally' link to a site where all you can see above the fold is ads, so the sites would disappear from the results quite naturally...


 6:31 pm on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

im not sure what adverts have to do with the quality of what im searching for? I can only think that adverts and all the other 'poor quality' signals would be important if the focus was no longer about finding the best actual content for a search on a single page. Personally thats all I care about, the one page with what im looking for. I dont care if the information i want is to be found on the only quality page (whatever that may mean) out of a site that has 1000 other pages all of which are low quality. I dont care if there are 50 ads before the content if the content on that page is the best for what im searching for. But then when i search i also want all the returned sites to be tightly focussed for my search, not just the top 4 and then more and more diverse on loosely related tangents. But then i guess im just a die hard old timer!


 9:53 pm on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

The owner of the search engine property, and until their users or some government entity tells them otherwise, they still have the right to decide they don't want to display sites overrun with ads on their search engine property.

That's what I mean, imagine an airline refusing you your seat because you do not dress how they want you to. (and we're not talking racy or inappropriate here, more like a logo on your T-shirt being visible).

I see regulation coming, a search portal is a vital part of internet use, not a platform for profit with rule changes at a whim.


 10:08 pm on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

There's not a whole lot of point to pinning your hopes on Microsoft; they have made the wrong move at almost every single opportunity.

It's irrelevant anyway. Google have systematically taken out patents right the way down the line. Anyone that gets remotely close to challenging their dominance will just find themselves in the midst of a situation similar to that which is happening in the mobile phone sector: patent wars, blocking many new developments and stifling growth.

IMO whatever Google does now you have to learn to roll with it.


 10:20 pm on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

IMO it has always been a quick trip on a site if I am hit with ads ads and more ads. In the early days before people really knew what these were it was pushed by all of Google. Time has changed people are tired of being bombarded by advertisment when they want information. I know the bounce rate has gone through the roof with muliple ads plastered across the site especially above the fold. I am not at all suprised with this move.

Won't ever happen on Google as would you remove your bread and butter.


 10:39 pm on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

i keep being sent to videos where i have to wait for the 30 second advert to play before i can watch. Thats a long longer than than scrolling through ads on the top of a page.


 10:55 pm on Nov 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's what I mean, imagine an airline refusing you your seat because you do not dress how they want you to. (and we're not talking racy or inappropriate here, more like a logo on your T-shirt being visible).

Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with it; restaurants do it. But maybe that's just me. I'm not big on people telling me how I must run my own businesses, so I'm not too pro on doing the same to others, no matter how big nor how much market share they have. Suggesting, advising, even complaining with a little whining thrown in, sure. Ordering or regulating - not so much.


 12:38 am on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I see regulation coming, a search portal is a vital part of internet use, not a platform for profit with rule changes at a whim.

Regulation came down hard on Ma Bell / AT&T as per anti-trust issues. But that was when the people inciting the policy change understood what a phone was and power distribution within a phone network. Not a difficult concept. G is doing this stuff on a much larger scale than they did.

Regulators simply don't understand the impact of this thing. That can't begin to comprehend the technology and movements that are being taken. G is buying lobbyist to deflect regulators attention on their actions. At some point some needs to wake up.

Since I have been around a Bigger player has always come in and shook things up because no one body had such a great impact. But now G has that kind of juice.


 1:32 am on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Regulation came down hard on Ma Bell / AT&T as per anti-trust issues.
It took the Fed 60+ years from the first attempts to break the monopoly to actually succeeding legally, and then it took another 10 years to take hold practically. We'll be all dead by then.

On the other hand, back then the good people of DoJ could not just google define:monopoly :) They can now ... Whether they'll do it is a different story.


 9:49 am on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

ads to the top of me, ads to the right of me, ads to the bottom of me, stuck in the middle (of nowhere) with you!


 2:27 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@santapaws... can't help it... you can exit stage front, rear or left! :)


 2:50 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is not saying have less ads per page.

They are saying if you;ve got 3 blocks of ads, 1 paragraph of content on some pages of your site, is not going to be enough.

if you've got short/thin pages, eg

forum threads with few posts.
short directory pages
product pages with short descriptions
duplicate content from other pages/sites

with 3 adsense blocks is a dead giveaway of MFA


 3:18 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

can i ask why one paragraph wouldn't be enough? what has the number of ads got to with how valuable that one paragraph is?

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