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



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 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]

 

santapaws

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 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?

1script

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 3:50 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is not saying have less ads per page.
Yes they are. They have been for years. Their reconsideration request page for at least the last 5 years or so contains language to the extent of: "if your site is monetizing the traffic through the use of ads, you'll have to jump through 10 more hoops before we consider you're innocent". Why is that? They realize importance of ads for anyone's business and they also realize that visitors are annoyed by ads. Therefore they are bullying you to remove your ads so the visitor only sees their ads and is somewhat less annoyed through the whole experience.

So, let's recap: they're taking your content and show ads alongside it. At the same time they're pressuring you to remove ads from your site because they want a better user experience. Why didn't they first remove ads from their site, which is completely under their control? Ah, it's bad for business... And since they are the monopoly in both search and online ad business they do it simply because they can. Every monopoly always ends up abusing their power, Goog is just trying to cash in on their market share.

Google's own SERP leader ads (on yellow background) are something like 560x240 - almost exactly the size of two 300x250 ad blocks side by side that get a lot of bad rap lately and many people consider an MFA giveaway. Additionally, the SERPs contain no original content. How ironic...

MrSavage

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 3:57 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

The irony in all this is that Google may have done things to their own ads lately, but why is it that their overall search share hasn't dipped accordingly? If ads made for a bad user experience then obviously people would have moved (in just one click) to a different search engine. The data says that didn't and hasn't happened. Kind of puts a big hole in ads making a poor user experience.

I'm getting tired of rhetoric. Google owns their search. If they hate any sites that talk about Microsoft I guess they can tank those. If they hate sites with affiliate links, I guess they can tank those. If they hate sites with lots of ads just like their own product, they can tank those. They can do as they like. It won't stop me from calling BS however. If I were at one of these conferences I think I might be considered a trouble maker.

I'm feeling more and more that the spam team, or whatever they call themselves, are nothing more than a rogue department in Google now. They really seem out of the loop on what is really going on.

Bewenched

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 4:15 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@1script,
And this is exactly why I've been slowly removing all google influences from our site, we'd had some ads on old old content pages, nothing on our new stuff and we still got slammed repeatedly since February. My next recourse if we don't see recovery is to completely remove analytics, then all webmaster tools.

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 6:35 pm on Nov 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Content/Ads position is becoming a ranking factor


What about having no ads? How is that going to affect my rankings? Will that be good or bad? Will having "no discernable ad position" get me a boost or does only having a "good ad position" make me better off?

Zivush



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 11:51 am on Nov 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

@internetheaven
This is a good questions..

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 12:23 pm on Nov 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Having no ads or good ad positions will not have any positive effect, if you were expecting it. But more ads and bad ad positions are more likely to have a negative influence.

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 7:21 pm on Nov 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Having no ads or good ad positions will not have any positive effect, if you were expecting it. But more ads and bad ad positions are more likely to have a negative influence.


But you're not thinking like a paranoid hyper-sensitive Googlebot. My guess is that when Googlebot hits my page, it will think:

Huh ... I can't see any ads ...... they must be hidden! Quick! Penalise him just in case!

That's what normally happens every time Google tries one of these trendy little algorithm things, isn't it?

mhansen



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 8:44 pm on Nov 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Over the past 2-3 years or so we have followed the idea that "less is more", and had nothing but positive results from our effort. Whether that's relevant here or not, who knows.

Adsense specific -

- 1 Adsense Box Only - Its an auction, therefore why would we want to show more than 1 ad box anyhow? The second and third blocks are going to show the LOWER bidders, right? Our thought is to show only 2-4 ads per page (a single ad block, with 2-4 individual ads in it) and only attract the highest PPC bidders in our niche. We tend to run a mid-high $ per click, but get fewer clicks.

- Placement AFTER the Content - I have never subscribed to Googles suggestion of placing ads above the content or even in the middle of an content page, but still caved in for the $. (Thats for OUR stuff) The cost to ME is too much. Sure, I may get a short term gain by an extra click or two, but that also equates to higher bounce and less time on my site.

We try to chase the visitor instead of the dollar. I wish I could say I was always like that... I wasn't.

Ads and Content in General -

We prefer to have our first onpage link to our best related ONSITE page, then several links scattered to both on and offsite authority pages on the topic. ONLY after were sure the visitor cant find something useful and within OUR control, do we show them adsense ads. (That's not to say our previous links weren't to $$ related pages)

- Onsite in content links, to our BEST pages
- Offsite in content links, to the highest authority.
- Onsite in content links to our $$ pages
- Adsense... gets the leftovers that probably weren't properly targeted to the page, if they got this far anyhow.

We used to push ad blocks and banners in the faces of our readers everywhere... When we stopped bowing to the Penny-Pushers on the Adsense Team and Ads in general, the results have been 10-fold better! Some of our most popular content has bounce rates in the single digits, and some of our highest earning pages don't originate hardly any visitors from search traffic. (We direct the search traffic there ourselves)

MH

1script

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 9:17 pm on Nov 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

@mhansen
- Onsite in content links to our $$ pages
Congrats on breaking the ad habit! And you make all great points. But does the quote above mean that you're describing a site that makes money by selling products or affiliate referrals? If that's the case, what was AdSense doing there in the first place?

Removing or placing ads into a disadvantaged spot on a site that makes money by different means is a no-brainer. It's an informational site that makes money exclusively by selling ad space yet pushing no product of its own that makes this anti-ad stand controversial. It sounds like an entire class of sites has became outlawed overnight. In fact, reading the infamous EWOQ rater manual (the one MC sneers at), having a shopping cart on your site sounds almost like an easy way out. The manual sounds something like: "when in doubt, look for a "Shopping Cart" button. If they sell something, they must be legit"

How did we come to this: a site that has nothing to sell but invites the likes of AdSense to show relevant ads is the one most scrutinized these days?

mhansen



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 9:49 pm on Nov 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

site that makes money by selling products or affiliate referrals?


My point focused around adsense or offsite ads in general, where the primary offer was not a product or service directly sold by the business. (affiliate lead gen, adsense, etc)

SmallP

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 2:17 pm on Nov 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

@1script

It sounds like an entire class of sites has became outlawed overnight.


Well said. I agree - that's certainly how it feels right now. The revenue from Adsense ads (above the fold and definitely "in your face"**) allowed me to bring in a number of freelancers to help me create new content for my informational site and improve the site hugely, thereby also growing revenue.

The very tough months since Panda mean that I am down to using only one freelancer now, and for drastically fewer hours each week. I'm taking my ads below the fold as fast as I can, but watching my revenue fall even further off the cliff (is that possible?) as I do so. I run non-Adsense ads too, but they have provided about 25% of ad revenue to Adsense's 75% in the past. Soon we will be surviving on that 25%.

My site provides great quality, original free content to a big sector of society. Or it did. Now rather fewer of them are finding it! I've been bumped off the search results in favour of the big cheese who SELL the same sort of product that I give away. And of course THEY don't have advertising, and they are brands.

It's an interesting time for ad-funded informational sites. In all honestly, I suppose there is a very thin dividing line between the legitimate site with an advertising-led model and the MFA site, and Google seems to have chosen "above the fold" ads as one of the distinguishing factors.

** placement as recommended to me by the Adsense Optimisation Team

londrum

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 2:53 pm on Nov 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

i think there must be some other reasons for google bad-mouthing ads. surely they aren't silly enough to think that you can judge the quality of a site based on the number of ads.

you can't judge a TV program by the number of ad breaks. you can't judge a newspaper by counting up the ads. you don't say a shopping street is rubbish because there's too many billboards.
i watched formula 1 the other day and the cars are plastered in ads. the drivers have got ads all over the clothes. was it rubbish? nope. people still watch it.

newcastle united football club are in the news at the moment because they want to let advertisers rename their stadium. sure, people would prefer they didnt. but will they stop supporting them? nope. will newcastle be a worse team because of it? of course not. they will probably be a bit better because of the extra revenue. and the same with all the TV stations and papers that carry ads.

i'd offer a wager that sites which carry no ads are the ones more likely to be rubbish, because they are less likely to shell out on the technical, backend, design and content writing stuff.

if google are suggesting that websites go down in quality everytime they add an extra ad above the fold then they are being totally dopey. it's so dopey that i don't think it's part of the algo at all.
when they talk about ads being part of the algo then what they are really referring to are related things -- things like bounce rates etc. adding six million ads to the page will not trigger a penalty in itself, but adding 60 seconds to the page load time will, and so will having 99.9% of people hit the back button when they see them.

so why are they suggesting that it's the ads?
like all google announcements, you have to look at what's in it for them.
when they said we should speed up our sites i reckon they benefited with quicker crawling and storage. and the same when they suggested we noindex all the poor quality pages. presumably they tightened up their index in a flash with that, and no extra work for them!

google aren't in the business of helping everyone improve their sites. they want to be able to sort out the good from the bad. how does this announcement help them do that? it doesn't.

so there must be something else going on -- i reckon they are fed up with ads appearing on bazillions of rubbish pages, because that is only going to annoy their advertisers. which affects their bottom line. so this move is aimed at making a lot of those ads disappear.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 3:15 pm on Nov 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's an informational site that makes money exclusively by selling ad space yet pushing no product of its own that makes this anti-ad stand controversial. It sounds like an entire class of sites has became outlawed overnight.


Most of my sites are like this, and none of them have been outlawed. I do have ads above the fold, but generally it's a single 468x60 (or a link unit), surrounded by a lot of content. And I have other ads, but they're mostly below the fold. And it still earns, and it doesn't look too MFA and apparently (so far) Google is okay with that.

If you *must* put one or two large ads above the fold in order to meet your goals, then that's fine if it works for you, but Google has been pretty clear it doesn't work for them. And a lot of users feel that way too.

Me, I'd see if I could find another way.

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 7:22 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you *must* put one or two large ads above the fold in order to meet your goals, then that's fine if it works for you, but Google has been pretty clear it doesn't work for them. And a lot of users feel that way too.


Google seems to think that when people are searching for information using their site, that 8 adverts and only 1 organic result above the fold is the right way to go.

To make the playing field fair, I should be allowed to push adverts in to people's faces the exact same way that Google does ... even camouflaging my ads so users think they're being taken to the best information, not to an advertiser.

potentialgeek

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 7:44 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Nearly every major site uses display ads including a leaderboard (top) and a 300x250 unit (right, near top). These are nearly always above the fold - the advertisers require them to be above the fold - so they'll be seen. However, these ad positions are conventional; therefore they do not interfere with user navigation. Users may ignore them, but they aren't lost on the site because of them. Google is not going to penalize those sites.

The signals which will likely trip the next ad filter are a combination of:

Ad appears above the fold AND it's a text ad AND it's right next to/above links AND/OR page has high bounce rate

I think we've all seen aggressive MFA sites which Google would like to target because the ads confuse users into thinking ad links are page links... or tons of ad links appear before the content (e.g., 2 or 3 units above the first paragraph).

Remember when Matt Cutts was asked about Suite101 after it was Pandalized? At the time it had tons of ads on each page, including where you'd expect a navigation menu (left column).

I don't know if I've ever seen a legit site that misused text ads.

There is a big difference between display ad networks and text ad networks. The difference is "editorial" control. The display ad network I'm on requires approval of ad positions, including making sure they're above the fold. Google Adsense, etc., on the other hand, do not review and do not approve ad positions.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 8:57 pm on Nov 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

To make the playing field fair, I should be allowed to push adverts in to people's faces the exact same way that Google does ... even camouflaging my ads so users think they're being taken to the best information, not to an advertiser.


First of all, there is no fair. Who said there was fair? Whoever it was, they lied.

Second of all, you can do what you want. But Google doesn't have to do what you want.

Third of all, if you need to earn a living and you need Google in order to do it, then practicality dictates that you play the game their way.

koan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 12:19 am on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Sites that use ads aggressively aren't all bad MFA sites, but bad MFA sites all use ads aggressively, so it's a respectable indicator, combined with others, that should tilt the balance in case of doubt. You can try and defend your right to spam visitors all you want by saying you're giving your extra profit to charity or whatever, but the end result is your site share many characteristics with unwanted sites that reflect poorly on Google when users are frustrated.

(yes, even if actually suggested by the Adsense team, you still need to use your own judgement).

I'm kind of disappointed that so many WebmasterWorld members use "in our face" tactics to make money and want to keep it that way.

1script

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 2:34 am on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm kind of disappointed that so many WebmasterWorld members use "in our face" tactics to make money and want to keep it that way.
This otherwise useful discussion had wandered into a bizarre territory where there are two camps, both are saying almost the same thing and yet never agreeing on anything.

I don't know if there is one webmaster out there that does not recognize that ads are a distraction, a site usability concern and have to be handled with care. And no one would put ads before content and important site features without at least some consideration. But I want my users to be the judge, not some random (by definition) Google reviewer!

There is another aspect of this ad debacle that I don't see discussed much. The ads are supposed to be relevant! If they are not relevant, they are both annoying to visitors and not earning anything to the webmaster, so they will be removed by the webmaster themselves, no extra push from Google is required.

If the ads are relevant, I don't mind seeing a lot of them. But these days Google's own ads are very often interest-based i.e. absolutely creepy because they follow you around if you had a misfortune to search for something lucrative to advertisers. Interest-based ads are scaring bejezes out of people and they complain a lot. Yeah, you can opt out. But how many people actually do? Google does not want to let this revenue stream go while it's still legal and all of a sudden they want you to go subtle on the ads.

And if I may get back to the issue of those reviewers one last time: when I land on a site about widgets I like, I look around for ads, they serve as catalog pages to me. Someone came up with a new widget, someone made a device to make widgets and so on, I don't mind those ads a single bit and do sometimes click on them to check out the new thing.

Now consider a random Google reviewer landing on a page like that. They care none about widgets. All they care about is amount of ads, size and location on the page. Real visitors say yes, reviewer says no. How do you reconcile that?

Ultimately, the webmaster is responsible for balancing ads with the site's usability. But Google's scare mongering does not help. Instead of publicly recognizing their own responsibility as the largest online ad provider for making ads better, they chose to blame others.

Blame others for letting them show bad ads! It just doesn't get any more weird than that.

Zivush



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 6:25 am on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

@1script
Many thanks for your perfect post here above.
I donít think anyone could summarize this issue better.
Hoping that people from Google are reading this topic, especially your very last sentences.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 6:59 am on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google's idea seems straightforward to me.

1) Organic search tries to send traffic to a page based on the relevance of the indexed page content.
2) If that content is hard to notice because of advertising or some other above the fold layout issue, then Google doesn't want that page to rank well, no matter how "relevant" the text content seems to be otherwise.

Using content only as search engine bait to shove ads at the visitor is a bait-and-switch tactic. I hate using "find in page" search to locate the relevant keywords, and most people don't even think to do that.

This is not some conspiracy in my mind; this is a service to the Google Search user.

SmallP

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 8:50 am on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

@1script has really pinpointed the crux of the matter here. When I first moved Adsense into the "in your face" position suggested to me, the ads were relevant, interesting, useful and discreet - people honestly benefited from them. We made sure that Google could tell what the page was about, found a colour scheme and font size that worked for the site, and placed the ads in a fairly prominent position; as long as we played our part Google delivered relevant, interesting ads, visitors benefited and so did we.

Now the ads are often irrelevant, generic and yes, interest-based and creepy. We have lost control over how they look - the text can be any size, it can be bold or not, URLs can be at the top or bottom, the links now change colour on hover (and we don't specify the colour), sometimes there are 4 or 5 ads and sometimes there's one huge ad and sometimes there are 1 or 2 ads and a gaping hole ... basically the ads have become a real annoyance to visitors and an embarrassment to me.

Which is why I am moving them below the fold as fast as I can, and had begun doing so before Matt Cutts made his comment.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 5:15 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Now the ads are often irrelevant, generic and yes, interest-based and creepy. We have lost control over how they look - the text can be any size, it can be bold or not, URLs can be at the top or bottom, the links now change colour on hover (and we don't specify the colour), sometimes there are 4 or 5 ads and sometimes there's one huge ad and sometimes there are 1 or 2 ads and a gaping hole ... basically the ads have become a real annoyance to visitors and an embarrassment to me.


Umm, then why do you keep them?

internetheaven

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 5:38 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

To make the playing field fair, I should be allowed to push adverts in to people's faces the exact same way that Google does ... even camouflaging my ads so users think they're being taken to the best information, not to an advertiser.

First of all, there is no fair. Who said there was fair? Whoever it was, they lied.


etc. etc. and the rest of what you said.

First of all ... relax. Take a deep breath. There you go.

Umm, then why do you keep them?


No, no, no. netmeg ... relax ... and breathe.

I was merely pointing out Google's hypocrisy with my statement. I do not actually have a site plastered with ads. Only 7 out of my 50+ sites even have adsense on them and mostly that is just until a REAL advertiser comes along to do business with.

You seem to be a little on the attack without giving much reason or real advice. For example, SmallP may be in the position where Adsense is the only ad revenue he can get. You have to remember that Google has managed to vault every anti-trust/competition law there is. Rather than simply pointing out he may be an idiot, try telling of alternative ad revenue sources that might be of some use?

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 6:36 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not on the attack, and I'm not in the least need of deep breathing or relaxation. So you can knock off the condescending tone.

There are other ways to monetize, and if Google is displaying fugly ass ads that are an annoyance and an embarrassment, then either people aren't clicking on them anyway - so why run them at all? or people *are* clicking on them - in which case, maybe Google knows better on this one.

You have to remember that Google has managed to vault every anti-trust/competition law there is

I would only have to remember this if it were true. Google isn't preventing Microsoft from running a publisher network (or search engine, for that matter) that actually works - Microsoft's own incompetence is. And there are others who could as well. No question Google has overstepped in areas, but every anti-trust / competition law there is? Now who's hyperventilating?

try telling of alternative ad revenue sources that might be of some use?

I say this frequently in the AdSense forum, but I guess I have to say it here too. AdSense is what it is. The publishers are not the ones driving the bus. Google cares more about the advertisers. Moreover, AdSense (coined for good reason by Incredibill as 'webmaster welfare') is the easiest, best paying and most reliable advertising network on the planet. If you don't break the rules, and you have a little traffic, all you have to do is place the code and wait for a check. Which (under normal circumstances) will come. Other forms of advertising are either a lot more difficult to implement, or pay a lot less (and less reliably) or both. Ask any publisher why they use AdSense instead of another network, and they will tell you that the others don't pay as well. The tradeoff for using Google's easy system is that you give up a significant amount of control. That's what you sign up for.

Your best bet is direct advertising, or affiliate marketing (if you can do it sanely). But those are a lot more work. Failing that, there are some other networks listed here.
[webmasterworld.com...]

whatson

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 6:56 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am really not too convinced on this, I wish I could show you a link to a site to show you what I mean, but it is a well enough known site, alexa 11k. I will describe the ads.

nav at the very top
logo and 728x90 directly below that
wide skyscraper 160x600 on LHS below that, content starts, with two 300x250 ads one in the middle and one on the RHS.

Site still ranking very well.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 7:06 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well yea, and that's what I mean about there's no such thing as fair. Some sites can get away with that - either they are so far below the radar, or so far above it. All you can do is concentrate on your own properties.

mhansen



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 7:06 pm on Nov 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

I thought the article said it would be rolling out in 2012? Maybe it HAS rolled out already, but if so... they need to revisit it quickly! LOL

MFA still rules the web in many areas I follow!

Zivush



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 7:09 pm on Nov 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Look at Forbes for example, 728x90 + 300x250 above the fold.
I don't think these two ads are annoying ads, although above the fold and content is under fold.

(I wouldn't dare to put two of those ads on my site! one yes I do, but two..)

Now, do you think Google is going to touch Forbes? That is why I hope/believe it was not more than a warning.

smithaa02

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 5:24 pm on Nov 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

A LOT of major newspapers use those super large popup ads where you have to click-close them to continue (like the Pioneer Press in Minnesota) and I really hope google applies their rules equally and clobbers these guys (not just the small mom-and-pop sites that have more than a several ads).

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4385605 posted 6:40 pm on Nov 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Now, do you think Google is going to touch Forbes?

Panda certainly did clobber some very big names this year - The Today Show and The Motor Report come to mind.

I'd say we need to remember that a "ranking factor" is not the same as an iron-clad rule, such as "don't do this or we WILL demote you." Rather it's one of many signals that are integrated in a complex ranking algorithm. A site like Forbes has a lot of other positive signals going for it, no matter what they are doing with ads above the fold.

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