|Is AdSense a negative signal for serps? Can AdSense account be toxic?|
Observation of my sites would suggest that adsense has a negative effect, but I'm looking for some wider input.
I have quite a few sites, never had a problem till Panda 2.1, subsequently some were hit by Penguin and then the latest Panda 20/EMD debacle.
This is what I see - most of my sites with adsense on them were hit by Panda 2.1 and Panda 20. Sites without adsense seemed to have escaped. I just looked at a couple of sites that I sold a while ago, they were of similar quality to my pandalized sites but are still ranking well.
My site hit with Penguin is quite similar to another site in terms of number of pages, number of backlinks, age etc. In fact his backlink profile looks distinctly spammy (nearly all links are from sites by the same designer/on the same hosting). I was dominating the serps equally with him but since Penguin hit me for six and then Panda 20 hit me for six again. Superficially the main distinctive is that my site has adsense and his is not monetised.
So - how likely is it that Adsense is causing or contributing to my problems? Is it that the presence of Adsense is a trigger but not cause of a penalty? Is it that Google doesn't like some of my sites and just pulls down nearly all sites with the same adsense code?
The reason that this is a burning question is in deciding how to move forward. Is it possible that effectively my adsense code is toxic and will always result in any new sites I develop with adsense getting hit when there's a major update?
Finally to say, I have done very little that encroaches into grey hat territory, no link farms, no buying of masses of links, no duplicate content, no scraped content etc
Well, if so, all sites that use AdSense would be penalized, and that simply is not the case.
|Well, if so, all sites that use AdSense would be penalized, and that simply is not the case. |
Of course there are many sites, especially big brands but also some smaller sites, that get away with excessive amounts of adsense with no sign of a penalty.
But you can't draw the conclusion above because the presence of advertising (including adsense) is only one of many factors in ranking - so for example a positive 'well known brand' score or incoming link profile might well outweigh the 'too much advertising penalty'.
That said, I'm convinced sites aren't penalised because of adsense per se but sites that have too much advertising or are MFA type sites are often penalised - with the net result it will look like sites are being penalised for having adsense, just because that's the most commionly used advertising.
Youtube has adsense too, and it can easily outrank most of the mum & pop websites in almost any search terms it wants.
BTW, I just did a search on "mum & pop website", guess what is the first result I see? LH! (laughing hysterically)
OK I'm not saying that just because a site has adsense it gets penalized - that would be foolish, rather that it might be a factor.
I didn't mention in my original post that after Panda 2.1 I developed 4 similar sites but all with unique content. Different hosting accounts. Two had Adsense and two didn't. The two with adsense originally ranked very well but have disappeared with Panda 20 / EMD. The two without adsense have kept their ranking.
Their seems to be a pattern for me - my sites with adsense are now regularly affected by updates. Non adsense sites seem to be unscathed/
Another thought: things Google can detect through serving Adsense to your site could become a factor. For example, keyword stuffing might be a lot more noticeable if Google's matching ads to the keywords than if they're just sending drive by bots occasionally.
If you really think it's AdSense that's your sites' problems then the implementation might be a problem, maybe too much above the fold or something along those lines. But then again, that would apply to any advertising, not just AdSense.
Or it might be something totally different. Just to hear you say you think AdSense might be a problem sounds to me like you could be at loose ends at diagnosing what the actual problem might be. Maybe you're a little to close to your sites and should get a different opinion or two.
Adsense in itself won't likely cause a drop in SERPS.
Now Adsense might cause poor user experience and a lot of users may bounce back to SERPS quickly signaling to the PANDA monster that your site is of low quality.
Provide good content and don't over do it with the ads and you should be good.
adsense itself will not cause a penalty. Too many ads, bad user experience etc could effect SERP's but you might just be reaching here.
If you do think its a problem, try cutting down how many ad units you use.
Only too much ads can use serp penalty
|I didn't mention in my original post that after Panda 2.1 I developed 4 similar sites but all with unique content. Different hosting accounts. Two had Adsense and two didn't. The two with adsense originally ranked very well but have disappeared with Panda 20 / EMD. The two without adsense have kept their ranking. |
Not wishing to sound insulting - especially as I don't use Adsense myself - but is it maybe possible that Google looks at the quality/ratio of visitors on a site that do/don't click adsense ads, plus how they respond to the ads (buying signals?) and factor that in as a "quality" rating? Just musing.
Don't forget that AdSense is a footprint where every account has a unique identifier. So you took great care to put the sites on different hosting accounts, but then you essentially undid that separation by leaving the same footprint on both sites.
If the sites are linking together, or even sharing the same tight niche (in an effort to dominate a SERP), then Google can make some assumptions about what you're up to and maybe trust your site less than it would otherwise.
I don't think that AdSense on its own is an indicator of quality or could influence your ranking. But I believe that footprints like these can be dangerous, depending on what you're up to.
|is it maybe possible that Google looks at the quality/ratio of visitors on a site that do/don't click adsense ads, plus how they respond to the ads (buying signals?) and factor that in as a "quality" rating? |
Google often gives info in 'Google speak' and very precise wording that's easily misunderstood/misinterpreted, but I have not known them to flat out lie, so unless something I missed has changed, AdSense specifically is not used by the search teams ... Ads in general, their placement, their ratio to text, etc. are used, but it's the same for an AdSense publisher as it is for someone selling ads on their site of the same size, positioning, layout, etc.
To answer the opening questions specifically:
|Is AdSense a negative signal for serps? |
|Can AdSense account be toxic? |
Sure, if you get married to it and plaster them all over the place like the AdSense team would love for you to do, then it definitely can be, but if you plastered your own ads in exactly the same manner it could be toxic too.
One thing I think it's important to remember when deciding what to do WRT AdSense placement is: The search teams and ad teams at Google generally have polar opposite goals and balancing the goals of each to work together on your specific site(s) is completely up to you ... If you try to follow the exact advice of both to the letter, you could easily end up with nothing more than a headache and a site that either doesn't rank or doesn't sell anything.
On my sites I don't overdo adsense, (usually only one or two ad blocks) and I make sure there is good text above the fold.
No one is backing up my suggestion that adsense per se is causing me problems or that my specific adsense account is causing the problem. I'm willing to take that on board but wanted to see if anyone else had experience that could back up that possibility.
The common theme of adsense being on the punished sites may just be a coincidence.
I can however buy into the idea that maybe if people are seeing adsense on my sites and click on it straight away that maybe makes it look like my site is of low quality.
What about this hypothesis:
site a. is weak and is punished
site b. is a stronger site, but has the same adsense code on it, is on the same hosting account, same analytics account and so is punished?
(in favour of this hypothesis I did see something about a patent a while back that used a definition of a "site" as different domains with certain things in common (such as hosting))