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Ads above the fold and SEO - current thinking?
robster124




msg:4586773
 10:21 pm on Jun 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I am considering monetising my site a lot more by adding more ads above the fold. I've always held back on the ad front as I've tried to build the site as 'clean' as possible worrying a little that too many ads spoil the site's SEO. I've always run one large ad at the very top of the page which has been necessary and non negotiable for me as the site needs to justify its hosting costs but there are decent sized spaces above the fold on my site which could definitely host new sizable ads. Is my worry justified? No content will get vertically 'pushed down' below the fold as the ads I'm considering will just be put into the free space at the moment on the sides of the content.

I know a lot has been talked over the last year or so about above the fold and below the fold and SEO and I think that definitely merits discussion but my question is more a space utilisation issue I guess. If you have space above the fold and want to monetise it am I likely to experience any negative SEO effects?

Thanks

 

wrockca




msg:4586777
 10:45 pm on Jun 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Why would you want to do that to a site? Especially with all the Algo changes against it? Sorry

robster124




msg:4586798
 11:44 pm on Jun 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks wrockca. From what I read (or interpreted) its more that google look at amount of content above the fold not the number of ads. In which case adding ads that do not alter content layout might be fine. My new ads will go into current free space. Increasing number of ads on my site from 1 above the fold to 2 doesn't seem hugely extreme to me either especially given my competitors often have 2 or 3. Perhaps more specifically my question should have been whether anyone has experienced a direct and definite negative SEO effect from adding 1 ad above the fold to their site.

GeraniumV




msg:4586814
 1:33 am on Jun 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

And where do you define the fold - Google hasn't. Matt Cutts said that the average "Google search page" wouldn't trigger an above the fold penalty, and I think they're pushing it.

Sand




msg:4586820
 2:44 am on Jun 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it as long as your ads are not invasive (read: not in the content area). Leaderboards are almost always above the fold, as are sidebar rectangles.

robster124




msg:4586824
 3:41 am on Jun 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks. I'm going to trial it on a less popular site for a month. I'll report back.

deadsea




msg:4587139
 2:35 pm on Jun 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

My latest thinking is that their algorithm looks at the ratio of "ads above the fold" to "amount of content on the page".

Their algorithm probably counts the pixels taken up with ads above the fold and divides that by the pixels taken up with content (text, image, and flash) on the page as a whole. They then take the average ratio of all your pages. If that average ratio is above some threshold your site gets hit.

I searched on Google for a search term with a 3 pack of ads above the fold and two of the right column of ads above the fold. These areas are roughly 556x365 and 301x188 for a total of 229K pixels of ads above the fold. The content column on that page is roughly 527x1711 for a total on page content of 902K pixels. So their ratio is 0.25 or 25%.

Since the penalty is triggered by the average across many pages, and that page is one of the ones on Google most loaded with ads, the ratio that triggers the penalty may be well below 25%, even possibly as low as 15%. Its not hard to do searches that return no ads at all.

There is also some component to the penalty for having ads but no content above the fold on many pages, even if pages have lots of content below the fold.

frankleeceo




msg:4587150
 3:02 pm on Jun 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

@deadsea, if it works as the average, would it work well just slap the ads on the most traffic pages and avoid the rest of content. Some 20% of pages account for 80% of traffic.

This way can avoid penalty while getting the most revenue? Have you tested something like that?

Simsi




msg:4587184
 4:57 pm on Jun 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Personally, I would be inclined to use that space to "promote" more detailed inner pages which in turn, would provide the aappropriate calls to action. If done correctly - and on the assumption the site provides genuinely useful and user-appreciated information that induces people to read - I would have thought that will be far more financially beneficial not only through CTA clicks but also in developing user interaction that would assist ranking.

IMO the bottom line is that if a site is trying to issue a "Buy" directive to a user before they have digested any information, it may be sending out a signal that the site is adding little of value. A risky strategy.

deadsea




msg:4587204
 5:34 pm on Jun 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google may do a weighted average across your pages based on the amount of traffic they send to them. Its not clear at this point to me how sophisticated the algorithm is.

It certainly might be possible to game it by removing ads from pages that get little traffic.

Robert Charlton




msg:4587205
 5:37 pm on Jun 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

IMO the bottom line is that if a site is trying to issue a "Buy" directive to a user before they have digested any information, it may be sending out a signal that the site is adding little of value. A risky strategy.

Excellent observation. I know this is an issue that Google is sensitive to.

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