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AdSense best practices now at odds with Google's search algorithm

 8:45 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

As everyone in this forum is probably aware, AdSense has long promoted putting ads directly above the main content [google.com] and by including as many ads as possible on our pages.

In a recent wired.com interview, Matt Cutts (head of google's webspam team), mentioned that they asked human raters who were evaluating sites: "Does this site have excessive ads?"

The Google Search and Google AdSense teams operate completely independently, and that is probably a great thing... but the contradictory messages that we get from the two departments needs to be co-ordinated. They don't necessarily have to talk to eachother, but an executive up in the hierarchy needs to help develop some clear guidelines about this.



 9:19 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I work for a large IT company and communication always seems to be a problem between departments.


 9:34 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Was going to create this thread.

Google have been fairly tight lipped about the recent algo update, although one thing they've made VERY clear is the above-fold number of ads and overall ad-to-content ratio is important in this update.

Which does seem a tad at odds to the AdSense position of 3 ad units, 2 link units, 1 search box per page. :)


 9:48 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ads "above the fold" doesn't mean "excessive ads", does it?

In fact, even if I reach the limit of 3 ads + 3 link units + 2 search boxes and do it tastefully without hurting normal user experience and interaction on my page, it is still not "excessive" to me.

"Excessive ads" to me means exactly that: "excessive" against rest of the content.

Having one headline with a two-line paragraph with 6 units on my page is excessive any day, yes - even if rest of the page is covered by templated repeated junk.

Having a multi-section page with large amount of content can have 10 ads and would still not be "excessive."

But that's just me. Your mileage may vary. :-)


 10:23 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

>> Ads "above the fold" doesn't mean "excessive ads", does it?

I don't think it does either, nope. As you say, it depends on how the ads are laid out and how much content there is.

I guess my main point is that it does appear as though Google search are looking at - amongst other things - the quantity and location of ads on a site.

I don't see that having above the fold ads is anything bad, no. Although it might be a new factor in the Google algo update.

(Even though my main site - which has an above the fold 336x280 ad floated inside the content - wasn't hit by the update)


 10:35 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't think "above the fold" is what GG is concerned about. Obstructive, intrusive, misleading, dominant or pushy ads might be a better fit. If one has to work to get to the content Ė itís bad..

Iíll work on a coin-able phrase and get back.


 5:02 am on Mar 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Who wants to be the guinea pig and drop google ads on one of their websites until they get re cached to see if that restores previous keyword rankings? I would do it but I cant afford to loose money for 3 days or so. I only have 3 sites.

Anyone have small sites or are just wealthy enough that they are not concerned about profits?

It would be a interesting test.


 7:46 pm on Mar 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

There's more to it than just ads, but they do seem to be a part of the new algo.

Overall, it looks like an incredibly complex issue weighting many factors in trying to evaluate site quality by Gbot.

Don't forget that while you might have a great index or landing page, there could still be problems in some of those old pages you haven't worked on in years, those forgotten orphans. They are being crawled as well as your best pages.

Time for spring cleaning.


 8:33 pm on Mar 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think G doesn't want excessive ads UNLESS they are from their network. Just my 2 cents. ;)


 5:55 am on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've seen many sites with far more than the maximum number of Google ad blocks that continue to rank well. I doubt that Google's algorithm discriminates against competing ad networks unless there's an actual algorithmic reason for the distinction. So far it seems like I've heard more complaints about the update from AdSense publishers than from those dependent upon other ad networks.


 8:09 am on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've seen many sites with far more than the maximum number of Google ad blocks

And what do you do about it ? report it, or nothing ?


 1:37 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

If your page is


then that could be a factor with the search algorithm.

There are ways we can put the maximum allowed ads per page. It really depends on the placement as well as the length/usefulness of your content.

It would be interesting to see Adsense sites that have been affected by this update and how they implemented their ads.

But it does serve as a wakeup call to Adsense publishers to start reigning it in, and dialing down the ads-to-content ratio. If you want to have maximum allowed ads, make sure your content actually supports it


 2:22 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

1) I've benefitted from the farmer update.
2) I show a leaderboard and 250x300 square at the top and side above the fold on each page. (an adsense rep encouraged this, I used to show just one unit)
3) I do use css to position ads, so maybe a bot can't tell where the ads show, but in regards to Farmer, I pass the sniff test.

I have, however, lost signicant traffic to pages in two subdirectories.
One of these has absolutely no ads of any kind on it's pages, the other like described above.
The common denominator I see between them is simply thin content.


 3:44 pm on Mar 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have to edit my statement above.

My subdirectory without advertising (per stats over a longer time frame) really hasn't been hit by Farmer. It's traffic hasn't grown any (unlike the majority of my other subdirectories), it's simply stayed the same.

I do still have a single subdirectory that took a significant traffic hit (25%). As described above, it's pages do have thin, somewhat duplicated content.

I've also noticed that I never updated these pages to my new Adsense format. They only show one unit above the fold (skyscraper) and two adlink units below the fold.

This means that the pages Farmer didn't like actually have less total adsense units on them than the pages it didn't effect.

However, on a content-per-ad block basis, the advertising that is present may occupy a relatively larger percent of the total page (like I said, these are thin content pages).


 2:54 am on Mar 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

I run a large block ad above the fold, but I use CSS to float it to the side of the content. But to a bot it appears above the content. Out site was hit pretty hard. I wonder if this could be te reason? Sucks if google cant figure out you are moving the ad to the side and ding you.


 8:08 am on Mar 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

And what do you do about it ? report it, or nothing ?

I'm talking about total ad units, not AdSense units. Multiple ad networks, affiliates, etc. There's nothing to report.


 8:08 am on Mar 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

[accidental double-click]


 8:47 am on Mar 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm talking about total ad units, not AdSense units. Multiple ad networks, affiliates, etc. There's nothing to report
Thanks for confirming. It wasn't clear in your original post. If it were more adsense units than allowed, I would personally report it.

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