Anything “above the fold” attracts attention. The bad news is it may even attract unwanted attention from authorities. Google, for example, is likely to penalize websites with excessive above-the-fold ads.
Websites, which are supported by advertising usually, put most of these ads near top of the page. This is attracting some unwanted attention from Google. And at present Google’s main focus is to provide its users with sites that have best answers to their respective queries. For this search giant, the user’s experience is the most important factor. Based on this, the search engine has also changed its algorithm with Panda updates. As a result, sites with thin content and content farms that cluttered search results with poor quality pages are devastated.
The content freshness updates of Google are motivated by searcher concerns. If you think like a searcher, you too would like to have meaty content to answer your queries and not pages filled with irrelevant ads. It is likely to be a frustrating experience if only an inch or two of the real content is visible or if you have to scroll down to read the rest, thanks to the annoying above-the-fold ads.
You love it or hate it; Internet has shortened our attention spans and has also made us a little lazy. We hate to scroll down through advertisements only to find the page hardly have some quality content to answer our queries. So you really can’t blame Google for choosing to do something about it. In their blog post the search giant mentioned they changed their algorithm to look “at the layout of the webpage and the amount of content you see on the page once you click on the result.” They have taken the users complaints seriously in terms of excessive advertisements – “Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see the content right away. So sites that don’t have much content ‘above-the-fold’ can be affected by this change…Such sites may not rank as high going forward.”
As expected, Google will be singling out sites with excessive above-the-fold ads. However, sites with normal amount of advertising that help to monetize their content have nothing to worry about. According to the search engine the Panda updates “noticeably affects less than 1% of searches globally.” For sites that are affected, there is Google’s Browser Size tool that helps to check the site’s appearance under different screen resolutions.
Google’s is likely to penalize you, even if AdSense ads are the source of your excessive above-the-fold ads. The search giant has already mentioned that pages filled with AdSense ads are as subject to their algorithm change as any other pages on the web. Thus, make sure your pages are not cluttered with such ads if you want to maintain “good standing in Google’s search results.”
The question now arises is how to ensure that your site is not affected by this algorithm change? It’s pretty simple to make out, providing you are not living in a fool’s paradise and are ready to face the reality. Any site that has little or no content above the fold for screen resolutions generally used are already affected by Panda updates. Have you lately seen a drop in your web traffic? If yes, you have been hit be the Panda and you first need to get rid of those excessive above the fold ads to get that traffic back. But, be assured it won’t happen so quickly.
Google has decreased the entire site’s ranking and not just one of the pages, thanks to your ad-heavy above the fold. Even if you have already removed them after noticing the fall in the traffic, don’t expect any immediate result. The search giant is less likely to change their impression about you until their next visit, which may take several weeks.
What to do?
Yes, you are stung. Accept that! No, there is no way to get around apart from waiting Google’s next “update”, no matter how much you hate it.
The time Google takes for its next update depends on various factors, including the size of your site. In the mean-time start reading Google’s blog that says: “our advice for publishers continues to be to focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites and not to focus on specific algorithm tweaks.” So start considering your user’s experience on the site if you are yet to do it.
However, sites with a small ad or two need not worry as long as the advertisements are not getting in the visitor’s way to view the content clearly. Google’s algorithm change is designed to find sites with excessively ad-heavy above the fold and will hardly affect your site if user experience is your prime focus. Also consider that, having just an ad above-the-fold will not affect your site, as it is common for Google to have no ads or just a few ads on a web page.
Our advice: Take a long and hard look at your site and measure it up as a searcher. And if you too find those ads covering the content annoying, it’s time to change the layout of your page as well as Google’s opinion about you. Check your layout what’s there above-the-fold here
Killer Blog Design for SEO [Infographic]