Got Ads Above The Fold? Watch Out! Google Might Penalize You

Oof! In yet another fine-tuning of Google’s huge algorithm changes in the last year or so, Google has now decided to smack down websites that have too many advertisements “above the fold.”

Most of us folks that publish on the web earn some income from accepting ads on our sites. Naturally, most advertisers prefer that those ads appear “above the fold” (a term, by the way, rooted in newspaper advertising because papers were folded; but in internet terms, it simply means above the scroll down). However, according to Matt Cutts at Google, this might drop both your page rank and where you appear in SERPS (search engine results pages):

If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.

So, how much is too much? More from Matt Cutts:

We understand that placing ads above-the-fold is quite common for many websites; these ads often perform well and help publishers monetize online content. This algorithmic change does not affect sites who place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree, but affects sites that go much further to load the top of the page with ads to an excessive degree or that make it hard to find the actual original content on the page.

Obviously, the average blogger has a reasonable amount of ads vs. content above the fold. Ironically, many have noted that Google itself often has too many ads above the fold in their own search engine:

image courtesy of Daniel Weadley

So how does your page rate? Do you have a high percentage of ads above the fold? Will you change your page layout in response to this?

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