Large corporations can often be seen enforcing hypocritical and nonsensical rules or making similar statements, but a recent move by Google seems to hit an all time high in terms of backward thinking for the company. In a recent change to its search algorithm, Google’s search engines have started to identify and penalize sites that have too many ads above the fold.
In other words that means that if you currently have three Google ads visible as soon as someone loads up your site (the ‘fold’ is the bottom of the screen before scrolling) then your site may be set to down the results pages.
Of course in some ways this is good news, and it seems like a common sense move on the side of Google to try and eliminate spammy sites that value clicks far more than they do quality content. What this means for the average web surfer is sites that are cleaner and easier to read with fewer adverts leaping out at them.
The bad news of course for webmasters is that this could very likely hurt profits. While you shouldn’t ‘swamp’ your website with ads at the best of times (and this is never a good strategy in the long term anyway), some websites genuinely lend themselves to having three ads on the front page and this is a genuinely good way to optimize for clicks. Webmasters are going to need to look for other ways to monetize their sites and redesign some of their ad layouts.
The Hypocrisy (And Lunacy)
There are several problems beyond just making life difficult for website owners though. For one this is a highly hypocritical move when Google’s own site is showing more and more ads above the fold. In fact if you search for several popular terms then you are likely to get two to three adverts appearing in the results above the actual organic sites.
In many cases Google is breaking its own rules (to be fair it tends to show two ad ‘blocks’ in most cases, but search for credit cards for instance and these will be accompanied by another ad for Google’s own credit card comparison site) – and if you look at Google through a netbook then you actually can’t see any organic results in most cases without scrolling. And YouTube (which is owned by Google) isn’t innocent either and is also starting more and more to flood viewers with ads – before the videos and even over-layed on the videos themselves. It’s almost a matter of one rule for us and another for them… But with the kind of monopoly Google currently has over the internet that doesn’t leave much option other than to go along with it.
Is this the only way Google is being hypocritical? No, not really when you consider how they have until now actively encouraged webmasters to place more ads on their sites – if you didn’t have as many as Google ads as possible on your page then Google would e-mail you and inform you that you were able to put more on there.
And when you consider that they actually profit from the ads clicked on other sites then it doesn’t really make much sense either… Google practically created the culture of website ads and now in many ways they’re biting the hands that feed them.
About author : Chris works with a leading seo company in London and writes about Google, technology and search engine optimisation.