Google Penalizes Traffic to Above-the-Fold Ad Heavy Sites

Google traffic is set to crash for ad heavy websites with low content above the fold as per a  new Page layout Google algorithm change. If visitors need to scroll down to find your content, you can be sure the new Google alogrithm will reduce your site traffic.

Page Layout Google Update

The earlier Google Panda update was said to significantly affect Google search engine rankings for websites with high ad to content ratio. This saw many webmasters reduce the  number of ads, remove low quality thin content and generate a high content-ad ratio. What this new Google update does is target sites where large ads dominate above the fold area, which has high visibility, needs no scrolling  and therefore has a high click rate for ads.

This leads to poor user experience, since users are hit with so many ads, and cannot find the content, which is pushed down by the ads. Current Google updates aim to reduce the ads above the fold so that users clicking through search results get exposed to … in Google’s own words ” lot of visible content above-the-fold ” and not just ads.

Since ads above the fold get higher CTR, webmasters do prefer to place ads there, and Google will not affect such sites. Only when the ads are excessive and the content is difficult to find, such sites will be affected.

Is Your Site Ad-Heavy

Google suggests you use Browser Size tool or many other tools to test your website in different screen resolutions and see how your site space is used and how ads dominate your site. I used the browser site tool and it looks like this

Google Browser tool

Interpretation – 90% contour means that 90% of people visiting Google have their browser window open to at least this size or larger. If your site is center aligned, its a good idea to resize the browser window to test the tool or you will get a wrong result. One more thing to note is that these are client area sizes, not browser window sizes (so they are without the title bar, toolbars, status bars), which means the screen area visible will actually be smaller.

Test the tool with your site and you will realize that ads actually do occupy a large screen space which is all that is seen by a large percentage of people browsing with low screen resolutions

Is your site traffic down?

Its time to relook you ads placement and remove large ad blocks that over power your prime screen area. If your site traffic is indeed hit badly, do the site design changes and wait for Googlebot to recrawl and restore your traffic, which could take weeks… Google is watching … dont let your site get penalized.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.