Too Many Ads Above the Fold are Bad, Says Google

This really isn’t anything new; Google is just following the same rules that newspaper publishers have followed for over a hundred years …

Advertisements are what keeps many of the sites going on the Internet, including the site you are currently reading. As a user, I do understand that too many ads, or ads in the wrong position, or ads that are highly distracting, reduce the user experience. While I rarely stumble upon sites anymore that have their pages plastered with ads so that it becomes difficulty to find the regular content, I have to say that I welcome the change that Google just announced.

The company basically stated that an algorithmic change was launched that analyzes the ad to content ratio above the fold. Sites that do not have much content above the fold can be affected by this change, according to Google. What does affected mean exactly? They are pushed down in the search results in favor of sites that have a better user experience.

Sites that display ads to a normal degree are not affected by the change.

I personally have two issues with the announcement.


Google did not provide information about the parameters that they look at. What’s missing?

  • The definition of what the company considers to be an ad
  • What Google considers to be a normal ad ratio above the fold
  • The screen resolutions they use to calculate that ad to content ratio
  • If popup ads or interstitial ads are also considered by the change

This leaves webmasters again with the nagging feeling that they may be affected by the change, even though they are likely not.

Not everyone is equal

The second aspect weights more heavily in my eyes. Take a look at the following screenshot and let me know if you would consider this a bad ad to content ratio on the page.

google search ads

Please note that this screenshot shows a 1000 to 800 resolution, and that your experience may differ depending on a number of factors.

And now read Matt Cutts’ announcement again:

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

Is Matt saying that Google Search is not offering a good user experience? I think he does. Lets discuss in the comments.

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