Chances are you have landed on one of those websites before – you know the type, with tons of ads up top, or a huge slider with eye-catching, yet somewhat distracting images, that cause slow loading times making it difficult or nearly impossible to find the information you are looking for.
If you really think about it, you may be guilty of this, too on your own website.
It can be quite appealing to sell that prime real-estate on your website to the highest bidder, our use it for flashy graphics, but without a bit of strategic planning, in the long run it may wind up frustrating potential customers and may even drive them to your competitors. Even worse, this ad-heavy layout may actually cause your website to be penalized by Google.
What is Considered Too Much?
Now the big question is how do you know if you have too many ads or graphics above-the-fold?
This is not a numbers game. There is no set number of ads or graphics that are acceptable and unacceptable. Instead, webmasters need to use the Google Browser Size tool, or something similar, in order to determine how much of their page’s content, as opposed to the ads or graphics, is visible when first looked at under different screen resolutions.
It is smart to find a ratio that reflects an 80/20 split, with 80 percent of the page being composed of content.
Helpful Tip: Consider using one of the many slider plugins that will allow for layered dynamic text. This will allow you to highlight your images, video, etc. without pushing text completely below the fold.
So, how far down the page is considered too far?
This is left to the discretion of the publisher. According to the update made by Google, sites will not be penalized that use a normal number of ads, but only the ones that do this excessively. Excessive in this regard means when the content on the page is difficult to find due to the large number of ads, or if the page loads extremely slowly.
Also, while you may not see penalties due to large graphics at the top of the page, it may discourage visitors to continue down the page to find what they are looking for.
Helpful Tip: Be sure to include your call to action and contact information above the fold. These are the most sought after and conversion encouraging elements of any page.
According to those most familiar with this change, the websites that are being penalized are only the ones where there is a minimal amount of content visible above the fold, or the relevant content being persistently pushed down the page due to large ad blocks.
Is Eliminating Ads Altogether the Answer?
The fact is that ads help websites monetize their pages, which can help to create an additional stream of income for their business. No one wants to lose this. Instead of eliminating the use of ads completely, use more strategic placement, such as in the sidebars or below the fold for important ads.
There is Hope!
Even if your website is already being penalized due to too many ads above the fold, it is not the end of the world. Just like with all the other new algorithms that are released, Google is regularly re-crawling websites to see what changes have been made. This means you can regain your former position in the SERPs.
While you may want to take the suggestions of ad selling companies and devote all the prime, top-of the page real-estate to potentially money-making ads, this is not a good move. There are several reasons:
- It will slow you page load time
- It will make the actual important content difficult to find and see frustrating potential customers
- You run the risk of being penalized by Google
Don’t drive customers away, lose your ranking or have any of these other adverse effects. Keep the most important, vital information at the top of your page and see how popular you can become.
However, keep in mind, it is not only ads that are posing an issue. Large and excessive graphics above the fold can also take away from the user experience. Try to keep a happy balance in order to create a page layout that provides quality information for visitors that is easy to find.