Go on any one of your favorite blogs and you’ll likely see an ad or two. Ads are an easy, visual way for companies to get the word out about their products and services. They are also an easy way for bloggers to make money. You can see an ad on the right sidebar of my blog (the ad changes with each visit for each unique visitor in this case). I also sometimes have thin ads under posts and allow fellow bloggers to advertise their blog on my “Sponsors” section (scroll down and see them on the right-hand sidebar).
Having ads on your site is normal. Not everyone has to do it, not everyone should, but it’s perfectly healthy to have them. What’s not healthy is having too many ads, placing the ads in certain spots and when the ads add too much clutter to the page that conversion tanks. So if you’re a blogger that places ads on your blog, you may want to continue reading.
Since 2012 Google has mentioned that having ads above the fold can be hurtful. Recently, the topic has become popular again with Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts reiterating the topic at a conference. Cutts revealed that ad-heavy pages about the fold will have more of an impact on your website’s ranking in Google and reputation. He suggested getting rid of your ads that fall in this area.
So what does “above the fold mean” exactly?
Things above the fold are positioned in the upper of a web page and are visible without scrolling down the page. You can see what your website looks like above and below the fold on these two websites: Google Labs and Where Is The Fold.
Why are above the fold ads bad?
When Google visits your site and notices that you have ads above the fold, it decreases the ranking for your entire site. No bueno. Also, who likes being inundated with large, annoying ads when they’re trying to read a blog? No one! I’m personally totally fine having ads on the side or lower on a page, but having one at the top or near the header of your webpage is distracting and annoying. Clearly Google agrees with me.
Should I be worried?
Take a look at your blog or website. If you currently have ads above-the-fold (near the top of your page before a user scrolls down), then possibly. I would suggest moving your ads lower on the page and make sure they aren’t anywhere super close to content. If you currently have lots of ads on your website, large sized ads, or ads that are intrusive to the reader’s eye, get rid of some of them. You can still run ads on your website to generate revenue- just make sure they are far and few between and of high quality.
If you’re a member of one of those blogger networks that make you put their ads above-the-fold for maximum exposure (like Blogher or Glam Media), you may want to rethink this. Not only is this a red flag to Google, it also can translate to a poor user experience for your readers. Again, this is a personal choice and just an opinion of mine, but my experience in SEO and blogging makes me feel this way.
Feel free to share your opinions with me in the comments below- what do you think of ads on blogs and websites, especially ones that are above the fold?