Google Penalizes Blogs with Too Many Advertisements

A recent announcement by Google has begun to make waves among the blogging community – especially those that are monetizing their properties and making an income via their blogs:

We understand that placing ads above-the-fold is quite common for many websites; these ads often perform well and help publishers monetize online content.

This algorithmic change does not affect sites who place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree, but affects sites that go much further to load the top of the page with ads to an excessive degree or that make it hard to find the actual original content on the page.

This new algorithmic improvement tends to impact sites where there is only a small amount of visible content above-the-fold or relevant content is persistently pushed down by large blocks of ads.

The bottom-line here is that Google will start to penalize (reduce search engine results and ranking) those blogs and sites that really abuse their advertising channels above the fold. What is “above the fold” do you ask? It’s any content that your readers can see before they have to start scrolling down your blog.

The picture above shows what content the typical visitor can see when they encounter my blog.

Thankfully this will really affect only 1% of all search returns but you definitely don’t want to be in that mix (1 out of 100 searches essentially)!

How do you know if you may become a target (victim?) of this new algorithmic change? Here are some checks:

  • Make sure that you showcase your content first and foremost! Content is king and is even more important that it is seen first!
  • Make sure that the amount of advertisements that you have is reasonable and not ridiculously offensive in terms of quantity, especially above the fold.
  • Make sure that the overall amount of advertisements on your blog isn’t excessive either. You know what I’m talking about as you intuitively know when a site has gone way above and beyond in their efforts to force advertisements down your throat. Don’t be like them!

If you feel like you need to change up your template or choose another WordPress Theme (I use Standard) then the algorithm will take these changes into account and you’ll just have to wait for the results to kick in, especially if you think you were subject to a penalty. You can easily check this, by the way, if you see a dramatic change of organic traffic via your Google Analytics or other analytics system.

Here are some tips directly via Google as well:

[tentblogger-youtube G8lpZFJTpWk]

Finally, if you want to really engineer and optimize your monetization and consider SEO at the same time then I suggest reviewing my two series, Google Adsense for Bloggers and SEO for Bloggers.

You should also try using the Browser Size Tool to see what your users may be seeing as well:

Take care and optimize!

  • Charles Specht

    Interesting information. Now all I need to do is get some advertising and then begin worrying about it. LOL

  • Charles Specht

    John, actually, here’s a question I’ve been thinking about more recently.

    How does “commenting” on different websites impact Google or Yahoo ratings? In other words, there is a link to my website purely because I am commenting here. If I were to comment on 100 different websites, as opposed to say, only 15, would that increase anything? Thank you!

    PS: The reason I ask is that, for example, Church Relevance’s Top 200 blogs are determined by five main criteria: Alexa Rank, Compete Visitors, Google PageRank, Google Reader Subscribers, and Yahoo Inlinks.

    • Susan Silver

      I often wonder the same thing. I tried to study this, but I didn’t get enough clickthroughs on my url to make a difference. I couldn’t make any conclusions!

      If you use Google Analytics you can tag the url that you use for comments. That way any clicks will be tracked under campaigns when you log in to GA. Or you can use that will also track clicks. Which is probably the easier route.

      • Charles Specht

        Hmm, interesting. Thanks for the information, Susan!

  • Jeremy Myers

    I was just trying to fix my blog last night for this very reason. I think my header is too big, which causes not very much content to appear above the fold.

    Question: Are you going to do away with your 300×250 ad on posts older than 14 days so that the content does not get pushed down?

    • John Saddington

      i’m going to be redesigning this blog this year i believe… hope to get to it!

  • Alex Humphrey

    As someone who is in the process of adding advertisements, I’m going to have to consider this carefully as I plan out the future of the blog.

    It’s scary how powerful Google is, that it can announce something like this and completely change the way a person plans out their site. (not that I was going to go ad overboard, but I’ll definitely put more consideration into ad placements).

    • Mutant Minds

      Yes, and we give them that power.

  • Susan Silver

    I was really curious about this change up and what input you may have. It seems strange to me. When I did a search about the news I got blog posts from Google in 2010 recommending that bloggers put adsense ads above the fold where they perform best. I am assuming that they are out to target only those that abuse the space. Interesting turn none the less. Google is getting hardcore about its business.

    • John Saddington

      that is true. :)

  • Mutant Minds

    What would happen if all the bloggers did a boycott and stopped running Google ads and did ads for like Amazon or anyone else?

    What if over nite we just all started using other search engines? Or at least one or two weeks out of the month switch to another search engine?

    I think we would see some interesting results.

    I am going to use Yahoo for a week or two. Maybe longer.

    Anyone else game?

    Let me know which one you will switch to.

    Peace Google, and power to the People!!!! (fist raised in air) :)

    • John Saddington

      not sure this would work… a global boycott… huh.

  • Mutant Minds

    Ok, rant is over.

    I actually love Google and use a lot of their products.

    To be fair, Google does give away a lot of cool free stuff.

    Peace Google, and products to the people!!!! (laptop raised in air) :)

    • John Saddington


  • jorge jacobo

    I was going to wait until they come up with lengthy monitors so they can show muy content :D

    I am joking, I don’t really like the ads that don’t let me find the good stuff, so thumbs up google.

    • John Saddington

      it’s a good move i think.

  • Bryan

    So what if you use one of those big slider plugins that take up the most of the space above the fold but have very little text? I’m thinking of what Martyn Chamberlin uses on

    • John Saddington

      i’m not a big fan of those at all actually.

  • Cure Back Pain

    Great tips as always. Thanks.

    • John Saddington

      i’m going to start spamming you if you don’t use a real name.

  • Suroor Wijdan

    i think atleast my blog is not going to be affected by this move of Google. hope so!!!