When I first read about Google’s latest algo update, penalizing websites for being “top heavy” with advertisements, I thought it was contradictory considering AdWords ads are known to take up a large majority of above-the-fold results when searching Google. This is especially true when looking over the past couple of years; Google has given PPC advertisers plenty of toys – ad extensions – to play with that have resulted in larger sized ads that take up even more space on the SERPs.
But then I thought about it more.
At the same time that Google is known for pushing out AdWords ads and making money, it is known for working hard to give its users the best possible searching experience. In fact, when I explain PPC to people unfamiliar with the medium, I have told them that the paid ads on Google can be more relevant than the natural results (assuming the advertiser is doing a good job). Now, I understand that is a strong statement that some may disagree with…but for now, at the very least, it can be agreed that paid ads can give just as relevant as search results as found in the top organic listings. And if that is the case, Google’s AdWords ads are helping the user experience, rather than hurting it.
In the screen shot above, when searching for “mac power cord,” yes – Google gave me only ads above the fold on my laptop screen in the SERP, however it gave me plenty of options for buying a cord which is what I was out to do in this search. Then, in this screenshot below, a website is giving me information on Mac power cords but it is buried in ads – not what I was out to do in this search:
Keeping all of this in mind, I revisited the “Page Layout” algorithm update. Google is penalizing the websites for being top heavy in ads, not because of the amount of space the ads are taking up, but because of the negative impact it is known to have on a user experience. If that is the case, and if PPC ads can be helpful to a searcher, then I suppose Google isn’t being too contradictory at all…so bring on the PPC real estate and say goodbye to websites with more ads than useful content.