Google’s Algorithm Testing Raises Questions About “Above the Fold”

By: Chris Crum - November 10, 2011

At PubCon in Las Vegas, Google’s Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal held a webmaster Q&A session with attendees, and referenced (among many other things) some algorithm testing that they’re doing, which we may see the results of in 2012. This involves Google’s algorithm examining what appears “above the fold” on a content page, and more specifically, what appears in the way of ads.

What is acceptable to have above content on a page? Tell us what you think.

As we discuss this, it’s important to keep in mind that as of right now, this is something Google is testing. There hasn’t actually been an update roll-out of this nature to my knowledge, so the effects would not necessarily have been felt by “infringing” sites yet, but from the sound of it, it’s coming.

As far as what actually happens in terms of fallout, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but this is still something site owners and webmasters should be thinking about and possibly preparing for.

Now, this concept of ad-to-content ratio is not new, and it has in fact been a topic of discussion surrounding the controversial Panda update (which Google calls “a positive change across all of its known measurements,” by the way). In fact, following the Panda update, Google (Singhal himself actually) came out with a list of questions that “step into Google’s mindset,” as to how they’re looking at the issue of quality.

On that list is: “Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?”

At PubCon, Cutts is quoted as saying, “If you have ads obscuring your content, you might want to think about it…Do they see content or something else that’s distracting or annoying?” and that they’re testing algorithms that determine ”what are the things that really matter, how much content is above the fold.”

Now that part about “what are the things that really matter” could certainly apply to things beyond ads, and this in itself raises a lot of questions.

Here are some questions the whole discussion raises. Some of the answers may become clearer in time, and others webmasters will no doubt be left to speculate upon (feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments).


– Is “above the fold” determined solely by sizes elements of the design?

Screen size has an influence on this. Google did say that mobile (along with social) is the future. It’s certainly going to be a good idea (as it already is) to keep the small screen in mind.

– Is Google going to specifically look at the size of ads above the fold?

Look at EzineArticles, for example (one of the sites negatively impacted by the Panda update – granted, they’ve taken numerous steps to improve as a result). This article page has 7 ads above the actual content (the body). The top ones are very small in terms of space – just a few pieces of text. Even the ones that appear below the title aren’t enormous by ad standards, and technically are smaller than the 750-wide ad standard, but are they distracting to the content?

EzineArticles ads

eHow is probably in better shape on the ad side of things (Demand Media also noted in on their earnings call the other day, by the way, that they were not impacted by Google’s recent “Freshness” update).

eHow Design

– Is Google looking at things like spacing above the fold?

If not, AdSense ads could be most heavily impacted by this, because of the small formats.

– If this is taken into account, how will it be impacted by mouseover pull-downs and things of this nature?

– Will Google run into false positives based on pull down menus and things (javascript, ajax, etc.) – on the page, counted as content above the fold?

Granted, Google says it is getting smarter at understanding the content on the page in this regard. But how smart?

– Will large images above the text hurt you, or is this counted as the content?

For example, many of our article pages will use a relevant image above the article. It’s just one of our templates that we’ve worked into our design:

Picture above the article

– In a case like this, do headlines need to appear above the image?

– Will all of this effectively enable Google to really determine webmasters’ sites’ designs to some extent?

It can be very hard for a business to thrive online and not be visible in Google, so businesses will (and already do sometimes, for that matter) feel obligated to make sure their design is pleasing enough to Google to avoid being lost in the search results.

– Will webmasters bow down to everything google ever says?

Please feel free to weigh in on any of these, and share what you think of the direction Google is headed in, in the comments section.

Top image credit: Mike Souza (via Flickr).

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • Kimmo Linkama

    Google’s new algorithms may be geared towards a better understanding of sites, but in principle I’m opposed to changes that force site owners to adhere to a pre-determined design or format to ‘appease’ search engines. Do we really want ubiquitous similarity?

    • Steven

      Well to be honest it’s a real problem that Google is deciding to go after the user experience in certain way. They want to see sites that are improving upon the user experience. But at the same time they are throwing ads up on their search engine to maximize profits and then telling webmasters not to do the same. On top of that Google admits that repeat visitors click less and sites that engage visitors are less likely to get ad clicks as well. However, if a site is driving visitors away by having good content and pushing the ads too much and that site is using Adsense, Google will see lower profits on those sites. But bounce rate is a ranking signal and so I just see this as possibly Google nudging publishers to find ways to get the bounce rate down for good content sites by not throwing up so many ads. It also will force publishers to rethink about who’s ad network they’re going to highlight in the prime spots. Of course this will mean the highest paying ads, which usually come from Adsense. We’ve already adjusted our template and went from 80% bounce rate to 60%, and our income did go up as a result, but traffic so far has not improved. Perhaps this new algorithm change will help our traffic. Only time will tell.

  • Gujarat Portal

    This is not fare. All the time company should look for design according to changes in algo. or can put their effort for Business. We have 8000+ Pages and 1000+ Corporate Clients. How to overcome to resolve the problem overnight ? ?

  • Steven

    I have a couple of resources from Google that are useful when determining when to place your ads. So for a heat map check out this page and for a neat tool to check out what your pages currently are displaying for above the fold check out this neat tool at keeping in mind that if you resize your screen it can affect what you see above the fold, so I set my screen to 1024×768 as that’s a general common minimum resolution for most PC’s, but to test for mobile devices it depends on what phone you are testing for.

    However, should Google really be more of a gatekeeper than a gateway of the world’s information? It’s funny how Matt Cutts not so long ago said don’t worry if you don’t have a better template than your competition, make sure you have better content, and now he’s saying if your template is bad for your content your pages will rank lower.

  • Mister

    I’m targeting my future online venture to be alive without google at all, in fact i think that if you think you need google to survive, then think that you can just die in a day. ( the day they change a parameter in the algorythm )

    Avoid depending on google AT ALL COSTS, consider google trafic as a bonus, not a reliable source because it is not.
    Anyway on a personal basis i use duckduckgo as my main search engine because i find the results much more accurate than google now.

    • imoti

      I have to agree with you depending on google is very very unreliable.

    • Eddie D

      Total agree too. This just shows us that we all need to create a business that’s a brand. That doesn’t reply on Google or search ranking. We live by the hand of google. I had a website that was making me great money each month for 2 years that I worked on hard then then recent google algorithm change (nov 2011) traffic completely died overnight. I went from making just under 6 figures a year to literally 0.

      It’s bullshit especially matt cutts quote “If you have ads obscuring your content, you might want to think about it…”

      Create a business that doesn’t reply on Google.

      • Concern Citizen

        I feel the same, recent Google updates this November 2011 impacted by Ad Sense income by a half on its daily average.

        I work so hard for my site in providing timely,quality and original content. I agree that I have a lot of ads on them. Well, it cannot obscure the content at all since they do not overlap the text content.

        In my email I received a lot of praises from my readers happy to read my content. And the site get a lot of fans in Facebook.I do not understand why this update affected me so much as a hard working and honest webmaster. I spent one week of trying to figure out what went wrong and made a lot of changes to the site, except removing the ads.

        The ad placement on my site for me is optimal, thats the result after my testing for two solid years. I am less convinced to removed them since they are my bread and butter.

        To Google: Why not put more emphasis on other factors than focusing on above the fold and the ads. After all, whats the use of the site without ads if they do not provide useful, original and quality content? This algorithm update adds a very significant factor because it down ranks my site and lose a lot of visitors and income.

        Think about it Google, you lose your focus in rewarding sites with great content in your search results.

  • 100 percent mortgages

    As an AdSense publisher, I find this totally and utterly annoying that they are even considering it.

    For years, I’ve had more than numerous emails inside my account from the AdSense department themselves, that RECOMMEND placing the text link ads above the fold.

    So now they are back tracking?

    I get the feeling more and more that one department doesn’t know what the others are doing.

  • Michael Owen

    On one hand, Google’s actions continue to dictate how a web site will need to be designed in you want to be included and found in their results.

    On the other, some sites go over-board with ads and at times it’s hard to determine what is content and what is an ad.

  • NewEnglander

    Google is in the business of making$$$$$…do a search -you have to wade through their ABOVE THE FOLD adwords ads to get to actual search results…they encourage adsense publishers to place ads ABOVE THE FOLD..what are they going to do now penalize publishers who place ads above the fold. They own an affiliate network and they’re out to get affiliate sites.
    How about google gives users what they’re actually looking for..if they want to spend time on a site learning about x y and z then return the appropriate results or if they’re just looking to purchase x yand z then return the appropriate results..period. Since when is google “Fathers knows best!”
    They make their $$$ and the rest of us spend our time trying to figure out what the hell they want!!!!

    At this point I think there should be a worldwide Google boycott day..webmasters remove adsense ads, suspend their adwords campaigns and users boycott google search.
    Enough is enough!

    • 100 percent mortgages

      Spot on. I think AdWords has reached a saturation point. People now know what they can spend to get a sale and set budgets accordingly.

      All these ‘search’ updates are just ways of trying to squeeze more clicks on AdWords (in my opinion).

      And what about FaceBook? I’m sick of trying to watch videos and having to sit through a 30 second ad just to get to the content I want to watch. you don’t see FaceBook being penalised for these obtrusive ads.

      It will only be enough for Google, when there are only PPC listings on the first page only.

      They need to employ real people that actually know what people are looking for instead of somebody that has spent his entire life with his face in a laptop and hasn’t got a clue what real life is about.

    • My Dental Health Companion (blog)

      Couldn’t agree more! Even though would’ve meant a steady (if not small) stream of income coming in, I resisted adding any adwords to my blog because of Google’s hypocrisy in the way they tell webmasters how they should design websites to meet Google’s strict spam guidelines.

      Of course, I use Google’s BlogSpot for my blog so I guess that makes me a blog-whore.

  • Anthemage

    I must admit that I have to echo NewEnglander’s comments and it is something I have been thinking for a long time now.

    Google started off as a search engine and have, bit by bit, turned themselves not only into the internet but now, it seems, the internet judge, jury and executioner.

    Their motto appears to be “no one will make money on the internet without giving us a cut at some stage in proceedings”.

    I really, really do wish it were possible for everyone who runs a website to just do a block on Googlebot in their robots file for a few days, just for a bit of fun. And then perhaps forever for a bit of seriousness.

    Enough really is enough. The internet used to be fun, running a website used to be fun. It used to be exciting that a “little guy” could mix it with the “big guys” now, Google are making it sterile and formulaic.

    If they get their way, all websites will look the same one day (and probably say the same “approved” things, too).

  • Alan

    The layout within an individual site should be the concern of the owner not Google. If I decide to make my site a confection of adds and content and do so to the detriment of content then it will suffer, but that is a decision for me.

    • Ed

      @Alan — you are wrong because what you described would be to the detriment of Google’s real customers — advertisers. What, you thought Google’s customers were website owners? :)

      Think about it, if you were an advertiser, what kind of site would you want your ads to appear on?

      And as any company should do, Google is trying to please their customers. Believe me, there are plenty of sites that don’t overdo with ads and are richly rewarded by Google. Sometimes “less” really means “more”.

      I used do have 8 ad units above the fold. I now have at most 3. And guess what? My income did not only didn’t suffer but my bounce rate went down, time spent on site went up and number of pafes per user is up big. By the way, all these improvements probably improved how Google views my site.

  • Peter Sundstrom

    Online marketing is always a changing game, which is generally driven by the changes Google implements.

    These latest set of proposed changes pose more questions as to exactly what factors Google is going to use.

    Given that Google derives a significant percentage of its income from Adwords, I can’t see them making changes that is going to damage their revenue streams.

  • sj

    NetFlix, Bank of America and Wall Street have all felt the affects of the power of the people. Google has for too long dictated, undermined and in general screwed around with webmasters so perhaps it’s time they too learned that webmasters are fed up with their ways and it is time they answered to us rather than the other way around. I’m tired of trying to keep up with all their quirky algo changes and dictatorial attitude. So now we must pander to small screen size and social networking and worry about whether our logos/banners/headers should be underneath content? It’s just too much. Google needs to get smarter programmers who can write algos that sniff out content rather than us having to put everything in a specific place so their bots can find it.
    If someone puts together a site or whatever to start a campaign to show Google that we are no longer going to be dictated to I’ll sign up in a heartbeat!

  • Judy Camp

    How many thousands of hours have we all spent in the past year researching what works best for Adsense? And now, again, Google is planning to slap everyone who has been doing what worked so well in the past. Now it’s time to buy another ebook or program that has the NEW information…again. What a racket! Here’s a new subcontractor market…Google Information Disseminater. I’ll watch what Google decides it wants this week and sell the information to you. I could make millions!

    • Daniel

      I feel the same way, Judy.

      My email box is flooded that stuff. When I started questioning certain practices of how the whole “Website and Blog” industry seems to be run(As you mentioned in your comment) I did not get any responses. It was as if I had opened up a “can of worms”.

      Recently I went to a website, which is being spruiked(Promoted by some Authority sites.

      The webmaster of this site uses the sales pitch of ” None of the same old {how to succeed with your website} advice here”!

      When I analyzed his posts, it was the same old stuff, with many posts bragging about his monthly earnings.

      Also, many commenters on that site were questioning the monthly earning being displayed, as the did not match up with the displayed data.

      This is how the entire industry works(As far as many websites and blogs are concerned).

      There is one ultra successful site that uses it’s ” How I achieved all this in one year in my very first online business”
      To pull a huge amount of traffic to their site(And the webmaster is making a ton of mullah).

      People are inspired and impressed..

      This would be their thought process……..
      Wow! If ?????? can do that in 12 months in their first ever online effort, if I can achieve even half of that success, I will be doing just fine”!

      I emphasis the time factor(12 months) as this is what would be the factor that draws in more devout readership(Return readers, subscribers,etc)

      Well, the fact is, the webmaster on that site has been doing online marketing(Affiliates,etc,etc) for a number of years prior to ever starting that particular website.

  • Sam Doria

    Your article looks interesting for me and I have been doing some changes
    to my web pages to keep some of my web pages at least in the first google search page.

    This page

    Was at the top using the maca-extract keyword. Move yesterday check and
    a fake web site it is at the top using the same key word.

    Just plain text I read in full the four page links and the author
    that it is fake. At some place I read a comment that mention that the webmaster just took an author name somewhere and spin another original
    web site text then produce a site that looks as an educational site
    and it is at the top using the keyword that I already mention.

    In my website I have over 10 pages using the same keyword I also manage
    the keyword density and my site it is ouT

  • Fred Goodman

    I think if the companies that are using adwords from google knew google bands people that get to many clicks on adsense ad’s, They probably would go else where. I got band from adsense for invalid clicks, which i can’t control the traffic that i recieve to my site’s, i thought thats what i wanted was visitors, and i didn’t click on the ad’s myself so whats happening? Google is getting rich off the most needed in this economy, the small buisnesses.

  • Daniel

    Well they do say ” A picture tells a thousand words”!

    All jokes aside, I think many people are being worn thin by the constant Pandering(Yes, that was another joke) to the whims of the never ending Google Algorithm changes.

    Most Webmasters have been instructed that the prime real estate(So to speak) of their sites, is “Above the fold”.

    I just read an article that said 80% of user activity is spent looking at content(Material) above the Page fold(Not sure how accurate that percentage is).

    Considering the ” Above the fold” section is the part of web page we see WITHOUT SCROLLING DOWN, that does show how important that particular piece of webpage turf is.

    As far as the constant Google Algorithm changes goes!

    With 500 such changes in the past year alone, it’s no wonder many website and blog owners(Webmasters) are starting to feel that they are literally going around in circles.

    It’s understandable that Google seeks to improve(Fine tune) it’s search capabilities, using a number of parameters.

  • Alex Pupkin

    I think Google is monopolizing search engines and making decisions for website users. AdWords ads are “pushing” organic results down and make it harder for business owners generate leads unless they pay Google.

  • Jon

    I do not think it will be so much as what or how much is above the fold, more like something that this site does that many users find very, very annoying.

  • Web Hosting

    For companies like mine placing content above the fold for the index page is a bit hard in my opinion. My main page is about our services and an order button. Below the fold is more information about the service (WEB HOSTING) but other pages are pretty easy to get above the fold content.

    I will be contacting my SEO to get more information on this. I want to prepare ourselves for moves like this and design for that in mind.

    I believe that Google should continue to make search better but I do not see it fair to cause websites to rank further away from page one for above the fold content. That is just crazy. The user of the site will go to a website and know they must scroll down to view more of the pages content. That is just the way it is. There is only so much you can do and I believe lots of websites will be affected by this if it does come into place.

  • York Interweb

    This is all very confusing. On one hand Google tells us to do this and do that, don’t put ads here or there, while on the other hand we keep getting emails from Google Adsense advising that we should put more ads ‘above the fold’, that we only have two ads on 3000 of our pages when we could have three. It’s like they’re two different companies, when really it’s like some kind of Ouroboros.

  • Cathy Dunham

    Above the fold (or web content), there should only exist information that is most relevant and useful to the user: What’s in it for them (and it had better be strongly relevant to the search term or link that brought them there); Name/logo – to identify who you are; Text or Visual that quickly describes your field of expertise; Intuitive Navigation (top nav is generally preferred, but not the perfect solution for every site); Interesting, relevant title to engage them; and Digestible content to make information easy to scan.

  • Brian

    The adwords employees need to talk with the adense employees. Adsense newsletters sometimes seem to recommend changes that could have a negative impact on SEO.

  • Steve

    For the past decade Google’s growth has been unchecked. Web users have no idea what is going on behind the scenes (most probably don’t care anyway) so until enough people turn away from Google, this will continue. Boycott Google services, the only thing important to them is revenue. Deprive them of that and the company will crumble.

  • DougC

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that google will penalize sites for having ads above the fold UNLESS they are google ads. It is their goal to totally dominate advertising on the net and that is WRONG. Something needs to be done about google forcing webmasters to jump through hoops to get any placement at all. No logarithm can take into account every possible design and as a result many, many honest people’s websites will suffer because of this. As of today, I will no longer be using google for anything, ever again, I’m done. Hello Yahoo, I’m back!

  • Tom Neal

    Of course. Primary-space ad placement is essentially a bait-and-switch click through tactic. A misnomer. Google’s self-recursive human intervention free algorithms are supposed to provide relevance; i.e. WikiPedia. The internet was founded on the FREE sharing of information. If enough good people do nothing, then a few bad ones will ruin it for EVERYONE.

  • Keynote Speaker

    This is will be very interesting to see how Google gets around the ad issue since they will also be affected by the reduced Adsense revenue if ads are to be placed lower on the pages, unless of course, that is the loophole. Image ads from Google may be the only “distractions” we see in the future! Thanks for the intriguing article and forward thinking!

  • CaptainCyberzone

    I think that it all depends on “ad placement”.
    If I were to walk down the main street (shopping area) of Tokyo or Hong Kong, for example, and all those above the shop neon lights were street level it would be extremely distracting and irritating.
    Let the site visitor be the decider. I’d rather I be the one who decides which street I walk down not Google.

  • Gary

    Why not penalize us they penalize us for everything else. How about leave everything as is.

  • Chuck

    Ad-to-content ratio is something we have been going over in the latest marketing course that I’ve been taking. I’ve removed many of my ads from my sidebar and only have one Google ad at the end of each post. I think people are blind to ads when they are plastered everywhere anyway so this all sounds good to me.

  • Paul

    What about google’s own adsense ads above the fold. Or anywhere else for that matter. Google’s adsense team keeps contacting me about adding more adsense ads. BTW…advertising is what we all do including Google. Why should they start determining how and where we choose to place any ad on our blog or site.

  • Mobile Home Repair

    Great article, thanks for the heads up.

  • Pallavi

    Hi chris nice presentation.

    I have few questions

    why google is punishing for using its own services, as adsense is something related to content and people may find out the same theme site from these ads as well.

    why google shows paid ads (adword ads) above the fold with few terms you may find out paid ads and then local listing and then organic listings. This clearly means google is no more interested in organic listing as they won’t getting any thing from thee listings.

    and compelling business to invest in adwords.

    They should clearly mention in their tag line that they are more into paid campaign. So people looking for paid litings are welcome and others may leave

  • Damian

    So much to think about

  • Himanshu Jain

    Actually even a thought like this can only be rated as funny. Even temples and churches do not run without donations or some kind of financial aids and certainly a website or shall I say all the websites are not churches or temples. They are businesses. They have to give some and also take some. No one can ONLY “give” and that too “quality” without any inflows to support that “quality”.

  • Gem Jewelry

    It can be very hard for a business to thrive online and not be visible in Google, so businesses will (and already do sometimes, for that matter) feel obligated to make sure their design is pleasing enough to Google to avoid being lost in the search results.

  • Renwick Jeffrey

    I think that sites that are doing affiliate marketing should not be allowed on page one. As affiliate sites make more and more money, they can purchase fancy seo programs and keep themselves in front of legitimate e-commerce businesses. It even looks like your site is doing affiliate marketing. But you are not an e-commerce business. If I were in charge I would give preference to companies that were “Made in U.S.A. companies.

  • MJ

    That’s ridiculous. It needs to be broken up. It is time for a true search engine to take its place.

  • Ty

    I was discussing this with a business associate today when one of his servers sent a message to the app he designed to notify him of a server problem. A site being hosted on this particular server was filled full of ads to the point of excessive strain on the server. This particular website will take a serious hit if Google implements this as part of its’ algorithm. I actually personally do not like sites that are filled with annoying banner and text ads making the site look ugly and and distracting. I think massive amounts of banner ads went out of style years ago. I am curious to how Google makes these changes and how it will effect AdSense if at all. I would imagine Google has a solution for that in the works though. Kind of funny but I was recently reading how Google does not know how to market their products on a blog, but yet they are a huge advertising agency in retrospect if you think about it. Only time will tell on this one, but will matter to much for some business owners.

  • Peter

    Uh oh… If this rolls out by any chance, plenty of people will have sleepless nights…

  • Colmeiaweb

    How Google will look for sites online sales?

    Users when seeking this type of website are looking for much more a product than a lot of content talking about this product.

    So it should be treated differently?

    An example: when a user types into Google “guitar history” clearly want content on their research, but if you type “buy guitar” makes it clear that seeking an online store. So in this case, if Google showed a blog with content about the history of the guitar, would not be showing the site most relevant to your search.

    (Google translator)

    Sorry, I do not speak English

  • Michael

    Geez does anybody sell their own products or does everyone write what they think people want to read and run ads. A product people need to solve a problem with good content on why the product will help them or solve their problem is what Google places high. I never liked all these sit at home run ads for products I have I developed. 8 years ago Google did have all these black hat problems and scammers to deal so bring it on above the fold. I see nothing changed. I only loose when others want to work form home and sell what I have to go to work for everyday. My retail webshop and service. Get a real job my friends and stop selling get rich quick there is not such thing hard work good habits plus the compound effect takes you either up or down.

  • GillyBoomShakal

    o puleeeze help, my twitter a/c has been hacked, it appears to have been taken over by a spammer, I can’t log out of it to try and log in under my name and it won’t let me contact twitter support. Any suggestions?

  • Joe Youngblood


    I disagree that this is not in the algo already. Barry Schwartz asked Matt Cutts about it directly and matt said that it was included currently and being “ramped up”. That lends credence to the belief that something like this was tossed into the Panda algo and will be expanded as part of panda or taken out and made into a new algo.

    • Joe Youngblood

      that being said the large image question is interesting. Google will likely look for static images in standard IAB sizes and correlate those to ads, but is the large image considered “distracting and annoying”. maybe they’ll use their new image search features to match the image to the content of the article. so a massive image of Matt Cutts while talking about Google, Search and Algos might be ok but a massive image of a seal jumping through a hoop is probably not.

    • Joe Youngblood

      and just to record my prediction. If the content obstruction update goes through i think we’ll see websites turn to a wider page format to get more content above the fold with the same number of ads. CPM advertisers don’t want to pay for their ad being below the fold. This could be alleviated if a system was able to detect ad location on the page and charge different CPM rates for different locations.

  • Slap That Panda Update

    You actually make it appear really easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely vast for me. I am having a look ahead to your next publish, I’ll try to get the dangle of it!

  • Steven

    It all sounds like snake oil to me. Not only does Google not have enough employees working on just search to accomplish so many changes to their algorithms, but there is by far too much data for Google to test it’s algorithm on, get the results back, and know that they’re heading in the right direction for improvements, in such little time they have per sandbox test they need to run.

  • Steve Kinney

    Wow! A lot of people posting today seem to think that Google owes it to them to “sit still and do nothing.” But what I see happening over time is a feedback loop:

    1. Google changes its algorithms in an effort to deliver more relevant content in Google search returns.

    2. SEO minded web developers adapt their methods to deliver more advertising content in Google search traffic.

    3. Google changes its algorithms in an effort to deliver more relevant content in search returns.

    Etc. ad infinitum. I know there are lots of people whose whole job is to view content as secondary, serving only as bait for delivering advertisements. Nothing wrong with that. Caveat emptor, etc., and any website owner who does not exercise common sense in balancing relevant content and advertising space pretty much deserves what happens next: Reduced time on site, fewer page views, higher bounce rates, and eventually, lower search return placement.

    Google has (potential) competitors, and normal end users have their own idea of how much garbage, clutter, and distraction (yes I mean our beloved advertisements) it takes to degrade a website’s performance as a medium for delivering relevant information. If Google fails to take this into account in its search rank algorithms, they will start losing market share to competitors who do.

    Lookit the big picture, folks. Quality as defined by the website visitor and quality as defined by an SEO contractor are normally very different things, and at war with one another. Those who can find win/win solutions will come out on top. If Google fails to facilitate this process, Google will start to lose relevance and revenue – and in the long run, everyone eventually tends to get more or less what they deserve.