In recent months Google has made a lot of divisive moves, and things like the ‘Google+ Your World’ concept have lead many to accuse the search company of protecting and promoting their own products over focusing on providing good customer experience.
If protecting their own products was what Google was interested in though, then one recent move can be seen to be going against this trend and actually causing themselves harm.
Three’s a Crowd
This is the news that Google will now be penalizing sites with more than three Google ads ‘above the fold’ on websites. In the past Google would recommend putting three Google ads anywhere on your website and many guides pointed out the three positions where these would do the most good (unsurprisingly all above the fold). In fact if you had less than three Google ads on a page, then Google would actually e-mail you in order to inform you that you had space for more and to encourage you to stick more up. In other words they were encouraging heavy ad content.
What went wrong of course was that people would take this to the extreme and use large ad sizes all over the top of their website so that people no longer knew what was ad and what wasn’t… and they’d end up leaving the site. To prevent ‘spammy’ sites like this Google made this recent move in the hope of deterring people who would otherwise flood their sites with ads.
Google’s Own Goal
So in a way it’s already fair to point out that Google created this situation in the first place, but what’s more perplexing is the obvious conflict of interests that this created for Google. On the one hand they benefit from lots of Google ads, because they take a percentage of those ads, while on the other hand they’re telling people to stop showing them… so really they’re cutting off one of their own biggest sources of income. Not so smart Google!
And what this means is that people will be moving away from using ‘ad networks’ in a move to stay at the top of the search results while still maximizing their earnings. Other ad networks will likely also be penalized, so instead webmasters will be selling affiliate products and taking a profit, their own products, and general advertizing space. In short we can expect to see just as many adverts on the spammy sites – but they will be less ‘obviously’ ads. Things like pop-ups will be fair game.
So how exactly does this benefit Google or the end user? Instead of making this move Google could have made the decision to simply reduce the size of its own largest ad boxes which would automatically have made many sites a lot less crowded around the web without alienating webmasters. Ultimately though this might be the incentive that site owners needed to start moving away from ad networks and begin monetizing their sites in new ways. Just think – those sites that are paying you for your traffic are obviously making a profit from the same people which means you could be making more if you kept them on your site. Start selling a product or a subscription service and you’ll soon be glad Google made this move.