Google has become so dominant that it’s now beginning to worry me and surely it’s only going to get worse. The fact that we have all used Google so heavily means we can only blame ourselves; we’ve fed the monster after all.
Of course, we have to play by their rules as choice flies out of the window and we consistently struggle to adapt to new algorithms to ensure our website’s perform to their potential.
But how can our website’s perform? We’re able to produce quality content on our magazine sites only because advertisers choose to use them to market themselves – and banner ads still play the starring role when it comes to revenue.
Take a look at the website for Group Leisure magazine; I wouldn’t say our web pages are overloaded with adverts and that quality, relevant content is easy to find. Why would we create a layout that goes too heavy on ad placement to the extent that it affects the user experience? It would be a slippery slope and we have to play the long, as well as the short game. It’s always been the same with magazine design – finding that balance between what the advertiser wants, while being mindful of the reader.
As I constantly look at ways in which I can improve traffic I’m now stuck with an interesting dilemma. Google is penalising some of the sites I look after due to ad placements above the fold. It’s good to know how we need to adapt but when you only have to sneeze in the direction of our website design builder to get a large bill, it’s not that straightforward for small to medium businesses like ours.
What is frustrating is that Google’s double standards. Take a look at the below screen shot of a Google search and see the paid-for ads compared to the organic search results.
Google recommends the following if using AdSense so it’s probably a good guide in general:
- Up to 3 ads per page
- A balanced ad-to-content ratio
- A 300×250 rectangle, a 728×90 leaderboard and a 160×600 skyscraper
I am concerned that some images on our sites (hero images, image links to internal pages, etc) are being classed as adverts by Google, even if they’re not. It is becoming more and more evident that we are going to have to spend money re-designing the site, but to do that we need to make a profit through advertising. Chicken and egg anyone…