Sunday, January 22, 2012

Google confuses bloggers with new rules about ads: Tool to check your blog

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Just when we think we understand Google's search engine criteria, they change the rules. Well, they call them algorithms, but they appear to be some secret formulas agreed upon by men in tall, pointy hats at the top of a mountain somewhere. Bloggers are confused!

Google and Adsense: Separate and the same

To simplify matters, we will establish that Google and Adsense, the online advertising giant used by most bloggers to monetize blogs, are one and the same. In this instance, however, the reference is to placement in Google Search listings, which in essence determines how much traffic you will receive which in turn determines how much you will earn from Google Adsense.

Put it on, take it off, put it on, take it off...

The new framework by which Google determines valuable web content now is affected by what is visible at the top of the page when you click on a site, which is usually predominantly advertising from Adsense, for most. They have announced that sites that are top heavy with ads will be penalized, but they haven't really established what top heavy means. Their own Adsense help information encourages bloggers to place two ads at the top half, one beneath the header and one beside the content. Here is what Google said in their announcement:

If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.

OK, so that includes almost all bloggers who use ads. And, being honest, that includes Google's own advice for ad placement offered through Blogger, also owned by Google, and Adsense. So, taking this information, should we go and remove all ads from the top part of the page that people see when they first land there? To confuse us farther, here is what Google said:

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.

Does that clear up the whole thing?

The issue is yet to be clarified, but this blogger is changing website setup. The week before the new algorithm was introduced to the public, I began to see drastic drops in website traffic to all my Adsense sites and the subsequent income. After racking my brain and searching for answers, this appears to have been the problem. You can visit my personal blog here:

Here is one of my sites that took a big hit last week. Sylvania Netbook Review.

Check your blog with this Google tool

Google has an experimental tool in Google Labs that will help you determine if your blog or site may fall into this category discussed in this algorithm. Go here to check your blog url for what is visible in most people's browser when clicking on your blog. It gives you the percentage of readers who can see specific parts of your blog in their browser without scrolling at all.

Google is calling the shots here. We have no choice but to comply, but sometimes its hard to figure out what the ground rules are!


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