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Google to Penalize Ad Heavy Websites

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Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team who has people in the Internet marketing world listening with bated breath nearly every time he opens his mouth, announced last week that the search engine will be making an effort to penalize websites with heavy-handed advertisements.

While speaking at the Pubcon conference last week, Cutts made the announcement that “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?”

Fortunately, none of our current clients have to worry about this news. That’s not to say it’s not concerning. Most of us have seen over-the-top ad-drenched websites, but how far will Google go? Does this mean pop-ups to sell your web visitors on an e-mail newsletter will be a detriment to your ranking? I could probably list five to 10 major companies, mainly in the entertainment field, who use various, some would say overbearing, advertising techniques. Will they be punished?

Cutts also said that Google is testing algorithms that determine “what are the things that really matter, how much content is above the fold.”

We already knew that there was some special weight to content towards the top of your page. Ironically, if you go to Google-owned YouTube, a good 50 percent of the home page above-the-fold space is dominated by a large animated banner. So, either Google is talking about advertisements that are even more overbearing than that or they plan on being selective in their enforcement. I prefer the non-conspiracy theory of the former.

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