What is the first rule of real estate? Location, location, location. As true and unchanging as that statement may be in real estate, it’s about to change for website advertising placement. This is a good thing. Read on.
When it comes to web ads, the prime real estate, so to speak, is at the top of the web page – an area referred to as “above the fold” or “above the scroll” in some vernacular. But regardless of what it’s called, the area at the top of the website is an advertiser’s greatest attraction.
Why is this? Because we humans sometimes have a short attention span and the human brain is, therefore, programmed to skim. Any advertisement or call-to-action piece that exists above the fold – in that top-most area of the site that is visible without scrolling – is almost 7x more likely to be acted upon by page viewers. Any die-hard advertiser will tell you the area below the fold might as well be on another page altogether. In the advertising game, the value of ad positions above the fold cannot be overstated.
According to the recent news item at the Google Webmaster Central blog, it’s all about to change.
Google has done a little research and made an algorithm improvement (one of about 500 expected in 2012) that examines how much of the “above the fold” area of the website is dedicated to content – and how much is covered in ads. Google has heard some complaints from searchers about how “it’s difficult to find the actual content” on some pages they’ve clicked to. And although Google claims that this algorithmic change will alter less than 1% of all searches globally, the search team has said in no uncertain terms that those sites that clutter up the top portion of their webpages with advertising may be penalized. Google has all but promised that sites with top-heavy advertising will not rank as high in the very near future.
From Google Webmaster Central: 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.
Although searchers are no-doubt benefited from landing pages that “get to the point” and deliver the content they expect to see, some site owners are not happy.
But it’s only 1% of all searches, Google said. Seems like a small number, but when you consider that Google handles 2 million searches every minute of every day, that’s 20,000 occurrences every minute where a typical searcher might see a reordering of search results on the page. It’s quite a bit, really. Makes you wonder who’s doing all that advertising.
But, as stated earlier, this is a good thing. Here’s why: Google’s oft-stated mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google talks incessantly about relevance in all things related to search. Google is continuously making changes to its algorithm to favor original, quality content. Therefore, it’s no huge effort to see that Google knows that searchers want to see the content they expected to see with every search. If they give the people what they want, they’ll continue to be successful.
As web marketers, site owners, and content developers, it is our continued mission to create honest and compelling content that gains the immediate interest of site visitors and builds their trust in your brand.
Content is King. We’ve said it before and it’s not likely to change. Let’s be honest with each other, if someone walks into an ice cream parlor for a triple cone (chocolate, cherry and pistachio) and is offered a taco salad instead, they’re going to waste no time in exiting. In the end, you lose their business, your advertising dollars were wasted, and negative word of mouth begins to seep into the market. There is a place for advertising on nearly all websites. It is, however, not above your message. When adding a new ad to your page, it’s of paramount importance to consider the ad size and placement relative to your content. The focus of every content marketing campaign is to deliver the message and a positive user experience.