Above the Fold Ads- Why You Should Rethink This Strategy

above the fold ads

Go on any one of your favorite blogs and you’ll likely see an ad or two. Ads are an easy, visual way for companies to get the word out about their products and services. They are also an easy way for bloggers to make money. You can see an ad on the right sidebar of my blog (the ad changes with each visit for each unique visitor in this case). I also sometimes have thin ads under posts and allow fellow bloggers to advertise their blog on my “Sponsors” section (scroll down and see them on the right-hand sidebar).

Having ads on your site is normal. Not everyone has to do it, not everyone should, but it’s perfectly healthy to have them. What’s not healthy is having too many ads, placing the ads in certain spots and when the ads add too much clutter to the page that conversion tanks. So if you’re a blogger that places ads on your blog, you may want to continue reading.

Since 2012 Google has mentioned that having ads above the fold can be hurtful. Recently, the topic has become popular again with Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts reiterating the topic at a conference. Cutts revealed that ad-heavy pages about the fold will have more of an impact on your website’s ranking in Google and reputation.  He suggested getting rid of your ads that fall in this area.

So what does “above the fold mean” exactly?

Things above the fold are positioned in the upper of a web page and are visible without scrolling down the page. You can see what your website looks like above and below the fold on these two websites: Google Labs and Where Is The Fold.

Why are above the fold ads bad?

When Google visits your site and notices that you have ads above the fold, it decreases the ranking for your entire site. No bueno. Also, who likes being inundated with large, annoying ads when they’re trying to read a blog? No one! I’m personally totally fine having ads on the side or lower on a page, but having one at the top or near the header of your webpage is distracting and annoying. Clearly Google agrees with me.

Should I be worried?

Take a look at your blog or website. If you currently have ads above-the-fold (near the top of your page before a user scrolls down), then possibly. I would suggest moving your ads lower on the page and make sure they aren’t anywhere super close to content.  If you currently have lots of ads on your website, large sized ads, or ads that are intrusive to the reader’s eye, get rid of some of them. You can still run ads on your website to generate revenue- just make sure they are far and few between and of high quality.

If you’re a member of one of those blogger networks that make you put their ads above-the-fold for maximum exposure (like Blogher or Glam Media), you may want to rethink this. Not only is this a red flag to Google, it also can translate to a poor user experience for your readers. Again, this is a personal choice and just an opinion of mine, but my experience in SEO and blogging makes me feel this way.

Feel free to share your opinions with me in the comments below- what do you think of ads on blogs and websites, especially ones that are above the fold?

28 Comments

  1. Great article Rachel! And great advice 🙂 I definitely agree that it would be wise to move ads elsewhere. I think it is MUCH better to have a higher rank with Google and other search engines than to make a little extra money because you might get a few more clicks up top!

  2. I’m always on the fence with ads in general! As a reader, I much prefer ads that are below the fold. Rachel made a good point — it’s better to keep your blog’s reputation in mind over a few extra clicks and spare change. Of course, this is only my opinion!

  3. I get really, really annoyed when ads are the first thing I see on a bloggers page. It makes me think all they want are my stats or money!

  4. My google ranking is still very high, and I have an above the fold ad. I work with a media agency that requires it. If I do not have an above-the-fold ad, I am in violation of my contract, and it’s a high source of income for me.

  5. But like…I make a lot of money annoying people. Unreal. I totally agree with this. As a blogger, I get it, you want to make money. But as a reader, it is so annoying and not to mention it kills the design. The header becomes SO cluttered.

  6. Interesting! I understand wanting to make money, but I think the key is content and the rest will follow! Question: so what about those ads that take up a site’s background? Do they affect rankings too? I really hope so because they are the worst, haha.

  7. I have adds above fold for blogger but I don’t think it clutters my page. They are at the below my header and to the right and there are no pop ups-which I do find super annoying. I’m not sure how much I care about page rank! I just don’t understand that and all that SEO stuff.

  8. I have an ad above the fold .. which happens to be a drop down one and I cannot stand it. I did it bc of the network I joined but I just have to get rid of it!!! It’s obnoxious! Great advice!!

  9. As a new member to the blogasphere, I currently don’t have time to worry about ad placement or use it to generate money for my blog. I worry more about my content and how often I have time to post. I only have a small amount of followers, I wouldn’t want to waste precious, neatly organized space that I created and actually like to look at with ads that could and will scare my potentials/followers away from reading.

    With that being said…I do agree with Rachel but as more of a reader of many blogs.

    Also, as a long time member of internet browsing it frustrates me already when my internet connection isn’t the greatest, but worse when I come across an article I want to read and get distracted by the flashy ads trying to load while also loading the article. With my self diagnosed ADHD, it only takes a few seconds of page loading time before I get bored and leave the page, basically move on. I hope this does effect rankings, raises the bar for content and eliminates the money grabbing garbage written on several blogs that are deemed popular.

    sorry for the rant, just my personal opinion

  10. Thanks, Rachel!! I am one of the ones you are talking about and I won’t be removing the one on my side bar, but have def been thinking about removing the one in my header…I appreciate you explaining this all to us…I need as much SEO help as I can get!! 🙂

  11. Very cute look! And yes very cold here too, 23 degrees to be exact. Love the mock pea coat. I have been wearing mine too, but may be time to whip out the parker.

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