Watch Your Ad to Content Ratio

Watch Your Ad to Content Ratio

Although this article is the shortest in the AdSense series, it is arguably the most important. Get the ad to content ratio wrong and you will jeopardize not only your AdSense earning potential… but your site’s entire earning potential.

Why? Because if Google decides that your content is too ad-heavy, especially above the fold, you will drop in the rankings and receive fewer visitors to your site.

  • You might be punished by the Panda Algorithm for providing low-quality content (and having little visible content above the fold — i.e., the portion of a page a visitor sees before they have to scroll down — does provide a low-value experience, no matter how great the article itself might be).
  • Or you might be punished by the Page Layout Algorithm, which specifically targets the lack of content above the fold. (Click here to read Matt Cutts’s announcement of this algorithm.)

Does that mean AdSense above the fold is bad?

No, it doesn’t. As with many things in building a successful online business, getting the ad:content ratio “just right” boils down to common sense…

  • If the page is short (300-400 words, say), don’t use the maximum number of AdSense units allowed (3 ad units + 3 link units). They will overwhelm the article.
  • In the crucial area above the fold, make sure there’s a reasonable amount of visible content. Demonstrate that you’re interested in your niche first, and making money from your niche second, and you won’t go wrong.

Ask yourself these questions when deciding how many ad units to put on each page (or whether to put any at all on the page)…

  • Is the advertising too aggressive and “in your face”?
  • Is there plenty of content to read before the visitor has to scroll down?
  • Would this still be the case if you had chosen, for example, to center the ad unit in the content column and not have text scrolling around it?

The dilemma you face is that large rectangular AdSense units centered right below the headline (i.e. pushing the article down the page) tend to have a high click through rate — but these same units also tend to alienate both human visitors and the search engines.

Zero advertising above the fold is great for humans and robots — but not so good for your bank balance. Hence the advice to find the sensible middle course.

Too little advertising, especially above the fold, won’t earn you many advertising dollars. Equally, going over the top with your ad:content ratio, and dropping in the rankings as a result, will undo all the work you invested in a page, and reduce the income you earn from it.

To check the ad to content ratio on your pages, use the Google AdSense Above the Fold tool.

Bottom Line?

Think content vs. dollars… which one is winning the battle for a presence on your site? Pay attention to the overall impression of your site. Have you gone overboard and entered into an ad-tacky/ad-heavy area?

As mentioned earlier, too many ads (of all kinds) could see your site slapped by Panda (or the Page Layout Algorithm). Keep the ad to content ratio tilted towards too much content and you should avoid that slap (as long as your content is great).

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