Don’t Clutter Your Blogs – Think Beyond SEO


Update: Hardly within a week after this article was published, two important announcements have been made by Google. Show fewer ads by Google-Adsense and Google’s decision to penalize websites with intrusive interstitial advertisements.

Glad to see such decisions from Google – bringing clean, ads and distraction free web design closer to SEO.


Lets-unclutter-websites-from-ads-think-beyond-seo


Over the years, blogs and websites have become so cluttered with advertisements, that you literally have to search for content within the ads. And as far as Google’s SEO is concerned, there doesn’t seem to be a defined maximum number of ad units per page which would otherwise affect SEO in a negative way.

And therefore these are the same sites which usually appear on Google’s first page for most of the keywords.

Let’s see how cluttered some of the famous websites have become today…

Famous But Cluttered Websites

In all the images below, only the highlighted area is useful for users/readers. Rest of the web page is being used either to promote their own pages or (mainly) sponsored advertisements.

Times Of India [a highly famous but cluttered Indian news website]
 
 
Times-of-India-Declutter
 
 
Even when we scroll down, the content of interest for readers hardly gets any space in the web page…
 
 
Times-of-India-Declutter-2
 
 
And it’s not all, the Times of India website is loaded with malware based pop ups. And to top it all, it doesn’t even allow you to browse their website if you have AdBlocker installed in your browser.


Forbes which is more famous and a little less cluttered than TOI, definitely seems to be in the race to give a poor user experience to it’s readers:
 
 
Forbes-a-little-less-cluttered
 
 
Even sites like Mashable which talk about web design are no better:
 
 
Mashable-lets-declutter
 
 
It doesn’t allow you to scroll down until and unless you press a blue bar to “continue reading”. And the point where the web page stops scrolling is right below another big banner ad:
 
 
Mashable-lets-declutter-2
 

Respect Your Readers

As a piece of advise – just Think Beyond SEO (and Internet marketing) and think of giving quality, value and respect to your readers. Rather than confusing your readers and potential customers with all the banners, text-links and pop ups; respect their desire to gain knowledge through your website or blog.

When Google Gave You Freedom…

There was a time, when (Google) Adsense was as synonymous to online-advertising as Google to online-search. Bloggers and web masters used to be very careful not to violate any of the Adsense Terms and Conditions. There were discussions among bloggers on topics like, whether it is allowed to have any other advertising service on your blog along with Adsense and the maximum number of Adsense units that are allowed by Google Adsense program.

And finally somewhere around Jan’2014 Adsense declared that the restriction has been waived and you are free to show as many advertisement units as you want on your web pages. Well, the good part is – it gave your freedom back (of course, it’s your blog and you are in charge of how much original content you want to put there and how much of paid content).

But You Misused It

Suddenly all the webmasters and bloggers were free to clutter their websites completely with banners, confusing adverts that look like buttons, spam and malware infected adverts and what not.

Time To Correct That

Definitely, not all ads are bad. In fact being a blogger or a web master, most probably ads are your primary source of income.

You are not Wikipedia to serve content without ads and raise millions of dollars within weeks through donations. But as anything in excess is bad – in this case it gives a bad user experience and therefore you must limit them. And the limit should be both in terms of quantity and quality. As even a single ad of poor quality (pop up ads, pop under ads, spammy links, malware infected ads) will keep the readers and your potential future customers away from your website.

You can go through Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) guidelines for ad specific guidelines or FTCs general guidelines on Advertising and Marketing online.

In general, follow these rules to keep your readers happy while you earn your bread and butter:

  1. Don’t confuse your readers by placing ads that look like your website content.
  2. Try to keep your ads and banners non-obstructive, and
  3. Stay away from pop-ups and pop-unders as much as possible.

Which Ad Networks To Choose

Generally people don’t like sponsored ads, but if the ads provide them with the content they are looking for, then they won’t really mind clicking them too [after all, Google makes billions of dollars every quarter with Adsense/Adwords].

  • Stay away from Related Content Ads (or Native Ads) such as RevContent, OutBrain and Taboola. These ads make your website look cheap. Even though some famous websites like TIME use these ads, I strongly recommend against them, as we can see in the above examples that media and news based websites are focused more on revenue than providing quality content to their readers.
  • Keep a tab on the ads being displayed on your website or blog, by using an ad network like BuySellAds
  • Selling text-link ads is against SEO. But using a JavaScript based text-link ads service such as Infolinks is perfectly fine. Go for it, as they are least obstructive and do not pass on the link-juice to advertisers.
  • Google Adsense – But make sure, you do filter the type of ads you want to show on your website. Recently the quality of ads in Adsense has also gone bad.
  • Amazon Native Ads – if your posts are related to any random product, then I would certainly suggest these Amazon ads to you. And if you think, that Amazon won’t be able to fetch products related to your content, then you can use some default keywords from your niche to display those ads

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