Ads are far and away the most common, and most popular, way of monetizing a website.
They’re usually not the most profitable option, and most people combine Adsense and other ad networks with other strategies like affiliate marketing.
But chances are, you have ads on your website.
And these ads might even be your primary source of revenue, especially if you’re running a “viral content” website.
Naturally, it’s tempting to try to get as much as you can out of the display ads.
But turns out, too many disruptive ads could actually hurt your website.
Google’s Chrome browser has over one billion active users worldwide — on mobile alone.
You may even be reading this article in Chrome right now.
Consider striking a balance between ad revenue and user experience.
While we know disruptive ads are effective, there’s a difference between disruptive and deceptive.
Plus, Google’s planning to start cracking down on aggressive, disruptive, and deceptive ads in early 2018.
So, now is a good time to take a look at your strategy and ask yourself whether your ads meet Google’s Quality Rater guidelines.
In a recent blog post, SEO SaaS company SEMRush explains this new initiative from Google, as well as providing some helpful examples of advertising that violates the Quality Guidelines.
Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG) And The Connection To Aggressive, Disruptive, And Deceptive Ads
If you have read any of my posts about Google’s core ranking updates focused on quality, then you should have noticed several mentions of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines (QRG). I still find there are many people that haven’t read the guidelines. That is crazy since the QRG is packed with amazing information about what Google deems high versus low quality.
In addition, I have seen a serious connection between what is contained in the QRG and what I see in the field while analyzing sites impacted by Google’s quality updates. For example, Google specifically calls out aggressive, distractive, misleading, and deceptive ads. Yes, they clearly explain this in the QRG. I think it’s amazing they did this since I have been saying for a long time that deceptive, distracting, and aggressive ads could cause problems from an algorithmic standpoint.
Here is a screenshot directly from the Quality Rater Guidelines about these problems:
But don’t stop there, download the QRG today and read the entire document. And then read it again. It’s eye-opening.
And now, ANOTHER message from Google…
Just recently, Google announced that Chrome will begin blocking annoying and aggressive ads in early 2018. That includes ad types marked as annoying based on the Coalition for Better Ads. For example, autoplay video with sound, popups, large sticky banners, and more. Remember, this is Chrome we’re speaking about (with over a billion users across desktop and mobile).
Here are the annoying ad types from Coalition for Better Ads website:
So once again, Google is basically telling you that people hate aggressive and annoying ads and that they are targeting those ads to be filtered.
Examples of Aggressive Advertising From Sites Hammered By Google Quality Updates
1. Multiple Video Ads + Autoplay = Insanity
Autoplay video is annoying to begin with, but having multiple video ads autoplaying is even worse. I have seen this a number of times while analyzing sites that were negatively impacted by quality updates.
And to make matters even worse, there are times those videos play with audio on by default. It is enough to give you a heart attack and a seizure at the same time.
Site owners, please don’t do this.
There is not a person in the world that would enjoy that user experience.
2. Deceptive Ads Weaved Into The Content
This is probably the most prominent example of aggressive ads I have seen across sites negatively impacted by major core ranking updates focused on quality.
It is when ads are weaved into the content, and they often match the color scheme and style of the site. There are times it is nearly impossible to see the difference between the ads and the content.
3. Surrounding Thin Content With Ads
We know that Google looks at a number of factors when evaluating quality for a given website. One of those factors is content quality.
There are times I have come across thin content that is completely surrounded by ads. It is a quality double whammy.
Users don’t get what they need content-wise, and they are getting hammered ad-wise. It is not a good combination, to say the least.
4. Excessive Pagination For Monetization Purposes
I have mentioned this situation many times before (even during old-School Panda days).
This is when a site is clearly looking to gain as many ad impressions as possible and decides to break up an article into many different component pages.
For example, taking a typical article and breaking it up across 38 different pages (all with multiple ads running per page). As the user is forced to click to each page, they see more ads.
I have seen some examples where a standard article was broken up into 50+ component pages.
5. Sponsored Links Masked As Supplementary Content
This category falls under both deceptive and aggressive. And that is not exactly the dynamic duo of ad problems.
I have seen sponsored links that are styled exactly like the site content, and that can lead to users mistakenly clicking through those sponsored ads believing they are going to visit more content from the same site.
6. Clickable Site Skins (Madness)
There are certain verticals that use this type of advertising more than others. It is maddening to me, especially since I am continually analyzing sites impacted by quality updates and know the pitfalls of poor user experience and deceptive ads.
A “skin” or “takeover skin” is essentially the background design for a site. It can include the background and side rails. Well, there are some skins that act as giant, overwhelming ads.
When that happens, users cannot click anywhere outside the main content area of the page. If they do, they are whisked off the site to the advertiser website.
It’s freaking horrible from a user experience standpoint.
You can read more about disruptive and deceptive ads over at SEMRush.