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Google Updates Algorithm To Punish Websites With Excessive Ads 321

Posted by samzenpus
from the killing-the-Interstitial-ads dept.
hypnosec writes "Google has decided to take punitive actions against those websites that flood the top of their web pages with ads due to which the visitors have to scroll down to finally view the relevant contents on the page. According to Google, this type of layouts annoys the users and thus the web search company will be penalizing those websites through search results. The company disclosed this on its blog. According to Google over the top ads is not good for user experience and thus such websites might not get high ranking on Google web search."
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Google Updates Algorithm To Punish Websites With Excessive Ads

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  • except google (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PiMuNu (865592) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:15AM (#38790355)
    Presumably not punishing google ads (ducks)
    • Re:except google (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:22AM (#38790427)

      Presumably not punishing google ads(ducks)

      Google ads aren't generally splashed over the entire top of the intial screen loaded page. While I don't want to sound like a google shill here, I really don't get how they make their money - aren't google ads generally little text areas with "Advertisement" written above them? I am not one to click on ads, but I know that I have clicked on a few by mistake - but never Google ones that I knew of - they really seem to make their ads be known as ads.

      • Re:except google (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:43AM (#38790615)

        Google's little text-only ads are the only ones I (and many others) find acceptable. They tend to be relevant, are easily ignored, and don't detract from the aesthetics of the page. For those reasons, I generally don't block Google's ads and have once or twice clicked on them because they really were relevant.

        The ones I really hate are the ones that come up over the content and you have to search for a way to close it... especially the ads that do this behavior when you accidentally move the mouse over the ad.

        • Re:except google (Score:5, Interesting)

          by glop (181086) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:55AM (#38790721)

          Actually some websites actually manage to make Google ads very unpleasant by putting so many of them on the top of the page, in the middle of the content etc.
          This probably leads to people clicking on them by mistake which from the advertiser's perspective is bad. The advertisers are likely to complain to Google and any ad agency or even to ask Google for refunds for such clicks.

          So a page full of ads is not just bad for the user, it's bad for targeted advertising which is what Google does.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            Indeed, somebody involved really has to exercise some common sense and you can be sure that it's not going to be the advertisers.

            I don't mind viewing reasonable text ads and sometimes I even click on them, it's the annoying flash ad crashes and millions of javascripts that have to load and the ones that turn words into links or otherwise make it a pain to view the page that I block with extreme prejudice. If they want me to view the ads then they need to make it a somewhat reasonable proposition. I hate cli

        • by hipp5 (1635263)

          The ones I really hate are the ones that come up over the content and you have to search for a way to close it

          I'm looking at you Wired...

    • Re:except google (Score:4, Insightful)

      by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:24AM (#38790439)

      No need to duck. You are likely correct.

      I personally expect every kind of ad save Google Adwords and other Google-based ads to be equally punished after awhile. Google makes their money primarily from advertising. Why in the world would they help people who buy from their competitors? Makes perfect sense.

      Oh, and before anyone gets all upset, this isn't "monopoly behavior" This is just smart business. You don't help your competitor advertise, particularly on your own network. When was the last time you saw an ad for the CBS evening lineup on ABC or NBC? (Hint: Never)

      If you are uncomfortable with this arrangement, may I suggest Bing or Ask as alternative search engines?

      • Re:except google (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Talderas (1212466) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:44AM (#38790619)

        It would open them up to anti-trust lawsuit since they're using their majority market share in the search business to hurt competitors in the advertising market.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          It would open them up to anti-trust lawsuit since they're using their majority market share in the search business to hurt competitors in the advertising market.

          No google just has to bribe the campaigns of Bush #2 (Obama) and Bush #3 (Romney), so they will continue to Not prosecute that particular law. Lobbyists use politicians in order to gain monopolistic protection and punish any new upstarts/competitors (like isohunt search).

        • by bky1701 (979071)
          Anti-trust laws don't apply to you solely because you are a majority. It requires you are a monopoly. Google, currently, is not such by any standards in search.
          • by Rockoon (1252108)

            Anti-trust laws don't apply to you solely because you are a majority. It requires you are a monopoly.

            No, thats the exact opposite of the anti-trust laws. It doesnt even require a majority share of the market to be applied to you.

            Now stop talking when you don't know what you are talking about.

      • Re:except google (Score:5, Interesting)

        by icebraining (1313345) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:51AM (#38790679) Homepage

        You are likely correct.

        Based on what? They did punish their own browser due to the sponsored results, so they obviously care about been seen as impartial (regardless of what actually motivates that desire).

      • by chocapix (1595613)

        You are likely correct.

        Oh no, that's the worst kind of correct!

      • If Google downranked web pages relevant to your search query because they didn't use Google as an advertiser, Google would lose their position as the most frequently used search engine in the western world. "Bing; Serving relevant pages, regardless of advertiser!" and Google suddenly becomes an also-ran.
        • by bky1701 (979071)
          The only people more stupid than the Bing marketing department in that analogy would be any users convinced by it. Is it a dickish move to whitelist your own ads? Certainly. It isn't going to even register as an issue for most users, though.
    • Speaking of ducks... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:48AM (#38790653) Homepage

      I've developed a habit of using duckduckgo for most routine searches.

      I find the thumbnails of neckbeards in Google to be extremely irritating, while duckduckgo shows favicons which can occasionally be useful visual clues.

    • by rvw (755107)

      Presumably not punishing google ads

      (ducks)

      I think you might be wrong. If you have a website that has multiple Google ads on top, and you find this website via Google search, you probably click away. Promoting websites like this is shortsided, even if it means that they will earn a little more money. In the long run the user starts to distrust Google and will try something else. So it is in Google's interest to do this for all sites, no matter if they have Google ads or not.

    • Google plays a dangerous game. Ads competitors may call for "unfair competition", as their pages rate are going to be decreased by the Google algorithm.
      In the future, Google may have to prove in front of a court that the algorithm is fair - maybe having experts from external companies doing the audit, taking the risk to give away the most protected program at Google: the heart of the algorithm.
  • that Google does this for altruistic reasons. Where is the snake under the grass ?
    • Re:I don't believe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by alen (225700) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:20AM (#38790403)

      you're supposed to stop buying your ads through the obnoxious ad network that does these ads and buy through google to come up in google search

    • by hughbar (579555)
      Well brand pollution/dilution if Google Ads just look 'spammy', so self-interest and user-interest coincide somewhat here. Actually websites that are covered in ads and affiliate links + the traditional 'you are a winner' popup aren't my first choice for shopping or reliable information, in fact. Is that a -big- surprise?
    • Re:I don't believe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:25AM (#38790445)

      that Google does this for altruistic reasons. Where is the snake under the grass ?

      Profit. They don't want to be known as the search provider to be avoided because they point to link farmers / aggregators / web spammers.

      If 90% of power users actively decide to block site X because it completely sucks when logged in using

      http://www.google.com/reviews/t?hl=en [google.com]

      Then they may as well block that site for everybody.

      • Re:I don't believe (Score:5, Interesting)

        by geminidomino (614729) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:02AM (#38790775) Journal

        And yet they let experts-exchange get away with their faking out google, despite the fact that it's well-known that they do it AND google has said that's explicitly a no-no...

        • Is what ExpertS-exChange does any worse than what Springer, Elsevier, Wiley, and JSTOR do?
    • I don't believe that Google does this for altruistic reasons. Where is the snake under the grass ?

      Perhaps they don't, but page ranking is supposed to indicate the usefulness of a page as a result to a query. If a page does not allow you to quickly get to what you're looking for due to an obnoxious flood of ads, it seems safe to assume that the page deserves a certain penalty.

      Although, I'd personally implement a penalty for Comic Sans as the page font or pink as background or foreground color, and a double penalty for both on the same page.

    • Re:I don't believe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:50AM (#38790669)

      Well it's not entirely altruistic, but it's still beneficial.

      The problem is sites like Expert Exchange, any IT person will have searched for an IT problem and got an Experts Exchange link only to click it and find nothing but ads - so many professional IT workers don't realise that the content is actually hidden away at the bottom, after pages of fake blocking content trying to convince you to subscribe such that many go to the page, scroll down a bit, see nothing but ads, then leave the page and try a different link.

      If this happens too often people wont get fed up with those sites, they'll get fed up of Google not returning nice results and Google risks losing them to the likes of Bing and Yahoo.

      So sure it's not altruistic, it's about keeping users on board by providing the most pleasing results to users as it can, but it's still a good thing IMO.

      Many people today probably don't even remember the pre-Google search engines, where you'd far more frequently have to click well past the 1st page of results to find what you want, and had to click into and exit out of far more results because they weren't what you wanted.

      The fact is, if Google first searches based on relevance of content, and then given roughly equally content relevance to the search query then starts ranking those pages based on how pleasant they are to use then that makes searching a much less stressful endeavour. As a search engine, the user experience of a search engine is somewhat linked to the user experience of the results it returns - if two search engines return the same results equally ordered by relevance, but then one of them ranks the most pleasant to use sites first where relevance is pretty much identical, which are you going to use? The one where you have to deal with annoying sites to find your answer, or the one where you don't?

  • measurement (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:20AM (#38790401)

    So, is there a place where we can measure how well our websites conform to google's ideas of user-friendliness?

    Or do we have to find out the hard way?

    • Your needs will be taken care of by the emerging SEA industry.

      Search Engine Appeasement.

    • by olau (314197)

      For a starter, don't run a link farm?

  • It must be a pretty impressive algorithm if it's going to sort out good from bad sites... and it'd be interesting to see if it counts its own ads on pages if they're bundled in a bunch of others. I think they need to work on data mining sites which duplicate searches and put them on their sites to pull in clicks when no significant subject matter is really contained within the site itself. That would be better than ad sites.. and this pretty much wreaks of sneakiness.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:33AM (#38790517)

      There are human testers involved. I did this for a while. Basically you get thrown 10 pages that are mostly all alike and you have to pick the best one. So the page with fewer ads and the same content will be marked as better by the testers. This will then push that page higher in the algorithm. Other test include visiting 10 sites for a search query and marking which ones display the data, which ones are virus filled, which ones have too many ads etc. There is a review process as well. I also vaguely remember doing a test where a previous tester said these things about a page, are they correct? It's subjective, but you definitely can tell a good page from a bad page quickly.

      • I think is not too difficult... One way is simply count how many ads the page have, one page with 15, 20 ads from many sources is a good sign of problem.
  • by alen (225700) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:21AM (#38790415)

    and that good for you mayor villain from Demolition Man. They try to say it's good for you when all they are doing is trying to lock out the competition

    • by thegarbz (1787294) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:51AM (#38790681)

      It's hard to jump on the Anti-Google bandwagon on a move like this. Google's ads have historically been unobtrusive and don't break the flow of a page. Some of the "competition" on the other hand is the very reason adblockers exist.

      Having once seen a full page advert that had a broken close function and actually outright prevented me from getting to the content I want I for one welcome this move.

  • by kiwimate (458274) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:21AM (#38790417) Journal

    All things considered, if a site scores high in search results because it has the most relevant results, I'm okay with scrolling down past the ads that I ignore. If I'm searching for something in a content search engine, it's because I want relevant content; the fluff surrounding that content doesn't really matter to me.

    It's all very nice that Google in their infinite wisdom wants to protect me from those harmful ads that I can ignore, but to make the search results less useful is not what I consider an overall positive outcome.

    (Mind you, I use Yahoo, so Google needn't listen to me too much.)

    • by alen (225700) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:32AM (#38790505)

      it will probably make it more useful

      every time i search for SQL related info i get crap from exchange-admins or some site like that where a forum question is on top and the rest of the page is ads and a link to make me sign up and pay for the rest of the posts. why can't google link to free info first?

      • Me too. Okay, of course I can filter the crap pages myself, but if the Google can do a "first-pass crap filter", he is welcome.
    • by The Jynx (806942)

      (Mind you, I use Yahoo, so Google needn't listen to me too much.)

      Holy crap, I knew someone out there had to be using Yahoo search but I didn't think I'd ever find them - and I knew they wouldn't have a hope of finding me...

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      Yet they're making them more useful, as sites with advertisements like that are invariably written by morons for morons and are noise in the search results.

      I use Yahoo

      Fuck, I've been trolled.

      • by kiwimate (458274)

        I've been trolled

        I can't tell if you're trying to be funny. My homepage is set to my.yahoo.com and I've been using Yahoo Mail for something like 15 years now. I won't go into all the reasons why I like Yahoo and especially Yahoo Mail; if you are interested, I've posted about this several times on Slashdot.

        But it boils down to (i) I like Yahoo, and (ii) I don't like Google. I am nowhere near as paranoid/conspiracy minded as the average Slashdot reader, but Google's data collection and data mining is far too pervasive for my

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I can't tell if you're trying to be funny. My homepage is set to my.yahoo.com and I've been using Yahoo Mail for something like 15 years now. I won't go into all the reasons why I like Yahoo and especially Yahoo Mail; if you are interested, I've posted about this several times on Slashdot.

          The reason is that you're insane. Yahoo is just like Google but inferior and their spying now goes to Microsoft because they're powered by Bing. You're not using Yahoo, you're using Microsoft! Nothing you can say will justify that decision.

          I am nowhere near as paranoid/conspiracy minded as the average Slashdot reader, but Google's data collection and data mining is far too pervasive for my liking.

          You really have no idea what you are talking about: Yahoo does all the same stuff, but they're just less competent. So what you're saying here is "I would rather use the service that tries to track me and fails incompetently at that and at everything else including a dece

    • All things considered, if a site scores high in search results because it has the most relevant results, I'm okay with scrolling down past the ads that I ignore.

      But that's the point. All else is not equal. If the only site the algorithm thinks is at all relevant to your query is full of ads, I expect it will still be on the first page of results. But if there are ten sites that are all about equally relevant, and half of them are full of spam, wouldn't you prefer the spam-free ones to be first?

      Plus, if the spammers get pushed down in the rankings then with any luck they'll stop spamming and thereby go back to where they were before in the rankings, resulting solely

    • by tgd (2822)

      You aren't Google's customer, the companies that buy adwords are.

      Stripping those sites out of the results helps by getting the high-revenue sites up higher in the results list. That's good for Google and their actual customers.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:23AM (#38790433) Journal

    In the war for eyeballs, a search engine needs to produce the "best" results for your query, and provide meaningful, useful pages at the top of the list. If your searches on a given provider just bring up link farms or pages which are so strewn with ads that its hard to find the content, you're going to try another search engine. Google makes its money by getting people to search using their engine, and by delivering relevant ads.

    I'm a bit surprised they haven't been more aggressive at weeding out crap pages. Or it could just be that they're losing market share, and they looked into why people were going elsewhere.

  • Good. The thumbnail sized content will be at the top. Bad. The page will reset to the bottom after the onload image refresh script runs.

    onload='fuxWithGoogle(evt)'

    function fuxWithGoogle(evt) { window.scrollBy(0,100); }

    • Google seems to do their page preview rendering with a modified version of Chrome (plugins are rendered with Chrome's "blocked plugin" image). So they're using a REAL web browser (even if automated) to check these pages so they can't just use JavaScript to trick Google because the JavaScript is likely being parsed and taken into account.
  • by JavaBear (9872) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:28AM (#38790479)

    What about sites where people have to wade through pages of ads and links to get the actual content they were after, including news that is clipped into small pieces, and spread over a lot of pages, all with lots of ads?

  • Amusingly enough, when I loaded /. today there was a banner ad across the top of the homepage (at work, so can't install ABP here).

  • The correct reason to punish those sites is that there is a very high correlation between excessive ads and crap content (or good content that has been copied illegaly from other sites that will now get a better rating.)

  • by gmuslera (3436) * on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:42AM (#38790601) Homepage Journal

    there are a lot of sites meant to display as much ads as they can, with some copied content from somewhere else and every trick in the SEO books to attrack traffic. And how you decide that a site is doing that, like specifically tricking the search engine to think it is normal? Their next move should be to lower the amount of ads, and then the users, if well will keep falling there, at least won't load as much ads as usual.

    About "normal" sites, with original content, and lots of ads to make them profitable, probably other factors could keep ranking them higher, and if the line they put between normal use of ads and abusive is high enough could end not hurting a lot and forcing the sites that abuse to give a better end user experience.

  • Editing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@noSpam.spad.co.uk> on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:44AM (#38790621) Homepage

    From the "Good god, would it kill you to edit submissions for basic grammar" department.

    According to Google over the top ads is not good for user experience and thus such websites might not get high ranking on Google web search

    Is barely a coherent sentence.

    • by ledow (319597)

      It's not that bad. It really should say "are" instead of "is" but otherwise it's okay.

    • The trick is to only read the headlines and then troll about how Google hates freedom. When employing this method it's very important to inform people to vote for Ron Paul.

      Reading the summary . . . pfft, that's almost as quaint as reading the article.

  • by Jenny Z (1028212) on Monday January 23, 2012 @08:47AM (#38790643)

    My pet peeve with google searches is when I get page after page of pages which have just stolen the text from Wikipedia and placed it on their site with ads.

    • by bky1701 (979071)
      "stolen the text from Wikipedia"

      Sigh...

      First, you cannot steal text without carrying off a book. To steal, you must deprive the other party of exactly the item you gain.

      Second, Wikipedia is licensed under the GPL. It is not illegal in the slightest to copy it.

      Whether or not these sites belong in the top Google rankings is not my point. If Wikipedia has the original information, it probably belongs at the top; but I primarily use DuckDuckGo, which often places Wikipedia at the top. What bothers m
      • by debrain (29228)

        Just curious: Do you prefer the word "poaching" in the following sense: âoetake or acquire in an unfair or clandestine wayâ to describe those in a parasitic relationship with Wikipedia (i.e. those who take its content to create link-farms)?

  • by ljw1004 (764174) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:24AM (#38790993)

    What annoys me is when I search for a particular word or phrase, and Google takes me to a page which lacks that word.

    I used to be able to type "+blankie" and google would show only those pages that had the word blankie in them. No longer. It just says that + is no longer supported, and takes me to a load of pages without that word.

    • by Ksevio (865461) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:53AM (#38791353) Homepage
      You can quote the individual words to force them to show up as written, or you can use the "verbatim" option under "more search tools" on the left bar.
      • by rdebath (884132)

        Thanks, seems like you have to add &tbs=li:1& to your URL to turn this verbatim thing on.

        So now my "do what you're fucking told to" string is:
        &safe=off&nfpr=1&tbs=li:1&

        I've also more or less given up search from any google page because of this crap called "instant search", it's far too slow to keep up with my typing and usually buggers up and loses part of the string (especially when I try to go back and fix a typo)

  • Also it would be nice if Google did not index the content of the ads. On numerous occasions I have found that the only occurence of my search is in an ad on the page.

  • Sounds like a great idea. What they really need to is delist companies that crap flood their results with dozens of websites which really only have one back end. An easy example of this is to find is done by plugging in a phone number. You will find dozens of web sites that crap flood the first several pages of Google result's and are obviously all for the same site.

  • by mapkinase (958129) on Monday January 23, 2012 @09:56AM (#38791399) Homepage Journal

    What is this "ads" are you talking about? I am actually surprised that given recent wave of crackdown on users by content monopolies, AdBlockPlus is not getting any attention from similarly formidable advertising behemots.

    I think people underestimate gigantic influence of AdBlockPlus on the whole generation. I am getting my content exclusively from the Internet and after several years of using it I only can realize how massive this impact is by accidentally getting myself into AdBlockPlus-less situations. In each such case (occaisional glance at the television set while waiting for your oil change in the dealership, friend's computer, etc) I am astonished by the sheer amount of annoying garbage, which modern ads are.

  • Google is not the only search engine in town, it's not a monopoly, and besides, if you feel it's bad value - you can start your own and make a ton of money. Do you think people will go to your own search engine if you do not 'punish websites with excessive ads' as opposed to using Google?

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