SEO is a long game, so a lot of brands jump start their results by buying ads. They might buy Google ads to get more exposure in search, or they might buy ads on relevant websites to drive traffic.
The right ads can actually boost SEO efforts by getting more traffic to the site, which is a big influence for search ranking.
Conversely, investing in the wrong ads can hurt your search ranking. Here’s how bad ads can hurt your SEO:
Ruin the User Experience
Do you remember what your online experience was like when the Internet first exploded onto the scene?
Of course you do.
Pages were loaded with ads that flashed obnoxiously or popped up all over the place so that you could hardly focus on the text (or even see it, in some cases).
We’ve come a long way since those early days, but some sites still offer a poor user experience because of all the ads they host.
When ads ruin the user experience, they not only undermine their own efforts to get conversions, but they also hurt the SEO on the site. Google prioritizes user experience, and if it detects elements on the page that are bringing it down, it will penalize the site with lower search rankings.
Crowd Out Content
One of the many recent Google algorithm updates focuses on the layout of pages.
Having too many ads above the fold – the area that is visible before the user scrolls down the page – will hurt your search ranking.
Google research found that users were annoyed or even left the page when they had to scroll through a lot of ads to get to the content. Therefore, the search giant had prioritized sites that put the main editorial content front and center.
Good ads are placed throughout the page at points where they enhance the content and preserve the user experience.
Slow Page Load Times
Most display ads load very quickly. Pop-up ads and video ads are the exceptions.
These ads can actually slow down the load time of a page, particularly on mobile, which is more important than ever. When page load times are slow, search ranking is lowered, even with great SEO.
Some ads are penalized even if they don’t slow load times, such as pop-up ads on mobile devices. Google has recognized their potential to slow the load times or to ruin the user experience, so it has acted against these ads pre-emptively.
Show Irrelevant Content
Ads should provide some value to the user, even if they are just trying to sell things. At a minimum, that means that ads should be about products and services that are relevant to the topic on the page or to the types of users who are interested in the topic on the page.
For example, ads on a parenting page should show products for children, as well as for adults who have children. That could mean ads for toys or ads for comfortable clothing and shoes for adults who are often on the run.
Bad ads are crammed onto a page wherever they can fit, regardless of the topic of the site or the page. They are placed in locations on the page that don’t make sense, as well.
Good SEO must send strong topical signals to search engines. Google and others will look at multiple cues to understand what your site is about and what pages are relevant to return in search results. If you have irrelevant ads crammed into random locations on your pages, you dilute the signals you are sending.
Best Practices for Ads
To develop a good advertising strategy, you basically have to do the opposite of everything above.
You must create relevant and interesting ads that offer something of value to the user, and you must place them on high-quality, relevant sites in locations that preserve the user experience.
That can be a tall order if you are manually placing your ads or purchasing runs on individual sites. Signing up for an ad network can make the process a little easier.
Some tools allows you to automate the process while also getting better returns on your investment. In-Feed is powered by predictive technology that analyzes user-intent signals and then proactively generates ads for the right users at the right time.
With In-Feed, native ads are automatically placed on the best sites for the user and in the best location to preserve the user experience and get the most attention. Native ads are designed to mimic the editorial content of the site, and In-Feed is designed to match the content of those ads to users with those interests.
Take a good look at your advertising strategy to determine if it’s helping or hurting your SEO strategy. If it’s hurting your SEO, now is the time to make changes and to look into tools that can help you.