Semalt Explains How To Avoid Punishment From Google If Your Site Has Too Many Ads

Table Of Contents

  1. How Google Punishes Sites With Too Many Ads?
  2. Warning Signs Google Has Been Giving
  3. Hope For Pages With A Bad UX (User Experience)
  4. How Sites Can Avoid Google's Ad-Related Punishment?
  5. Conclusion
A common myth among bloggers, website owners, publishers, and digital marketers was that placing more ads on a site can lead to more revenue until John Mueller of Google busted it by clarifying that Google punishes sites hosting too many ads.

According to Semalt experts, you don't need to worry much because sites with more ads can also get a higher rank. It's because, in addition to the number of ads, Google considers several other factors before punishing a website.

Only in rare cases, when things go beyond the limit, Google kicks a site out of SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). But it doesn't mean you should fill your site with ads.

Let's understand Google's behavior towards sites with too many ads and try to find what to do to avoid the punishment.

How Google Punishes Sites with Too Many Ads?

Google already has policies to penalize sites offering a negative user experience. Sites that are not secure or not having mobile-friendly versions understand this.

As a punishment, Google lowers the ranking of sites with too many ads on SERPs. And, it's the worst thing that could happen to any website because every website is competing and making strategies today to get on the first page of Google results. And all hope is lost when the punishment comes directly from Google.

According to the information available on the Google Search Central Blog, Google made it clear several years ago that sites with too many ads in the "above-the-fold" area may face ranking degradation.

All this was to provide people with a better user experience. Over the years, Google has done a lot in this direction. Today, we have several algorithm updates with clarification from Google that sites with too many ads offer a poor UX and might face the consequences.

For example, Page Layout Algorithm, Page Speed Algorithm, Core Web Vitals, and Intrusive Interstitial Penalty have always warned us about the negative impact of lots of ads, whether they are of one type or many.

Warning Signs Google Has Been Giving

Google knows the sites with too many ads downgrade user experience. That's why it has been giving warning signs for a very long time.

If you noticed, Google has been mentioning that more ads impact user experience since 2012. Some of the many warning signs Google has been giving are:
  • In 2012, Page Layout Algorithm mentioned that a lot of advertisements over the fold affect the sites.
  • In 2018, Google launched the Page Speed Algorithm. It made clear that one of the primary reasons for slow web pages is often more ads on them.
Not only this, Google will be launching its Core Web Vitals in June 2021, which will target web pages providing a poor user experience. It means sites with more ads need to remain cautious as Google will punish them.

Hope For Pages With A Bad UX (User Experience)

Though Google punishes sites with too many ads, there's still hope for pages with a bad user experience. Muller says that if the pages with a bad UX are specifically related to search queries, they'll rank in search results.

Here are his actual words:

    "The other thing also to keep in mind is we use a lot of different factors to determine ranking in the search results to try to understand what is relevant for users in the individual times.

    It can very well happen that a page is extremely relevant in some regards but still has a really bad user experience, and we will still show it in the search results. And sometimes we show it higher in the search results."

It means if a page has content extremely relevant to the search query, Google will put aside the UX thing and display that page higher in the results.

All this leads to the conclusion that Google will rarely remove a site from search results just for offering a bad user experience. If the site has too many ads and is irrelevant or doesn't provide any value to the users, the website owner needs to worry.

How Sites Can Avoid Google's Ad-Related Punishment?

When it comes to penalties received because of too many ads, the solution is quite simple - just remove some of the ads from your site. But the problem arises when you don't know which ads to remove and which ones to keep.

According to the old ads per page policy, the number of advertisements you can incorporate on a webpage was three, but Google tweaked it in 2016 and allowed unlimited ads on a webpage.

However, unlimited ads on a site depreciate the user experience, and Google takes strict action against websites deterring user's experience because of too many ads. 

It means Google, on one side, is giving you the freedom to place any number of ads on your site, and on another side, it punishes if the user experience declines because of them.

Well, there's no need to worry if you are aware of and follow the best practices. It'll ensure your website has a limited number of ads that work in your favor. Let's see what best you can do:

• Keep Ads Tweaked For Mobile Devices

According to Statista, the percentage of mobile device website traffic worldwide in the first quarter of 2021 is around 54.8%. This number has consistently increased over the last six years, and experts see it rising in the future. 

If you keep ads tweaked for mobile devices also, it becomes easier to tap a larger audience. When the audience base increases, ads can attract more clicks and eventually lead to more revenue.

• Avoid Interstitial Ads On Mobile Site

If you don't want to annoy your visitors, avoid placing interstitial ads on your mobile site. Experts see it as an aggressive way of promotion and warn about losing rank.

Suppose that you open a website on your smartphone, but as soon as the site opens, an advertisement appears covering the whole screen of your phone. Would you like it? Of course, not.

Remember, most of your users also react the same way. They, leaving the site in disappointment signifies a poor user experience. It'll affect your ranking in SERPs.

• Remove Modal Ads

Modal ads appear over the content on a webpage, and you must close them to go through the content. These are one of the most hated forms of ads by desktop as well as mobile users.

You might have come across sign-in forms that appear over the content. They also fall in the category of modals. But, users are annoyed the most by modal ads and spammy modal ads.

In addition to modal ads, if you have any pop-up ads on your site, try to get rid of them as well.

• Keep Related And Right-Rail Ads

Related ads usually appear at the end of the page, and the right sidebar is the place for right-rail ads. Users like them because both types of ads don't obstruct content.

When there are right-rail ads on a webpage, users can glance at them (while interacting with the content) and decide whether to open them or not.

Related ads at the end of a webpage don't deteriorate users' experience as well. When users reach the end of the page, they look at them and usually click the interesting ones.

• Don't Be Top Heavy

One thing you must be careful about is not being top-heavy. When there are too many ads above the fold, the website gets categorized as top-heavy. 

Because of so many ads, users often complain about facing difficulty in finding the actual content. Google doesn't send a direct warning to top-heavy sites, but its Page Layout Algorithm takes care of this.

According to a post on Google Webmaster Central Blog, websites lacking visible content above the fold provide a poor user experience. Such websites may lose their higher ranking.

If your website contains too many ads above the fold, take steps to decrease the number. When your website opens, make sure your users see the actual content, not just ads.

• Avoid Autoplay Ads

Video ads help increase the revenue by 20x to 50x. Publishers know that every user won't play a video ad, but most will see if it plays automatically. Moreover, autoplay video ads will help them earn more revenue.

According to a survey, most users get annoyed and leave when they can't mute autoplay video ads. It increases the bounce rate and leads to a negative user experience.

When Google learns, it just penalizes such sites. If you have incorporated any autoplay ads on your website, the best you can do is get them removed. If not, make sure you use best practices when placing such ads.

For example, following WCAG Guidelines, making transcripts and captions for video ads available, and placing them strategically.


Featuring too many ads on a website / webpage is not a good practice. You may do it for money and might also earn some, but only in the short term.

Placing several ads on a site annoys users and increases the bounce rate. Google notices this and punishes such sites by lowering their rank in search results.

A good thing is that punishments from Google are rarely permanent. If you limit the number of ads and keep the ones enhancing user experience, Google won't penalize your website.