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Penalties for Contextual Ads

Posted on 11.15.2006
Are search engines penalizing sites featuring contextual ads? Probably, but not the way that you may think.

RankingMeasures.com has released a study of nearly a million search engine results for 15,000 popular keyword phrases and is voicing concerns over a strong negative possible correlation discovered in the big three search engines - that sites displaying contextual PPC advertising are consistently ranking lower than similar sites without these ads. For over 75% of searches, sites with contextual advertising from the search engine network are more likely to rank lower in the natural results. For example, on one major search engine 816 sites with contextual ads were found in search engine ranking position one while 1,356 sites were found in rank position 20.

"If the search engines providing the contextual ads are distancing themselves from the revenue stream, webmasters might want to do the same," advises RankingMeasures.com founder Chris Crompton. "To the search engines, one warning sign of a 'spammy' website is the presence of contextual advertising."

This may simply be a case of "putting the cart before the horse." The appeal and draw of contextual advertising has brought in millions of affiliates hungry to make a few cents per click at whatever cost. That cost is typically the poor construction of a site and its underlying business model. In essence, there is obviously a disproportinate number of MFA (made for Adsense) sites on the 'Net at the moment, and the search engines should be applauded for making an effort to reward sites which provide content over third party advertising - even their own.

So are there penalities for contextual ads? Of couse there are, but we bring those penalties on ourselves (if we're MFA obsessed). Best practice is toalways create quality content first - the advertising dollars will come in time.

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