AdSense is a Google ad product that provides publishers with the means to monetize their content by incorporating targeted advertisements on their websites. In short, publishers earn money whenever people view or click on these ads. So, this leads some to wonder, is Google AdSense a ranking factor? This is a great question, especially since ads have nothing to do with organic rankings…right?
The general argument is that sending traffic to pages with ads served by Google also serves Google’s interests as a company. When a website becomes monetized with AdSense, it essentially becomes another platform through which Google’s advertisers can serve ads.
Ethics aside, there is clearly an incentive in place for Google to send traffic to pages that display AdSense ads. More traffic means more ad clicks and views, which means Google’s advertisers are happy to pay for more ads. This leads one to wonder, would Google permit its interests to get in the way of delivering unbiased search results? That’s the general logic shared amongst those who question whether Google AdSense is a positive ranking factor.
On the other hand, there are genuine concerns that AdSense ads could potentially impact rankings in a negative way since Google has clear-cut guidelines regarding the proper placement of ads.
Now that we’ve reviewed the general arguments for both sides, let’s explore what the evidence has to say about the impact of AdSense on search rankings.
Google AdSense as a Ranking Factor
There are a number of claims related to Google AdSense as a ranking factor.
Google AdSense is a Positive Signal
One camp believes that placing AdSense ads on a page positively impacts rankings since those ads generate income for Google and its advertisers.
Since Google has so many of its services interconnected – organic search, Google Ads, and AdSense to name a few – there’s always going to be some debate about whether they share signals with each other.
Similar to the theories circulating about Google Ads being a ranking factor, the same train of logic is applied to AdSense.
Lack of Trust in Google?
One concept that connects all of these theories is a lack of trust in Google.
People simply buy into these claims since there isn’t enough trust in Google to keep its search results fair and objective.
Google’s reputation as a trustworthy organization has been tarnished by numerous lawsuits and investigations into alleged anticompetitive business practices.
Government officials have even gone so far as to accuse Google of such acts as favoring its apps on the Android operating system and giving its own products a boost in the search results.
Google has been the subject of several anti-trust charges in Europe and the United States. These lawsuits often arise due to claims that their business practices are anti-competitive.
Even though Google has complied with the assigned fines so far, the organization maintains that it doesn’t do anything to hinder any competition. Furthermore, continued probes into Google’s practices do some serious damage to the firm’s image of being a company the general public can trust.
These are a few reasons why AdSense continues to surface in discussions about ranking factors.
AdSense is a Negative Signal
A second claim hints at the idea that site owners need to tread carefully when they include AdSense advertisements on their sites.
Including too many ads, or using them incorrectly, is thought to have a negative impact. This belief originates from the fact that Google is placing more emphasis on pages that provide a strong user experience. Crowing pages with ads creates a poor user experience in a number of ways that Google deems important.
An abundance of ads can make it difficult to identify the primary content, cause the page to load slower, and cause the page to move around while it loads. Each of these could decrease a site’s user experience score. This is why AdSense may come up as a negative ranking factor.
Per the above claims, AdSense either boosts or lowers rankings. Now it’s a matter of figuring out which claim is true. Here’s the evidence.
Is Google AdSense a Ranking Factor
We’ve separated the following section into two parts, one for each of the above claims.
Positive Ranking Signal
The question of whether AdSense impacts a site’s search ranking comes up frequently. It comes up so frequently that Google addresses it in the official AdSense Help Guide.
Google confirms that AdSense does not impact how a site ranks in the SERPs:
“Participating in Google AdSense does not affect your site’s rank in Google search results and will not affect the search results we deliver.
Google believes strongly in freedom of expression and therefore offers broad access to content across the web.
Our search results are unbiased by our relationships with paying advertisers and publishers. We will continue to show search results according to our PageRank technology.”
This means that site owners shouldn’t use AdSense under the assumption that it’ll have a positive impact on search rankings since that’s confirmed to be false.
It’s worthwhile to keep this in mind if you’re conducting a competitive SERP analysis. If a competitor uses AdSense and you don’t, you don’t have to worry about it acting as a factor that will improve SERP standing.
Here’s the evidence that supports that Google AdSense is a negative ranking factor.
Negative Ranking Signal
As we covered above, AdSense doesn’t impact search rankings either positively or negatively.
However, advertisements of any sort can degrade the user experience.
There’s nothing wrong with including ads on a website. However, the way in which they’re used can cause SEO issues.
When it comes to ad placement, Google encourages site owners to follow the Better Ads Standards. These guidelines list unacceptable placement of ads on mobile and desktop versions of websites.
Furthermore, the AdSense Help Center includes a section on best practices for ad placement, which site owners are asked to follow.
Lastly, Google’s page experience update considers how a site uses advertisements.
Google offers the following:
“A site must not use advertising techniques that are distracting, interrupting, or otherwise not conducive to a good user experience.”
There are numerous ways sites can include ads that negatively impact rankings. However, these aren’t exclusive to Google AdSense.
On that note, Google has officially stated that AdSense is not exempt from negative signals that ads could potentially create. Google treats invasive ads the same as any other type of invasive advertisement.
Google AdSense is a Ranking Factor
Google confirms that AdSense is not a ranking factor.
The way in which AdSense ads are applied could lead to lower rankings. However, this is true of all ads. Thus, it’s not true to say that AdSense is a potentially negative ranking factor, either.