“The Articles of a Fairly Well-Known News Company Aren’t Getting Much Visibility. Could It Be the Ads?”

Google’s John Mueller was asked about the possibility that above-the-fold ads can hurt a site’s visibility.
SIA Team
November 12, 2021

At around the 57-minute, 47-second mark of the November 5th, 2021 English SEO Office-Hours, a participant asked Google’s John Muller about the visibility of a well-known (but unmentioned) news site. 

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) is one of the major Page Experience metrics. I state that now because I’ll mention it below.

The participant stated that the site in question had a lot of ads (and later on implied that these ads, which were allegedly above the fold, were having an effect on the CLS). 

“...is it possible that that, frankly, very poor user experience is materially hurting that outlet from ranking in news?”

John’s response was:

“It's hard to say, but it could have an effect. And maybe it's enough that it's a visible effect. So, in particular, within the Page Experience algorithm, we have the notion of the above-the-fold content. And if all of that is ads, then I could imagine that it's hard for our systems to say, ‘Well, actually this is useful content.’

“And especially with regards to news content when it's topics that are very...commoditized, and that there are different outlets reporting on the same issue, then I could imagine that something like that pushes our systems over the edge. 

“And if it's across the site, like on a bigger scale, I could imagine that we end up picking that up. It's hard to say how much of an effect you should see there. But I could imagine there is some.”

My Opinion: Yes, Above-the-Fold Ads That Negatively Affect CLS Is Affecting This Site's Visibility

In my opinion, from listening to how the participant described the proliferation of above-the-fold ads, I think that’s definitely the reason why this site has low visibility, despite the fact that their content is allegedly very good.