One of the most successful Google AdSense optimization strategies was to make your Google AdSense ads look as if they are part of your site content or navigation. This strategy is commonly referred to as blending your ads into your site design.
Now, there are many grades of blending your AdSense ads. There are ways to do it where you can not tell the difference between the ad and your content and there are less extreme cases. Google AdSense posted a clarification that some of these techniques are not acceptable. Google said:
- Ads shouldn't be placed under a title or section heading in a way that implies that the ads are not ads.
- Ads should be easily distinguishable from surrounding content.
It is important to note that Google does not call these "suggestions," they call them "guidelines."
Google shows specific examples in their post so it is crystal clear what they mean. Personally, I never liked sites that blended those ads so deeply in. But the main goal of those sites was monetization of the AdSense ads. I wonder how this will impact publishers, advertisers and Google's net.
A WebmasterWorld thread has some feedback from members. I'll quote the passages I like:
Well, it's only the opposite of the previous guideline ;-D
See Google's AdSense Heat Map for why people might think this.
I'm thinking Google itself used to be in violation with these guidelines (sponsor results below the search box). Certainly sites like Ask and AOL seem to be in violation.
Yes, AOL and Ask are paid search partners and they blend those Google ads right into their search results. Here is a screen capture of the Google ads on Ask.com, next to an organic result. Very hard to tell which is paid and which is free:
Let's see if Google stats to truly enforce this guidelines now. It will be interesting to watch all the forum threads on this topic.
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.