How Ads Are Killing Your Site

mefb01  Though I am not a big fan of automated ads, I am not totally against advertisement altogether. When Google Adsense first opened to smaller sites and blogs, I took the deal because at the time it was very helpful.

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s there weren’t many resources for ethnic and cultural specific sites, so it was nice to have a handy link to a resource where one could buy the products they were reading about. Targeted ads were a great idea on paper, and were also great in the beginning, but then things went bad when “targeted” started to mean exploitative.

We started getting ads for skin lighteners on African and south Asian cultural sites. When we objected to this, their solution was to tell us to block domains individually, as if that was even practical. One couldn’t block a topic or type of product, just the domain.

To this day, one could be browsing a site about African spirituality, but it will be full of ads trying to recruit you into Christianity and/or some “white” supremacist organization, or an ad for some fake. This kind of situation rendered Adsense unusable for many of us. I have been waiting years for a change in this situation.

So if you take the deal, you should understand that most of the ads that are going to be on your pages will be spammy, exploitative, some level of “bait and switch”, or have very little to do with the topic of your site. This makes them already annoying and intrusive.

Because most of us accept ads as a reality of internet life though, and every once in awhile, one might be useful or applicable, people aren’t going to click away unless you render you site unreadable. Certain things will make even someone determined to read or view your content close the tab.

Even more damaging, if someone liked what you posted in social media, and goes to visit your site or clicks a link, and it’s hard to find said content or they are met with popups, they will not only close the tab but not link to you.

I have seen some excellent content creators and writers doom themselves to total obscurity with pop ups.

The only automatic pop ups that are ever acceptable to have on your site ever are cookie warnings and adult content warnings.

Not prompts to join a mailing list.

Not pressure to “whitelist” your site to allow ads to be displayed.

Definitely not any sort of ad that people have to close, that might not even close if they don’t click exactly in the middle of a tiny X.

The first two may be tolerated, but once someone gets an ad pop up, you’re done. That’s it. No one will link to you. Not even if your site was viral the day before. That will be the end.

Some more tips on ads, if you’re going to have them.

Best is to put ads in the sidebar and bottom of the page. They may tell you that you’ll get more clicks putting them at the top of the page, but it is simply untrue. Most people scroll past them because they are used to them. The statistic that top placed ads get more clicks is from back when ads used to be on topic and a 250×600 or so medium banner, not the huge ones that take up a third of a screen. Top ads may as well be invisible. Put your content first.

The only exception for this is if you have a business that is actually related to your content that is specifically sponsoring that ad. Even then it should be no wider than a paragraph on your page, which is around 450-650 pixels, and not take up more than 1/8 of the page height. That’s usually going to be around 150-200 pixels. The size should also be relative so that it’s not filling up the screen for mobile users.

Make use of contrast. If you have an image heavy site, text ads will stand out more. If you have a text heavy site, image ads will stand out more. Do not use large ads between blocks of content. Use well placed, reasonably sized ads instead. Contrast will do more for you than size, and will not confuse people, making it more difficult to find your content.

A single page should not have more than three ads on it. Period.

If your site is educational, the text and information should not be broken up with ads. When people have to skip ads between paragraphs, this makes them not want to use your site as a reference and not want to return. Even if your content is fire, breaking it up with ads will put you in the category of less than credible as a source because it makes you look like you’re about clicks, not accuracy.

No automatic noises or sounds. Make sure any ads you’re displaying do not play any automatic noises or sounds. Also while you’re at it, make sure that they do nothing if they are not clicked. When funny things start happening when someone opens your page, people think your site is infected with a virus or malware.

Be aware of accessibility issues. Flashing, blinking, and moving text can be bad for people with vision issues or epilepsy.

We all have to eat, and it can be difficult to make a site pay for itself before we even get into making a profit. However, it can be done without annoying your viewers. When your site is a pleasure to read then it will get more people viewing it and more people linking to it. This is how you beat the algorithms: by having the site that has what people are looking for: information and content, not too much of what people want to avoid: ads.

Blessings and Ashé!


Sis. Nicole Lasher

Webmatron of and and other cultural websites. Donate to keep the sites ad free or hire me to build a site for you.

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