When it comes to the former, Google may be considering an interesting approach: penalize pages that it believes have too many ads.
Speaking at the Pubcon conference, Google's Matt Cutts revealed that the search giant is experimenting with algorithms that would look at the ads on a page and determine whether they're harming the quality of the page.
According to Search Engine Land, Cutts explained, "If you have ads obscuring your content, you might want to think about it. Do [your users] see content or something else that’s distracting or annoying?"
It's a good question. Most of us have encountered pages filled where the advertising is more prominent than the content. It usually produces a disappointing experience, so there's good argument for Google to start looking at the interaction between content and ads on web pages.
But its experiment does raise a huge question: what about AdSense ads? AdSense ads are, after all, everywhere, and they generate billions of dollars in revenue for Google every year.
Obviously, some publishers place their AdSense ads more elegantly than others. For those with great rankings and poor placements, can Google really be expected to issue a penalty?
Google really has no incentive to financially. But given the scrutiny the company is under these days, one would expect it to be smart enough to tread carefully. Assuming it does, it will not be surprising if Google scraps this experiment, or rolls it out in a very subtle way.