Do Prominent Lead Generation Forms Trigger Negative Rankings? – John Mueller

3 min read

Let’s talk about lead generation and how the placement of this form can impact your google rankings.


Google’s John Mueller responded to a query about when prominent lead generating forms can cause a site’s ranking to drop.


But first things first we need to know what page experience actually is 


Here’s what it implies, in Google’s own words: 


The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page. Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.


Great page experiences allow users to achieve more and engage more deeply; on the other hand, a terrible page experience may prevent a person from finding useful information on a page. By including page experience among the hundreds of factors that Google evaluates when ranking search results, our only way is to make it easier for people to find the information and web pages they need and provide a positive user experience.


Google’s John Mueller was asked in a Google Webmaster Office Hours Hangout whether a call to action at the top of the page, above the primary content, would have a negative ranking effect. John proposed two scenarios in which a negative ranking effect would and would not occur.


The latest page layout algorithm suggested paying attention to the balance of content and adverts in the directly visible region of a website (above the fold). If the balance is skewed in favor of the adverts, the website could be penalized.


They clarified sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above the fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward. – Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer

If a website’s visibility in the search results dropped dramatically in the weeks after the algorithm adjustment, it could have been penalized. Another sign could be the presence of many recurring ad blocks on each page of the website.

You can read about it in detail here 


The last page layout update happened in 2012.


Google’s John Mueller shedding light on this and his answer adds another layer of depth to our knowledge of the Page Layout Algorithm. According to John, Google’s Page Layout Algorithm is more concerned with how difficult it is to find the content that consumers expect to see than with the number of ads.


“It’s generally not a matter of how many ads, but more that users are able to find the content they’re looking for (what was “promised,” in search) when they visit a page.”


What Mueller means to say is that the algorithm is looking at how challenging it is to find the content that consumers expect to view rather than counting the number of ads.


Do Lead Generation Forms Have a Negative Impact on Rankings?

Google’s John Mueller responded with a yes/no/maybe response that clarified when a lead generation (lead gen) form could become a negative ranking indication.


John Mueller answered:


“I don’t know… my guess is probably not noticeable.


What effect might come into play is that our algorithms do look for things like ads above the fold that …push the main content below the fold. And it’s possible that we would think a lead gen form like that would be kind of like an ad.


But I don’t think …it would always be the case.


It kind of also depends on what that page is trying to rank for.


If it’s essentially a page that’s trying to rank for like… “get car insurance” and the form is about …” sign up for car insurance” ..then that’s kind of the intent of the page.


But if the intent of the page is like, “find out more about why oranges grow” and then you have car insurance form on top then that seems more like an ad.”


Hence it is clear that the relevance and the intent of the lead generation form are what actually decides how will it impact the rankings, though it’s not directly connected, but google is always working towards making the user experience a go-to priority for sites and in case the site is about MBA courses and you are collecting data for dating than your site is at risk and there are high chances that Google will see it as an ad and will take action accordingly.