New Google Algorithm Change: Page Layout
Fresh off a world wide web SOPA protest, something that was hinted at during PubCon has finally become a reality. In its consistent pursuit of a better user experience for searchers worldwide, Google is rolling out an algorithm update first mentioned by Cutts months ago that addresses an apparently frequent user concern: too much spammy ads and not enough content on websites.
The PubCon Hint
Remember back when we reported that during PubCon when Matt Cutts referenced an upcoming algorithm change having to do with page layout? Here’s a little excerpt from our blog post, Pubcon 2011: Is SEO Dead (Again)???, where we relayed Cutts’s comments regarding what’s to come with Google and SEO in the future (this is the “1,000 foot view”): “Better Page Understanding- there is an algorithm change coming up for improving page quality, specifically when it comes to the content above the fold (I’m assuming this means, if you have so many ads above the fold that the user is turned off, this algorithm will not treat you well) – all for a better user experience (the theme of the speech – and of Google’s current mentality as a whole).” We assumed correctly – as Google announced yesterday that a recent algorithm change will devalue those sites that load up the page with ads and don’t provide useful content above the fold.
Also interesting was Cutts’s second comment: “Search as a More Personal Experience -There is a trend toward people sending more personal searches to Google. Stay tuned.” Hello, “Search Plus Your World!” PS: did you read that Google Plus reportedly has 90 million users? Though the search engine said 60 percent of that 90 million sign in daily and 80% weekly, it turns out that those percentages refer to the number of Google + users who log into Google to use any of the services the search engine provides (considering that when you sign up for a Google account, you are pretty much forced to create a Google + account, this isn’t all that surprising).
What This Page Layout Algorithm Change Means
This means that if your site has too many ads and not enough useful content above the fold, your rankings will likely suffer in the coming days. Matt Cutts writes on the Inside Search blog: “So 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.” Cutts assures webmasters, though, that a tasteful number of ads is permissible. It’s when ads become the primary focus of the site that users tend to have a bad experience. Cutts adds (no pun intended!), “This new algorithmic improvement tends to impact sites where there is only a small amount of visible content above-the-fold or relevant content is persistently pushed down by large blocks of ads.” Apparently, this change will only affect less than 1% of global searches-but hopefully, it will have a much larger impact on users’ experiences across the web.
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