Page Layout: The New Update in Google Algorithm

Posted On : February 27th, 2012   By : Diptimayee Mohanty   To : Google, Google Update

Google’s latest algorithmic changes about the layout of a webpage are highly welcome by all categories of users. In this updates Google has mentioned that web sites having too much ads above the fold will be punished by reducing their ranking in SERP. Such algorithmic change has been anticipated by many SEOs since very long as it directly relates to the quality of a page.

Google also clearly mentioned the same in its blog post where it declared that such change was done by carefully considering complains by lots of users about their bitter experience while surfing through search result web pages. Many of these web pages have full of ads above the fold which are irrelevant to the main content of that page.

Time is the most critical factor for any user. The basic requirement of any category of user is to get the most relevant and authentic web page as a result of search on any topic in the least time. But previously many sites on the first page of SERP have full of ads. While navigating through such sites for required quality content is very tedious and time wasting for many users. Scrolling down such a page for actual content is logically boring and meaningless for any user.

If a search engine provides such results on its top pages, naturally users get disappointed and will put little faith on its search quality.

Keeping in view of the above fact, now Google will check the amount of content visible once the page is open. If the first view has little content or full of ads, then such sites will not be considered as providing best user’s experience and may get lower ranking.
But this algorithmic change has drawn a good amount of controversy as some parts are very confusing.

Little content v/s full of ads

Full of ads above the fold is clearly understood but the meaning of little content is somewhat confusing. Whether info graphics related to the content of a page will be considered as a part of main content or not is doubtful. Also some sites place ads related to welfare of human society or the earth or wild life which may or may not bear any relation to the actual content of the page. If such sites will be punished, then it may demoralize others to spread social awareness.

Normal degree v/s excessive degree of placing ads

Google says that this algorithmic change would not affect sites that place ads on above the fold to a normal degree, but would affect sites who load the top of the page with ads to an excessive degree so make it hard to find the actual content. But here Google does not define the line of control between normal and excessive degree of ads.

Affecting 1% of global searches

Google says that this layout algorithm change would noticeably affect 1% of searches globally. What does it mean? Does it mean that this change carries less than 1% value with respect to the whole ranking algorithm? Or after fixing the yardstick on layout, Google surveyed the most common searched topics globally and found out this figure. Or such a small figure is an indication for site owners not to be worried about using Ad sense.

What about nonsense ads below-the-fold?

Suppose I have a page which has either no ads or very less but related to my content ads above the fold. But I put a lot of nonsense ads like selling cheap Viagra or reselling used cars or cheap household products below the main content. Does this layout algorithm punish my site?

What is the main concern for site owners?

Even a single page failed to satisfy this layout algorithm requirement will drag the overall ranking of the site. So now one should be very conscious about the layout of every page. Moreover Google mentioned that even though you make the necessary changes after getting affected, it would take several weeks to gain the previous ranking as Googlebot has to re-crawl every page of the site to access the changes made. So prevention is better than cure, guys.

Diptimayee Mohanty
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