Jan 23, 2012 116 reads by Navneet Kaushal

If you are a surfer , then Google’s new move will do good for you. For webmasters, it means of lot of damage control. Google has brought in a new change titled the- ‘Page layout algorithm’ which is designed to penalize sites with pages that are top-heavy with ads.

What is this new ‘Page layout algorithm’?
Google has revealed in a post that the algorithm will work against a site with pages where the ads far outweigh the content. This move by the search engine is again following a user generated demand that they want to see the content they were searching for and not be bombarded by ads.

Quoting Google, “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.

As per a similar post on the Google Webmaster Central blog, the sites that use pop-ups, pop-unders or overlay ads will not be impacted by the algorithm.

What number of ads above the fold will bring you in the red zone?
Post this announcement, the next obvious query was – “How many ads? Where does one draw the line?”
According to the blog post Google says, “We understand that placing ads above-the-fold is quite common for many websites; these ads often perform well and help publishers monetize online content. This algorithmic change does not affect sites who place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree, but affects sites that go much further to load the top of the page with ads to an excessive degree or that make it hard to find the actual original content on the page.

Well, search experts have discussed this with Google and the head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts has been sourced as saying that by using tools like Google Browser Size, webmasters can make an estimation as to the amount of page’s content is visible to users vis a vis the ads (under various screen resolutions). However, Matt Cutts has also said that this algorithm will impact less than 1% of Google’s searches globally, in perfect tandem with what has been written in the blog post by Google.

What if you are hit and then set the ads right?
In case you are hit by the algorithm, you will have to wait for a couple of weeks to get your ranking back. Just reduce ads above-the-fold, give your content more prominence and wait. Google will make a note of the changes and will integrate into its overall ranking system, in a few weeks. As Google says, “If you decide to update your page layout, the page layout algorithm will automatically reflect the changes as we re-crawl and process enough pages from your site to assess the changes. How long that takes will depend on several factors, including the number of pages on your site and how efficiently Googlebot can crawl the content. On a typical website, it can take several weeks for Googlebot to crawl and process enough pages to reflect layout changes on the site.

Did you get the Google AdSense email?
On one hand heavy ads pages are being penalized, on the other hand, Google AdSense has emailed bloggers, encouraging them to put more ads on their site. Here is the mail:


As per the mail, you have to place you ads carefully keeping in mind the user experience.
What do you think of Google’s move? Will you have to change your page layout? Do leave your comments.

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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