What to Know About Google’s New Update

Last week Google announced another algorithm update, called the “page layout algorithm update”, which will target sites that have too many ads above the fold. Users find it frustrating when they click on a search result and then have a difficult time finding the actual content. Google wants to provide its users with the best possible experience and will now be penalizing sites in which the content is not prominent on the page.

There are two ways to look at this algorithm update. First, it’s great because it’s going to knock out many spammy, affiliate, and AdSense filled sites that really provide no value. The update is obviously targeting the spam community. However, it’s likely that some innocent sites may get hit as well. There are certainly plenty of websites that have quality content AND ads above the fold.

The question is, how vague will Google be about it? Unfortunately, pretty vague it seems. Here’s what Google had to say:

“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.”

What exactly is a “normal degree”? One or two ads? What’s an “excessive degree”? Three or more? Google isn’t saying. We’re going to need a more concrete answer than that. What’s the ratio of ads to content that is acceptable and what’s not? It would be helpful if Google clearly defined what is considered to be OK and what isn’t. For now, it looks like it’s up to trial and error to figure it out.

An article on Search Engine Land about the update discusses what you can do if your site has taken a hit. Obviously, you are going to need to reduce the number of ads above the fold or remove them entirely and wait a few weeks for Google to return to the site to index it again. It’s a good time to review your website goals and strategies. What is the purpose of your ads? If they are there just to try and get a little extra cash, but aren’t a priority, think about removing them entirely because they are only a distraction to users and now a turn off to the search engines.

What’s ironic is that it has been pointed out that the layout of a Google search results page features ads above the fold. Go figure.

For more information straight from the source, check out the Google blog post here.

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