And there we go again… Google continue to throw out more algorithm updates and refreshes into the search jungle in just a matter of less than two weeks, where this time it’s the turn of the engine’s Page Layout filter to elicit an update.
Google’s anti-spam lord, Matt Cutts, had conveyed the message about the update in a Tweet (see below). Although he didn’t specify it by name, he did referred to the initial blog post about the Page Layout algorithm from the beginning of the year for context.
Minor weather report: Update of goo.gl/OpIDL launching today. ~0.7% of English queries noticeably affected.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) October 9, 2012
Cutts didn’t elaborate if this was a mere data refresh or if it also included some alteration to the filter but its affect was rather similar to the first disclosed Page Layout update back in January- the first update impacted less than 1% of global queries and now the second impacted around 0.7% of English queries.
If the updates were a bit closer together then I could have safely speculated that the filter went through some change, however, due to the long time gap between the two it isn’t clear if the analogous affect relates to a change or perhaps many sites were simply heaped during this 9 months period and now being targeted altogether.
There’s also the probable possibility to consider that Google released a bunch of Page Layout’s data refreshes and alterations during this time but haven’t disclosed any of them until now.
In any case, if you don’t remember (or entirely don’t know) the Page Layout filter suppose to demote the rankings of sites which contains too many ads above the fold, as visitors have to scroll down to reach for the site’s “real content.” Perhaps it’s best to explain it through couple of examples.
I’ve been scouring through the web and found two websites which reported to been hit, and the striking date fits to this current Page Layout update. The first example is of helpwithjunk.org:
Okay, so this one is pretty clear. Almost all of the upper side of the page is just a giant ad section and you really have to strain if you want to discover the site’s real content (much) furthermore down. This is quite easy to understand why this website has been battered by the Page Layout algorithm.
The second example is slightly more tricky. Here’s online-wedding-invitations.net:
At first I thought this website might have been hit by the EMD update but the site owner’s reported date of traffic drop hasn’t fitted, while it perfectly suited with the Page Layout filter release time. As you can see, a big real estate portion of the upper side of the page is filled by a giant banner.
Even though it’s not exactly an ad, I guess the filter still classified the banner as such. I obviously can’t determine the exact measurements of what the algorithm targets based on that alone, but it can still offer some perspective. The banner’s height dimension is about 400px, so I suppose any ad around this ratio might be a mark for the Page Layout filter.
The Page Layout affect can be pretty devastating- both sites seem to have been demoted by a page or a couple for their main keywords which resulted a significant plummet of their search traffic (about 90%). I truly hope those examples will assist you dodge (or overcome) this filter.