Google Rolling Out “Page Layout Algorithm” Against Heavy Ads Above-The-Fold Sites

Googlebot VS AdsBad news for webmasters with extreme passion for advertisements: Google has announced that it is going after low quality sites with a new search “Page Layout algorithm” update that will penalize websites with too many ads above the fold that makes it difficult to find the “real content” of the page.

The official roll out of the algorithm shouldn’t surprise anyone. Google’s spam cop, Matt Cutts, already warned webmasters more than two months ago that too many ads can damage the site’s rankings. Back then, i suggested that it may already integrated into the Panda algorithm update of October 14th but now it turned out that it is a separate stand alone algorithm.

Affects “Heavy Ads On Top” Sites

Before you start panic and beginning to remove all ads from your site, wait! Google recognize that advertising as inseparable and crucial part for running websites, webmasters gotta eat right? Therefore, only real exaggerated amount of annoying and bothering ads on the top of the page that interrupt to discover the main page’s content can cause the Page Layout algorithm to act.

Again, ads above the fold in a “normal degree” (Google’s own words) are OK as long as the user can find the page’s main content easily at first glance and doesn’t need to browse too long to find it. Google estimating that the Page Layout algorithm will affect (penalize) less than 1 percent of all global searches.

How To Know If You Penalized By The Page Layout Algorithm

There is no official way to identify if the algorithm struck your site, only good old fashioned sense of logic. Try objectively as you can entering your site’s pages and think how easy it is to find the actual content of the pages. If you needed to scroll down and you had a confusing experience you might be in trouble…

If you believe that your site fell under the Page Layout algorithm wrath, reduce the number of ads you have on top and… wait! When the Googlebot will crawl enough of your fixed-layout pages, the penalty will drop. According to Google’s estimations, it takes several weeks to re-crawl effectively a typical site so this is probably more or less the time frame to recover.

Overall, as a user the new algorithm suppose to offer better experience. As a webmaster, I’m not really bothered by the new algorithm and only encouraged by the fact it designated to throw out more of the spam sites and leave room for the quality ones. From what i witnessed so far, the Page Layout algorithm didn’t had much effect on rankings but maybe its because the Panda already clear some of the low quality sites before…