According to Matt Cutts, speaking at PubCon 2011, Google may soon be penalising pages on which relevant information is difficult to find. This change is intended to impact pages on which relevant content is hidden by advertising, and the algorithm change that they’re testing will try to determine what is the most important information on the page. Apparently, they’ll judge this based not only on how much advertising there is on the page, but on how much actual relevant content is above the fold.
Above The Fold?
The fold, for those who aren’t sure, refers to the bottom of the screen. Anything above the fold is what is immediately visible to site visitors, without having to scroll down. It’s an old newspaper term, where it referred to the part of the paper that was visible when it was folded for sale.
Ad Heavy Pages To Be Penalised
As a result of the proposed changes, it seems that pages which contain a lot of advertising, to the extent that the actual content of the page, (the information your visitors are probably looking for) is difficult to find, will be likely to take a hit in the search engine results. It makes sense really…visitors search for information, and they arrive because your site is supposed have what they’re looking for. Even if it’s there, that doesn’t help visitors who can’t find it. Which makes the result irrelevant, which makes Google unhappy.
Ads And The Panda Update
According to Google, when it released the details of the Panda Update, too many ads was already a ranking factor for them. I’m not sure if this means that it wasn’t actually implemented in Panda, or if they’re now making that specific aspect more powerful, but either way, it’s another reinforcement of Google’s view of content as being important. And the more important Google makes content, the happier I am. Cutts’ exact words were, “If you have ads obscuring your content, you might want to think about it.” Speaking to content publishers, he asked, “Do [visitors] see content or something else that’s distracting or annoying?” Google has, on that score, always been consistent. Clean, simple, easy to navigate, and easy to read. That’s how they like sites. Nothing wrong with that. We’ve been saying it for years.