Page Layout To Affect Optimisation

Last week, Google announced the latest update to its algorithm on its Webmaster Central Blog, saying that this latest change looks at the layout of a web page, and takes note of the amount of content that is visible “above the fold.”

According to the post by Matt Cutts, users have reported being unhappy if they click on a link, and find it difficult to find the actual content. That’s perfectly understandable. And easy to find content should be a positive signal without a doubt.

Less Ads, More Content

According to the post, this is intended to target sites that over-populate ads, at the expense of the user experience when looking for specific information. And again, that’s perfectly reasonable. When the Panda update launched, Google was already saying that too many ads would be a negative signal.

They didn’t say how much advertising was too much of course, but we’re all in favour of content being more important than ads.

Questions About The New Update

We are wondering though, what will happen with pages where it’s not ads that are pushing content below the fold? What about where the design is visually rich above the fold, and the content appears a bit lower down? Will the algorithm know it’s not ads above that content?

And of course, another question that has to be asked is whose fold? One of the 14% of people who still use 1024×768 according to W3? My 22″ 1280×1024? That guy over there with his 42″ 1600×900? What standard is Google using to decide what’s above the fold and what’s not?

Well, we don’t know yet. Google says this change will affect less than 1% of global searches daily. So out of every 100 searches, the ranking might be reordered once. A small change? Perhaps. But still just one of the more than 500 changes Google will be making to their algorithm this year.