Google’s New Page Layout Algorithm Change – How to Optimize Your Ad Layout Reviewed by Momizat on . Google has just recently rolled out a new major page layout algorithm update. Basically, the purpose of the update is to weed out websites that have too many ad Google has just recently rolled out a new major page layout algorithm update. Basically, the purpose of the update is to weed out websites that have too many ad Rating:
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Google’s New Page Layout Algorithm Change – How to Optimize Your Ad Layout

Google has just recently rolled out a new major page layout algorithm update. Basically, the purpose of the update is to weed out websites that have too many ads and other non-content elements “above the fold”.

What exactly does “above the fold” mean? Basically, it’s everything a visitor can view on the when they arrive, without having to scroll down. This area is the most viewed part of the page most often, and is the first impression given to a visitor.

If this area happens to be filled with an unreasonable amount of advertising, it obviously won’t give a very good first impression, and the visitor will most likely click the “back” button immediately. This is what Google hopes to address with this latest update.

Deceptive Ad Layout - Page Layout Algorithm Update

(click to enlarge)

Have you ever visited a site and been frustrated by how difficult it is to find the actually content you’re looking for? Or have you even been duped into clicking an ad that seemed like it was part of the actual site?

If you’ve ever been to one of those obnoxious driver download sites, you’ll know what I’m talking about! It seems as if the sole purpose of these types of sites is to trick the user into either accidentally clicking one of the ads, or overwhelming them to the point where they’ll click on anything just go get the heck off of the page!

Well, those types of sites will eventually become non-existent with the way Google is evolving. This update is probably just one of many that will take out overly spammy sites.

So how can you tell if you will be impacted by this update? What if you think your site isn’t actually spammy, but just may appear that way in the eyes of a Google spider. Here’s what Mat Cutts from Google’s webmaster blog has to say about it:

We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change.

Take an objective look at your site and ask yourself if a reasonable amount of content is visible without having to scroll. If you have too many ads, or even if your header is too big or you have images at the top that push the content down below the fold, you most likely will be affected by this update.

In all honesty, even our site here at BTFB was slightly hit by the algorithm update. We’ve seen a few top page rankings drop because of it as a matter of fact. The way we had our ads setup was pushing the content down too far. In some cases, the content wasn’t even visible at all. I honestly didn’t even realize it until I started reading about these changes.

So, to rectify our design, we’ve got a new minimalist theme up along with new ad placements that are more Google friendly, and ultimately more user friendly. We’re even playing it safe by eliminating the embedded ad at the top of the content (at least until our rankings start to come back) and moving it to the bottom of the articles. This way we’ll be showing the maximum amount of content above the fold.

Does this mean you can’t have any ads above the fold at all?

No. In fact, Google is still recommending webmasters to place ads on top to monetize your site. After all, :

We understand that placing ads above the fold is quite common for many websites; these ads often perform well and help publishers monetize online content. This page layout 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.

The trick is to find that delicate balance between optimal ad placement and user-friendly content visibility. In other words, a site that doesn’t look spammy, but also is able to make money (which is ultimately our goal).

Were you hit by the page layout algorithm change?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Change your layout to be focused on getting content to the top of your pages as soon as possible.
  • Reduce the height of your header if possible.
  • Reduce the amount of fluff between the header and the actual content (breadcrumbs, blank space, social media icons, etc.) or relocate them to the sidebar.
  • Consider making your site wider to allow more content to be shown (somewhere between 960-1000 pixels seems to be the max width on most popular sites).
  • Google Browser Size Tool is a handy tool that you can use to gauge how much content visitors are able to see based on several different screen sizes. This tool will show you what percentage are able to see what (**Tip – to get a more realistic view, resize your own window horizontally to eliminate the background outside of the wrap).

Examples of good page layouts, as well as what to avoid:

(click to enlarge images).

Best Ad Layout
Good Ad Layout
Better Ad Layout

Good Ad Layout

Bad Ad Layout

Bad Ad Layout

How long will it take to get your rankings back after improving your page and ad layout?

Unfortunately, like other google updates such as the infamous Panda update from last year, it will most likely take a while to recover, depending on how badly you were hit.

If you reduce ads above-the-fold, the penalty doesn’t instantly disappear. Instead, Google will make note of it when it next visits your site. But it can take several weeks until Google’s “push” or “update” until the new changes it has found are integrated into its overall ranking system, effectively removing penalties from sites that have changed and adding them to new ones that have been caught. –

This is just one of the larger updates google is planning on implementing. Apparently there will be about 500 “improvements” in this upcoming year. We’ll just have to wait and see how many of them are actually going to be improvements. I suppose it all depends upon your particular perspective and how much your site will be affected by constant algorithm changes. Either way, it should be a very interesting year for SEO, that’s for sure!

As usual, we’ll keep you updated on all the changes Google throws at us in the future. Feel free to comment below and let us know what you think about this latest page layout algorithm update.

Comments (27)

  • Chitra

    This update was long coming. As a blogger myself, I detest it when I visit a blog filled with ads. With this update, now we can see blogs where there will be more of quality content than ads.

  • Rebecca Curz

    This very brief tutorial was a godsend for me, the tips are very much appreciated.

  • Ivin

    I got hit with one ranking level down. But it was before this, and I’m not sure why exactly. Will have to look into it and see why ;(

  • Shane

    Interesting. I can see why the change was needed. TI is good to know that Google is still allowing ads “before the fold” they are just implementing measures to assure it isn’t being misused.

    • Paul

      Definitely, as nice as it would be to get a higher CTR by shoving ads all across the upper fold, I can understand why Google would want to do this. When I come across a site like that, I cringe and hit the back button to be honest…unless I’m desperate, then I’ll attempt to wade through the ad sewage to find what I’m looking for…

  • Arun rana

    Hi ..thanks for the post blog also affected by this updation of google …does it take a week to recover back or more….

    • Paul

      It’s really hard to say. It could be a few weeks, or it could even be a few months. My best advice is to just continue promoting, writing quality content, and building backlinks just as you have been doing. Oh, and fix your layout of course 🙂

      Google has thrown many updates at us in the past. Some debilitating, and some invigorating, depending on the type of site you run. It affects different types of sites in different ways each time, but the one thing that won’t be changing is Google rewarding sites that consistently put out quality content that visitors want to read.

      If the only reason you can think of for losing rank is your page layout, I would guess that you’ll be getting back up in the rankings sooner than later. Don’t quote me on that though.

  • Auren

    I just don’t undesrstand Google. Google search and google adsense suggest differently. Google adsense team suggest to place 728*90 ATF (above the fold) and also 336 and 300 inside the post inline with the post, how ever their google searhc team suggest to minimize above the fold ads (ad placement where you can see without scrolling).

    I believe that each department never consolidate their plan to each other team. The truth is I am quite happy with adsense team suggestion inplacing 728*90 atf I set type to image ads so it won’t look to much like an ad.

    Btw it is best if your content layout float left since search engine read from left to read just like we do. Happy Blogging.

    Google confuse me 🙁

    • Paul

      I agree that they are being somewhat hypocritical, although they’re not saying you can’t put ads above the fold altogether. Their simply saying that you shouldn’t overdo it, which is totally understandable looking at some of these ugly sites out there. Their aim is to improve the user experience after all, so I think they’re just trying to improve their search results. It’s just something we need to learn to work with. Look at it this way, in the grand scheme of things:

      Better quality websites = better user experience = more trust from the user = more likely-hood of them clicking an ad. At least that’s my philosophy…hopefully it works out to be the case!

  • Jeane

    That was really gold mine article. Strategics in improving one’s online page specially this one’s much awaited updatefrom google would really mean a thing to blogging netizens or even website. Got a handful of tips and learning here. Now its time for applied learning.

  • Matt

    thanks for the read. we just did a site redesign to take this all into account (have more content above the fold, get rid of space, etc). The last thing any blogger wants is to take a PR hit… But I am glad that google is being more aggressive with the blogs with so many ads on them!

  • Dubai Commercial Property

    great things you shared regarding page layout…

  • Steve Rob

    This is very informative and brief information given in the post which is very helpful for me.Thanks for sharing it.

  • karan

    I have no ads on my blog so I am pretty safe I guess. Btw what happened to naser. Did he sell this site to you??

  • Promit

    Google’s new page algorithm has changed many bloggers mind. My blog also got down. Now i am working on my blog to improve its page look. And my ads are less than before. Hope Google will love it.

  • Maxine Leahy

    There are certainly loads of details like that to take into consideration. That may be a nice level to bring up. I offer the ideas above as common inspiration but clearly there are questions just like the one you bring up the place the most important factor can be working in trustworthy good faith. I don?t know if greatest practices have emerged round things like that, however I’m sure that your job is clearly identified as a good game. Each girls and boys really feel the affect of only a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.

  • Ranjit Singh @ Jobs On Choice

    thanks sir,,nice post,,it helped me a lot

  • Nehal Kabra

    Too many ads are not good at all , thanks for this informative post 🙂

  • Shashank Johri

    Thanks a lot for this article.. i have been looking for this for quite a long time.. you have written the article very nicely.. i will be following your articles and your blog..:D

  • suresh will help us for sure..

  • thiqar

    Very nice I like a lot of these topics, it was part of my area.

  • Kindle Fire

    it is a very good move from google which would be more pain to the seo’ers ,coz now hey have to place ads such that it could have good content as well as the ad gets clicked also.

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