How is your web page layout in relation to placing advertisements?
In December, we published an article titled Intrigues Of Google Internet Search In 2011 Going To 2012 and we warned webmasters of the impending Google algorithm change in relation to ads above the fold. The year has begun with yet another Google axe, the page layout algorithm.
According to Google, users have been complaining of landing on sites with too many ads as compared to content. Test on ad-to-content ratio has been ongoing for a while now and as we speak it has already taken effect.
If you have noted a drop in traffic on your site, then chances are that you are a victim of the new algorithm update. Google in their pursuit to improve user experience is trying to remove from their search results sites that have adverts plastered all over their web page layout.
In their webmaster central blog, google talked about the new update saying it will demote sites that are heavy with ads especially at the top. These are the kind of sites where readers have to go through tons of advertisements before they get access to the actual content.
Am sure you would have a pleasant experience opening a site that shows content right away. This is opposed to a web page layout where you have to scroll down to get the content.
This is also what is known as content above the fold. If your page layout has more of content than adverts, then you are safe. But if you have adverts above-the-fold it means your visitors will not have a pleasing experience thus Google will punish you.
Last year when I made my predictions about this new google update, I said it will probably take effect in the beginning of 2012. On this I was right. But the one thing I was wrong about was sites been affected by pop ups and overlaying ads.
Google categorically stated that web page layouts that have pop-ups and pop-unders will not be affected by the new update. Page layout algorithm will only apply to sites that contain webpages with static or fixed ads.
The big question that many online marketers are now asking is; how does one measure content-to-ads ration?
So far there are no official tools to gauge whether your webpages have ads that are above-the-fold. But according to Matt Cutts, webmasters should use Google Browser Size Tool to compare pages with content as opposed to having many ads.
The secret is simply to ensure at first glance of your site web page layout, visitors find enough content as compared to adverts. Google is saying, as much as adverts help webmasters generate revenue online, providing content should always take first priority.
You may then ask; how far can I take visitors down my page before they get access to my content? That is upon you to make a decision. But if you place yourself in your visitors’ shoes, you will see that content comes first.
Note: The page layout algorithm is actually aimed at targeting web pages that have excessive adverts. This is to signify that uploading adverts to a normal level may just work for you.
You may be lucky to still rank if your ads-to-content ration is normal but why take the risk. It will be safer to tone down on your ads per page layout and move up on google rankings as others come tumbling down.
It would also be good to note that this algorithm change will only affect 1% of searches on Google. This is a little number compared to Panda updates that hit even top ranking sites. In fact, up to date some of the sites that were hit by panda are still trying to make their way up again.
Is there anything you can do if you realize that you have fallen victim of Page Layout Algorithm Update?
Sure, there is a solution but you will have to wait for a while before you move up the search engine rankings again. Ideally, when you are hit by this ads-to-content ration update, google tags your whole site and not individual pages. Therefore, your overall rankings will drop.
In case, you work on your page layout and reduce the number of ads to the acceptable percentage, your ranking will not move up immediately. Instead, Google spiders will re-crawl your site and take note of the alterations.
In order to lift the penalties, it may take several weeks depending on the number of web pages you have on your site. Just the way it took a while for sites hit by panda to move up the ranks, the same will apply to site found guilty of having ads above the fold.
Advice: There is nothing as annoying as landing on a site that hides its content below tons of adverts. Actually, most of us when we discover a site is heavy with ads, we click on the close button so fast.
Therefore, to some extent I do agree with what google has done with implementing the Page Layout algorithm. It is to remind webmasters and bloggers that the main reason the internet exist is to share content.
If you check around you will discover that most of the top websites and blogs, have one thing in common, CONTENT. The more information you provide to your target audience, the higher your credibility will go up thus more web presence and traffic.
Google is now the sheriff of the internet and thus it is advisable to be in their good books. Offer quality content and google will definitely send unique and organic traffic your way. Break the rules and you will sure face the consequences.
Summary: Content is king when it comes to online marketing. As much as ads ensure you make money online, you have to tone down and start to tactfully place adverts strategically. Ask yourself, if I was a visitor to my own site, would I be willing to come back again?
If the answer is “Yes”, then you are on the right path to succeeding in doing business on the web.
What are your thoughts on the new page layout algorithm update? Please post your comments in the comment section below.
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Google has now officially welcomed us to the New Year. Believe or not, there are still more algorithm updates to come. To be safe from all of them, make certain your web page layout is content based.
Just a thought: Does the web page layout algorithm apply to pages heavy with Google Adsense?
Author: Stephen Kavita