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Matt Cutts Announces "Above The Fold" Algorithm Launch
tedster




msg:4408781
 11:48 pm on Jan 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

In our ongoing effort to help you find more high-quality websites in search results, today [19 January] we're launching an algorithmic change that looks at the layout of a web page and the amount of content you see on the page once you click on a result...

This algorithmic change noticeably affects less than 1% of searches globally. That means that in less than one in 100 searches, a typical user might notice a reordering of results on the search page.

- Matt Cutts

[insidesearch.blogspot.com...]

 

tedster




msg:4408872
 4:53 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

They won't let you view google.com or anything related to google.com in this tool they provided.


I just viewed that very Google blog post with the Browser Size tool.

The google.com home page does not display inside a frame, and since the tool uses a frame, I think that's a big part of what you noticed.

tedster




msg:4408874
 5:00 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just noticed the actual title of the blog post is "Page layout algorithm
improvement". Now that makes sense - I was pretty darned sure they were already doing things with page layout in algorithm.
Zivush




msg:4408884
 5:42 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

the amount of content you see on the page once you click on a result...

Why Google doesn't specify what type of content is regarded as 'content' and what is regarded as something else?

For me, ad is a content.
It might be that the ad gives the exact thing the visitor is looking for!
Also, and info provided thru: images, videos, graphics,navigation bars, links.

Most people interpret 'content' as text. But text MUST be one part of the all piece - an integral part of the all picture.
Correct me if I am wrong.

tedster




msg:4408886
 6:12 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Did you read the beginning of Matt's article where explains the kind of complaints they were getting that motivated this new algorithm work?

As we've mentioned previously, 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.


Ads are a monetization method - I don't think we can realistically call them content. We can quibble about it... but we do know what he's saying.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4408893
 6:26 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Typical - Absolutely no advance warning, your rankings start to change before you get a chance to evaluate the impact his "news" may have on your livelihood.

Google wants all data yet can't be bothered to provide any in a more timely manner? Google seems to think its a game to shout out "GO" and watch webmasters scramble to catch up. My patience is wearing mighty thin with this.

This change is just one of the over 500 improvements we expect to roll out to search this year


499 of them unasked for? Spending an entire year trying to figure them out would be counter-productive. Google, it's your turn to keep up with me, or don't.

mark_roach




msg:4408916
 9:06 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Be interesting to see how my pages that lead off with a large graphic that uses all the above-the-fold real estate do.


Content_ed I suspect you will be ok if you only have a handful of pages like that. The sentence below would imply that the algorithm looks at the site as a whole rather than individual pages in isolation.

If you decide to update your page layout, the page layout algorithm will automatically reflect the changes as we re-crawl and process enough pages from your site to assess the changes.

Vimes




msg:4408918
 9:11 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

My First thought on reading that article was actually content ordered source code.

has anyone that been effected that pushes their content up in the source code and then delivers it at the bottom of the page?

Vimes.

enigma1




msg:4408923
 9:38 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I was pretty darned sure they were already doing things with page layout in algorithm

Yes that's also what I see for many years now. Related to the position of the content within the page. That is still very active. In this context the main difference between automatic page processing and manual rendering is the automatic party (crawler) sees only how the HTML is setup, while the human uses a browser to translate it and he's unaware of the content position he seeks inside the HTML code. He only cares how the page visually appears.

Therefore it is next to impossible for Google to reliably tell how the content appears using the bot only. They will have to render the page and then use OCR or equivalent methods to cross-reference the layout with for a given HTML page. Theoretically is quite possible to be done and automated, in practice I don't know if they have the capacity as they would have to render and process pretty much every page. So I think for the algorithmic change they mentioned is about processing HTML code at this point.

scooterdude




msg:4408952
 11:48 am on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

i tried the google browser tool an could not make any sense of it, initially

Is it saying fixed width pages or any webpage is assumed to be left justified

then i looked and the instructions and confirmed its designed for fixed width left justified pages :)

Google command :) :)

graeme_p




msg:4408957
 12:07 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

My site with a 366x250 rectangle above the fold appears to have been very badly hit.

slightly (about 10%) down on last year until yesterday, which was sharply down, and today it is 50% down.

I have never seen such a large drop before.

nippi




msg:4408958
 12:30 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hmm, i am curious how this will pan out. I have one site that above the fold has

a. navigation.
b. Social networking links
c. 1 adsense block 368 x 280
d. 1 detailed search form, for the site.

So... no text at all above the fold.

i do wonder how google will view this. Its in my mind, a perfect mix of adsense and something useful(a form) but is my form considered "content"

tenerifejim




msg:4408962
 12:44 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

The thing that strikes me about this is that google seems to be taking a step backwards, toward onscreen factors, as opposed to social connectivity and user behavior. It sort of reminds me of back in the day when the ratio of content to html code in a document was a factor in ranking. It just seems like something that can be easily tweaked.


I pretty much agree with this. Google is making a judgement call on other people's site layout and structure. It is too subjective.

My real bugbear is that they themselves, in their own serps are the worst examples of ads above the fold.

malinkam




msg:4408963
 12:48 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I wonder how the algorithm will look at video pages.

Video block above the fold, no content, 30 second Ad which you must watch! - how's that for "we want users to find what they're looking for QUICKLY!"

Marketing Guy




msg:4408966
 1:04 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think people need to remember this is Google's input on how to rank in THEIR search results - it has no bearing on how Google presents their own website.

Realistically, this update is targeting the worst offenders - those who churn out crap websites and slap the ads in at the top of the page to maximise CTR. I.e. scrapper and thin content website models.

I'm going to go out a limb and suggest that maybe, just maybe, someone at Google put some thought into the fact that generally information websites run ads. Y'know maybe they've learned a thing or two from owning those small ventures called Blogspot and Adsense?

Perhaps time to dial down on the paranoia and outrage on this one? Ads = still OK. Graphics above the fold = still OK. Well design sites (regardless of copy / image ratios and placement) = still OK. MFA / borderline MFA sites = not really anymore OK than they were before.

The only real fail on this one is Google poorly wording their announcement and failing to engage the industry's concerns about the confusion. And also allowing MFA websites to rule the SERPs for many years to the point people consider to be a legitimate business model. But then that was probably just a data capture exercise...to be used in updates just like this...

vandread




msg:4408967
 1:05 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just checked one of my sites and noticed a large drop in traffic and revenue as well. Traffic and revenue dropped by roughly 15% yesterday, and today looks even worse.

FranticFish




msg:4408973
 1:20 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

The browser size tool is useless for assessing any site that uses a centred layout i.e. every site I ever go to these days.

gabidi




msg:4408979
 1:50 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeah ok .. Has google checked how it's own results page looks like on a laptop ? 100% ads above the fold.

HuskyPup




msg:4408991
 2:33 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

The browser size tool is useless for assessing any site that uses a centred layout i.e. every site I ever go to these days.


Yep but if you narrow the browser width it adjusts.

mhansen




msg:4408996
 2:48 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Typical - Absolutely no advance warning, your rankings start to change before you get a chance to evaluate the impact his "news" may have on your livelihood.


Just to keep it balanced, Google, specifically Matt Cutts, announced this to be one of the targets in 2012 during Pubcon in Nov. It was even talked about pretty heavily here at WebmasterWorld. [webmasterworld.com...]

As much as I rarely ring Googles' bell for all the crap I feel they shovel onto us, I feel this change is a good one.

Content_ed




msg:4409001
 2:55 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

So far it looks like they really are just targetting ads as opposed to non-text content. My pages that have nothing but navigation links, a title and a large image above the fold didn't drop yesterday.

Lane R Ellis




msg:4409005
 3:10 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here's my name idea for the latest Google update:

The Google SOPA update: Stop Overly Pushy Ads

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4409006
 3:15 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

has anyone that been effected that pushes their content up in the source code and then delivers it at the bottom of the page?


Google uses a visual system, much like the one that shows image previews in serps. Code doesn't matter as much anymore, the algorithm is looking for telltale signs of an ad, such as the google arrow for adsense, on screen captures and not(just) in code.

Apparently Google feels that their image recognition software is up to the task of spotting all ads.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 3:18 pm (utc) on Jan 20, 2012]

Marketing Guy




msg:4409010
 3:17 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well most ad networks have easily identifying logos and stuff on the ads, so it shouldn't too tough to do that. Plus they have a wealth of data from Adsense / Analytics (CTR vs time on site?) to base a model on.

netmeg




msg:4409018
 3:41 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Typical - Absolutely no advance warning


You can't be serious. It's certainly been a big part of the conversation for the last eleven months.

Some of my competitors (and hopefully all of my scrapers) are gonna take a nice big hit on this. If it's implemented correctly, I'm all for it.

(Of course I recognize it's a big IF)

onebuyone




msg:4409021
 3:45 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google uses a visual system, much like the one that shows image previews in serps. Code doesn't matter as much anymore, the algorithm is looking for telltale signs of an ad, such as the google arrow for adsense, on screen captures and not(just) in code.


This is soo easy to abuse :)

cr1t1calh1t




msg:4409024
 3:55 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

In response to getting hit by panda oct. 14, along with lots of other changes I did some work to shrink my header area, reduce ads above the fold, and increase content visible above the fold - and today I'm seeing small drops in some positions that I had regained earlier this month, as well as decreases in long-held positions.

I went from 2 ad units and 1 link unit to 1 ad unit and 1 adsense for search box (in the nav bar) above the fold, and increased content above the fold by at least 20%.

I guess I didn't do enough...

I wonder if they consider the Adsense for Search box to be an ad for the sake of this new update...

cr1t1cal

goodroi




msg:4409037
 4:19 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts has gone too far this time! I am outraged over this ridiculous move by Google. They are clearly playing favorites and providing special assistance to certain websites. Of course I am referring to Google unfairly helping ignorant webmasters who were not capable of figuring out that page layout is important despite the months of public signals by Google and the public discussion on it.

I have been enjoying a distinct advantage over my competition by having a better page layout. By keeping ad space to a minimum and maximizing the perceived value of my pages I have been able to gain more backlinks. It is no secret (or maybe it is) that people tend to link more to valuable pages and avoid pages overly filled with ads.

For many years webmasters have known that a user decides in seconds if the webpage is good or if they should bail out. With such a small window it always made sense to me to keep my headers small so the user could immediately see valuable content. This has allowed me to make more money by keeping visitors on my site instead of losing them immediately because they thought I was a spammy ad filled page.

If I had any doubts about page value being important they were erased when I did pro bono work on multiple panda sites. I came across many observations but the biggest one was a webmaster that went against my instruction and doubled his adsense space above the fold. His logic is that he lost traffic so he had to double his adsense to keep his revenue steady. What happened is that he scared away his remaining traffic and ended up with no revenue.

I don't care if Google is directly measuring content above the fold. I know that stuffing ads above the fold drives away users, backlinks and site partners.

Here are my actions going forward:
-Revisit my network of sites & client sites to see if any of the headers can be reduced to bring more content above the fold.
-Revisit top traffic pages to make sure they do not have too large an image at the top of the page, just to be safe.
-Continue to embed ads into relevant content below the fold. This move tends to also improve the CTR & ad engagement levels.
-Check out the site preview via Google serps to see one possible way Google might be judging how much content is above the fold.

jimbeetle




msg:4409043
 4:28 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts has gone too far this time! I am outraged over this ridiculous move by Google. They are clearly playing favorites and providing special assistance to certain websites. Of course I am referring to Google unfairly helping ignorant webmasters who were not capable of figuring out that page layout is important despite the months of public signals by Google and the public discussion on it.


He, he, he. Excuse me while I clean up the spilled coffee.

tedster




msg:4409055
 4:43 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Realistically, this update is targeting the worst offenders

Yes - and the fact that it affects the positions in only 1% of searches is about the same impact as page speed as a ranking factor. In other words, Google is using a rather finely targeted approach in this shift.

aleksl




msg:4409064
 4:55 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

And there go all the ecommerce sites with the flashy images taking 1/3 of the top of the screen.

Oh, wait, they pay Adwords...so no they won't be affected...or will they... change number 501.

ken_b




msg:4409066
 5:04 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you decide to update your page layout, the page layout algorithm will automatically reflect the changes as we re-crawl and process enough pages from your site to assess the changes.

So hang out as things are right now and see if this affects you or not before making wholesale changes to a site?

.

This 322 message thread spans 11 pages: < < 322 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 11 > >
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