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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
UPDATE: Google: Our AdWords Ads Wouldn't Trigger Page Layout Penalty
In January 2012, Google announced the page layout penalty and then updated it in October 2012, it basically sets to penalize sites with too many ads, too much in the way of your organic content.
As I covered at Search Engine Land, the question was posed to Google's Matt Cutts about Google penalizing their search results page because there are so many AdWord ads pushing down the organic search results.
Matt responded two ways, the second more interesting:
(1) Google doesn't index their own search results.
(2) If they did, the ad to organic results ratio and layout would not trigger a page layout penalty.
Full SMX interview with Matt Cutts and Danny Sullivan here : [searchengineland.com...]
His statement makes me think that the ratio they are looking at is:
Amount of ad space above the fold / Total content space on page
Instead of what I had assumed earlier:
Amount of ad space above the fold / Amount of content space above the fold
Take the height of your ads / divide by the height of your page when fully rendered. Match the SERPs ratio, and you should be fine.
The ratio (for a 3 block, heavy popular phrase ad block) is 0.2
The ads on a google SERP take about 20% of the overall page height as measured by Chrome.