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Matt Cutts Announces "Above The Fold" Algorithm Launch

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

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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

[insidesearch.blogspot.com...]
5:04 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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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?

.
5:06 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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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.


I think overall, this isn't a bad way to judge a website's quality BUT if Google, by their own algo do not think websites with too many adverts above the fold are good for an end user, then why do they have so many adverts above the fold themselves?

You say it "has no bearing" but what does this say about Google's critique of their own page layouts and services?
5:15 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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


That's how I read it...one would have thought that IF they can identify this 1% then surely the logical thing to do would be to advise those sites?

<snip>

[edited by: goodroi at 5:30 pm (utc) on Jan 20, 2012]
[edit reason] Let's keep this profressional [/edit]

5:21 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Hypothetically speaking...

Lets hope the kid that cures cancer doesn't try to monetize too much or he'll be on the second page and pandalized.

How's that for the tail wagging the dog.
5:31 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Lets hope the kid that cures cancer doesn't try to monetize too much or he'll be on the second page and pandalized.

lol. it is a bit crazy. does "the godfather" suddenly become a worse film when it's on the telly, because its got ad breaks?
5:54 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I think some people who posted in this thread are commenting without even reading the Google announcement.

...complaints from users that if they click on a result and itís difficult to find the actual content, they arenít happy...
...algorithmic change does not affect sites who place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree...
...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...

The Google announcement seems to be very clear that this is for extreme websites. We have all seen sites that are 90% ads and try to trick users into thinking adsense links are content links. Why would we want Google to reward these sites?
6:00 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Not sure if it is slow to roll out, but I see some obvious culprits still ranking well. One site in particular puts TWO Adsense 300x250 blocks at the top of every page above their content.

They are still ranking well. I wonder what their definition of excessive is? Three blocks? =)
6:11 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It's only because they can't trust backlinks as much anymore because they're so gamed by blackhats. Maybe they'll barely count backlinks at some point and their algo will determine soley if a page is worthy to be seen or not. And all I have ringing in my ears is, "Do no evil do no evil do no evil..."
6:25 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I agree with a bunch of what's said here. What is "above the fold"? What is "too many" ads? For that matter, what are they defining as an "ad"? AdSense? Other PPC? Affiliate links? Anything that links to a recognized ad network?

In typical Google fashion, I suspect they won't define any of this and it will fall to us to test and try to extrapolate the answers.
6:28 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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There's no doubt that all search engines have a need to use other signals beyond backlinks. Webmasters here have been crying out for less dependence on backlinks for many years... and it is happening.

This particular signal seems to be a no-brainer to me. That doesn't mean it would be easy to automate in any way. I've been considering how to program a script to analyze a page layout and it seems to be well beyond a one-man job to do it at scale. There's just too much variation around the web.
6:37 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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This latest algo launch from Google is yet another reason why I'm going to stick with creating content sites without ads.
6:43 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@bhartzer I think it's fine to create content sites with ads. You just have to be aware of the size, number and placement. I can't imagine that a blog with good content and an ad block at the bottom of the post would be penalized.

If Google was going to penalize sites like that they might as well shut down the content network.
7:04 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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How about... USE YOUR COMMON SENSE.

Works for me.
7:28 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Not sure if it is slow to roll out

I believe G learned from the backlash on Panda that too much too soon isn't good for their bottom line and good will perception by the webmaster community (not speaking of us at Webmasterworld, just everybody who operates websites). This time the percent is smaller, less obvious, and probably rolled out in different areas at different times so the perception of "harm" to site income is not as obvious. Chipping away a little is usually much better than a sledgehammer and big chunks.
7:50 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I suspect it's been rolling out ever since Panda started, they just might have turned it up to to eleven recently.
8:02 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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All my sites got hit overnight. All the ones ranking on page 1 have not gone to page 2 and beyond for their keywords. These all use the same theme and have 1 Adsense block above the content. But each site has plenty of content that is unique and informative. I noticed many of the sites in the same niche as mine that have exact match domains and using Adsense got hit as well.
8:11 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have some fairly ad heavy sites and they were not hit over night. They may either be OK or not part of the 1%. I'm taking prophylactic measures however and tweaking page layouts to help insulate the sites from getting hit. I do believe that the 1% will ramp up significantly over the next few weeks. If you think it could hit you, make the changes now rather than getting hit and then waiting weeks for the penalty to "maybe" be lifted.
8:28 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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HuskyPup wrote:
That's how I read it...one would have thought that IF they can identify this 1% then surely the logical thing to do would be to advise those sites?

There are over 196 million (196,000,000) active domains; 1% of that is nearly 2 million. It's not exactly reasonable to inform each of those sites individually. Granted, it's not likely that all of those domains are indexed by Google, but it would still be a very large number.

However, all of that is irrelevant because this change affects 1% of searches, not 1% of websites. There are apparently around 3 billion (3,000,000,000) searches done on Google, globally, per day. Since 1% of that is 30 million (30,000,000) searches and each search encompasses a constantly shifting set of multiple websites, the task becomes even more unreasonable.

Slashus wrote:
Lets hope the kid that cures cancer doesn't try to monetize too much or he'll be on the second page and pandalized.

I don't think the kid that cures cancer is going to be too worried about monetizing their website. Of course, I'm sure the hundreds of thousands of natural backlinks they would get for that achievement would more than drown out a poor design decision.

--
Ryan
2:39 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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This is one of those situations where it would be nice to get some coordination from the Adsense advisors pushing you into more and more agressive placement. A quick heads up would be in order.

Anyway, I made changes to my site to make things less top heavy, and it's a big hit on CTR. I'll probably switch to a CPM banner network at this point.
2:44 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@universetoday - did you notice a ranking drop on the 19th which you feel came from this new algorithm component? Or are you just being "protective in advance"?

I agree that there seems to be a disconnect between these two Google teams - has been for a long time.
2:50 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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rlange wrote:
Of course, I'm sure the hundreds of thousands of natural backlinks they would get for that achievement would more than drown out a poor design decision.


I hear you Ryan. And right after that kid is out of the Google sandbox for getting too many links too fast, we'll all grow old together...

I'm just being overly cynical, nvm me.
2:53 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Adsense advisors pushing you into more and more agressive placement.

The last time I talked to a member of the AdSense Optimization team the AdSense person did say (when asked specifically) that too many ads above the fold might affect ranking in the serps.

That was a couple months ago.

.
4:09 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Unless the hit my site took is a complete coincidence, a single large above the fold ad is enough.

I have lost most of my 1st places in the UK SERPS, and the sites that have moved up are Wikipedia (no ads) and a site with internally served ads so I think one way to avoid this may be to sell ads directly rather than use a network.
4:13 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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> a single large above the fold ad is enough.

How large? 336 x 280?
5:01 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Wondering if it has anything to do with Facebook putting a massive banner on millions of profiles (oops.. timeline)
6:04 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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@tedster - I don't think I was hit, but I'd need more days to confirm. Friday's search traffic was essentially the same as last week's.

So, I'm being cautious and using my common sense. The old placement was too agressive, and the new one is better.

It's just that the new one suffers a 25% drop in CTR.
6:08 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The last time I talked to a member of the AdSense Optimization team the AdSense person did say (when asked specifically) that too many ads above the fold might affect ranking in the serps.


So, the teams do interact, then?
7:14 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I was just checking "random website" for some plane tickets , I do it every week and just noticed the new change ..... is this what we going to expect from webmasters under google's pressure ? Its just pathetic ! I noticed this on few others big websites, all the content is to the left and not centered anymore. I have been talking about content zoning since 3-4 months now since I noticed some weird stuff around and I can promise you this "update" has been in effect for a while now.

[edited by: Donna at 7:38 am (utc) on Jan 21, 2012]

7:16 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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"As weíve mentioned previously, weíve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and itís difficult to find the actual content, they arenít happy with the experience"

Who's believe in this quote? I don't, what kind of users are those? Not the webmasters of course. Even if it's true then where to send the feed back and have some real human review it?
7:18 am on Jan 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Don't listen to Matt Cutts he is waste of time, If Google changes its algo, what you think they will tell you & do? You got be stupid to think that way.
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