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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
...it's not a numbers game. Google hasn't written their algorithm to punish sites with, say, 20 ads above the fold, as opposed to the site owner who only has 19 showing. No, from the Cutts/Google perspective, the algorithm alteration inspects pages to see how the space, especially above the fold, is being used.
In fact, Google isn't concerned about the number of ads at all. Instead, they just don't want these ads — however many are appearing above the fold — taking up too much space.
@netmeg, I thought exactly the same, why roll out 2 changes at the same time? Surely they want to monitor the effects of each seperately?