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Page Layout Algorithm Update. 0.7% English Queries Affected

   
7:10 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...]

And matt cutts just announced it on twitter: [twitter.com...]

[edited by: tedster at 7:14 pm (utc) on Oct 9, 2012]
[edit reason] make Twitter link clickable [/edit]

7:15 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Here's a useful quote from the Google blog article:

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. How long that takes will depend on several factors, including the number of pages on your site and how efficiently Googlebot can crawl the content. On a typical website, it can take several weeks for Googlebot to crawl and process enough pages to reflect layout changes on the site.
7:23 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)



That is a great nugget there, tedster. I'm scared to trust it, but it gives me a *little* more courage as far as testing goes.
7:28 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Page layout algorithm = make it easier for GOOG to scrape and use in Knowledge graph..... Why are we not just handed a few templates we can use?
7:49 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Totally, totally unbelievable that G can put out another update so soon after the last lot.

It may be aimed at confusing SEO people but there is simply no way G themselves can analyse the effect of the individual updates over the last couple of months - there are simply too many of them.

System and user testing have been forgotten by G, it's typically American. It could never happen in the UK - well not in a UK business where I was the user test manager.

And just to be clear, financially and SERPS speaking overall I'm doing OK. But G are breaking all the established and well proven methods of software development at the moment.
7:55 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I must say I was enjoying quite a lot the response by netmeg on Cutts Twitter post. Absolutely classic and I love the caps.

I've read the details of this. I'm confused completely. Am I the only one a bit baffled about what this algo update really is all about?
8:29 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I thought google already released a content above the fold update a while back. These days I am so lost in all the fud I do not know what is going on.
8:43 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

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This appears to be some tweaks to the above the fold update that happened on Jan 19th.
10:14 pm on Oct 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



They provide a tool to help you see your site with different browser resolutions, but the tool doesn't work for me (never has). I enter my url, and it just redirects to my site. What's the point? [browsersize.googlelabs.com...]

Looks like my sites fell several pages today, but I have very few ads (maybe one or two pages out of 100 have a single ad). This is just more FUD.
3:48 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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So do graphics count as content or just text? How about site navigation?
3:49 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



You can see browser sizes from Google Analytics. Scroll down to content, choose experiments/inpage Analytics and then on the bar right above your page view, choose the browser size button.
3:55 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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ahhh so that is why iam seeing changes. Some of sites with deeper pages, which got boost in recent penguin and emd updates, i see them sink again a little bit. I also see in rare cases some of spammy root domains, which were massively affected by panda and penguin rise again!
4:02 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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It appears to me that Google divides up the page into three categories: Content, Ads, and Other. Its the Content to Ad ratio for the above the fold area that counts.

Here is how I think they are counting it:

Ads

  • Ads
  • Affiliate banners
  • Affiliate links


Other

  • Whitespace
  • Boilerplate text (used on multiple pages)
  • Navigation
  • Logos and template images
  • Forms
  • Teasers
  • Call to actions (although this might actually be counted as ads in some cases)
  • Narrow left and right columns
  • Headers
  • Footers



Content

  • Sentences and paragraphs
  • Images
  • Flash


If the content is duplicated across pages, it is most likely put into the "other" category.
4:08 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Above the fold? This is what i see when i type credit cards in google, filled with money. Most likely they are making money on every single Credit Cards query.

[s14.postimage.org...]
4:19 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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They sure do load up some of their pages with ads. They have defended the practice saying that they only do it on some queries, but not on the vast majority of queries. They say they wouldn't penalize a website that had just a few such pages.

I personally use Ad Block Plus anytime I browse the web. Especially on Google, but even on my own site. I don't want to see them. Given the effectiveness of ad blocking and how easy it is to use and set up, it seems to me that if users don't want ads, they won't see them.
4:41 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Google.com forces me to scroll down to see "content" below their barrage of ads more than any other site I might use.

So do graphics count as content or just text? How about site navigation?


That's the real issue. Videos too - are they advertisements or content? What is the difference, exactly?
4:41 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I am in shock.

January 19th, my life changed. My main website, which was at the time my bread and butter, was absolutely destroyed overnight by either the Panda update or the page layout update. It didn't help that both updates were released alongside one another.

The website had no adverts on the majority of pages and a max of 1 Google ad per page. Taking that in to account, neither myself nor any SEO's who looked at the site, believed it could possibly be the ATF update.

That aside, I didn't believe it was Panda, as we'd never been hit by any of the past panda update. So I absolutely tore the site apart, redesigned the pages but nothing made a difference.

I then had no choice but to focuse on Panda. But nothing I did, had any effect on the traffic.

Then suddenly today, my traffic is going through the roof, naturally I come here to find out what might be going on.

Reading this thread and discovering this update, I'm pretty shocked to say the least.

I can only imagine it was due to the fact the pages were image heavy, low in textual content and regardless of the fact the ad was below the fold, I think it was more to do with text/ad ratio.

Perhaps this update has taken art and other graphically heavy websites in to account.
6:20 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Above the fold? This is what i see when i type credit cards in google, filled with money. Most likely they are making money on every single Credit Cards query.


Holy!

To be honest, ALL google ads are ALWAYS above-the-fold. They have never ran an ad that is below the content (search results).

If you print out the credit card example page and fold it horizontally in half - over 80% of it is ads.

Google, you naughty rascal!
6:29 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Congrats realmaverick. I've been waiting for a day like that as well. Yesterday was pretty good for my site (10% up from the day before), but no where near a full recovery from Jan 19th.

I'm sure this update is trying to do a better job of defining what is content. It just doesn't appear to have worked for my site.
7:25 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



Netmeg, what do you suppose the \_( )_/ in Matt Cutts response to your tweet means? I removed the middle character because my browser doesn't allow some special characters and WW converts the middle part to alt code.

I thought that Google ALWAYS evaluated template on all pages, all the time, since the beginning so I'm quite surprised to see this announcement. It suggests that Google had been grabbing the meaty part of pages(content) and ignoring all else for the most part.

It appears to me that Google divides up the page into three categories: Content, Ads, and Other.

The Google rater handbook breaks it down into 3 parts. Content, Ads and Related Content and yes, the related content needs to be there and that section also receives a rating. There is an entire section of the handbook devoted to rating the "related" information section of the page.
7:34 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I still see tons of brandspam occupying top places despite the fact their their tired generic content(?) is buried under the same mass of ads and navigational clutter as all their other pages with zero unique graphics. Are they exempt from every update? If Google's results are poor then this is the main reason why.
8:21 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



@superclown2

There is definitely an authority threshold where the Panda / Penguin / ATF rules don't apply anymore. Every niche has its own examples of sites that thrive while doing things that would bury less authoritative sites.

I obviously have no insight into what that threshold is, but I know it's my goal to try and get there.
9:31 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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There is definitely an authority threshold where the Panda / Penguin / ATF rules don't apply anymore. Every niche has its own examples of sites that thrive while doing things that would bury less authoritative sites.

I obviously have no insight into what that threshold is, but I know it's my goal to try and get there.


Since this is such an obvious weakness in the SERPs I've no doubt Google will tackle it eventually. I'm impressed with this Page Layout Algorith in the meanwhile, it's logical - those who put masses of ads before the fold obviously are more interested in their visitors clicking an ad than reading the content, which shows how much faith they have in it. Well done Google, anything that rewards good content is good for the majority of visitors. More please!
10:01 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



All of the sites in verticals that i watch in top positions follow a similar layout design with or without ads.

This will have to be improved as it gives the impression of cloning design for Google with little visual variety. But the other part of this is that design is driven by a competitors success as well
10:22 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)



realmaverick,

could you provide a generic mock-up grid of what your layout looks like now?
11:29 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Vuffy, funnily enough, 4 months in to the drop, I reverted back to my original design. As it was the design members were happy with. So it's almost identical now, as to what it was back then.

Obviously the update has worked in my favour. I don't know how much of a recovery the website is going to make. I noticed Matt said it will effect 0.7% of English searches, does that suggest it's not yet rolled out for foreign searches?

If you feel it may help you, I can still provide a mockup of the page(s) that have the ads on them.
12:07 am on Oct 11, 2012 (gmt 0)



@sand, I think that threshold is somewhere at 70+ DA. Just a guess from what I've been seeing.
12:13 am on Oct 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



nice to hear some more details about a update this time, you know what you have done wrong if you are punished with this update. If just we could get such detail about Panda.
12:22 am on Oct 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Zeus, TBH I feel this update is no different to Panda. Although on the surface it appears straight forward, too many ads = penalty and thus an easy fix.

But in my own experience, it wasn't at all like that. We were hit on the day it was released and we're recovering with this update. But as I said above, we only had 1 ad max per page.

As usual with Google, updates are released with an objective in mind, they just don't seem to work exactly as planned once released in to the wild.
1:02 am on Oct 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



If just we could get such detail about Panda.

I think we're getting better clarity. If you think of Panda as a hub, and each of the other updates as spokes for refinement, it does allow focus on the elements.

As each element surfaces, the focus on Panda reduces - IMO

Bottom line is there's a laundry list of things to do.

If you go to most of the popular verticals, you'll see which non brand sites are ranking and often see similarity in design layout. Most brands are not that dissimilar either.
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