The Page Layout Algorithm and Other 2012 Google Updates

The Page Layout Algorithm and Other 2012 Google Updates  

It’s only February, but Google is already hard at work making changes to its algorithm. By the end of 2012, Google is expected to make over 500 changes to the way its Googlebot crawls sites.

 The Page Layout Algorithm Update, announced in January, penalizes sites that place excessive amounts of advertisements on the top half of the web page. Google had received user complaints about content being buried under advertisement blocks. When users click a hyperlink they want to see relevant content, not a collage of ads that make it hard for them to find any content at all.

  • If you have been affected by this Google algorithm change, you should minimize the percentage of your “above-the-fold” real estate roped off for advertisements. If you are using a WordPress template for your page layout, try switching to a layout that allows you to format advertisements in a side bar rather than a top bar. Note: After making changes, it could take several weeks or longer for you to see your site rise back up in the rankings. Your site’s size and architecture will affect how long it takes for Google to re-crawl the updated site.   
  • If your site wasn’t top heavy in the first place, you probably saw no to little change in your rankings. In fact, Google said that only 1 in 100 searches would be affected.

With the introduction of a November 2011 algorithm, Google vowed to knock low-quality sites down the rankings ladder, while pushing high quality sites straight to the top. Dubbed Google Panda after Google engineer Naveneet Panda, the algorithm sent a strong message to web developers that sites must be first and foremost user-friendly.

So it should come as no surprise that Google would update its algorithm in a way that forces web site owners to scrub the top half of their viewers’ screens of unsightly and distracting advertisements. The algorithm rewards sites with most of the space above the fold dedicated to relevant content that includes the keywords for which the user is looking.

Several other 2012 tweaks to Google’s algorithm confirm the search engine’s focus on assuring its users are able to quickly locate the most recent, quality information.     

  • The Freshness Algorithm released in November 2011 has also been updated since the start of the New Year. Google called the updates “minor” and said they are intended to turn the “freshest, most relevant results.” Google also said that it has improved the way it detects and determines the date of a document in hopes of producing, “more timely results, particularly for pages discussing recurring events.”
  • Blending News and Search Results Google changed its algorithm to identify specific queries which should show news results and how to blend those news results with other search results so that they appear only when relevant.
  • Rolling Panda Updates In January, Google said that it “improved how Panda interacts with our indexing and ranking systems, making it more integrated into our pipelines.”

Google’s New Year Resolution for 2012 is to “…focus on creating a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google…” My advice to any small business owner is to create a website in which every single component is designed with the user in mind. Instead of trying to predict Google’s every algorithm shift, a more holistic approach is to make sure that your SEO doesn’t create a poor user experience.

The Klik Blog is written by Klik Marketing founder and president Eric Fransen. Eric has been involved with the Internet Marketing industry since the late 1990’s.

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