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Google Announces Layout Algorithm Improvement

Google has launched an algorithmic update that evaluates the layout of a webpage. The latest change looks at the layout of a page as well as the amount of content featured on a page, and will negatively affect sites that don't have enough content "above-the-fold," such as sites where users have to scroll down the page past several ads to find content.

Google assures webmasters and site owners that the page layout algorithm change will not affect sites that feature a "normal" amount of ads above the fold. However, if a site features an "excessive degree" of ads or makes it difficult for users to find quality content on the page, it will not rank as highly. The search giant did not disclose the difference between "normal" and "excessive." However, in a blog post announcing the change, Google's Matt Cutts advised site owners and webmasters to use the company's Browser Size tool to evaluate how a website appears under various screen solutions.

"If you believe that your website has been affected by the page layout algorithm change, consider how your web pages use the area above-the-fold and whether the content on the page is obscured or otherwise hard for users to discern quickly," said Cutts.

According to Google, the latest algorithmic change affects less than 1 percent of searches worldwide. Sites with updated layouts will be automatically crawled and indexed by Google. So if your site is affected by the update, simply make the changes and wait for Googlebot to crawl and process enough pages on your site, a process that can take up to several weeks.

- Melanie Saxe

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Jan 23, 2012