Last night Google announced a new update to their search algorithm. It will be one of about 500 this year and comes into effect immediately

The blog post announcing the update does not mention the series of Panda improvements Google has been making in order to combat content farms but the algorithm update is very much of that family. The tweak punishes those webpages who have content that is too difficult to find.

What counts as too difficult to find? Google explains that the algorithm change will punish sites that are dominated by ads above the fold. In other words, if users have to scroll down to find text on your site then there is a chance this update will impact your search rankings.

Google expects less than 1% of all searches, globally, to be impacted. They define that as 1 in every 100 searches by a typical user.

What does it mean for your site? It means you may have to think again if you plan to have adverts dominating the top of your layout. Google has not mentioned those content sites that intercept clicks with pull page ads and a time delay before allowing users into the main content but it would be easy to speculate that such ads are either already governed by a previous Panda update or will be hit in a future one.

Google does provide a tool to let you judge whether your site may be impacted by this algorithm update. The browser size tool is free and easy and reveals the percentage of visitors who would have to scroll to reach a “midway” point on your site.

It is likely that the demands for SEO savvy usability teams will rise as Google continues to ward of anti-monopoly measures and is transparent about some of their updates. The search engine is likely to pick headline algorithm announcements that tend to impact low quality, often unpopular, sites and encourage better web behaviour and design through their influence. In doing so Google helps itself avoid claims that it is too secretive about its hugely powerful collection of algorithms.

It also means that some forms of homepage take over become less popular or more expensive. As site owners risk their traffic based on site designs many will become less willing to overload, if even briefly, on ads.

By Andrew Girdwood - Taken from The Wall. Social Media Marketing: Blogged

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