Google Panda Page Layout Algorithm Update
In January, Google rolled out a change to its Panda algorithm to improve the quality of searches. The change examines the layout of a page and determines what is seen when a user clicks through. A good result will take a user directly to the content that was searched for.
The change was implemented due to user complaints that searched content was difficult to find after clicking a result. Searchers do not want to have to scroll past advertisements to get to what they want. Sites that present with large blocks of ads upon loading instead of relevant content are a poor experience for the user. Such sites will have a lower rank in the future.
Having ads at the top of a web page is a common practice, as it helps webmasters to monetize content. The change to the algorithm will not affect sites that contain a normal amount of ads, but will penalize those that devote an excessive amount of space to advertising above the fold. Packing the top of a page with ads moves content down and frustrates the user.
It is estimated the change will affect less than one percent of all searches conducted on Google. This would lead to results being reordered for one in 100 searches. Any webmaster who notices a change in ranking should look over their site and reconsider the presentation of ads to content. Google offers a browser resizing tool to help webmasters see how their site looks in different resolutions and across devices. There are other tools available as well.
Any changes to a webpage’s layout will be updated immediately after the next full crawl. The length of time it takes for the process to complete depends on the number of pages on the site, and how well the crawler can read the content. Most websites require several weeks of crawling before the changes show up in search results.
In the meantime, Google encourages webmasters to concentrate on providing the best possible content and to not worry about the algorithm adjustment, as it is only one of 500 changes planned for 2012.