Well, we knew the day would come eventually. Google has just announced the first noticeable algorithm update of 2014.
If it seems like the SEO community is not throwing confetti to celebrate, here’s why:
This particular update is targeted towards websites that over-capitalize on advertising areas above the fold. This version of the update is not projected to have a major impact on search results. However, the repercussions of this update will still be felt by certain websites who place too many banners ads on their sites.
The Effect of Earlier Versions:
The first Page Layout Algorithm change/penalty was released back in early 2012. It was estimated that 1 in 100 searches were affected by this algorithm. Its aim was to deter webmasters from placing too many ads above the fold, which would detract from the user experience.
From Google’s perspective, the purpose of a website is to share information about a particular industry or sell a product. While banner advertising is absolutely fine, we feel it is best practice to look at your website from a different perspective. You should always ask yourself, “Am I delivering the information my end users are looking for at a higher priority than advertising?”
Is your website more advertisements than great content?
The Browser Size Tool from Google Labs is a great tool to help identify if your website is potentially in the line of fire of this new update. It can be found here: http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/
At the end of the day, we have to rely on common sense and think like our end users. Is their experience positive? Do you feel like they will learn about your products rather than being pushed to click on a banner ad which leads to another site? If the answer is anything other than yes, it may be time to consider changing your website’s appearance.