Almost perfectly timed to coincide with the end of Sherlock (the office is still dissecting the episode for clues) Google introduced a mystery of its own last week with a new page layout algorithm.
The algorithm is said to be in response to complaints about the experience of not being able to find content above-the-fold on websites due a large amount of ads. The following may be an example of such a site:
Google has said that it does not punish sites that that place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree. Although what’s ‘normal’ is open to interpretation.
Let us assume that Google has created this algorithm with good intention and users experience as the core belief then let we can look at the impact of their decision. The revenue generated by ads above-the-fold can be quiet significant to a small site, these may have to be curtailed in order to prevent the site moving down the search rankings (i.e. the reordering of results). If you alter the layout of the website (which can be costly) then it may take time for the site to move back to its original position.
Although there is no clear cut way to know if your site requires an update, the impact of moving down the search listings will be reflected in hits on the page and consequently revenue.
The reduction in number of ads above the fold will mean that those that are shifted below-the-fold should warrant a reduction in amount paid per click. The client then has the option of reinvesting any budget to other resources. This may seem cynical but it does seem like a clever tactic by Google to ensure increase revenue by controlling the location of ads on websites.
So the mystery is how much is too much and how do you know that your site has been affected. Seeing as the algorithm is already in affect you may want to check your analytics now to avoid the pain staking process of waiting for your site to climb the search engine ranking.
We are sure that we would not fall foul due to our amazing design skills, but I may just pop and have a look!