Did you know that Google looks at the structure of the content on a page when they determine rankings? It’s true. So if certain things are higher than others or stuffed all into one area they actually consider that when delivering search engine listings. Google recently made an update to the way they evaluate page structure, and as always this news was broke by SEO dictator Matt Cutts. Let’s look at a tweet by him on the subject.
Minor weather report: Update of goo.gl/OpIDL launching today. ~0.7% of English queries noticeably affected.
In his Tweet Matt references a link that talks about an earlier update to the Google algorithm. You can read the full post here. But the most important part is probably this.
“We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change.
If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.”
We are not the only people who have this sentiment; Danny Sullivan referenced this same passage in a recent article on Search Engine Land.
So what does this mean? Well, basically this means that .07% of websites online have been affected by this change and most of them were sites with too many ads at the top of the page. As a general rule of thumb, I usually say that if you have to scroll down to see the content or if you have more than 3 ads above the fold that are fairly large, you may want to revise the layout. Otherwise, you could be penalized by Google during updates such as this.