February 6, 2014 marked another update to the Google ranking algorithm. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, announced on Twitter that there was a refresh of their algorithm. According to Matt, English sites do not need to worry as much. This update supposedly has affected non-English sites, such as those in Russian or Arabic.
The Purpose of the Google Algorithm Change
Google has always said that they want to give preferential rankings to websites that provide a good user experience. According to them, if websites have a lot of ads at the top of the fold (aka “Above The Fold”), then this violates their agenda (the Google Terms and Conditions).
Does Google look down on websites with endless scrolling?
Above the fold refers to the top part of a web page that a user can see without having to scroll down. It’s a subjective view and highly dependent on the type of screen the website visitor is using. If they are viewing from a desktop, their top-of-the-fold view could be much more than the view from a mobile phone. The above-the-fold view from a tablet could show more real estate than a smartphone’s view.
History of the Google Page Layout Algorithm
This is not the first time that Google has rolled out a page layout algorithm update. Google first added this type of update in January 2012. Its next update occurred in October of 2012.
If you look at the top part of your page and the very first thing you see front and center, top above the fold is ads right there, then you might want to ask yourself, ‘do I have the best user experience?’ Because we are working on an algorithm in the next iteration of that algorithm to try and catch some of that,” said Matt Cutts in an October Pubcon event.
Webmasters and SEOs in the internet marketing industry are thinking that Google might be targeting websites that use a technique called endless scrolling. This technique tends to have sites that have a lot of whitespace and more than normal font size.
Check to see if your site was affected by this Google update
To find out if your website has been affected, view your Google Webmaster Tools stats. Look to see if there is a dip in search impressions or queries. As part of a sound, strategic marketing plan, I always encourage website owners to have a google web master tools account at the very least, if not a Bing webmaster tools account, as well. These give valuable insight into what the search engines think about your website.
Contact me, your San Diego SEO expert, if you need any help with anything mentioned in this blog post.