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In a nutshell, they are penalizing pages that place advertising more prominently than the actual content of the page so that the user has to scroll or look for the content instead if seeing it immediately upon arriving at the page.
As with most things in SEO there is no magic number or clear line between good and bad so the same rule applies which is that you need to use your common sense and judge for yourself… WITHOUT your business performance head on.
According to the announcement on the Google Blog, “As we’ve mentioned previously, 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.”
How do your pages stand against this update?
Google are suggesting you use its Google Browser Size tool or something similar so that you can see what a user sees based on their screen size and resolution.
As with all their algorithm updates, this is again in favour of the user so it’s not a witch hunt as many often claim when these updates come along. In fact, it seems somewhat ironic that many sites carry Google ads anyway so you have to tip your hat to Google on this one. Will Reynolds actually writes a good post about this in Never Worry About an Algorithm Update Again, a History where he talks about the merits of focusing on ”doing hard work & connecting with customers” instead of racing to beat the search engines.
This approach to SEO is one we hold very close to heart at Red Mud Media because we feel the effort it takes to chase algorithms could just as well be spent on great content and social media… the tricky bit is managing client expectations because as we all know, doing it in this way can take a bit longer and requires patience to see the ROI figures that the marketing and business teams crave.
A more in depth discussion around the update has been published by Danny Sullivan on SearchEngineLand that includes diagrams and videos.
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