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What is Google’s Page Layout Algorithm?

When webmasters are thinking about how to create the best website possible and how to make the most of their SEO potential, they will usually be thinking about how they can create great content and build relevant links without falling foul of Google Panda and Google Penguin.  These aren’t the only metaphorical animals in the digital marketing jungle, however.

Although it doesn’t have an animal kingdom related name, Google has a page layout algorithm that could deliver severe damage to your hopes of seeing your site rank highly.

This algorithm has actually been around since January 2012, but is one of the lesser talked about elements of Google in a world where we’re all scared of Pandas and Penguins.

A refresh of the Google page layout algorithm in February 2014 has got people talking about it once again.

What is it?

Google’s page layout algorithm is, like Google Panda, looking at the quality of a page and how good the user experience is for a human browser.

In late 2013, Google announced that they were working on the updates that launched in February 2014, although didn’t go into any detail around what the algorithm update would be targeting. What are the considerations you need to make to ensure your site is ticking the boxes when it comes to the Google page layout algorithm?

Landing Page Ads

Adverts on web pages are going to be around forever, but Google are increasingly concerned with where these are on the page. The page layout algorithm looks to mark down pages where adverts are the main feature, rather than the content. What does a user see when they land on a page of your website? Do they see easy navigation and a great piece of content, as they will be expecting to, or do they see a large, half page or bigger advert?

Ads are fine, but think about how they affect user experience when visitors aren’t looking for them.

Information above the Fold

How much information there is above the fold on a page has long been talked about as a user experience metric, and is a key component of the page layout algorithm. Some sites have thin content above the fold irrespective of whether they have adverts on page or not.

Some sites look to get all of their information above the fold so there is no scrolling required by users. Those sites who find this difficult should look to do whatever they can to minimise the scrolling required – but remember that a little scrolling is better than a cluttered, messy page!

Continuous Scrolling

Some sites, inspired by social sites like Facebook and Pinterest, are using continuous scrolling features on their page. While Google acknowledge this is a great feature for a social network or a blog, they’re not massive fans of it on what could be regular pages selling products or services.

If you have the kind of site that warrants continuous scrolling, then use it, but don’t have it on your site just to have a quirky design feature, as you could well find your site falling foul of the page layout algorithm.

Ensure your website is well laid and delivers a great user experience, and Google’s page layout algorithm will see you in a favourable light.

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Posted · Feb 21, 2014
Categories · On-Page Optimisation.
Related Articles · Why You Should Set Up Google Analytics Goals. Why do Some Low Quality Sites Still Achieve High Search Rankings?. Why is Usability an Important SEO Factor?. The Importance of Good Site Design for SEO. Why Should a Company Think about SEO?. What are the Benefits of SEO?. How to Optimize for Google. What Is Google Panda?. The Importance of a Good Website Structure for SEO. List of Search Engine Algorithm Factors.

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