Google’s New Anti-Banner Algorithm


In what seems to be a monthly update to considerable piss off site-owners, Google has announced a new change to their algorithm that will significant affect millions of website owners. The change, dubbed by Google as the “Page Layout Algorythm” is focused on hurting sites that have too many banners above the fold, and not very much content.

 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.

While in their own explanation, they point out that they will not be penalizing sites that have “normal” above-the-fold ads; they will be seriously targeting sites that have “too many.” Of course, they aren’t sharing what normal means, except to explain that its any site that pushes too much content down the page in exchange for banners.

Already people have written on Matt Cutts blog with angry comments about, this including “Daniel Roofer”

Matt Cutts, you are perhaps the most awful hypocrite on the www. Now perhaps you could explain why it’s acceptable for Google to go ahead with this “not a very good user experience” approach to above-the-fold ads in their own search result pages, but when small businesses do the same they suffer loss of revenues because of your hypocritcal policies? You are starving small websites of the opportuniy to earn revenue while creaming it off yourself.

Backlink marketer, Cyrus Pickens commented,

Thank You. Now I understand what happened to my site. I was ranking on the first page ( number 4 spot) and then yesterday I dropped to number 61. I made no changes to my site. Income has completely dried up. I have 2 adsense blocks at the very top. I just removed them. Hopefully I will return to my previous position.. Google is trying to destroy affiliates.

Mark Williams at iCrossing, appropriately commented and echoes my thoughts:

We will have to see how far this algorithm change goes, however initial thoughts are that this could heavily affect download sites which are commonly known to heavily use (often unrelated) banner advertising. This could also affect publishers and retailers who rely on banner advertising revenues. It has been stated widely though that this change will not affect sites that use roll over, overlay or pop up banners, which have become more common these days. With this in mind maybe this change may just mop those sites which are clearly filling the entire screen with banner ads. What are your initial thoughts on this change?

What's your opinion?