Google's search algorithm has received a new important update that deals with its Page Layout filter. This planned update on the filter was first publicized back in January 2012. The Top Heavy update eventually came about within a two-week period. Throughout those 14 days, Google did the twentieth Panda update, the first EMD update, the third Penguin update, and the second Top Heavy update. With that said, the layout algorithm update has little to do with either Penguin or Panda.
Furthermore, the Layout Algorithm of Google helps improve the user experience by finding websites that have more web content than ad content. For the longest time, people kept ending up at sites that dedicate more of their site real estate with banner ads or other ad types instead of relevant, interesting material.
Websites that Dedicate Screen Real Estate to Ads Beware
If you have the type of website wherein the first thing that greets your visitors is a slew of ads, then you're ruining the user experience of these individuals. Google brought upon the page layout algorithm for the sake of keeping its user base from visiting such spam-like sites (and indeed, many spammers do fill their websites with tons of ads on the landing or main page). This change can affect your site if you don't have much content at the topmost portion of your site, only endless ads and solicitations. If you value your search engine results page (SERP) ranking and your Google-assisted traffic, then you'll do away with excessive ads so that your website will bring about more quality content for its users.
How to Judge Whether You Have Too Little Actual Content
At present, the sites most affected by the update are English-language sites found through English queries. If you want to judge whether or not your website has too little actual content at the first page that your visitor will end up in, then you should use Google's own Browser Size Analysis Tool (which serves as a successor to the now-retired Browser Size Tool) to help you sort things out. The other ways you can recover from this latest algorithm standard entails changing your page layout to emphasize content more than ad space.
Then again, if your site has already been crawled by Google, changing the layout and having that change reflect on your SERP ranking will take time. The search engine can "re-crawl" your site in order to process any layout updates, but this is limited to how fast Google's spiders can go through your site as well as the number of pages your website has (which can take weeks). Offline processing can also further delay any of your attempts to update the look of your site so that you won't be punished severely by Google because of your non-user-friendly layout.
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