Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Webspam, tweeted that the search engine recently refreshed its Page Layout algorithm, effective February 6th.
SEO folks: we recently launched a refresh of this algorithm: http://t.co/KKSXm8FqZW Visible to outside world on ~Feb. 6th.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) February 10, 2014
This particular algorithm targets websites that offer a poor initial experience when users land on the page by clicking on a Google search result. The company identifies any page that “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” as the type of page that will be negatively affected. The algorithm was first announced in January 2012. This is the second time it has been refreshed since its inception.
Google explains that this algorithm change will impact fewer than 1% of searches around the world. They go on to suggest that webmasters who believe their sites were negatively affected by the refresh should consider updating the layout of the affected pages with a strong focus on the area above-the-fold. In other words, relevant content should be immediately visible to users.
As always, make sure the experience of a specific page will directly benefit the user for the queries that you want that page to rank for. As user experience becomes more prominent in Google’s algorithm, every website should strive to satisfy its users and potential users in the best way possible.