Google Page Layout Algorithm Update and Its Recovery

The search engine giant ‘Google’ is making innovative tweaks and trends to its algorithms. One of them is google page layout algorithm update. We have already made such awful experiences from those algorithm updates. Previously The Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates were supposed to be the death of spammers. But on February 6, 2014 Google rolled out one of its ancient updates for page layout which is known as the Top Heavy 2. It was made to ensure the best user experiences through the appropriate search results.

Google has the intention to deliver the most related and appropriate results for every single search query. It wants to show only cats results on cats queries, not dogs instead. The willing is seemed alive through its results. But since a few years, they started to experience higher amounts of reports against spammy sites. The fact was the users receiving correct results, but they felt depressed when finding the required contents in the listed pages. Sometimes they needed to scroll, scroll and scroll to get into the starting of the contents. The most disgusting thing was the ads. Some sites were messed with so many ads from the top that it was really hard to find the main content.

So, finally Google took an effective decision to refresh their page layout algorithm against spammy signs. That was the first so called “Top Heavy” update on January 19, 2012. As there was no exact name of this change, it was suspected as a similar pattern of Panda. The update inclined to check the things above the fold. It was mainly for refreshing up the sites with too many ads on the top. That is why it attained a so called name “Top Heavy”.

October 9, 2012, Google again announced to roll out their previous page layout algorithm update. It was supposed to be the “Top Heavy 2”. And finally in February 6, 2014 it has been rolled out for the third time.

SEO folks: we recently launched a refresh of this algorithm: Visible to outside world on ~Feb. 6th.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) February 10, 2014

This time it was really strict with its intention. The previous versions of this update were almost unknown, but this time it has shaken off all doubts. Many sites have badly affected by this update. So, I have come here to ensure the mistakes, why it affected those sites:

Top Heavy Affected Site layout

Common Mistakes to Avoid After Google Top Heavy Update

#1 Putting on Too Many Ads Above The Fold

According to its name, the first and foremost mistake was extensive ad placements above the fold. Putting on ads is not spammy at all as thousand of popular websites do. But the placement and amount should be reasonable. Placing about 4-5 ads all above the fold is a great sign of spammy resources. It doesn’t make sense that it will make more impressions, more money. It may temporarily generate extra revenues, but the consequences will be more horrible than you would ever think. The ads have to be in the right place where the users don’t feel disturbed and enjoy the exclusive ads as well.

Solution: Expecting good user experience, try to limit the ads to only one or highest two. The ad placement shouldn’t be established by the replacement of contents. It should be on the blank or unused spaces. As an example, we mainly see websites having large blanks beside the logos. We can utilize it with a horizontal banner. That seems pretty good and doesn’t disturb the visitors. If you are looking to place another, you should probably look into the sidebar. But my suggestion would be for only one ad or banner above the fold.

#2 Making Lacks of Contents Above The Fold

If you are placing 3-4 ads all above the fold, there won’t be any comfortable space for contents. The first un-scrolled view of a website is considered as the contents above the fold. The contents after scrolling will be considered as the contents below the fold. So it is true, there won’t be any space for contents above the fold if you are placing too many ads as the example image. And that is the second reason why sites were affected. Google analyzed whether the websites were able or not to cover up a few points of the content above the fold. The websites having almost no content before the fold, had badly affected by this update.

Solution: Put your contents at the top and push the ads down below it. The update only affected sites with unnatural things above the fold. So you have to make sure there is nothing much instead of contents. Well, many people have the desire to generate incomes from websites. They may think reducing ads will reduce their income. It may be a little bit, but the algorithm update would end up all of your earning possibilities. So I am sure you won’t be living in the fool’s paradise.

#3 Leading Extremely Poor Site Structure

Site structure means on what the site is based. So this credit goes to the designers, but their mistakes could also result into penalty. A good website structure is logo > navigation > contents > sidebar > others from the top to bottom sequence. So if a designer places sidebar or others before contents, the contents would be generally below the fold. And that is the mistake what Google is expecting to make penalty.

Solution: This time the website owner has to be serious when choosing or designing structures. They should choose the theme structured with contents at almost the top and then others. Excellent site structure doesn’t mean to have only high resolution graphics, items and others. The best structure is the best placement of all the website contents. And the contents should be started exactly from far above the fold.

#4 Putting on Ads Before Main Contents

It is one of the most common faults what we generally experience with blogs. The owner of the blogs places one or two large square ads just after the title. As a result, it pushes the main contents down. In fact, sometimes the contents are made to start from below the fold. So that is a common reason what causes lack of contents before the fold. Many sites with this bad quality have penalized by this algorithmic Google Top Heavy update.

Solution: I would advise to shake off the habits of placing ads after title. I think, contents are the most valuable part of the website. So there shouldn’t be any promotion mixed up with it. You should practice to place ads beside contents not in the main content area. However, if you really want to place one, you should choose a small horizontal banner that doesn’t take much space from the main content area.

#5 Using Large Images Above The Fold

Image would say thousand valuable words than contents. And it is the most appealing part of a website. Using images is a good practice and will be good for the upcoming days. But that doesn’t mean to block a far way with images above the fold. If we put a full width image in the starting of a content, it will block a large space and however there won’t be any appearance of contents. So these types of websites were also affected by the update.

Solution: Images are part and parcel of a website. So, it is a must to put on the images. But the placement should be below the fold. You should try to avoid bigger images as it causes slow page speed. Instead of it, you should use small or medium but clear images. It is fine to use large images below the fold because this update won’t gonna check it. But you may be affected by the future updates for slow page loading because large images take much time to completely load.

Being Affected By “Top Heavy”? Don’t Worry, You Can Easily Fix It

Is your website being affected by Google’s page layout algorithm update? Did you lose all of your organic traffic? Don’t be so sad. Because its an algorithmic penalty not manual. Algorithmic penalty is made to detect and affect sites against the bad qualities. So it could be retained by resolving those faults. If it was a manual penalty, you would have to work very hard to recover it. So that’s the plus point for us.

As I tried to point out the 5 major mistakes, you have to improve all of these five. Then wait for a few days to make Google spiders crawl your site again. It could take many days, but if you have solved the faults, you shouldn’t worry anymore.

Advise: Google has revealed its advertisement policies through Adsense. It is recommended to use max three ad units per page. So you have to use max three ads on a single page. The best ad placement would be one ad above the fold and two ads below the fold. If you want to have two ads above the fold besides contents, there won’t be any problem at all. But you must have proper contents there. Have a look at a safe site layout below:

Safe Site Layout By Google Update

Holy Shit…!!! Google Search is Putting On More Ads Than Expected – Not Fair, Huh?

You may ask, it’s not fair that Google is using more ads than contents in search results. Why they are not affected by their own algorithm update? Lets have a look at a keyword’s search result “online car insurance”:

Google Search Results With Too Many Ads

Here we can see, a bunch of ads is on the top and right. And there is a low amount of contents right below the ads. The ads VS content proportion is approximately 70 : 30. So, why Google has not been affected yet?

It’s because, text based related ads are safe to use. We always see text based ads on the search results. These are completely related to the search terms and add value to users as well. That’s why it hadn’t been affected. If you are also using text based related ads on your website above the fold, you shouldn’t worry about google page layout algorithm update. That is safe to use. Just make sure those ads add value and not blocking spaces like banner ads.

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