October 16, 2012

Man carrying load on top of his headRecent tweaks to the Google algorithms that give websites benefits or penalties based on their layout of advertising and information have brought the issue of proper layout to the fore again. One of the reasons that this is of vital importance to Internet marketers is that websites which have been penalised for an improper layout may have to wait until the next time the algorithm is adjusted to have the penalty removed, or until their entire website can be crawled by search engine spiders. This can have a significant impact on a website’s effectiveness.

Top Heavy Content

The goal of the Google algorithm is to put the information people are most likely to be searching for “above the fold”, meaning that they do not need to scroll down to find why Google suggested that particular website in response to their query. This corresponds to the common SEO best practice of using the keyword for which a page is being optimised in the first paragraph of content.

Where the problem occurs is if the content is not the first thing visible on the page. Many affiliate marketers place ads for their affiliate at the top of the screen, since if a visitor clicks on the ad and buys the product, they make money. If a visitor merely reads the information on the page, there is no profit.

The algorithm is designed to counteract spammers, who fill the top of the page with ad blocks, relegating any useful information to the very bottom of the page. Google estimates less than 1% of all web searches are affected by penalising this type of layout.

So, clearly, keeping the webpage completely free of advertising and placing keywords in the first paragraph of content will cause the webpage to benefit from having a top heavy layout. Equally clearly, filling the top of the page with ads and relegating content to the bottom of the page will cause the webpage to be penalised.

Google has stated that they will not penalise websites that have a “normal” number of advertisements above the fold. The question is what constitutes a normal number of advertisements?

Some general recommendations are to use no more than one block of advertising above the fold, and to right- or left- justify the advertising block so that content is also visible above the fold. Another guideline, especially for affiliate marketers, is to add significant improved content beyond what any other affiliate of the same company will have on their website.

By creating quality websites with appealing layouts, not only will you benefit from search engine bonuses, but you will be more likely to engage with and convert your human website visitors so that they become customers.





Sean McPheat

Managing Director

The Internet Marketing Academy



(Image: Stock Xchange)

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