Yesterday Google announced that they would be rolling out an update to their algorithm based around the "page layout" of websites. Google stated:
"today we’re launching an algorithmic change that looks at the layout of a webpage and the amount of content you see on the page once you click on a result..
..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."
This is significant announcement from Google and confirms what many SEOs believe has been an active part of the algorithm for many years.
Recognising the use of Google adwords and especially its use at the top of webpages to gain the greatest visibility Google states that the vast majority of these sites will remain unaffected. The sites that the algorithm aims to target are therefore those which overuse advertising making it difficult to locate any real content on a page without sifting past all of the ads via scrolling.
Of course as pointed out by Aaron Wall over at SEOBook.com this may present webmasters who were initially hit by the Google Panda update last year with even more problems to resolve due to their increased advertising placements to counteract their lack of traffic post-panda.
Google states that the algorithm will affect less than 1% of searches globally and that site owners who believe they have been affected by the update should evaluate their advertising placement and site content alongside their Browsersize tool: