That Google is referee & judge to any and everything dependent on its search engine has long been a source of joy to some and frustration to many leading to a long running anti-trust review by regulators. Appearing at the top of a search engine results page is a holy grail sought by marketers in every field for being on the wrong (second or subsequent) page can likely mean a quick end to many businesses.
So when Google's Official Webmaster announced a "page layout algorithm improvement" last week e-Week termed it as punishing "Website publishers who dump loads of ads at the top of their Web pages to make more money at the expense of exposing visitors to their content.
The faux high-brow tone to Google's announcement did nothing to mask the fact that its writ will run unchallenged (for now) when it comes to making its 500+ algorithm changes that can have a devastating impact on some websites. The search giant says it "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.
Sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change." Google's webmaster page went on to state that the "algorithmic change noticeably affects less than 1% of searches globally." That could still amount to a sizeable number of websites in absolute terms.
Google's nanny state solution ignores the fact that customers actually click on the ads on the allegedly ad-heavy "above the fold" (top of web pages). Few if any of thsoe customers are compelled to click on those ads and those that are averse to seeing pages which have in Google's estimation "excessive" ads always have the option of moving past them with a mere click.
There are enough hotel search-engine-results-pages that have ads above the fold which could be affected by the new change. Reworking them per the new guidelines can only occur after Google's algorithm change results are available. In some cases, a restoration to status-quo-ante may simply not be possible.