Recovery Stories Emerge From Google's Third Page Layout Refresh

Feb 18, 2014 • 8:53 am | comments (12) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

google page layout recoveryOn February 6, 2014, Google did their third refresh to the Page Layout algorithm.

I am happy to report that some webmasters who were initially hit by either the first or second implementations of the Page Layout algorithm have reported recoveries on February 6th.

The ongoing WebmasterWorld thread has a couple stories, here is one:

Lost 50% traffic then, in one hour. In years never recovered until now, this change, February 6th, 2014. I'm 25-30% up, high for top keywords.

Even though it's about 2.5 years too late, I will take an acknowledgement of all the positive changes I made since that penalty, and I hope it sticks around.

After I redesigned my site in early 2012 using Matt's recommendations, this site, google above fold view tool and removed ads above fold (It was too many, I admit it then and now, I followed adsense suggestions blindly), text naturally moved up. I left site alone and have not touched it since but to add new pages, in that same redesigned early 2012 style.

Of course, with any stories or recovery examples, we do not have access to their raw data, so we are taking their word for it.

And of course, with any recovery story, there are many stories of sites that were penalized by Google with this update.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Marie Haynes

02/18/2014 05:38 pm

I have to look this up, but I seem to recall that the above the fold layout algorithm was one that didn't need a refresh in order for sites to recover (unlike Penguin or Panda). In other words, if you lowered or removed the ads from the top of the site, you could see an almost instant recovery. In fact, this happened for a site that I consulted with. Still, if sites are saying that they were hit when this algo change first happened and are now seeing improvement, it's possible that Google changed the criteria so that the sites are no longer looked at as bad.

Durant Imboden

02/18/2014 07:49 pm

"And of course, with any recovery story, there are many stories of sites that were penalized by Google with this update." I've heard far less chatter about version 3 of the Page Layout Algorithm update than we usually hear when Google announces a change to its algorithm. I also continue to see many ad-heavy (including ad top-heavy) pages ranking well in Google's SERPs. My guess: This update or refresh is mostly affecting sites that are unusually aggressive in their use of ads above the fold.

Barry Schwartz

02/18/2014 07:50 pm

Typically, the page layout algo refreshes have less chatter in general than any other type of update. I said that when I first covered it but you are right.


02/18/2014 08:45 pm

With "above the fold" / "top heavy" algorithm it is NOT possible to recover without a refresh. Matt Cutts told us the opposite, but he was wrong. was hit hard by first top heavy on Jan. 19. 2012. We did a lot of layout changes afterwards, but nothing happend for nearly nine months. Then we suddenly recovered with the second top heavy on Oct. 9. 2012.


02/19/2014 08:55 am

and now you are spamming seroundtable, my guess is in a month you will be smacked down again


02/19/2014 12:03 pm

only google can put ads above fold on their sites, but nobody else. It not matter how quality content you have, google will penalize it for ads, links, user generated content, density, because today is wednesday, because matt cutts or LP sleep today not well and other shit which are very "important" to reader. Google think about visitor - they need search for top useless sites and click adwords, searchers must not have any choice.


02/19/2014 01:52 pm

That's no spam, don't be a sicko-spammy freak.


02/19/2014 01:56 pm

Why is the niche of the site? I don't think that's a recovery, that little 30% is just a normal visitor increase in this time of the year when everybody receive their tax return and are desperate looking for something to spend that money.

Durant Imboden

02/19/2014 04:33 pm

Plenty of high-ranking sites have ads above the fold. (In my subject area, which is very competitive, most of the highest-ranking sites have at least two ads above the fold on a 1024 x 768 screen.)


02/19/2014 07:41 pm

no spam. I posted my sites link for others to investigate (if they want).

Andy Lighter

02/28/2014 05:44 am

Whatever!!! Too many ads above the fold - total bullshit!!! How many ads does Google, Bing, Yahoo, Huff Post, New York Time, etc. etc. etc. etc. have "above the fold". As long as "below the fold" you have the content that people are looking for (and in depth) you should NOT be penalized for it! The site we have with Google Adsense still do well, but the sites with "third party ads" get tanked. Well fuck you Google. You want all the cake and nobody else can even have the crumbs. Eat me. Look forward to FILLING YOUR INDEX - better buy some more servers.


04/07/2014 04:08 pm

Well we definitely saw a recovery after a complete site overhaul, that took 6 months, and almost killed all of us. However by paying attention to detail. 1.2 million pages per site! It turns out Google / panda algo was correct and we were blind to our failings.. took a third party to look at the sites and point out the obvious things we could not see. We also hope we never get hit again, and have upped our game and we are, i think, better publishers. Shame it took the loss of our company and employees and a lot of pain to get it right.

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