Pages With Too Many Ads “Above The Fold” Now Penalized By Google’s “Page Layout” Algorithm

Do you shove lots of ads at the top of your web pages? Think again. Tired of doing a Google search and landing on these types of pages? Rejoice. Google has announced that it will penalize sites with pages that are top-heavy with ads.

Top Heavy With Ads? Look Out!

The change — called the “page layout algorithm” — takes direct aim at any site with pages where content is buried under tons of ads.

From Google’s post on its Inside Search blog today:

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. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.

Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.

Interesting. Take that, /Film!

Learn to code, get a job! via @CNN

It’s time Americans begin treating computer code the way we do the alphabet or arithmetic. Code is the stuff that makes computer programs work — the list of commands that tells a word processor, a website, a video game, or an airplane navigation system what to do. That’s all software is: lines of code, written by people.

We are socializing, working, consuming, and living in a world increasingly defined by programs. Learning to code is the best way to understand what all those programs do, or even to recognize that they are there in the first place.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg recently announced his intention to learn to code.

As a “social media guy” (god, I hate that term), I’ve seen the numerous ways knowing how to code has made my job easier; not just, “hey I understand how to write a socialgraph app and code my own Facebook tab” but more like, “Wow, the system we’re using to communicate events information internally is horribly out of date, and ultimately costing us a ton of money in wasted productivity. Why aren’t we importing these events as XML and reading them into an internal, structured database so we don’t have to pass info like location and description around between 10 people?”

It’s not just that coding helps you create programs — it’s that understanding code helps you understand how to work with programs, and how to better make them work for you.

The apps, websites, socialnetworks, and phones we all use produce an incredible amount of rich, structured information. If you’re letting it simply pass you by, then you’re missing some of the biggest opportunities to understand and change the world you live in.

I’m going back to get a second undergradute degree – a BS in computer science – next semester, because one advantage of working for a highered institution is the amazing tuition discount. But even if you don’t have access to something like that, there are a ton of other options, from Lynda.com, to MIT’s recently announced program to make all its classes freely available online, to the service the CNN author mentions (make sure to clickthrough to read the original article).

What’s your take on coding? Too complicated, or high time to get involved? If Bloomberg can do it, you can do it too ;-)

4.5 million signed anti-#SOPA petition… but CA Senators Still Refuse to Meet via @LAtimes, @waylandprod

Google's infographic on SOPA and PIPA

 

When Google speaks, the world listens.

And today, when Google asked its users to sign a petition protesting two anti-piracy laws circulating in Congress, millions responded.

A spokeswoman for Google confirmed that 4.5 million people added their names to the company’s anti-SOPA petition today.

I participated, signing a few of those petitions, adding the “Stop SOPA” bar to my social network profiles to bring awareness, and generally spreading the word those those I know personally.

Sadly, the two California senators are still refusing to meet with constituents to hear criticism of the bills they both co-sponsored. Visit the CA page against American Censorship for more info and to see what average citizens are doing to let the senators know that not being heard, is not an option.

How did you – or, how will you – participate?

Signs of Progress on the Internet Blacklist Bills

Looks like proponents of the Internet Blacklist Bills are finally beginning to realize that they won’t be able to ram through massive, job-killing legislation without a fight. First, Sen. Patrick Leahy, sponsor of the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA), announced on Thursday that he would recommend that the Senate further study the dangerous DNS blocking provisions in that bill before implementation. Then, a group of six influential senators wrote to Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, urging that the Senate slow down and postpone the upcoming vote on PIPA. Sen. Ben Cardin, a co-sponsor of PIPA, also took a measured stance against the bill, saying he “would not vote for final passage of PIPA, as currently written.” Cardin cited consituent activism as the primary reason for the about-face.

On the House side, Rep. Lamar Smith, sponsor of PIPA’s dangerous counterpart, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), announced today that he would completely remove the DNS blocking provision from the House bill.

It’s heartening to see Congress take steps in the right direction, and it wouldn’t have happened without the work and commitment of the many internet communities who have rallied to fight these dangerous bills. We should be proud of the progress we’ve made. 

Small steps, but good ones.

Facebook is gaslighting the web. We can fix it. – Anil Dash

As Molly’s piece eloquently explains, what Facebook is calling “frictionless” sharing is actually placing an extremely high barrier to the sharing of links to sites on the web. Ordinary hyperlinks to the rest of the web are stuck in the lower reaches of a user’s news feed, competing for bottom position on a news feed whose prioritization algorithm is completely opaque. Meanwhile, sites that foolishly and shortsightedly trust all of their content to live within Facebook’s walls are privileged, at the cost of no longer controlling their presence on the web.

3. Web sites are deemed unsafe, even if Facebook monitors them

As you’ll notice below, I use Facebook comments on this site, to make it convenient for many people to comment, and to make sure I fully understand the choices they are making as a platform provider. Sometimes I get a handful of comments, but on occasion I see some very active comment threads. When a commenter left a comment on my post about Readability last week, I got a notification message in the top bar of my Facebook page to let me know. Clicking on that notification yielded this warning message:

facebook-dashes-warning.png

What’s remarkable about this warning message is not merely that an ordinary, simple web content page is being presented as a danger to a user. No, it’s far worse

Please hit the jump to read this fascinating, concise post about the dangerous direction Facebook is headed.

Scheming Intentions | TechCrunch

If we actually had a reliable source of app intent/scheme bindings, then a whole lot of interesting possibilities would arise. Instead of silently failing when an app tries to call up a recipient app that isn’t installed, the OS could request to download and install it. You could have apps rely on each other, so that downloading and installing one implies automatically downloading and installing its prerequisite building-block sub-apps.

Most of all, you’d be able to reliably link to and from other apps, almost as if they were web sites. It would be so easy to do — yet Apple and Google have both let this possibility languish untouched for years. I’m on record as predicting that HTML5 apps will take over from native apps in a couple years’ time. The ability to link to and from them — in other words, to partially restore the hypertext dream — isn’t the main reason why, but it’s definitely a contributing factor.

Interoperability can only benefit the (well-informed) user. As someone recently looking into the iOS development game, I’m surprised at the moves Apple has made to limit and not-list the various types of open URL chemes already available.