This day in search marketing history: January 19

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Google’s page layout algorithm launches

In 2012, Google announced it would penalize sites with pages that were top-heavy with ads.

The page layout algorithm update took direct aim at any site with pages where content was buried under tons of ads.

According to Google:

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.

Google’s Matt Cutts, Page layout algorithm improvement

On the same day, a message from Google’s AdSense team went out, encouraging some publishers to add more ads to their sites.

Isn’t it ironic.

Read all about it in: The Top Heavy Update: Pages with too many ads above the fold now penalized by Google’s “Page Layout” algorithm.


Also on this day 


Google explains how it deduplicates Top Stories from main search results

2022: Google said it deduplicates a link from its main web results if that same link appears in the first Top Stories slot, so long as the Top Stories section appears before the main web results.


Google recipe markup now requires specific times, no more time ranges

2022: Google removed all references to using time ranges in the recipe schema markup help documents.


Marketers, Google agree that proposed ‘surveillance advertising’ ban goes too far

2022: The legislation would have been a game-changer for every digital marketer who advertises on Google, Facebook and other advertising platforms. 


Google Ads’ updated Experiments page sheds campaign drafts and adds experiment sync

2022: Advertisers no longer had to create a separate campaign draft and changes made to the original campaign are automatically synced to the experiment as well.


Google heightens adult ad policy enforcement after Reuters finds illicit ads

2022: Ads for sex toys, liquor and high-risk investments were discovered in Google’s search results, which violated the company’s attempts to comply with UK regulations.


Google crawl stats report now showing more crawls

2021: This was just a reporting change and any change seen in crawling was not reflective of any change in search results. 


DuckDuckGo’s focus on privacy-minded users pushes it past 100 million searches in a single day

2021: DuckDuckGo served 102,251,307 search queries for the first time, breaking past the 100 million query milestone.


Video: Phillip Thune on finding good writers and writing good content

2021: In this installment of Barry Schwartz’s vlog series, he also chatted with Thune about how SEOs changed how they approached content development after Panda and Penguin.


Search in Pics: A pig visits Google, big teddy bear & a broken Google sign

2018: The latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more.


Matt Cutts officially resigns from Google

2017: Cutts became the new director of engineering at the US Digital Service. He had been on leave with Google since 2014.


Study shows search terms with the very worst (and best) click-through rates

2017: Study examined the top 50 keyword “stems” to find what terms helped spur clicks and, more importantly, what terms didn’t.


DuckDuckGo surpasses 10 billion searches, with 4 billion happening in 2016 alone

2017: The search engine said 4 billion of those searches happened in 2016.


Google Revamps Their Webmasters Portal With Clean New Slick Design & Resources

2016: The resource got a new design, better organization and three new features (webmaster troubleshooter, popular resources, event calendar).


Google Expandable PLA View Test Displays 16 Product Listing Ads

2016: When expanded, PLAs muscled out other ads and organic listings to take over most of the above-the-fold real estate.


You Can Now Install Android Apps Directly From Google’s Search Results

2016: Bypassing the need to visit the Google Play store.


Google Sending Mobile Usability Warnings To Huge Number Of Webmasters

2015: These notifications warned there were critical mobile usability errors on 100% of the pages on the site and thus the pages would be “displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users.”


Bing-Yahoo Paid Search Share Rises For Two Consecutive Quarters [IgnitionOne]

2015: Advertisers increased spending by 31% year-over-year on the Yahoo Bing Network (through the Bing Ads platform). Spending on Google AdWords rose by 5%.


Yahoo Search Testing Google’s Search Results Design?

2015: The whole page looked right out of Google’s search results design.


Google’s 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Logo Designed By Ekua Holmes

2015: The Doodle featured Martin Luther King, Jr. in locked arms with fellow civil rights activists with the American flag in the background.


Google: Paid Clicks Up 34% While Cost Per Click Down 8% YoY

2012: More people were clicking on ads, but those clicks were costing advertisers less money per click.


Nokia Now “Powering” Bing Maps

2012: Nokia branding would soon be showing up on Bing Maps for mobile.


Google Maps Now Highlighting Borders Of Cities, Postal Codes & More

2012: Google Maps added a feature where it would highlight in a pink color the borders of a city, postal code or other borders based on your search.


How To Track U.S. Congress Members’ Tweets

2012: PolitickerUSA let you access the non-stop real-time stream of tweets from Senators, Reps, President Obama, governors, and a few of the Republican presidential candidates.


Study: Google “Favors” Itself Only 19% Of The Time

2011: “Even if Google listed itself first for [email] … is it really anti-competitive when its competitor is prominently listed in second place? Wouldn’t it really be more of a concern if Google didn’t list its competitors at all?”


Google Makes Modest Comeback In China

2011: 23.1% of Chinese search users wanted Google.


Deconstructing “Search Neutrality”

2011: In an academic article, an NYU associate law professor closely examined and deconstructed the arguments behind the idea of search neutrality.


Google Knol Still Alive & Fixed, But Questions Linger About Its Future

2011: Google fixed a bug that made Knol look like a ghost town.


Google Exposes Maps Options With New Widget Display

2011: Google formally launched a new Google Maps display that made the different viewing options much more visible.


SEO Gets Dissed by CBS TV Series “The Good Wife”

2011: Let the court record show, for the education of “The Good Wife” writers, and good citizens everywhere – when “SEO” or search engine optimization is performed according to the best practices and guidelines set forth by major search engines, then SEO is considered to be a useful, effective and legal technique for driving visitors to a website.


Google Opens Up Downloads To Iran But Blocks Iranian Government

2011: After years of not allowing those in Iran to download their software, Google opened up downloads of their Google Earth, Picasa and Chrome applications.


Search & The 2011 Sundance Film Festival

2011: Bing was the official search engine of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival website, and YouTube had two special channels for the event.


Real-Time Search Engine Collecta Hits Pause

2011: The company took “a step back” to retool its approach.


Google’s Fourth Doodle 4 Google Competition Announced

2011: “What I’d like to do someday…”


Google’s Paul Cézanne Logo

2011: The logo was first created as a real oil painting by a Googler and then digitized. 


Google Changes How It Handles Synonyms

2010: Rather than only bolding direct variants of words (like “photos” for “pictures”), Google “extended this to words that our algorithms very confidently think mean the same thing, even if they are spelled nothing like the original term.”


Bing Updates Autosuggest With News & Trending Queries

2010: Bing added “breaking news and hot trending queries” into autosuggest, with updates being pushed out every 15 minutes.


Microsoft Complies With EU Demand, First To Cut Data Retention To Six Months

2010: Microsoft became the first of the major search engines to agree to the European Union’s demand that data retention be cut to six months. 


Yahoo Search Marketing Launches New Network Distribution & Import Campaigns

2010: The new network distribution and import campaigns went live for Yahoo advertisers.


Can Google Tell Us What Men and Women Are REALLY Thinking?

2010: What Google Suggest had to say about what men and women were really thinking.


Google New York Expanding

2010: Google was expanding its already humongous New York office by 57,000 square feet. 


Google Testing “Preferred Sites” Option In Search Preferences

2009: Users who were in this experiment could add a list of sites in their search preferences page as their “preferred sites.”


Report: Search Spending Off 8% In Q4

2009: Advertisers who spent less than $50,000 on search ads cut their spending by 23% year-over-year, while advertisers that spent more than $200,000 on search per month cut spending by 9% during that time.


No Surprise: IAA Survey Shows Concern Over Google Market Dominance

2009: 65% said there was one dominant player in the online ad market and that there were “limited choices and price options for online advertisers.”


Google Quietly Drops iPhone Optimized iGoogle Page

2009: Google said the reason they dropped the iPhone version was because they “want to ensure you’ll all see the same version” of the iGoogle mobile page. 


Live Search News Adds Email Alerts

2009: You could get these alerts via email either once a day, twice a day or weekly and you could subscribe by section or by search phrase.


Some Parallels Between Obama And Yahoo’s Carol Bartz

2009: Both Barack Obama and incoming Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz were taking charge of their respective administrations at times of crisis.


GDrive: It’s Alive! — Or So It Appears

2009: Renewed buzz and speculation.


Google & Others Martin Luther King Jr.’s Logos

2009: How the search engines commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. Day.


Checking Out Allcheckin Travel Search

2007: Some thoughts on a travel search alternative.


Yahoo Introduces Personal Finance Site

2007: This new sub-site offered “free tools and how-to guides for tax planning, budgeting, real estate planning, and saving for college and retirement.”


Google Book Search To Add Chinese Books

2007: The initial launch would be about 1,000 books, with the hope of having 3,000 book titles in Google Book Search by year’s end.


Search Engines’ Test Beds

2007: An overview of the different ways search engines like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask.com used “spin off” sites to test new features.


Yahoo Tells Belgian Newspapers They Did Nothing Wrong

2007: Yahoo said they did not violate any copyright laws for “publishing snippets and links” to their newspapers.


Google, Microsoft & Yahoo To Develop NGO Conduct Code

2007: This move was to help the companies’ ventures into China and help paint a better picture for the search giants in the public view.


Yahoo Debuts U.S. Schools Search Tool

2007: Results were plotted on a map, and you could sort by school district, distance from a specific location, grade level, or school type (public, private, charter). 


Looksmart’s Furl Gets A Facelift

2007: Looksmart also made it easier to create and find topics to help organize saved web pages, and improved the browser buttons and toolbar used to save pages.


Google Picks North Carolina For Server Farm

2007: Google was expected to spend about $600 million on their new data center and employ 210 people.


From Search Marketing Expo (SMX)


Past contributions from Search Engine Land’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

These columns are a snapshot in time and have not been updated since publishing, unless noted. Opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.


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About the author

Danny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin is Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & SMX. In addition to writing daily about SEO, PPC, and more for Search Engine Land, Goodwin also manages Search Engine Land’s roster of subject-matter experts. He also helps program our conference series, SMX – Search Marketing Expo.

Prior to joining Search Engine Land, Goodwin was Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal, where he led editorial initiatives for the brand. He also was an editor at Search Engine Watch. He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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