Today head of Google’s spam team, Matt Cutts, announced a change to Google’s search algorithm via Twitter:
SEO folks: we recently launched a refresh of this algorithm: https://search.googleblog.com/2012/01/page-layout-algorithm-improvement.html Visible to outside world on ~Feb. 6th.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) February 10, 2014
More specifically, the change will be a tweak of the portion of the algorithm that takes layout into account when determining page quality. The page layout algorithm first launched in January 2012, and has not been updated since October 2012, so this “refresh” may be typical Google maintenance. Cutts’ original announcement, the link in his tweet, explains who may be affected by the change: “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.”
When the page layout algorithm first came into effect, Cutts estimated about 1% of queries would noticeably be affected; this time around he gave no such estimate. While this change definitely won’t make or break SEO efforts, it’s worth keeping an eye on how rankings have changed in the past few days.