New review layout for Carsurvey.org

I’ve just debuted a new layout for Carsurvey.org, where instead of each review having its own page, there are multiple reviews per page. This change has been driven by several factors:

In February, Google released an algorithm change known as Panda, which reduces the rank in Google search results of sites that the algorithm judges to be low quality. It’s not exactly clear how Google measures this, but this post from Google is the most detailed description they’ve given:

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-guidance-on-building-high-quality.html.

Carsurvey.org seems to have been penalised by the Panda algorithm, and whilst I believe the site is high quality and useful to visitors, there’s always room for improvement.

Duplicate content due to the site’s layout and quoting in comment replies could have been an issue, and changes have been made to reduce this; mostly by searching for duplicate comments using a longest common substring approach, and replacing large quotes with links that indicate which comment is being replied to.

The site also had lots of pages that only contained a short review or comment, and those weren’t exactly the best experience for visitors. The new layout uses some smart pagination algorithms to make sure that pages that are thin on content will be very rare, and in the exceptional cases where they are unavoidable, they’re marked as NOINDEX so search engines know to ignore them.

Where there are only a few short comments, they’ll be added to the end of review, rather than existing on their own page.

Ads have been reduced in size and number on the site, in case that was causing problems.

Also, the ability to filter comments by whether they are on-topic or not has been removed. It wasn’t being used very much, and didn’t justify the complexity it added to both the user interface, and the underlying code base.

As usual, any feedback would be welcome. This is still a work in progress, and whilst I’m not planning any major changes, there will be refinements coming over the new few months, based on how well the new layout performs with visitors.

3 Responses to “New review layout for Carsurvey.org”

  1. Chris says:

    The car summary pages with smiley or sad faces was a useful guide to good and bad cars – can we have it back please

  2. Steven says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the great feedback.

    It’s still on the site, just rather hidden in the “Sort by” menu in the top right of the longer review pages. It’s labelled as “Single page list”. I’m looking at ways to make this feature more prominent, and I’m also intending to add country filtering to this menu in the near future. The new layout does seem to be better for new visitors and hopefully search engines, but I’ve had similar feedback from other regular visitors, and improving the visibility of the single page list is a matter of priority.

    Best Wishes,
    Steven

  3. Chris says:

    Hi Steven

    Thanks for the directions to the single page list – my problem is solved :)

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