The head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, shared the news when speaking at the Pubcon conference today.
Cutts said Google is testing algorithms that determine ”what are the things that really matter, how much content is above the fold.”
Adding further, Cutts warned:
“If you have ads obscuring your content, you might want to think about it,” asking publishers to consider, “Do they see content or something else that’s distracting or annoying?”
Many already assume that Google’s Panda algorithm is already penalizing ad heavy pages. This suggest that this either is not part of the Panda algorithm or that it might be made a separate and more specific algorithm in the works.
Postscript: This is now an actual penalty. See our follow-up post: Pages With Too Many Ads “Above The Fold” Now Penalized By Google’s “Page Layout” Algorithm.