• jeffwend

    “So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change.”
    Is this saying that if you have no ads on your website, but you do have a large banner or hero image above the fold that you can be punished?

  • aybecker

    Barry – you meant February 6, 2014 above in your article!

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Thanks, we’ve got that fixed.

  • John Crockett

    So does the Google SERP still conform to these guidelines as Mr. Cutts confirmed back in June?

  • Durant Imboden

    I doubt if this will be enforced uniformly. (I’m sure my city’s metropolitan newspaper is hoping so: It averages three to four ads above the fold, and eight to nine ads per page–mostly AdSense ads, at that.)

  • Durant Imboden


    If Google wants to discourage ads that annoy or distract users, why not go after interstitial and pop-up ads? Interstitials are almost de rigueur on big-media sites (I don’t think I’ve ever viewed a Forbes.com page without having to close an interstitial ad), and they fit Google’s definition of cloaking:

    “Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to human users and search engines.”

    Also, why not apply the same standards to Google News as to Google Web Search? Is a newspaper or magazine page with an interstitial ad or a pop-up ad any less annoying than any other Web page with such advertising?

  • http://www.CheesyCorporateLingo.com/ Patrick Reinhart

    Well, TheStreet.com is screwed, but something tells me that this will only wind up affecting smaller sites with less authority.

  • http://www.kiakamgar.com/ Kia Kamgar

    Erm, how about ‘designed’ websites that have a sparse front page but a lot of content on other pages.

    I read somewhere that the big G or MC is just trying to keep us on our toes with all these tweaks ;-)

  • Krystian

    I’m wondering if Adsense-heavy websites will be punished too.

  • Durant Imboden

    I’d imagine that “premium publishers” get a pass. (They’ve probably got AdSense reps encouraging them to slap even more ads on their pages.)

  • Andrew Scaife

    Gonna be interesting to see as I know a site owner who purposefully just has a hero image above the fold with the content below it.

  • Intelius Bites

    So how about websites that have rotating, marquee carrousels? Does the algorithm differentiate these from traditional ads?

  • Ben Elwood

    I can think of a couple sites that will struggle with this new update, but hopefully it will prompt those sites to clean up the amount of ads that you are bombarded with. Page load times take forever with so many ads that have to pop up.

  • Alan Wu

    the algo probably looks for ad-based urls in the anchor

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Now if only they would go after the sites with those annoying popups.

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    there is something inherently wrong with calling this the “top heavy algo”! Seriously I have fixed sites that had this hit and I did not move a single ad what I did was move text up the Page. A big asse graphic, moronic slider that takes up everything above the fold other stuff “la di da designers” love and think users want at the top of your page! These likely do more damage then having 3 or 4 ads! It is a page layout algo hence we call it GooPLA for the “Google Page Layout Algo”, Top heavy is exactly what you want… top heavy Copy! I have seen it and escaped a few… Also see the post on Eric Enge’s site by the Googler who was working on machine learning…the project he described sounded much like the characteristics of a GooPLA hit.

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    Looking at the comments here you can see the way SEO’s who follow and believe headlines get misinformed. Those headlines were IMO, a way to drive more traffic and controversy. Look at all the saps who think it is just about ads….Google’s own recommendations are for up to 4 ads above the fold…. is righty not speaking to lefty anymore? I don’t think so someone at the time just wanted to drive clicks with controversy

  • http://www.google.com/+NickClarkOfficial Nick Clark

    I’ve been hearing you should try and have your most important content above the fold for a while now. It seems like an obvious thing to do really otherwise people are going to click ‘back’ rather than hunt your site for information.

    I’ve not seen any negative effects on my site, in fact this last week has been great. I have AdSense above the fold. However, I have a lot of content as well, readable HTML words! This means Google can see what my site is about quickly and easily, also people have a lot of information straight away they can read.

    This algo is about your design more than ads, this is just a typical ‘bait title’ to get more views and shares by causing a big fuss. If people don’t get what they are looking for when they first go on your site, why should you rank above those who do offer this. The fact is no matter how ‘pretty’ you think your site is, users do not care if they struggle to get what THEY want. Google gets it.

    I’m not saying my rankings have increased due to me having above the fold content for my users. I think it’s a big possibility other sites were penalized in my niche so they have moved below me, thus making me a higher rank.

  • Hannan Ahmad

    Forbes.com is definitely a great name when it comes to creating an impact in SERPs. They may be having business commitments with Google to spare them from any major updates.

  • Ankit Gehlot

    I want to know something about affiliate marketing sites, like they provide online deals and coupons codes for online shopping, they showcase the products of shopping stores like ebay, amazon etc. On their site and when the user go there and click on that deal or promo code the user jumps on original product page where they can direct to buy, than as per Google updates how the site should be, or what things they should remove in their site and how Improve their site. Please suggest what we should do for getting more response and to stay in market long time.

  • StevenLockey

    Its been said many times.

    Adsense advise what is best for Adsense to make you money for the ads. Not what is best for organic search. Their advice is based purely on adsense.

    Organic search is un-related to adsense, if it sees lots of ads above the fold, you’ll very likely be penalised. Adsense advisers in general have no clue about the organic search and optimisation, its not their job.

    Its about common sense really. 4 tiny ads above the fold with a page full of useful content might be acceptable. The same ads or 4 larger ads on a page with less content wouldn’t be.

  • http://www.ematters.nl/ Arjan Bakker

    Hope it also targets websites which have annoying popup banners which you have to click away first in order to see content….searchengineland!

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    People who have Adsense on their site are monetizing search traffic aren’t they? Is Adsense’s goal not to to help partners and therefore themselves maximize profit by not annoying users with too many ads and maximizing that by drawing as much search traffic as possible? Do you really think they are that incompetent that if it was JUST the size and numbers of ads that was providing the bad experience that they would not take measures to change their Adsense partners choices either with QS or changing the terms of use to stop it?

  • Ravi Kumar

    People from online Internet Business often serve many ads with their contents to increase ROI.

    This algorithm update will give a lesson to all.


  • StevenLockey

    No, they are monetising TRAFFIC, not search traffic. They don’t know or care where the traffic is coming from. Thats not their job, thats the SEO’s job.

    Adsense are advising how to get the most clicks on your adverts. They don’t do SEO, they aren’t SEO advisors.

    They make NO advice on increasing traffic.

    Google have no specific control over where advertisers place ads on their sites beyond banning the site. They can’t control the source code of the advertising website apart from the bit the ad is in, which is normally in a fixed location.

    As I said, there are times when specific sizes and ads may be OK, but in others they aren’t.

    They already DO have Terms of service on the adverts that basically state that, how that applies to each site is different however.

    You are basically saying ‘Well that Pilot in incompetent because he can only fly a plane not a helicopter as well’ despite the fact they are completely different fields. Its not their job, they have no reason to know about it.

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    Ummm the above is not telling me anything I didn’t already know. My point is this… it is about user experience and Google do use those tools to manage the users experience to some degree because there are guidelines that do provide guidance on numbers of ads …my point is the guidelines would change if Google REALLY believed X number of ads is too many ads above the fold!

  • StevenLockey

    Again, you miss the point.

    Adsense guidelines are a guide to how to get the most clicks on your adverts
    Webmaster guidelines are a guide to how to get your site liked by Google.

    They say mutually contradictory things because they do have some conflict.

    Same as anything in life.
    If you have a guide to building a really fast car and a guide to building a really manoeuvrable car, they are going to give you contradictory advice, exactly the same as these guides.
    The really manoeuvrable guide says ‘add a spoiler’, the really fast guide says ‘never add a spoiler’ as an example.

    You have to choose the balance between the two guidelines based on what is important to your site. A site that didn’t rely on search at all for it’s traffic would balance it very differently from a site that relies on 100% organic traffic.

  • Durant Imboden

    Another beef:

    What about ads that are embedded in content? A few ads go a long way. If I’m reading a narrow column of text, having that text wrap around three AdSense ad units certainly qualifies as “distracting to the user.”

  • larrybeo

    Great! Maybe websites will realize that people don’t want to look at 9 advertisements on the right hand side of the page just to read one stupid article!

  • Jason Hennessey

    Hmmm….I wonder if Youtube get hit by this? :)

    I’m staring at a 720 X 300 T Mobile Banner

  • http://pestcontrolseo.wordpress.com/ Thos003

    Didn’t Adsense encourage top placement at one time?

  • Viv (Kala) Williams

    Terry that’s what happened to me, I had a graphic, a slider that pretty much took up above the fold, and my traffic has been down drastically-my site was also quite new. And yes I knew important content above fold but the images have text overlaid and I thought that was enough. Wasn’t expecting this algo.

  • http://hcgchica.com/buy-hcg-injections-worldwide/ HCGChica

    hmmm…i have a question- all my blogposts have an embedded youtube video (that I created) at the top, then the article (which are all long, in-depth written by me articles)- is this going to be somehow bad for my SEO now? It really doesn’t make sense to place the video lower down. With Video being so popular, it seems odd that this should have to affect a site where actual text is below the fold due to the video placement- thoughts? @terryvanhorne:disqus you seem like you know what you’re talking about- any feedback on this scenario?

  • atentat

    well google serp doesnt need to rank in google :P

  • atentat

    Agreed. I hate Forbes too, for this precise reason.

  • SWesting

    When ever you search for anything on Google the first two or three results are paid advertisements right at the top above the organic results. Maybe the hypocrites at Google should practice what they preach. The single biggest spammer on the internet is Google itself.

  • Dan

    Google’s search results appear to be very ‘top-heavy’ with ads these days…. but don’t you dare go trying to monetize your site, that’s just for Google.

  • http://www.8womendream.com/ Catherine

    So I guess Google hates Trey Ratcliff’s fine art photography and travel photography site, “Stuck In Customs” which breaks this rule and his followers flock to his pages and are even willing to scroll! Imagine!

  • http://techloverhd.com Saddam Hossain

    On GWT I see my site’s impressions went down nearly half on 6th of February. And GWT stopped updating. Started going down on 4th and went up again on 7th. Didn’t affect my page views or anything. I was wondering why this happened. Should have checked this article earlier. Better late than ever. Now I know! Thanks.

  • http://seogurujaipur.blogspot.com/ SEO Guru Jaipur

    I do not know that what happen with ranking due to this algo but If your website content is thin (500 words for Home page & 300 words for inner page) than it can be punished in any time (mostly effected during panda update).
    If you use images (logo) on top with relevant alt tag in small space, I think It is good. but you use lots of images on top without alt tag and try to hide content than it will be risky. Google Guideline says, You can take images in bottom is better.

  • Jual Tas Branded Murah

    honestly i dont know what to do for this update lol

  • http://www.jibranseo.com/ seo service provider

    As i see above so it is said by Matt
    avaid to apply ads on top, left, right or bottom like directories or other websites.
    may be it means for personal ads because lots of website applying personal ads on the each page of it’s biggest website and after they also ask to SEO for optimization.
    As i think so not try to change each page content.
    web content is like a Logo of a company in the eyes of Google.
    So beside this that you change after 6 month each page content, just Make your quality content once time without using any software those are now a days being sold online and just focus on your Manual content quality :)

    This is the Key which is Panda approved.

  • http://www.jibranseo.com/ seo service provider

    May be in feature Matt will work on these and will introduce new Algorthym for Popup ads and like this :)

  • http://payperclick.ph/ Lemuel Jovellar

    Matt Cutts tells you not to do this. Google Adsense tells you to do this. Maybe Matt needs to get a refresher on who brings in the billions at the end of the day for Google?

  • Maximo Rodriguez

    Top Heavy 3 hit our spanish site in march 5 at 7pm GMT – 03:00 hour. Dear Matt, you will miss the Argentine asado :P

  • http://desertleather.com Elma Sherry

    Content is much important, got the point So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change.but what about other stuff ?

  • http://desertleather.com Elma Sherry

    Nice to get positive points

  • Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben

    Adsense TOLD us to put our ads above the fold, in tutorials! Now they punish us. I actually moved ads on their advice after losing revenue. I thought it was caused by EMD Panda/Penguin. I’ll bet it was top heavy that took out my rankings. Happened Oct 2012. Thank you for keeping us informed.

  • http://avgjoegeek.net/ avgjoegeek

    LOL – so how do they do this in a world of Mobile/Responsive design now? Where is this magical fold now?