At SMX Advanced tonight, Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts explained that if Google’s search results pages were run through the top heavy algorithm it would not be hurt by that algorithm. So if you wanted another guide to whether you’re safe from Top Heavy, perhaps the ratios of ads to content with Google’s pages would be a guide.
Matt Cutts clarified what he meant for me, explaining that in general most of Google’s search results pages do not have ads at all. So when you look at the Google search results as a site, not specific pages, overall, the ad to organic ratio is very low.
In short, if your ad to organic ratio is the same or less than what you see in Google’s search results, you are safe.
This came up durin the Ask The SEO session, where Matt Cutts was encouraged to come up on stage to answer some questions.
One question was around why does Google have so many ads in the organic result. Danny Sullivan joked, would Google penalize Google for top heavy algorithm? Matt responded seriously that even if the search results pages were indexed by Google, the algorithm that determines if a web page should be penalized or impacted negatively by the top heavy update, would not be triggered.
So you can use Google search results pages as a benchmark for not going overboard on the top heavy update.
Postscript: Matt Cutts is now getting questions about my coverage of what he said or I thought he said at SMX on this topic. So Matt clarified on Twitter, saying:
An important point missing from the write-up is looking at all the pages on the site, not just single pages.