On 19th January, 2012 Google released an update which was named Page Layout Filter update. Google penalized those sites which were having pages that were top heavy with ads. In other words this update took a direct aim at those sites which had pages where the content was buried under numerous ads.
On October 9th, 2012 the new update to this algorithm was released by Google. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team tweeted on 9th October that update to page Top Heavy was launched in which around 0.7% of English queries would be affected.
Google explained the Page Layout algorithm in following words when it was released initially:
We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. 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.
If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.
The first release of this update which was on 19th January affected 1% of total English search queries according to Google. The latest update which was released on 9th October has affected 0.7% of search results. And this is named Top Heavy because it targets the sites which are having pages full of ads especially in top position. With this total number of updates by Google in the last two weeks has reached to 4 and thus SEO consultants believes that in the coming few weeks one can expect major updates in the Google search algorithm.
There have been talks doing rounds in the SEO world that other refreshes of Top Heavy have already hit the search queries. But Google hasn’t confirmed if there were any other refreshes apart from this latest one released last week
Those sites which were hit by the update initially and then made changes according to what Google recommended would be freed from the negative effects after this new release. Now again those who are affected by this will have to make changes according to Google webmaster rules and wait for the next refresh of Top Heavy.
Who should be worried about Top Heavy 2:
Sites with poor layout of the page meaning too many ads are placed on the page. These ads affect the user experience because visitors visit the web pages for the content but such sites which are loaded with ads doesn’t provide acceptable content. The user has to scroll down through all the ads to reach the content. So rather than scrolling visitors prefer clicking on the back button and clicking on other search result. Thus Google’s main aim for this update was to provide better user experience.
Google cares for your needs of monetizing the blog: This update doesn’t mean that a blogger should stop integrating ads in the blog. But one should take care that along with the ads the content on the web page should be easily available to the user.
Type of ads placed: Ads in huge boxes like Large Rectangle (336*280) should be avoided. Rather Full banner (468*60) or half-banner (234*60) ads should be used so that content can be accommodated efficiently along with the ads.
Looking at the details of the this update it is clear that Google is going to penalize any black-hat SEO activity which are done by the websites. Thus only ethical ways of monetizing your site should be undertaken and good quality content should be provided to users.