The “Top Heavy” algorithm that Google uses to determine whether or not a site is displaying too many ads ‘above the fold’ or not has been confirmed to have had an update recently. Google’s head of search engine spam, Matt Cutts, sent out a tweet that said, “SEO folks: we recently launched a refresh of this algorithm: http://t.co/KKSXm8FqZW visible to the outside world on ~ Feb. 6th”
The link goes to the Google site concerning the top heavy algorithm. Unlike changes to Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird, the Top Heavy algorithm doesn’t seem to get too much attention from SEO experts or marketers. This is, however, a good time to review your site layout to ensure you’re not falling victim to this update.
In an attempt to encourage customer focused web design practices, Google first put this algorithm into place early in 2012. Sites that had very little content that was visible when the page loaded were penalized. Google said that users shouldn’t have to scroll down to see any actual content, which was a practice used by a small number of digital marketers.
Overall this change doesn’t seem to have affected too many users, but if you’ve noticed any drops in your page rankings, this may be a good place to start your investigation. Adjusting the placement of advertisements is a great way to try to improve your click through rate, so some marketers may have inadvertently filled up the top half of their page with ads.