🇺🇸 4th of July DISCOUNT!


What is Google Top Heavy Update?  

The Google Top Heavy update is a major algorithm update intended to reduce the rankings of sites that show too many ads above the fold. Above the fold refers to the content at the top of a webpage, which visitors see the moment they land on the webpage.  

Above the fold

Google released the Top Heavy update on January 19, 2012. Google updated it on October 9, 2012, and refreshed it on February 6, 2014. 

In its official documentation, Google referred to the Top Heavy update as the Page Layout Algorithm Improvement and mentioned that it expected it to affect less than 1% of searches. Google added that the update would affect the following sites:

  • Sites with many ads and little useful content above the fold
  • Sites with lots of ads that push relevant content down the page

Why Google Released the Top Heavy Update

On November 9, 2011, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team, informed attendees of the Pubcon conference that Google was testing algorithms to identify the content that matters on a webpage and how many ads a content has above the fold. 

Matt suggested that sites with many ads that prevent or distract visitors from accessing their content could begin improving their sites. Three months later, Google released the Top Heavy update. 

The Top Heavy update penalized sites with distracting ads even when the ads were from Google AdSense. However, the update only affected static ads and did not affect sites with popup, popunder, or overlay ads. 

Criticism of the Google Top Heavy Update

Several bloggers criticized Google for the Top Heavy update, noting that Google’s own search results pages also displayed many ads at the top and on the right side of the page.

Bloggers pointed out that these ads obstructed visitors’ access to the helpful content on the search results page, which meant that Google was penalizing sites for the same thing it was doing. 

Google later clarified that the Top Heavy update was a site-wide update. It reviewed all the pages on a site and reduced the site’s rankings if it had too many pages with ads above the fold. Google added that while some of its search results pages may display many ads, most contain little to no ads.

This implies that the Top Heavy update only targets sites that have several pages with large amounts of ads above the fold. However, Google did not specify the threshold for how many ads are considered too many or the number of ad-heavy pages required to trigger a penalty.

🇺🇸 English