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Top Heavy Danger Alert: Google Algorithm Update

DBS Interactive

Anyone who has driven an SUV knows the warning about rollovers. A top heavy website now must come with the same warning – if your ad placement makes your pages “top heavy” with ads, and your content is pushed down as a result, it can hurt your ranking.

Google is Google, they can do whatever they want. So it should come as no surprise that Google has changed something that could affect your website. They recently updated their page layout algorithm in an attempt to improve the user experience

Deemed, the “Top Heavy Algorithm” the update goes after sites that are “top-heavy” with ads and sites with little content “above the fold”. Distilled down to its core, the reason for the update is that Google wants you to make it easier for users to find your content without having to scroll.

What This Means
According to Google, “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.”

While the percentage of sites expected to be affected is nominal, it pays to be cognizant of the change–in the event that your site is among the ones impacted.  If you’ve noticed a drop in your rankings recently, this could be the reason.

Matt Cutts Google Page Change

What You Can Do
For many websites, ads near the top often perform well and help publishers monetize online content. This update doesn’t affect sites that have ads above the fold to a normal degree, but rather, is aimed at curbing sites with excessive amounts of ads that actually push down original content on the page.

If your website falls into the later category, reduce the amount of ads and strongly consider adding vital content above the fold. Basically, make sure your most important stuff can be seen without having to scroll down the page.  Google Browser Labs is a handy-dandy tool that shows you how your site is viewed by users, so you can assess how your site performs to this end.

Graph from Google Browser Labs

How We Can Help
If you’re unsure about what all this means for your site or if you’ve noticed a sudden drop in rankings, contact us for a consultation and site audit. DBS > Interactive can lower your site’s center of gravity and keep you safe from the twists and turns of Google’s algorithm changes. We’ll evaluate and report on your website’s performance across key metrics and we’ll ultimately make recommendations on how to improve your website from a user experience and from a search engine perspective.