How to Manage Google Page Layout Algorithm

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top heavy update

We all know Panda, everyone knows the Penguin, now it is ‘Top Heavy 2’ that Google has unleashed to create yet another chaos in the search engine world that could greatly affect your visitor count. This was confirmed by Matt Cutts, Google’s web spam team head, via Twitter on October 10, 2012 that the update was launched. He further mentioned in the tweet that the update is just minor, affecting only 0.7% of English queries.

Matt stressed out that this update was neither Panda nor Penguin; it is not related to the EMD update as well. It is, however, more associated with Google’s page layout algorithm improvement rolled out during the early part of the year.

Within a span of just two weeks, Google has made 4 major updates in its ranking algorithm. The first one was the Panda update last September 20, followed by the EMD update on September 28, and the Penguin last October 5.

This time it is Top Heavy 2, but it is not as heavy as the other updates because its impact is not much significant at only less than 1%. Nevertheless, it is still important to know what Top Heavy 2 is all about in order to avoid becoming a victim of this algorithm refresh.

What Is Top Heavy 2 All About?

Even though there were several websites that were affected by the said algorithm change, there is nothing much to worry about it because it is easy to handle and manage. This change is mainly focused on highly commercialized blogs that remarkably downgraded the user-experience of the visitors. So if yours is not involved in excessive placement of ads, especially above-the-fold ads, then don’t panic.

Many people have complained that when they visited the websites shown in the top pages of the search results, they were put off by those annoying ads above the fold. Google aims to fix the issue with the Top Heavy update by downgrading the ranking of blogs with excessive above-the-fold ads.

Therefore, if your webpage is sponsoring a couple of ads, make sure that the main highlight is still the contents and not the ads. This update further signals the importance of content quality to provide users the best experience; while the ads are only secondary, which the readers can entertain once they are done reading the contents.

Take note that people use the search engine to look for something, usually information. No one uses Google mainly to see some ads. Keeping this mind will help shield you from being hit by this update.

Implications of the Page Layout Algorithm to Your Business

Just because the page layout algorithm of Google is concentrating on above-the-fold ads that don’t mean that you will only take out those ads in your web-pages. You should also take a closer look at the other ads, more particularly the pop-up ads.

Pop-ups also cause similar distractions and annoyances to the readers because they can notably interfere when visitors navigate through the pages. So you may want to consider taking out those disturbing pop-ups, especially if they completely obstruct the readers’ view of the contents.

Top Heavy 1 and 2 Overview

When Top Heavy was first launched last January 2012, Google reported that it only affected less than 1% of the English search queries. It seems that the effects of the first refresh are somewhat similar to the initial launch of Top Heavy 1, and it came10 months after the first launch. This is something that must be given due attention because it might also mean that recovery time is quite long once your blog is hit by this change.


Unlike the Panda and the Penguin updates that refresh almost every month, in this case the recovery time may be long and it could potentially do significant damage on your business. The first refresh last October 10 may have caused devastation on the newly-affected sites, but for those that were affected by Top Heavy 1, it may come as a relief because the update can help them recover if they have already made necessary measures by taking out those excessive ads in their web pages.

How to Recover from Top Heavy Updates of Google

On the lighter side of the Top Heavy update, it is easy to recover. All you have to do is minimize the ads. This is way much easier compared to recovering from the Penguin update that may require doing a tedious task of going through all your backlinks and remove the bad ones.

A better way to recover from this update is to first get a general overview of the page layout algorithm. It is vital to clear out the confusion on above-the-fold ads. Google does not actually hate these ads. In fact, you can keep these ads above your contents because they bring the best conversion. This means more money for you and more money for the publishers as well. If you are using Google ads then Google can also benefit from your ads placement.

What is important is that the ads are not excessive enough to affect the user-experience of the visitors. Thus, use the ads wisely and don’t insert too much of them. One ad above-the-fold is already enough, and you don’t have to worry about being penalized by this update; just don’t add more ads.

Also important to give due consideration is the size of the ads. If it is too large that users can hardly see the contents first, then you have a problem with it. A better guide would be to use the guidelines of Google Adsense with retrospect to ads placement and sizes.

So if the Adsense suggests only 3 ads per page, then you should stay within this level and you are good to go. It is also best to follow the available sizes of Google ads. If you are thinking of placing large rectangular ads then stay within the largest ad- size of Google Adsense, which has a dimension of 336×280. This is already safe for above the fold advertisement in your pages.

It is also important to keep in mind that this update is about page layout. So it may not be confined only to the ads but it may also cover other aspects of the entire page. Thus, analyze your blog and give the readers the best possible experience when browsing through the deep pages.

In any case, the main point of the Top Heavy update is to create web pages mainly for the visitors. You can monetize your blog through ads, but these adverts should not take away the main focus from your contents. After all, majority of the search users are looking for information; so give them what they want in your pages.

In a nutshell, the page layout algorithm is just one of the many changes that Google enforces every now and then. In fact, it is expected that Google will make about 500 changes within the year. So regardless if it is the Panda, the Penguin, or the Top Heavy 2 update, you have nothing to panic if your blog stays within the bounds of Google.