The “Page Layout Algorithm”, also known as the “Above the Fold Update” and the “Top Heavy Update”, addresses the issue of pages with an overabundance of ads above the “fold” (the part of an internet page that is visible when the page loads for the first time). Such pages received a drop in ranking after this update.

Google believes that pages with too many ads are making it difficult on user to access actual content, which creates a poor user experience. “Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away.” So according to this, websites without many ads will be receiving a boost in rankings.

Unlike most updates which Google doesn’t share a lot of information about, in this update Google has published information on how to deal with the update as part of their official guidelines in case we think it might’ve impacted us:

  1. Examining the website in different browsers and different browser sizes to see whether we’re creating a problematic user experience for some of our users, i.e. obscuring content due to a disproportionate amount of ads.
  2. In case our examination concluded that our website contains too many ads and we’ve decided to change the structure of the page, several weeks must pass until Google re-indexes our entire website and rankings are updated to reflect our new website structure.

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