Google just put live an algorithm change for websites that have many ads above the fold.
“As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. 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.”
What is considered “too many ads above the fold” ?
4-5 ads above the fold could be considered as too much and will link to a seo penalty.
3 ads is more in a grey zone.
1-2 ads seems ok to me.
What to do if my website has been hurt ?
Try to Remove some ads. Wait a re-crawl by Google. Your website will be re-integrated automatically (no need to contact Google team). But be aware that it can take up to several weeks before the search engine fully crawls all pages.
How to test my site ?
But Why this change ?
US SEOs are not very happy about this. It sounds like “Do what I say but not what I do”….
Example: Google is doing the opposite with its own pages that contain many adwords/adsense ads above the fold :
To this You can add the fact that Google Adsense is telling publishers to put more and more ads on their pages, highly visible (on top) and to use bigger formats… So if you try to listen at the same time to Adsense teams and Quality Teams, you don’t know really what to do :-(