I read the adsense rules and FAQ's and it states I can't have an ad unit above the fold that takes up a large portion of the users screen and they specifically mention the 300x250 ad unit.

I used the 320x100 ad unit above the fold for a couple of days and made no money off it, however the 300x250 unit placed below the fold scored me more than $0 RPM.

So my question then is, am I no longer allowed to have an ad unit on my mobile site that is above the fold? If this is still allowed, then why am I making $0 even though I'm using an ad unit that doesn't take up the majority of mobile screens?

Is there a set of rules google is keeping away from publishers that we publishers should know about with respect to placing ads on mobile sites?

  • This is a really an important question. With so little real-estate for mobile sites and the need to monetize a website along with the push for mobile websites by search engines, for high resolution screens ads are small and for low resolutions the ads are so big. What, if any, is an optimal formula for doing the right thing especially in Googles eyes. The above the fold, top-heavy, going mobile, all seem to work against each other to some degree and it is admittedly confusing and rather fuzzy.
    – closetnoc
    Jan 27, 2016 at 16:12

3 Answers 3


Google does not publish clear guidelines about how much ad space is acceptable above the fold for organic search engine rankings. I really wish Google would do so. The best guidance we have gotten is when Matt Cutts said that a post-it-note sized ad on a desktop site should be acceptable.

My biggest site has been effected by every update of Google's top heavy algorithm. It has two ads above the fold on desktop: 300x250 and 728x90. It has one ad above the fold on mobile: a 320x100 unit. It appears that only the desktop version is penalized for having too many ads above the fold.

My mobile site makes money with a single ad above the fold, but the revenue per page is about a third of the desktop version.

  • 1
    Google does need to take a look at this in detail and give solid guidelines. Especially since we are being graded on our work and it appears at times compromises and grey areas will exist. Is Google punishing sites that try and do the right thing? I suspect it does - at least to some still significant degree. With so many big changes in 2015, it seems to me that Googles "say nothing or say little" approach is rather a poor tactic. Bring back Matt at least as a spokesman. I do not like to be so critical, but lately Google has been too heavy-handed.
    – closetnoc
    Jan 27, 2016 at 16:19
  • How do you manage to make something per RPM for a mobile ad above the fold? As for me, I have to have the ad below the fold. Most of my revenue comes from the desktop version. Makes me wonder if people no longer use smaller screens anymore. Jan 28, 2016 at 1:25

Google has released a refresh of its Page Layout Algorithm before almost a year ago. The filter, also known as the Top Heavy algorithm, downgrades the ranking of a web page with too many ads at the top or if the ads are deemed too distracting for users.


Chances are people probably aren't staying long on your site if your earning nothing from them. Google have a short TLDR in regards to this. Also consider a rule like YouTube that if people watch for less than 30 seconds, you earn no revenue from the video.

It just appears that it's likely judging the content to not be good enough on your page.

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