robdwoods - 7:24 pm on Jan 23, 2012 (gmt 0)
Hi all, I've seen a lot of comments on this thread along the lines that "my site was penalized". Please keep in mind that this is absolutely not a penalty designed to punish your site specifically. This is a broad algorithmic change which affects rankings for particular search queries. There is no penalty to try to get out of; this is simply a larger scale algorithm change than the usual ones which can happen on a daily basis.
That this is a pain and affects the income of some sites is indisputable but we've been needing to react to algo changes from Google for better than a decade now. If you were hit: change the number of ads on your site, especially above the fold, add some new content, and wait for a few weeks to see if the traffic comes back after the next large scale index update. Look at Google's screen resolution tool and see where your ads sit for most users. I'd recommend not placing them in the upper left quadrant if possible.
I fully expect this change to remain in place and indeed roll out slowly to many more than 1% of search queries. If you had it good making a ton of money from heavy ad placement above the fold I suspect you need to live with the fact that those days are gone and find other ways to monetize that traffic.