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I don't think Google has given precise guidelines because that would make it too easy for the spammers to know just how far they can abuse the rules before getting caught.
Obviously when good sites are unjustly demoted, it leaves room at the top for spammers.
If I was Google I would not look at just one metric.
tangor, the problem is having little or no content before your ads.
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.
We understand that placing ads above-the-fold is quite common for many websites; these ads often perform well and help publishers monetize online content. This algorithmic change does not affect sites who place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree, but affects sites that go much further to load the top of the page with ads to an excessive degree or that make it hard to find the actual original content on the page. This new algorithmic improvement tends to impact sites where there is only a small amount of visible content above-the-fold or relevant content is persistently pushed down by large blocks of ads.
many high ranking sites have native ads or ads that Googlebot cannot be sure they are ads. The page layout update affects mostly sites with AdSense because Google can be sure AdSense ads are really ads.
not at your pretty page
It might be wise in general for webmasters to stay away from IAB standard sizes for any image since those images sometimes trigger adblockers to suppress them. Plus it might be one way for Google to think you have a bunch of ads on your page.