John Mueller Discusses Above The Fold Content
Creating an efficient SEO content strategy is a must for any online business to hook their potential customers and persuade them to buy their products. Business websites typically feature important SEO content at the very top of a website to catch their readers’ eye. This content is referred to as “above the fold”. In a recent Google Office-hours hangout, John Mueller discussed how much Google expects to see such content at the top of the page area.
“Above The Fold” Content – How It Got Its Name
“Above the fold” refers to a piece of content placed at the top of a site’s page area and can be seen without scrolling. The phrase came from the way traditional newspapers were displayed within news box vending machines in the old days.
Traditional newspapers back then were folded to fit the box, and the featured article or content placed at the top part or “above the fold” was the only thing visible.
Ranking Benefits From Above The Fold Content
A person told Mueller that one of their competitors moved their links and SEO content from below the fold to above the fold. After they did this, their rankings significantly increased. The person then asked if Google gives preference to content that below or above the fold.
The question from the person was pretty reasonable, and it could help a lot of business and webmasters boost their rankings. It also makes sense that placing content at the very top of the website can improve the user experience and eventually increase site visitors.
In the old days, Google used to prefer content that was placed above the fold. There were also many research papers, patents, and statements confirming that headings and keywords at the top of the web page were algorithmically considered as more important than those found at the bottom part of the page.
Most well-written articles hook their readers with an interesting main topic in the opening paragraphs, and product pages usually tell the readers what the web page is all about by featuring the main product at the very top. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to give more importance to above the fold content than those placed at the bottom.
However, all of these were valid during the days when Google did not use AI and natural language processing to understand content. Today, SEO has advanced, and so have the tools that Google uses. The search engine company ranks pages for content, regardless if important details were found at the top, middle, or near the bottom. This is because the algorithm can understand the content better these days.
Does Google Give Preference To Above The Fold Content?
Mueller replied to the person’s question, saying that Google does not have any strong preferences when it comes to the placement of SEO content. He also explained what Google expects to see above the fold.
When it comes to placing content on top of the web page, Mueller advised putting “some content above the fold” so that a part of the web page is visible when a reader visits.
For instance, if a reader visits the website and sees a huge photo above the fold, but had to scroll down to actually read the content, it would be problematic for the user experience.
However, if the reader sees the large photo on top but also a little bit of information, then that’s okay. Mueller said that the entire content does not necessarily have to be above the fold, but some of it has to be.
Mueller’s replies to the person’s question showed how much Google improved when it comes to its ranking algorithm. After the Google Hummingbird update, the search engine company did not have to rely on content above the fold to guess the context of web page content. They also stopped looking at keywords in headings, titles, and content near the top of the page to know the important words within the content.
Google now uses natural language processing to determine a web page’s topic and its relevance to a search query, even if the keywords are not present in the searcher’s question.
Therefore, in order for someone to understand the answer to the question, one should know the difference between the old Google algorithms that gave preference to above the fold content and the new AI and natural language processing, which the search engine company currently uses.
Is Above The Fold Content Important?
Although Google has updated their algorithms to understand the context of content pieces, placing content at the top of the web page is still considered important because it gives visitors a good first impression. It also helps returning visitors refresh their familiarity with the brand.
Placing the essential details of the content on the top of the web page is crucial in content marketing. Publishers often spend a lot of time making creative titles and making interesting points within their first paragraph.
Even with an interesting title, a poorly written opening paragraph could still chase readers away. Therefore, writers should make their topic clear within the first sentences and take advantage of their writing style. Moreover, the first paragraph should also hold a strong connection with the title.
Catching a reader’s attention is a crucial part of SEO. Therefore, placing the most interesting details of a content piece on top, not for Google’s sake but for the reader’s experience, is ideal. When a website succeeds in making a reader stay on the web page for a longer period, it tells search engines that the site has probably exciting and relevant content and would rank it higher than others.
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