The World Above the Fold: How it all affects SEO

Above the Fold

Remember that Google update where they said they would give a little de-ranking on sites that have ads above the fold? Well, this is not about that. It’s about what you SHOULD do above the fold to make your rankings go up. Is it part of content marketing? Heck yeah. Here’s how it all affects SEO.

This entry is part of our Breaking Down Content Marketing Series

What is Above the Fold?

Above the fold is anything that a user sees once they land in the webpage. These are the images,texts, forms, etc – everything that their eyes can immediately take hold of – without scrolling down. Obviously, there are different folds for different laptop or desktop screens. You don’t have to worry about that. In general what you need to think about is, what are things you want people to immediately see once they land on your page?

Above the Fold - browser size

Why is Above the Fold Important?

Explaining above the foldIf it’s not already too obvious, let me enlighten you. Above the fold is uniquely important because it is a new visitor’s first impression of your site and it is a returning visitor’s refresh of familiarity with your site. Why do you think advertising companies toil day and night to launch a single piece of creative billboard for a new product line?

First impressions baby. It matters.

What does it have to do with Content Marketing?

After you’ve drawn your visitors in with your title (Check out our post Title Creativity), put your best ‘interesting points’ above the fold. This means the:

  1. Article Title
  2. First paragraph
  3. Upper portion of your sidebar/s

Since we are a strong advocate of practicing what we preach, let’s take our own blog as an example:

SEO Hacker Above the Fold

Titles are Important

Content Title

Some people even claim to spend more time thinking about what title they should publish their article with than writing the article itself. I’m not telling you to do the same, but hey, I want you to know that titles hold a LOT of weight. They are the windows of your article. The red carpet leading to it.

(Also: Read our entry on Keyword Placement.)

Without a title that snatches on your reader’s interest, you’ve got nothing.

First Paragraph

First Paragraph

After a well-performing title, the next thing your readers are going to obviously read is your first paragraph. Capitalize on exactly what your readers will want to know in your article – and then pepper it with your writing voice. No one wants to be mislead by a great title and a sucky first paragraph.

Upper Sidebar/s

SEO Hacker Sidebars

No matter how much or how little thought you put on your sidebar, it is there – above the fold and right beside your content. You need to make really good use of it. Your sidebar has the power to retain users in your website, make them part of your community, turn them into a lead, or drive them away.

I put a lot of time thinking about the things that I should put on SEO Hacker’s sidebars. Everything that I put there that are above the fold are either meant to make our readers part of our social network community, increase our branding in them, connect us in Google+ or help them learn SEO in our SEO School.

In any case, all of these actions are beneficial both for our readers in the wealth of information they receive, and for us as a company.

How does All this Relate to SEO?

Simple – first impressions, remember? When a user is turned off by how your above the fold looks like, the chances of that user staying in your website to check out more information is greatly decreased – you can be sure that they will not stay any longer than 10 seconds. Is that bad?

Heck yeah.

When a user clicks-through to your webpage from the search engine results page (SERP), the search engine starts counting.

1… 2… 3… 4…

That, my friend, is the number of how well your page performs in front of a real user. If there are 1,000 visitors who click-through to your page and stay there for less than 10 seconds, the search engines will see that and say “Perhaps this page isn’t really that interesting or relevant. Let’s put it a little lower.” (More on Dwell Time Metrics here)

There goes your great SEO.

Above the fold content is a great way to impress your audience – get them saying “Ooohh” and “Aaahh” above the fold, and you’ve got more dwell time right there and then.

What goes Up must Come Down

This doesn’t mean that the things below the fold are less important. Below the fold, that’s where you put the meat of the content. (Be sure to check out our next entry: “How to Cook your Content Right” for this)

When your readers are sold on your title, sold on your first paragraph, sold on your above the fold impression, they are sure to be sold on the meat of your content. You don’t have to prod them any further. As long as your content is cooked right, you’ve got them chewing on your stuff.

Tips for Keeps: Be sure to think through on the stuff you place above the fold. These pack a powerful punch as a first impression on your audience.

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Comments

  1. Louie Sison says

    “What goes up must come down”. I never thought that this scientific fact can also be used for SEO. Thanks for the reminder sir Sean.

    God bless you,
    Louie Sison

  2. sakib says

    A great resource, thanks for an excellent guide.I have all your guides and I’m excited to read this.

    i enjoyed your blog. Inspired me to keep at it with my blog. I started writing consistently in January and I can see improvement. My dream is to create a e-book and to blog full-time.

    Great post and thank you!

  3. Phanindra says

    Thanks for the article. Many people don’t realize the basics and simply just to make money spread all types of adsense ad units on their blogs and websites which might make it only worst in the eyes of google.

    Good article Sean.

  4. Jan Koch says

    This article is awesome.
    It really points out what a lot of bloggers are missing, to grab the user before he even has to scroll.
    I made this mistake myself and I’m glad, that I got rid of it.
    Since I take care of it, I can see how the visitors spend more time on my site!

    Great stuff Sean!

    • Sean says

      Hi Jan,

      Yep a lot of bloggers focus on making money through ads, affiliate banners, etc. Just like how Google got to improve their main product first (relevant search results) before promoting paid search listings, we should also aim to improve our product first as bloggers (content strategy and the ‘meat’ of our content) before leading our users to our plans for monetization.

      Thanks for dropping by Jan.

  5. Amy Shaw says

    Hi Sean,

    For me SEO is getting more and more confusing. I spent years getting good quality links and since the last update Google tell us that content is everything. I have always placed good fresh content on my site but I almost fear all my efforts have been in vain.

  6. STEVEN J. says

    What a valuable post. I am really going to focus on the above the fold issues you explore. Did not think too much about the left and right margins above the fold so thanks for that insight. Really valuable stuff. Great job!

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