When you start SEO and content optimization, you will come across advice and best practices for above the fold content. But what is it and what are its benefits for your website?
In short, above the fold content refers to the content on the top of a web page.
According to a study conducted by Nielsen Norman Group, web visitors spend 57% of their page-viewing time above the fold. The fact that web visitors spend so much time on the top of a page makes this an SEO priority.
SEO professionals have long debated whether content above the fold is still relevant and what are the most effective ways to improve user experience when they visit your website and pages.
Above the fold definition
The phrase originated from the publishing days of the 1700s based on how newspapers were displayed in vending machines and newsstands.
Since newspapers were printed on large sheets of paper, they needed to be folded to fit newspaper stands and display multiple papers easily.
With newspapers folded, the only content visible is the upper half or above the fold.
Even now, newspapers are folded in half with the most attractive and breaking news, attention-grabbing images, and ads displayed on the visible upper half.
Here is an opportunity to make the paper and the news it contains interesting enough so that viewers will be tempted to buy the paper.
What is considered above the fold on a website?
Above the fold content for websites refers to the content you see when you open and load a web page in a browser without scrolling. It is the content on the top portion of a homepage or web page that does not require scrolling to view.
You can use this content to attract attention and convince visitors to scroll down, browse products, or sign up. Think of it as where your website and company makes a first impression on a new potential lead.
Here are some examples that illustrate what above the fold content looks like and the different ways you can create one:
The content on the top of the Squarespace homepage immediately tells you what the company is about (Create your website) and how you can get started (See Templates).
On the right side, you can see different templates as examples. The navigation bar on the top takes you to browse products, templates, and resources quickly.
Content Marketing Institute
You can see something similar happen on the Content Marketing Institute homepage.
Note the different services the institute offers (events, content, advisory) from the content displayed. You also have access to other parts of the website from the navigation bar.
SnackNation uses the top of their homepage to capture visitors’ attention by showing who they can buy snacks for, like remote and in-office employees or individuals and families.
Along with that, they use microcopy to tell you about their service: you can treat someone special with a gift, distance is not a problem, and shipments are easy to manage.
Plus, you get a glimpse of what the product looks like with images of their snacks.
Global Call Forwarding
The Global Call Forwarding homepage gives visitors a quick overview of the service and lets them view plans or speak to a salesperson in one click.
It also displays some of its long-term clients from various industries and has a link to its Customer Stories page.
Why is above the fold important?
Above the fold content gained popularity because it presents an opportunity to grab the attention of visitors arriving on your website or landing page. It sets the expectations of what visitors can find on your website. You have a short time period and some space to tell them about your service and increase their curiosity.
You can guide them to your website’s more important and relevant parts, like the contact page, sign-up page, or pricing page.
How do you measure above the fold?
To determine what constitutes the above the fold portion of a website, you need to consider different monitor and screen sizes, screen resolutions, and plug-ins.
But most web designers seem to agree that the average fold placement is approximately 1,000 pixels wide and 600 pixels tall.
Common dimensions include:
- 1024×768 (old favorite)
- 360×640 (new dimensions).
When creating top of the page content for your audience, you need to determine devices used by your target viewers. Use Google and web analytics to identify these devices and then optimize your content accordingly.
Why is above the fold important for SEO?
SEO best practices will advise you to make your core and critical information easy to load and find. This means improving the on-page experience throughout your website but, more importantly, on your money pages (homepage, product and landing pages, pricing page).
Putting your main content and links on the top of the page and front and center makes it easy for Google to crawl. This improves your webpage’s chances of ranking higher in search engines.
This means that we do not need to put all of our content above the fold, just the essential bits that will help visitors navigate to the right places.
Why is above the fold important for UX?
One benefit often highlighted is that effective above the fold content makes the user experience (UX) better. It’s something we content marketers don’t like to talk about often.
Visitors can access important and relevant information quickly when it is located at the top of the page. They can determine what your service is about and how they can use it to their benefit.
So, content and imagery that is more attractive and straightforward, and less distracting, will guide visitors to interact more with your business. This may lead to sign-ups for a newsletter, booking a demo, or going to your blog to read more.
So, the content you place on the top of a web page not only pleases Google but also enhances your visitor’s experience when they visit your website.
What do you put above the fold?
The images and content you include in this portion of your webpage determine whether visitors will scroll down to learn more or even browse other parts of your website. Because of this, many have used this space to fit as much content as they can, often overdoing it.
A crowded top of the page can deter visitors and reduce your overall conversions. This is why you must use this section to place essential information in an attractive and user-friendly way.
Here are some best practices to consider when designing above the fold content:
- Responsive web design
A website that is quick to load and flexible for different screens has a direct impact on UX. Users will likely stay on your website longer and interact with your content.
- Relevant CTAs
Avoid the instinct to add 4-5 CTAs in the content above the fold. Stick to 1-2 relevant CTAs that will not only drive your conversion rates but also let visitors learn more about your service.
Think: Get a Free Trial, Book a Demo, Get a Quote, View Plans, Read More.
- Important content
Intriguing headlines and a couple of sentences about your product or service that answers their questions can help them understand how they can use your product to their benefit and encourage them to browse products or sign up. Here is a great opportunity to tell and show prospects the benefits of buying from you.
- Relevant and compelling images
Images help visitors visualise your product or service and the benefits of using or owning it. This is especially true if your products are visually appealing, such as food items, fashion products, etc.
- Easy navigation
A site that is easy to navigate increases the chances of visitor engagement. Intuitive navigation can help reduce obstacles and let interested prospects find your products or learn more.
What should you not put above the fold?
There aren’t strict guidelines for what you should and should not have on the top of a page. However, over time, the SEO community has identified elements that are more harmful than useful when included above the fold.
Ads have become a big ‘no’ when we discuss above the fold content. Google has been vocal about ad placement at the top of pages as a bad practice and will penalise your website if you place too many ads on the top.
- Random, unrelated content
Content that is not relevant to the purpose of the page or ambiguous information will confuse visitors and lead them to back out and find another relevant page.
- Big banners with little to no content
While beautiful banners seem like the best way to attract attention, they may not communicate your brand’s message or the benefit of using your product. So, make content a priority when designing the top of your web pages.
The fewer distractions and disruptions you have, the better the user experience.
Does above the fold content still work?
Content marketers and SEO professionals will say yes. However, there are a few challenges associated with creating effective above the fold content.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Optimizing for different screen sizes
One of the most important SEO practices is to make your website and content responsive to different screens. The “fold” differs on these screens based on the way you design your pages. And the list of screen sizes has increased with the increased use of tablets, iPads, and notebooks. Designing for all these screen sizes can become an issue, especially if you do not have a design team spending time optimizing and testing these pages.
- Scrolling is second nature
Even as you optimise the top part of your pages, don’t forget the rest of your content. Web visitors are used to scrolling because of habits created by Amazon, and Facebook where you have to scroll to learn more. This means that you need to optimise all parts of your web page and not just the top.
- Buyers want to research and learn more
While attractive microcopy and copywriting still get more clicks, today’s buyers want to research a brand or business before they purchase. This means that they are ready to scroll, browse, click on links, and navigate throughout your page. So, you need to give them useful content at these different checkpoints.
When writing blog posts, what search engines see and scan first is more important than ever.
With 4.4 million blog posts published each day, standing out is hard.
There is more competition for the keyphrases you’d like to rank for than you could ever imagine. Some blogs aren’t even in your industry.
For example, you might think you’re only competing against your genuine competitor – then Forbes goes and writes an article on that exact topic!
This is why the first 500 words on your blog post are the most important. They sit above the fold.