Search Engine Optimization Web Design

Is ‘Above the Fold’ Really That Important in 2021?

above the fold

Throughout the years, the content placed ‘above the fold’ was considered the most important. This is the first piece of content your website visitors will see and therefore will help form their first impressions. However, with the mass adoption of smartphones and other mobile devices, has this importance waned?

After all, mobile devices have overtaken desktop and laptop computers in terms of connections to the internet. More than 56% of your visitors will land on your website using their easily scrollable touchscreens. If you use a mobile device yourself, you will understand that we all just love scrolling through content.

So, is ‘above the fold’ relevant in 2021? Should this concept remain an important part of website design?

What Does Above the Fold Even Mean?

above the fold  is a concept that existed long before the internet became a thing. Remember buying newspapers? How they were folded so that you initially only saw the content at the top of the front page? This is where the term and the concept originate from.

When you land on a website, above the fold relates to the content you see without having to scroll. Before smartphones existed, scrolling required using a mouse. Either through grabbing the scrollbar or by using the scroll wheel on the mouse itself. The process took more effort than running your finger down a touchscreen.

Does Above the Fold Content Matter?

Definitely, your first visible content is still just as important as before. People may scroll past but normally only once that first bit of information has engaged them to carry on reading. If the above the fold content is poorly written and does not provide the answers your visitors are looking for, they will probably leave. This could be one of the reasons your website bounce rate is so high.

On other occasions, a visitor may just skim read the content and scroll down if they want to find something specific. If a customer scrolls for too long without finding what they need, they will likely leave.

That said, above the fold is not nearly as relevant as it once was. Here is why:

Different Screen Sizes, Different Folds

One of the reasons why above the fold is not as important as once before, is that we use various screen sizes. It used to be that all computers used similar sized monitors, so it was easy to determine where the fold will be. These days, with so many different screen configurations, sizes, and pixels, it is difficult to know where the fold will be for most of your visitors.

We Buy Differently Than Before

Using the internet has taught us to research products and brands before we make a purchase. With so many competitors, your visitor will want to digest as much information about your products and services before making a decision. They will scroll and read as much as possible. They will do this on your competitor’s websites too, which is why it is so important that your content gives them what they need. Not just above the fold, but across your entire website.

Not many will visit, read above the fold, and instantly make a purchase. We do not operate like that anymore.

SEO Plays a Bigger Role

In the past, SEO gurus deemed the content above the fold the holy grail. As a result, websites would cram as much information as they could, including annoying ads. The latter eventually started to lead to ranking penalties due to causing a negative user experience. The point is, the algorithms that search engines use to rank websites are constantly changing.

In terms of your rankings, the content is no longer as important, while still being very important. That content should provide enough to keep your visitor on your page and to keep viewing your content. If it turns your visitors away, your bounce rate increases and the search engines decide your site should rank lower due to that bounce rate.

If on average, your visitors stay for a few seconds before clicking away from your site, Google will know this and rank your website accordingly. So, the idea is to achieve a fine balance. It has to be enough, but not too much. Create above the fold content that leads your visitors to want more, and they will stay and decrease your bounce rate. Neglect that content and they will leave.

The Key Takeaway

Yes, your content above the fold still has a massively important role to play, just not for the same reasons it used to. Focus on creating the right kind of content above the fold without cramming everything in. Most visitors will scroll, so your initial content should set the stage in terms of the quality and value they will get by reading on.

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