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Above the Fold

What does Above the Fold mean?

Above the Fold is a term used in the publishing industry to describe the upper half of a folded newspaper. Applied to the layout of a web page, Above the Fold is the part of a web page that is displayed on the screen after the page is opened and can be seen by visitors without scrolling.

The term Above the Fold was first used to describe the placement of content on the front page of a newspaper. The headline and editorials are placed on the part of the front page that remains visible to readers when the newspaper is laid out horizontally folded at a newspaper stand. Below the fold, below the fold or fold, less important content is placed.

The Importance of Above the Fold for mobile Web Design

Whether and to what extent the principle Above the Fold should be considered when designing a website has been controversially discussed for several years. An older study by Jakob Nielsen in 2006 showed that 77% of visitors to a website do not scroll and only see the part of the website above the fold. Recent studies have found that 76% of visitors scroll vertically to a certain degree and 22%, i.e. almost a quarter of visitors even scroll to the end of a web page. Overall, however, there is still a big difference in how users treat the content above and below the fold. Market research conducted by Google shows that the visibility of advertising is influenced by its position in relation to the fold. Advertising placed in the part visible only after scrolling receives much less attention.

Optimize content and ad placement

On a web page, the point at which users must scroll down is not constant. Many variables, such as screen size and resolution, affect the appearance of a web page. Other variables include end-user browser selection, browser toolbars, custom browser settings, and the operating system used.

Optimizing ad visibility requires a balance between maximizing user experience and maximizing ad visibility. Optimal placement of content and ads on a Web site is an iterative process where data is repeatedly analyzed and tested due to the many different influencing variables. A starting point for the optimization of the page layout is the analysis of the used browsers, screen sizes, and device types as well as the visitor behavior regarding scrolling depth, bounce rate, and interaction rate. Google Analytics, for example, provides important clues as to which devices visitors to website use.

Heat, click and scroll maps provide information about visitor behavior. These maps can be used to analyze how visitors move their mouse over a website, where they expect a button to appear, or how far down a website visitors scroll.

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The Importance of Above the Fold for Search Engine Optimization

Over the years, Google has released several updates to its algorithms that devalue websites that place so many ads above the fold that the actual content of the page is moved to the invisible part. From Google’s point of view, these websites offer a bad user experience and are usually devalued.

It is still the first impression that a visitor gets from a website that determines whether they stay on the website or leave it quickly. Therefore, Content Above the Fold is very important in terms of the bounce rate. A high bounce rate is a negative signal for Google, which can lead to a devaluation and thus to a worse placement of the website in the SERPs.

Last but not least, Content Above the Fold also plays an important role in page speed. The faster a website can be loaded on a mobile device, the lower the number of aborts of the loading process by visitors. The Google tool PageSpeed Insights differentiates between the loading time for the page content Above the Fold and the loading time for the entire content of a website. Among other things, it is considered negative if the page content Above the Fold cannot be rendered and displayed until the following resources have been fully loaded. Google recommends loading or moving the following content and blocking resources asynchronously.

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