Is Content ‘Above the Fold’ preferred by Google?

During hangout session for SEO Office Hours, John Mueller from Google has been asked whether more preference is given to the content ‘above the fold’. So, Mueller explains what Google desires to see on the top page of the content in any website.

What is ‘Above the Fold’?

‘Above the Fold’ content is something that you can see without scrolling the page following to a page load. The term has generated from the newspaper. The top part of the newspaper that is seen after being folded is ‘above the fold’.

Does above the fold content associated with ranking benefit?

One of the users has said to Mueller that one of his competitors has transferred the content from below the fold to above the fold. As a result, it has seen a significant improvement with the ranking. So, the question here is whether content above the fold is given preference by Google.

Content ‘Above the Fold’ and Google Ranking

From the content creator’s perspective, it is completely reasonable question and they like to know whether ‘Above the Fold’ content impacts Google ranking or not. It is also true that user experience is better when the important content is placed on the top of the page.
Previously, Google used to offer preference to the content that is placed on the website top or nearby. Several research papers, patents and statements can confirm the fact that headings and keywords on the top page are considered algorithmically more important in comparison to the content in lower half of the page.
Through the opening paragraph, topic of the content is mentioned for this reason. So, there is no doubt in the fact that top page content is given more importance.
However, change can be seen now to some extent as Google has started to use AI and natural language processing techniques to get a sense of the content. Now, Google looks at the content on top, middle and also end. As a result, Google can understand a content better.
Answering the question of Google giving preference to ‘above the content’, Mueller has said “I don’t think we have strong preferences in that regard”
Further he has added,
“So the main thing is that we want to see some content above the fold.
Which means… a part of your page should be visible when a user goes there.
So for example if a user goes to your website and they just see a big holiday photo and they have to scroll down a little bit to actually get content about a hotel, then that would be problematic for us.
But if they go to your home page and they see a hall of fame photo on top and also a little bit of information about the hotel, for example for a hotel site, that would be fine.
So it’s not purely that the content has to be above the fold. But… some of the content has to be.”

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