It’s cliche, but SEO really is always evolving. There are items and practices that Google prioritizes one week and then totally ignore the next *cough – Link Disavow Tool – cough*. However there are some things that have never really changed, but they have been more strongly prioritized.
Above the fold SEO is one of those things. “Above the fold” basically means how Google (and users) see your content after your page loads without scrolling down. In this instance, the “fold” is the dividing line between content you can see without scrolling and content you can only see after scrolling.
For many years how one optimized their page experience above the fold was quite crucial. However back in 2018, Google rolled out Mobile First Indexation (MFI), which certainly caused a stir among the community. MFI was Google initiative to base the optimization and SEO context of a page on its mobile version.
At the time, mobile page speed was one of the biggest debated items after MFI rolled out. But one of the more unexpected and crucial results of MFI was how above the fold SEO evolved.
After this “optimizing above the fold” truly meant “optimizing above the fold in mobile.”
Best Practices for Above The Fold SEO
Check out these examples below. These are two examples of two different pages as Google would see them upon page crawl. Remember, it’s this first paint/above the fold SEO experience that the search engine will be basing its assessment from.
Now the example on the left is ultimately hurting the page’s SEO while the example on the right is an ideal above the fold experience.
What makes the example on the left a less optimal experience than the example on the right?
Google wants users to be able to have the best experience landing on your page. As such, showing them the content and/or interactive elements that they were looking for without having to scroll is crucial. The left example has its hero image set too large in mobile to the point where it’s pushing down the important content that users want to see far below the fold.
Whereas the right example is perfectly optimized to show users exactly what they need to see.
However, I always tell people that optimizing for the on-page experience is 50% appeasing humans and 50% appeasing Google’s technical requirements. Aside from simply giving users an appropriate on-page experience above the fold, you’re also putting SEO critical content for Google to crawl front and center.
Making sure Google can crawl critical content above the fold is essential because the search engine will not crawl your entire page. I know – it’s always surprising when people first learn it. Google will not crawl your entire page in order to determine how well optimized it is. It will rely on the mobile, above the fold render it derives from the Googlebot Smartphone.
Google crawls content in the same way humans read – top to bottom and left to right. That’s why your SEO critical content needs to be as front and center as possible (while also accounting for good UX).
So How Can I Test Above The Fold SEO?
Thankfully, Google actually makes it easy to test whether your critical content is crawlable above the fold.
Chrome users can access this functionality by:
1. Left-clicking on the page they want to test.
2. Then access the dropdown above and choose different mobile devices to test on.
Google Search Console
If you have Google Search Console enabled (and you really should) then you can access the URL Inspection Tool.
The URL Inspection tool not only offers you a visual rendering of how Google is crawling your page, but it includes a lot of other valuable data in regards to crawling and indexation.
At RankScience, our Content Insights tool offers you a way to analyze your content to make sure it’s following best SEO practices including keyword integration suggestions and SEO analysis of similar, competitor content. And the best part is that it’s quick and easy to use. Try out our 30-day free trial today and see how our tool can help you improve your content and out win your competitors!