Think of newspapers. Top of fold or above the fold content refers to the front page. It’s what you see first, when you pick up the paper. You don’t have to look for anything, as the content presents itself to you.

When we apply this mechanic to digital, it’s what the visitor sees first when your website loads. Above the fold generally refers to the first 1920×1080 of the website when it loads. It’s the attention grabber.

This area used to be much smaller, but our devices have been getting larger over time. A mobile responsive site will adjust the size of the content for the device the user is reading from.

Best Practices For Above The Fold

It’s always recommended that the above the fold content accomplishes and satisfies 3W’s.

  1. What is it? Does the content define what the product or service is?
  2. What does it mean? What is the benefit to the reader for continuing to read the content?
  3. What does it mean for the reader? What do they gain from the content you are providing? What’s in it for them?

In today’s content, it’s important we provide a reason to continue reading, or make a decision. The decision could be to continue through the consideration phase. It could also be to click through a call to action. Calls to action are one of the most important aspects of engagement with visitors.

We have to realize that our readers or visitors are in different aspects of their buyer journey. Some visitors are in the awareness stage. The awareness phase means they have little or no understanding of what you are offering. They are there to learn more about something they don’t know.

A percentage of your visitors will be in the consideration stage of their buyer journey. They are aware of your product or service, and they are considering your solution. They aren’t ready to make a decision yet. They are weighing your solution or product against your competitor. This is where most websites and advertisers fail! We will discuss why, further down in this article.

The last type of visitor falls into the decision stage of the buyer journey. This visitor is ready to make a decision. They’ve already done their homework, and have their credit card ready. They want to give you their money, and you should give them the opportunity to give it to you.

A quality piece of above the fold content will contain all three phases. It will also answer the 3W’s and have a call to action in it. All segments will be above the fold. The same holds true for advertising.

Advertising Content Vs Regular Internet Content

Advertising is much more difficult than regular content. Advertising is an art. It only allows for above the fold instruments. It needs to engage a reader in .8 seconds, and give them a reason to click the ad. It will have a strong visual appeal, and pointed content to cause a click. There is very little room for error. The advertiser gets one chance to engage with their audience. If they don’t achieve a click, they’ve lost their opportunity. While they may have a chance to engage at a later date, it generally doesn’t happen. Sometimes, an advertiser may engage with a reader through retargeting, but rarely.

With regular internet content, the audience is already on the page. They may continue reading the content, or may not. They will generally give a better opportunity than they would an advertiser. Why is this? Because they’ve already made the commitment to visit the page.

Placing Ads Above The Fold

People assume that if the best area for engagement is above the fold, that’s where the ads should be. There couldn’t be anything further from the truth. Google’s algorithm can penalize this practice severely. This could impact your websites ranking.

Ad placement requires a knowledge of user behavior, engagement analysis, and bounce rate. A plethora of data for demographics encourages proper placement of ads. The worst thing an advertiser can do is blindly place ads on their page, without in depth metrics.

What Is The Importance Of Above The Fold?

A Google study showed above the fold ads carried a 73% visibility. The same study showed below the fold visibility at 44%. It’s a matter of context and balance. If the ad content is relevant, we would recommend placing it above the fold. If the relevancy isn’t strong to the topic which caused someone to visit the page, we would place below the fold. Being that internet speeds are faster, people are staying on page longer. There is a better chance they will see the ad through their reading the content.

Someone could argue that above the fold is crucial, but only if it matches the searchers intent. If we are getting people to a piece of content about football, placing an ad for tennis shoes won’t convert well. The ads placed should be relevant, and continue to provide value to the reader.

Terms And Definitions From This Article

Above The Fold –  Positioned in the upper (or lower) half of a web page and visible (or not visible) without scrolling down the page.

Buyer Journey –   The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and test, and decide to buy a new product or service.

Awareness stage –  During the Awareness stage, buyers identify their challenge or an opportunity they want to pursue.

Consideration stage –  During the Consideration stage, buyers have defined the goal or challenge.

Decision stage –  Buyers have already decided on a solution category. For example, they could write a pro/con list of specific offerings and then decide on the one that best meets their needs.

Call To Action –  A piece of content intended to induce a viewer, reader, or listener to perform a specific act. This takes the form of an instruction or directive (e.g. buy now or click here ).

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