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I have content (article) which is visible only when scrolled down. I have dedicated the 'above the fold' area of all my article webpages for visuals - graphics and H1 (header 1).

Is there any downside as per the new Google update because Google now also considers rendering of pages with CSS and JS?

I might change the layout if I get a good solid reason to do so.

  • Main content above the fold doesn't classify as 'ABOVE THE FOLD' this is because the statement above the fold means above the content... so if your content is above the top menu... your menu is below the fold... and nothing is above the fold. If your concerned about the fold then use CSS PUSH and PULL... – Simon Hayter Nov 2 '14 at 14:20
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    @bybe Not sure that I follow what you mean. "Above the fold" is simply the content that is visible without having to scroll the page - what the user instantly sees when the page is loaded. "The fold" is essentially the bottom of the viewport when the page first loads. (A phrase borrowed from newspaper-speak, where the money grabbing headlines would be above the fold and instantly visible to passers-by - as the papers are often folded on the newsstand.) – MrWhite Nov 2 '14 at 15:06
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    @bybe w3d is right. It is a newspaper publishing term and has historically applied the fold to the bottom of the visible part of the page once loaded regardless of the size. It has always been that Google does not like content beginning below the fold, but has been kinda lax'ed on that lately. There is nothing new here. Rendering has existed for a very long time. I assume that Google is just trying to catch up with the technology a bit to be able to better police some of what it sees as manipulative. Be sure your content begins above the fold. – closetnoc Nov 2 '14 at 15:46
  • @w3d as far as I know it has nothing to do with visibility but rather placement of elements. eg Google dislikes adverts above the fold i.e at the top of the page. If you have adverts within the content then this is classed as within the fold etc. So, content that is at the top of the page with no other elements above them would mean that there is nothing above the fold, everything after the content is below the fold... This is my understanding and correct me if I'm wrong. – Simon Hayter Nov 2 '14 at 21:46
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Google as been able to render pages even with JavaScript for years now, however, part of it's functions was calculating in a predictive fashion where elements were on a page. You and I can look at the rendered page and instantly recognize the various elements and their location and relationships to each other, but because the placement calculations were predictive and not tied to what we humans take for granted, our visual sense, some intelligence was lost.

That is changing.

Part of the rendering work going on today is the ability to render a page then analyze the rendering for a more precise understanding of the page. Predictive analysis is disappearing in this case. Instead, Google is working on understanding the rendered page much like we humans do- in a very real sense.

In regard to your question about content blow the fold.

The term(s) above/below the fold refers to one of the two major publishing print standards that web design has followed since the beginning- the newspaper (the magazine is the other). When a news paper is delivered and you pick it up, there is a header and some content and a fold at the mid-point that would mean that the newspaper would have to be turned over to read additional content. This is obvious of course. The most important content of any newspaper is what is presented to you first- the front page and above the fold. In browser terms, this means that once a page has loaded, the most important content is what is seen first and anything below the bottom of the screen (prior to scrolling) is less important. The fold in this case is the bottom of the screen regardless of the size of the screen. If a user has to scroll to see your content, it is said to be below the fold.

Google as historically measured whether content is above or below the fold. But that has gotten a bit more difficult lately to accurately determine. Hence, Google has been a bit more relaxed about content above or below the fold more lately. Where it is clear that content is above the fold, then alright. But with JavaScript, this is not always as easily determined. Case in point: you can see the change over the recent years in template designs where headers have gotten much larger and the content area clearly below the fold.

That will change soon.

Part of the rendering strategy is to become smarter about how a page is perceived in real world scenarios and to be able to further analyze the value of a site.

Content, even if you were not trying to please Google, should begin and have a fair portion above the fold for one simple reason. User experience. It is annoying to have to scroll page after page to read content or even evaluate if the content is what you seek. If your content is consistently below the fold, your time on site, time reading page, and pages visited metrics plummet. It is common sense. Do not annoy the user. Give them what they are looking for as simply and quickly as possible.

Google is seeking this too. Google is first and foremost concerned about the quality and user experience they provide their users. If they are able to increase user satisfaction with the first page of results, then they have a very happy user base. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with Google's business sense. Google is a business and customer satisfaction is paramount. Satisfaction of the site that Google recommends is a major part of the user experience that Google provides. Content above the fold is a major element in web design that pleases users. It is that simple. Google is striving to increase it's user experience by measuring more accurately how you are pleasing the user.

So yes. Content above the fold helps your standing the search engine results page (SERP). And it will become a more important measure in the future.

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