Above the Fold—Does It Really Matter for Law Firm SEO and Website Development?

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Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Extraordinary news is published on the front page of the newspaper for maximum exposure, a strategy that helps communicate important news quickly—and helps publishers sell their papers faster. Similarly, law firm websites can utilize the “above the fold” technique to deliver a better user experience and increase engagement.

What does “above the fold” mean?

The phrase “above the fold” refers to the prime, uppermost location where the most important information is usually displayed. 

It originated from the way newspapers are often folded on newsstands, with the front page creased in half to reveal only the top half of the front page. Because the most visible part of the newspaper is the top section above the middle crease—above the fold—this is where the most important news is published.

In the digital sense, “above the fold” refers to content that is visible on a website before scrolling down. 

How does “above the fold” affect digital content?

The “above the fold” principle affects both a user’s experience of digital content as well as a search engine’s perception of that content. 

Firstly, let’s consider your website visitors. The content that appears on your website before the first scroll is absolutely critical. Study after study has proven that the majority of users engage with content above the fold. In fact, website visitors spend 80% of their time on information above the fold before they scroll down. Users devote only 20% of their attention to content below the fold.

Secondly, we need to consider ranking on Google. In previous years, it’s true that the search engine favored content toward the top of the page—but today, that’s no longer the case. Thanks to AI and natural language processing, Google has gotten smarter. 

The search engine can now understand the topic of your website wherever the keywords are located. Placement above or below the fold shouldn’t affect SEO, though it’s important that some content still be placed above the fold to deliver information to visitors upon arrival to your site. Last year, Google’s John Mueller explored this topic in an SEO Office Hours Session — see minute 55 for his insights.

Tips to successfully implement this principle on your website

So, how can we design a website according to the “above the fold” principle? First and foremost, remember that we are designing for users. Make it easy for your website visitors to find what they need by locating the most important information front and center.

You may wish to include the following information above the fold on your website:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • How you’re different
  • Call to action
  • Intuitive navigation menu for further exploration, as needed

Review and next steps

“Above the fold” is a helpful reminder to place the most important content on your website at the top, as this is where most people will spend their time.

By being strategic about which information you publish at the top of your webpage, you can improve a user’s experience. A better user experience helps visitors form a good impression of your brand while making it easier for them to reach out to you.

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