Most Pages Built Wrong for Optimization?

Even before the Internet marketers knew that placing the most important content (and advertisements) ‘above the fold’ was essential to the success of any content publication.  Whether it is a newspaper or an internet site, hitting readers with all the most important content right up front is the only way to go, right?  New information suggests that marketers might want to revisit this particular piece of wisdom to see if it truly applies on their pages. recently had Chartbeat analyze the behavior patterns of readers on their site.

Chartbeat looked not only at, but other sites for which they gather information as well and the information was quite interesting.

First things first, on an average news or content based site about 38% of people bounce off the site without reading more than a word or two.  This isn’t too surprising, and no matter how great the site looks, some people just aren’t going to stick around.  Of those who do stick around to read what you’re offering another 5% won’t be bothered to scroll down past the ‘fold’.  Only 5% click away before ever scrolling down on the page which means that the vast majority of those who make it to the site will actually take the time to look past the fold.

Only 5% Click Away Above the Fold

This one piece of information is extremely important because it means the rule that everything important should be above the fold might not be true.  Spreading stories around as well as advertisements might be much more effective than many people once thought.  In addition, by placing some advertising below the fold you avoid any risk of search engines labeling your site as spammy.  Based on the heat map study, over 86% of all engagement by readers takes place below the fold.

Of course, of that 95% who do take the time to scroll down; most of them won’t actually finish reading the article.  Less than half of people who start to read an article will actually finish it.  Many of them will get bored and browse away, others will scroll down to the comments area to write something about the article (which they never read) and still others will click a share button to encourage their friends on Facebook or Twitter to read the article because it was so great (even though they never finished it).

With the information gathered it is easy to see that many sites should be re-evaluating things like the placement of their advertisements as well as the links to other pages on their own sites.  Many site owners will be pleasantly surprised at just how much activity is really taking place below the fold.

How do you determine page layout?  Are you still assuming that above the fold is the only place for key information and advertisements?  Perhaps you should re-think your site design.

The full story from Slate can be found HERE.


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