Web Design Specialists – Be Careful of “Top Heavy” Sites

If you’ve been trying to maximise your client’s ROI by placing ads above the fold, it’s time for a rethink. Not only is it bad strategy overall but Google’s watching.

Some web designers are in such a rush to help their clients gain revenue, they make be breaking some of the tenets of tasteful and effective design. We’re talking about being ‘top heavy’ or putting advertisements “above the fold”.

Above the fold has always been the most prized section of a web page. Named after the visible area of a folded newspaper, it’s what your visitor sees on his monitor when he first arrives on your page.

According to web usability expert Jakob Nielsen, users spend 80% of their time looking at this area. So why not make the most of it by monetising the area as much as possible?

Two Good Reasons to Avoid Top Heaviness

Firstly, it offers a poor user experience. You have less than two seconds to make an impression on your visitor. He’s arrived at your site via a SERP or other link and is expecting to see certain content. Instead, he sees a banner ad or Adsense block. You’re going him a reason to click away.

The second reason is that it could affect your rankings. Google’s Page Layout algorithm has been more actively targeting this practice in recent weeks.

Beware the Page Layout Algorithm

Though Google has targeted the practice of placing ads above the fold for a few years now, several recent updates shows they’re getting serious about it. The update on 6 February was the third this year.

Matt Cutts said the updates were intended to downgrade the ranking of a web page with too many ads at the top or with ads deemed too distracting.

Cutts said the action was spurred by complaints from users who claimed they often found it hard to find the content they were looking for on a page. Being forced to scroll down in search of content severely impacts the quality of the user experience.

User Experience is Key

As a web design specialist and SEO specialist, your duty is to present your client’s message as clearly and effectively as possible. The way to do this is to offer your visitor just the experience he’s looking for.

To avoid worrying about future “Top Heavy” and indeed any other Google updates is simple. Just focus on providing the user with a quality experience. That way the user will be happy, and hopefully make a purchase and share the content. Ultimately your clients’ bottom line will never look better.

When you’re looking for specialist web designers, Sydney’s Smart Media offers a comprehensive set of professional services including, SEO, design, online advertising, and digital marketing. Get in touch today.

above the fold infographic

About Nathanael Vanderkolk

Nathanael Vanderkolk is the Director of the Smart SEO Company, a SEO Agency in Sydney, Australia. Smart SEO Sydney has a keen awareness of the latest approaches to online marketing. Follow him on , Facebook and Twitter.
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