During a Google Office Hours Hangout, viewers can expect to receive answers to their SEO questions. The livestream series, hosted by Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller, allows users to ask questions about web pages, SEO, search algorithms, and much more, directly to those who know the answers.
Some of the topics on recent episodes show a trend: users believe there is a strong ‘cause-and-effect’ relationship between the actions they perform on their web page and the result. Mueller, however, explained that, in most cases, it’s more complicated than that.
One of the topics addressed was content that is ‘above the fold’ – in other words, content that appears immediately upon clicking on a web page’s URL, rather than content you have to scroll to access. Last week, a viewer asked Mueller if Google prioritizes content that is above the fold.
“The main thing is that we want to see some content above the fold,” Mueller answered on the livestream. “A part of your page should be visible when a user goes there.”
The viewer who asked that question returned this week, saying that they updated their site with more content above the fold, and alleged that their rankings suffered.
Another viewer asked if the Google Ads campaign they launched was responsible for what they believed was a drop in rankings.
Mueller answered both of these questions similarly: there’s no major causal relationship between the page owners’ actions and the result.
“I think if you make that kind of design change on your website, where suddenly the content moves up or suddenly the content moves down, you would generally see that as a fairly soft change,” Mueller told the user who moved content above the fold. “I don’t think you would be able to tie [your search rankings] back to that change.”
Ultimately, it appears that search rankings are mildly sensitive to site changes, but there is no strong causal relationship between one of these changes and the aftermath.
You can watch Mueller’s explanations here.