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SEO experiment: does webpage text position influence keyword rankings?

SEO experiment: does webpage text position influence keyword rankings?

SEO experiment: does webpage text position influence keyword rankings?

home / Archives for September 2021

Text content is one of the fundamental elements of on-page SEO.

In the SEO industry, we often speculate about possible unconfirmed factors used in Google’s ranking algorithm, however it’s clear that the search engine tends to favour sites with high-quality text content.

Though it’s undoubtedly true that text content is important, the qualities needed for text to have the greatest SEO impact are less obvious.

There are many questions around text content that remain unanswered: How much does the amount of text on a page influence rankings? What is the ideal length of text content? How much do spelling, grammar and overall readability factor into how Google treats a webpage?

Alongside these questions around the qualities of text content, another area which receives a lot of speculation involves the position of text content on a page. SEO and web development professionals often use the phrase ‘above the fold’ to describe content which is within the browser window when viewing a webpage, without needing to scroll down.

Content which is contained ‘above the fold’ has been widely speculated as having more impact on SEO than content contained further down. In practice, this would mean that keywords contained here would have greater impact on a page’s rankings. However, the validity of this speculation is still relatively unknown.

On one occasion, when asked whether Google treats pages differently depending on the position of content, John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, responded that it, in fact, did not:

However, on a separate occasion, Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, stated that where content is placed on a page can impact rankings. He noted the impact on mobile devices specifically, where text displays differently on mobile and desktop devices:

With this confusion in mind, we set out to answer one of the most asked questions around text content in SEO… Does the position of on-page text content have an influence on SEO rankings?

our method

To answer this question, we decided to conduct an experiment.

This was designed to test a specific hypothesis: that text content containing keywords, which begins further down a webpage (especially out of the user viewpoint), will be penalised by Google in terms of keyword rankings, and will rank lower than webpages where text content starts at the top of the page.

If this hypothesis is proved to be correct, then we would know that the location of key text content is a Google ranking factor.

choosing keywords

To conduct this experiment, we began by creating a keyword that did not have any pages ranking in Google’s search results. This was done so that Google would have little information about the term used and users would not be searching for it, thus ensuring our experiment results would be fair.

We created the word ‘larantigranolo’, a fictional new product, as our keyword. Our next step was to create a series of websites to serve as test environments, in order to observe the SEO impact of text content placement.

We created five new WordPress websites, each with 300-word articles about larantigranolo. The content on these sites treated larantigranolo as a new type of coffee that “everyone is raving about”:

Each website’s content also included a mention of the fictional, made-up region larantigranolo coffee comes from, ‘heventizazar’, as a secondary keyword to track.

All five websites contained the same number of keywords mentions, with the two target keywords positioned in similar locations throughout. The only significant difference between the sites was the position of the heading and text content.

The target keywords used to measure results were as follows:

  • larantigranolo coffee
  • larantigranolo
  • heventizazar

You can see the content for the experiment websites at the addresses below:

  • prekenolosusa.uk
  • wendevantoi.uk
  • hajinadanlo.uk
  • narimatoos.uk
  • pasrengenio.uk

It’s important that we point out the caveats to our experiment. As with all SEO studies, the order in which each site was indexed by Google may have impacted the end results, although all domains were registered on the same date and content was published on the same date. No domain had any prior history before we conducted this experiment.

To ensure that we kept each site on an even footing, we avoided ever clicking through to the sites from Google’s search results, and no links were built to any of the sites. In addition, each website had only a single page, to ensure no other content influenced the rankings of the studied pages. All sites also used the same WordPress design and structure.


To determine whether our hypothesis was correct, we tracked the keyword rankings of each of our five websites. Over the course of two months, we monitored which websites gained visibility for each term.

The top performing site in terms of rankings was prekenolosusa.uk. This now ranks first for both ‘larantigranolo coffee’ and ‘heventizazar’. This is also the website where the first keyword mention within the text content is highest on the page.

These rankings were verified using rank tracking software which emulates different locations, as well as manual, incognito browser checks.

The prekenolosusa.uk domain started to rank well for our target keywords in May 2021, eventually reaching number one positions in June:

Based on the performance of this site, our hypothesis seems to be correct – that content which begins higher up on a page ranks better in terms of SEO for relevant keywords.

However, other domains in the experiment are not directly in-line with our hypothesis.

To show this, we have created the tables below, comparing how far down text content is on each page against the ranking for each tracked keyword. For ‘position on page’, 1 is highest on the page and 5 is lowest on the page.

For the keyword ‘heventizazar’:

For the keyword ‘larantigranolo coffee’:

For the keyword ‘larantigranolo’:

Although not every domain’s ranking correlates with the position of text content on their page, the page with the highest-positioned content does rank higher than all other domains for two thirds (two out of three) of the tracked keywords.

Below, we show how mentioning the keyword earlier in the text content also correlates with rankings for our target keywords.

In this chart, first/second/third paragraph refers to where each site had its first keyword mention in the text content. The site with keywords in the first paragraph ranks in position one for both ‘larantigranolo coffee’ and ‘heventizaar’.

In the chart below, we show how this performance changes when the average position of all three keywords is taken into account. Here again, the ‘first paragraph’ website still ranks at the highest average position.

However, in both charts, we can see that the site which had its first keyword mention in the fourth paragraph of text is ranking higher than we would expect.

This may be due to factors other than on-page text. Although we registered all the domains and published content on the same date, it’s possible that Google discovered this website earlier than others, and has treated it differently as a result.

In addition, although the amount of text content is the same and the structure is similar across our five experiment websites, the use of language or sentence structure may have had an unforeseen impact on keyword rankings.

In any case, our overall results confirm that the often-used logic, that keyword mentions ‘above the fold’ and as early as possible within text content, is sound.

putting the results into practice

The findings from this experiment results can be used to inform how webpages are created and designed from an SEO perspective.

For long-term SEO strategy, website designers and content producers should bear in mind that ‘above the fold’ text content containing target keywords is likely to result in improved rankings.

It would be prudent to consider whether image carousels, videos or graphics are best placed at the top of webpages. The results of our content experiment suggest that textual elements, containing keywords – such as paragraphs and bullet point lists – should be placed highest on the page to maximise SEO performance.

Over time, perhaps we will gain further clarity from Google around how text content placement influences its ranking algorithm.

This study was conducted by Pedalo WordPress agency.

WordPress website launch checklist

WordPress website launch checklist

WordPress website launch checklist

home / Archives for September 2021

Are you launching a new WordPress website?

We know how daunting the process can be, and how easy it is to forget something. So we’ve put together this handy 10-point checklist to make sure your WordPress website gets off to the best start!

1. check your objectives

If you’re reading this blog, your WordPress website is probably nearly ready to launch, and your initial plans and goals may have evolved and changed dramatically.

So, now is the perfect time to go back to your original objectives and check that your new WordPress design is fit for purpose. Why are you building a new site? What do you want your website to achieve?

Make sure your WordPress website is meeting your needs, including conveying your key messages and appealing to your target audience.

2. configure Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an invaluable tool which tracks website data and provides stats including visitor numbers, the most popular pages, user demographics and much more.

By collecting this information, you can base any decisions about content and website updates on real data. It’s therefore vital to set up Google Analytics on your WordPress site before you go live, so you can monitor performance from day one.

3. set a launch date

Although unforeseen circumstances can, of course, throw things off track, it’s a good idea to set a realistic deadline for launching your WordPress website – and then to stick to it!

This will keep your project moving forwards and ensure all stakeholders are on the same page. It also means you can schedule in time for training, marketing and other important website launch-related tasks.

4. check content

A website isn’t a website without content! Make sure to discuss with your web agency whether they’ll input content as part of the design process or if you’ll need to do it yourself.

It’s worth making a list of all content needed (including text, images and videos) and ticking it off as it’s added to your new WordPress site. We also recommend including a second, proofreading check – ideally by someone who isn’t familiar with the website, as they’ll have ‘fresh eyes’ to spot any errors.

5. complete training

As WordPress is a very user-friendly system, you’ll probably want to make edits and add content yourself once your new site is live.

Ask your web agency to provide training to show you (and any other team members) how to add and amend content, check site security, access plugins and do anything else that might be useful. This will ensure you can enhance and update your WordPress website post-launch.

6. get indexed

In order for your WordPress site to appear in organic searches, you’ll need to ensure it’s indexed by search engines. Google does this automatically, but you can help speed-up the process by submitting a sitemap or asking Google to re-crawl your website.

We also recommend setting up Google Search Console, which analyses website and SEO performance and suggests improvements. For more info on getting your WordPress site indexed, check out the advice on Google Search Central.

7. spread the word

When your new website launches, you’ll want to encourage as many people as possible to visit. As well as giving you immediate web traffic and engagement, this also helps with search engine rankings.

Make sure to spread the word about your new site using social media, email newsletters and any other marketing channels you have. You may also want to write a blog or article about your website and submit this to other sites as a press release or guest post.

8. check speed

As soon as your new WordPress site is live, we recommend checking site speed. You can do this with Google PageSpeed, a free online tool which includes mobile and desktop scores plus detailed recommendations for speed improvements.

With rapid loading an important factor for both SEO and user experience, hopefully your new site will have been designed with speed in mind. It’s good to get initial scores which you can benchmark over time and as you make website changes.

9. schedule backups

A backup is essential in case your site ever gets hacked, infected or encounters another major problem. Therefore, it’s important to schedule regular backups as soon as you launch your new WordPress site.

WordPress backups can be scheduled automatically either with a plugin or through your WordPress agency or hosting provider. For more information, read our blog about how to backup on WordPress.

10. plan ongoing maintenance

Your WordPress website needs ongoing maintenance to keep it up-to-date and functioning optimally. WordPress maintenance tasks include scanning for security issues, cleaning your database, updating WordPress software, and checking SEO performance.

WordPress maintenance should be planned and scheduled regularly in your diary. Alternatively, you may prefer hire an agency to provide WordPress support and maintenance services for you.


Good luck with your WordPress website launch! Please do share your WordPress web links with us – we’d love to see them.

For more expert WordPress tips, check out our Ultimate WordPress Optimisation Guide and other WordPress blogs.