For most of my life when I’d think of the term “top heavy,” I’d picture vintage advertisements for weight lifter Charles Atlas with his little chicken legs capped off with beef-cake pectorals and swollen lats. I’d imagine being “top heavy” myself and stepping to any dudebro who kicks sand on my girl.
Top-heavy frames of reference: The beach and business world
Of course, this only works if the dudebro in question has chicken legs too. And in lieu of chasing each other around the Jersey Shore as in some Benny Hill sketch, the test of manhood becomes a chest-bump-match or cringeworthy arm wrestling display. Google has a totally different interpretation of “top-heavy.”
Google urges against top-heavy “banners” with page layout algorithm
Basically with the page layout algorithm, Google’s message is don’t fill the top of your pages with banner ads. As content strategists, we had a quiet party inside our heads and translated Googlespeak into, “Our clients will now pay us millions of dollars to write leader copy for everyone of their billions of pages.”
The first two “top-heavy” problems are easily fixed with some committed leg lefts, hip abductor exercises and an then an army of twenty-somethings paid in Chuck E. Cheese tokens and billed out at a $200 hourly rate.
But, in our futuristic world of free-range mobile screens and the Internet-of-Things, what really defines “top heavy” to GoogleBot? What’s a content marketer to do when the cleverest of clever web designers has a CSS party with our well written text—going to far as to hide our writing behind or under 10 layers of their ground-breaking designs?
Consider responsive design your best friend. With the advent of Google PageSpeed rendering and testing for mobile friendliness, gone are the days of putting our precious content right at the top of the HTML. We can grab a user’s attention with our delightful content marketing prose and improve our search ranking authority by placing content above-the-fold for any device using any browser using responsive frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation.
Watch where the content resides on the screen of each form factor. Any device is fair game. Home appliances. Vehicles. Game consoles. Gas pumps with their embedded browser engines. Google and Bing say “mobile” first, but I’m worried about my toaster, hair dryer and the clipper I use on my dog. And I’m going to be frustrated as hell if I can’t market my client’s sustainable hemp running shoes while they are brushing their teeth.
Take Paula Deen’s delightful website on my refrigerator:
Tsk, tsk. Thin content above-the-fold and a useless call out to her appearance on Dancing with the Stars. (My bounce rate gland just doubled in size). From an SEO standpoint, this site will still rank well for the Paula brand on every device, but should she go after ubiquitous search phrases like “diet for maintaining type 2 diabetes”, “greasy sugar cookies” and “cooking with sugar”, Paula’s going to be out of luck.
A good content plan for mobile and responsive keeps the key content front and center across all devices. The benefit is not only ego inflation from Google’s robotic praise, but we find higher search rankings specific to each device used. Bounce rates go down and the “pinch and scroll” nightmares go away, leading to better sleep and attentiveness during our workdays! Selfishly, I’m just glad my sticky-handed kid isn’t getting schmengy all over the screens around the house as they try to find their information. “Hey kid… go ask Alexa or Siri, screen wipes don’t grow on trees, ya know!”
One last thing for all of you who were wonder if Paula’s site looks good on the browser in your BMW. It does not.
Peter Quale is the Vice President of Digital Strategy at Lynch Strategies (LynchStrategies.com), a full-service marketing agency located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Peter has 17+ years of online marketing experience, helping clients ranging from non-profits to startups to Fortune 50 companies achieve their growth objectives by creating truly integrated digital strategies.
Outside of work, Peter dedicates a significant amount of time to helping non-profits with their technology and digital marketing.
Hear Peter speak at MobCon 2015.
Photos submitted by Peter Quale.