When asked in an Office-hours Hangout if in ranking Google gives preference to content located "above the fold" - in the top part of the page that's visible when a user lands on it - Google Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller said, in part:
"...So the main thing is that we want to see some content above the fold. Which means...a part of your page should be visible when a user goes there. So for example if a user goes to your website and they just see a big holiday photo and they have to scroll down a little bit to actually get content about a hotel, then that would be problematic for us. But if they go to your home page and they see a hall of fame photo on top and also a little bit of information about the hotel...that would be fine. So it's not purely that the content has to be above the fold. But...some of the content has to be." [Emphasis added]
Mueller further explained that although at one time Google - logically enough - gave preference to content near the tops of pages, now that it's using AI and natural-language processing, the ranking algorithm can better understand content wherever it's located in the page.