Recently I noticed an ad in my Facebook feed that referred to a Microsoft study that said the average attention span of people has declined since the beginning of the century. Apparently, the average attention span was 12 seconds in 2000, but only 8 seconds in 2013. The message of this ad was that we humans have one second less attention span than goldfish.
I can not believe that! Even though this rather amusing claim has since been refuted, the fact remains that digital lifestyles and the moderating effect of internet use on attention span have led to a significant shift in our perception of time.
Okay, so what does this mean for us? It means that if you want to get your visitors to stay on your website longer, you need to optimise it for that. It means using graphics and videos, creating a user-friendly interface by using simple navigation tools like tabs or buttons instead of links and using a lot of white space.
If you are looking for ways to improve your digital marketing results in 2022, here are some optimisations on how to keep up with user expectations. We have short attention spans. If you want to make your product, website, or pitch more compelling, learn how to grab attention.
What is Attention Span?
Attention span is the length of time a person can concentrate on one thing before becoming distracted.
The attention span average of a person is between 8 and 12 seconds but can be higher or lower depending on the person.
What is attention span for example?
This is a good example of attention span;
A beautiful girl is talking to a man. He looks at her, but he also sees the ad on the side of the page and takes a quick glance.
The girl notices this and says, “What are you looking at over there?”
The man looks her in the eye again and says, “I was just looking at the ad on the side of the page.”
“Oh, I see. What does it say?”
“It says, ‘If you like this girl, send her a message now and maybe she’ll reply to you'”.
The man smiles at the girl and she blushes.
What is the main idea of this passage? The main idea of this passage is that if you want to attract a person’s attention, you cannot hold that person’s attention for just a second. You have to keep the person’s attention for as long as possible. If you succeed in doing this, it is very likely that the person will remember what you want to tell him or her and act on it.
The reason why this passage works is that it is very short, easy to understand and contains a lot of practical advice on how you can hold a person’s attention for longer than just a second.
What is a short attention span?
The term attention span is used to describe the amount of time a person can concentrate on something before their mind wanders. Online users have an even shorter attention span than goldfish. According to attention span research performed by Microsoft in the early 2000s, the average attention span of people has dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.
After 22 years of this research, we can safely confirm that thanks to technology, visitors’ shorter attention spans present an even greater challenge to content creators. They now need to create more interesting and engaging content for visitors.
Check the video below for a general overview of attention span:
Attention Span Research – How is Attention Span Changing?
In the digital age, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. In a Psychology Today article, Dr Nick Morgan PhD discusses how today’s pandemic and the amount of time we spend online as part of our daily habits are affecting our attention span. Dr Turkle explains, “What has changed is not our attention span, but our ability to engage with new ideas.” So the opportunity to engage is still there.
The change in the attention span of visitors is not that it is lost forever. Rather, it’s that people who are not engaged in the first 7-10 seconds of reading wander around looking for something to grab their attention, whether on your website or not. Once their attention is grabbed, they stay on the page for an average of 16-17 minutes.
Reason for Attention Span Reduction
The reason why people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter is because of the way people consume media today. Dr Nick Morgan PhD explains that the changes in attention span are not because our attention span has become shorter or simply disappeared. Rather, it is partly due to the overloaded media. There is so much to see.
He also points out that it is harder for us to focus on one thing or task for a long period of time because so many people are doing several things at once.
You do not want to help visitors’ attention spans drop. You want visitors to stay on your website and read the content you have put there.
A common mistake is to use too many words. Too much text can be distracting and confusing. So try not to explain too much what you want to say.
So how can you make your website more attention-grabbing?
What is your attention span?
As a human being, you have an attention span of about 8 seconds. This is the time it takes your brain to process what it sees and hears. You can remember things that happen during this time.
So if you are trying to get the attention of your website visitors, keep the message short and simple.
How can you do that?
The best way is by drawing the user’s attention to a specific image or a specific section of text. Let your imagination run wild and you will find a way to do this.
For example, if the user is looking at a picture of fruit on your website, you could add a small picture of a knife and fork in the corner of the page.
This may seem strange, but it will work. The user will be attracted to the image and read the text underneath.
This is a very simple example, but you can be much more creative than this. Just make sure that your website is easy to use.
What is the span of attention for example?
Making Your Website More Attention Grabbing
It may seem like a daunting task, but it is worth the effort. There are some things you can do to get people interested in what you have to offer them. In order to have an effective website, you need a large audience. And in order for tha1t audience to stay on your site long enough, they must be interested in what you are offering them.
To achieve this goal, consider the following 10 points:
- Offer valuable content
- Use images, videos, infographics and other visual aids to make your site more attractive
- Create a layout that is easy to navigate
- Your headings must catch the eye
- Important information should always be above the fold
- The value offered must be found immediately by your visitors
- Call-to-actions buttons must be used logically
- Use eye-catching graphics
- Always use enough white space or free space
- Arouse the interest of your visitors
Let us now look at each of these points in more detail so that you can better understand how your website can be optimised to increase the attention span of visitors.
1. Offer valuable content:
This is the golden rule not only for SEO but also for marketing. A major reason for the decrease in attention span is the lack of valuable content. Articles, images and videos that are not relevant or enticing enough to hold the reader’s attention for more than a few seconds. It is the job of the content creator to attract and maintain the interest of the visitor. Therefore, it is necessary to publish content that is informative, entertaining and engaging.
2. Use images, videos, infographics and other visual aids to make your site more attractive:
This point should be self-explanatory. But it is not, because when creating content there is often a wrong approach to what is attractive and what is not. That’s why you need to keep up to date with your audience and trends in the marketing industry, so you know what works and what does not work. Not because you like it, but because your audience links to it.
You need to get your message across in as few words as possible. In this era, brevity is key and you should always keep the reader’s attention span in mind.
3. Create a layout that is easy to navigate:
Since the development of smartphones and tablets, we have noticed a decrease in attention span. This is because we can access content more and more easily on these devices, which are more convenient than desktop computers.
To counteract this, make sure your layout is easy to navigate. This will make it easier for your visitors to find what they are looking for and encourage them to stay on the page.
4. Your headings must catch the eye:
Headings are the first thing your readers see when they land on your page, so it is important that you use them to grab their attention. It is recommended that headings are no longer than five words, with the exception of ‘Introduction’.
Below are seven tips on how to optimise your headings to increase visitor attention:
- Give your headline the same importance as your page title.
- Keep your headlines short and concise.
- Include a call to action for your readers, e.g. “read more” or “learn more”.
- Do not be afraid to use subheadings to break up the text.
- Use meaningful words in your headings.
- Use words that convey a feeling in your headings
- Capitalise H2 headings if this makes sense based on the design of your page.
5. Important information should always be above the fold:
The most important information on the website should always be visible to the visitor, even if they scroll down. This way, they are more likely to discover the company’s special offers, discounts or giveaways before they leave the website.
Above the fold means that the information is above what visitors see when they first open the website. This is also called the hero area.
6. The value offered must be found immediately by your visitors:
This point may look similar to point 5, but in reality, the two points are very different. This point is about how you design the layout of your website to increase the attention span of visitors. The value offered is what you want your visitors to find as quickly as possible.
This can be in any section of your web page, because all sections of your web pages should offer some value, and this value needs to be found immediately, even if it is in the footer.
7. Call-to-actions buttons must be used logically:
The first few seconds of a website should focus on presenting the key offers and services, as well as defining the company’s branding and describing the services it offers. Call-to-action buttons need to be used logically to guide visitors through their experience on the site, rather than making them click around aimlessly to find what they need.
A good example of using your CTAs wisely is to offer different options for filling out a contact form, e.g. by phone or email.
This way, visitors can choose what is most convenient for them.
The most important thing is to always remember to use contrasting colours for your CTAs, as this increases their visibility.
There is also a lot of research that shows that people cannot remember more than three things at once. This means that you need to make sure that you offer a few different designs so that you can use some kind of A/B testing effect.
8. Use eye-catching graphics:
Bright and sharp images on a website attract more attention than boring, uninteresting images. This is because our eyes are naturally attracted to high-contrast colours, objects in motion and high contrasts.
It has also been proven that images that convey emotion, such as smiling or angry people, pique visitors’ interest and increase the time they spend on a website. You can read the full study here:
9. Always use enough white space or free space:
It’s important to create a sense of spaciousness and calmness on your website by using lots of white space so visitors can focus on the content. Crowding and bustling can cause visitors to become overwhelmed and leave your website.
The best way to optimise your website for the attention span of visitors is to use lots of white space. By a lot, it is not meant that you have a white page, but that you use the elements on the page in moderation, but always make sure that the page is relaxed and attention is drawn to the details.
10. Arouse the interest of your visitors:
The first thing you should focus on is to arouse the interest and curiosity of your web visitors by offering them interesting information on every page, e.g. new content or special offers. A website should not just publish meaningless content but should be updated with fresh news to keep visitors coming back.
These are the 10 best practices when it comes to keeping your visitors interested:
- Offer exclusive content that is not offered anywhere else, e.g. videos or articles that cannot be found anywhere else on the internet
- Have a good design with an attractive layout and use the right colours
- Use eye-catching headlines and captions that summarise the content
- Offer your visitors new information on a regular basis, e.g. by publishing a blog post or a newsletter
- Change your layout frequently to keep it interesting
- Create an interactive experience with polls, quizzes, competitions and other activities that are fun for the whole family
- Use pop-up windows with information about the article you are reading
- Offer an active live chat on your website so visitors can talk to you and other visitors.
- Offer a multilingual option so visitors can read your content in their native language.
- Display your social networks, e.g. Facebook and Twitter
Determines how many minutes your website visitors’ attention span lasts
Determining the number of minutes your website visitors’ attention span lasts is the first step in optimising your website for increasing visitor attention spans.
Simply go to Google Analytics and check the number of minutes your website visitors stay on your site.
The higher this number is the better. To find the number of minutes your website visitors stay on your site follow these steps:
- Log into Google Analytics and click on the property you would like to analyse
- On the left-hand side of your screen, click Audience > Overview
- Scroll down until you reach the section that says “Avg Session Duration”.
If the average Avg Session Duration span is less than 2 minutes. This means that if you are not optimising your website for increasing visitor attention spans, you are going to lose visitors and will have a low conversion rate.
How To Improve Your Attention Span: A Step-By-Step Guide.
So, you are looking for a step-by-step guide to improving your website attention span. Here is a list of things you should do:
Step one: Choose a topic that is going to be of interest. If you are writing about your favourite hobby, there is a high chance that people will want to read more about it.
Step two: Create a title that is going to draw people in. If you are writing about your hobby, then use it as the first word of the title and if possible, put it into a question format.
Step three: Write a short paragraph describing what you are going to write about. This will help you with your writing and also allows people to see if they want to read any further.
Step four: Write the first sentence of your article. This is probably the most important part as it will determine whether people read on or not.
Step five: Write your introduction using the 4 Ps of marketing (Problem, Promise, Proof, Proposal) to hook the reader in.
Step six: Write your main body paragraphs with a clear introduction and conclusion to each one. The introduction should contain an interesting fact or statistic that will make people want to read on. The conclusion should summarise the main point of that paragraph and make people want to read on.
Step seven: Write your final sentence/conclusion, which should contain a call-to-action (CTA). This is where you ask the reader to do something, for example, buy a product or service. The CTA can be made more effective by using ‘you’ and by using a question.
Step eight: Finally, edit and proofread your work to ensure it is error-free.
How Long Does It Take Users To Leave Your Website?: An Interesting Infographic.
Common Online Content Habits Causing People Not to Pay Attention?
There are recurring habits of content creators on the internet that cause people not to pay attention. You need to make sure that your on-page content does not have these bad habits.
Due to the abundance of content and websites, they are exposed to, users often get distracted from reading content on a website or watching videos. The internet is a huge place with lots of interesting things to do! But your visitors do not necessarily want to do all that on your website. 😜😜😜
It’s time for a change, and in 2022 you need to be prepared!
To ensure that your visitors are attentive when reading, you should avoid the following bad habits:
- Too many different fonts on a page (it can be very hard to read if there are too many).
- Excessively long sections of text (divide them into smaller sections to make them easier to read).
- Long sentences (keep them as short as possible. A good guideline is a maximum of 20 words per sentence).
- Paragraphs that are too short (you must provide enough information in each paragraph for readers to understand it).
- Splitting your page into pages that are difficult to navigate.
- Too many different colours on one page (This is distracting and can confuse the reader).
- Use all capital letters for your body text font.
- Links are difficult to find on the page.
- You use a font size that is too small or too large for visitors to read comfortably.
- You do not use images on your page (it’s 2022, everyone loves visuals).
- You do not have a contact form on your page.
These are not all, but certainly the most important bad habits you should avoid.
Attention span and SEO
This article will not help you if your website is not properly optimised for both visitors and search engine crawlers. This is where SEO plays a crucial role in the attention span of your visitors. When you think about best practices for SEO, you understand why you need SEO to increase the attention span of your web users.
SEO is usually done on two levels:
- On-page SEO level
- Off-page SEO level
On-page Optimization is the process of optimally preparing your website for search engines. These processes include technical SEO and on-page SEO. These two are different SEO practices and sometimes two different SEO experts are required.
Off-page SEO is about optimising the way visitors and search crawlers get information about your website on the internet. This includes brand presence, external backlinks, citations, mentions, maps, etc.
Depending on your business goals, user attention span may not be your main concern. In the latter case, you need to draw the attention of search engines to your website, and here too SEO is essential.
How to Keep User’s Attention With SEO
There are many ways to keep users’ attention with SEO. One way is through video content that shows users what you have to offer, like a cooking show or an apparel company showcasing its products. Another way to keep users’ attention is through interactive content that allows users to use your website and interact with it, like a game.
Optimising your website for increasing visitor attention spans in 2022 is a big challenge. There are many factors to consider when you want to get more time spent on your site and ultimately increase the number of conversions and sales.
How to Keep User’s Attention With SEO
Website owners need to ensure that they can maintain the attention of their visitors through SEO optimisation techniques. SEO is a great way to help you do this.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is about influencing the visibility of a website or web page in search engines through website optimisation techniques.
Since users will spend less time on websites than they used to, SEO strategies should focus on using the best methods to get users’ attention.
In 2022, the average time spent on a website will be 1:20 minutes (according to Google). Therefore, website owners need to ensure that they can maintain the attention of their visitors. Moreover, SEO strategies in 2022 should focus primarily on keeping users’ attention.
4 SEO Key Performance Indicators to measure the attention span of visitors.
In SEO, you can rely on certain performance indicators to determine how well or poorly your website is increasing the attention span of your visitors. Some of the indicators to consider are:
- bounce rate: bounce rate is usually high if your website is not able to engage visitors. A high bounce rate means that your website visitors bounce right after landing on your website, and this is not good news for your SEO success.
- average session duration: The best way to see how well you are doing at holding users’ attention is to look at the average session duration. ASD is the average time your users spend on your website. The longer the attention span they use, the more engaged they are.
- time on page: If you want to rank higher in the SERPs and increase your click-through rate, you need to have a high time on the page.
- the number of pages viewed: The more pages users visit on your website, the better it is for your search engine optimisation and it is a fantastic sign that your visitors are paying attention to your pages.
How to adopt an SEO strategy to user attention span.
SEO strategies usually take time to implement. However, the world’s attention span is getting shorter these days, which means that it might be more efficient for an SEO strategy to shift its focus from long-term search engine optimisation to short-term attention span.
An example of an SEO strategy to increase the attention span of users is to create a unique, relevant and interesting title and subheadings for each page.
But it’s about more than just your titles. You need to develop an SEO strategy that fits your business goals while focusing on user attention span.
For example, if you want to sell a product or service online, an SEO strategy that focuses on your website’s conversion rate is more important.
Because as a business owner, your main goal should be to increase sales.
If you are currently using SEO strategies that focus on long-term search engine optimisation, it may be time to rethink your strategy.
So what should you do?
Here are 5 tips that can help you with your SEO strategy to increase the attention span of your visitors in 2022:
#1 – Create a short, relevant and engaging video on your homepage.
#2 – Use pop-ups to promote products or services related to the content on your website.
#3 – Add a countdown timer to your homepage.
#4 – Use a chatbot on your website that can answer questions about specific products or services.
#5 – Add a quiz that customers can use to test their knowledge about your products or services.
Google Webmaster Guidelines – https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en
How should I maintain my audience’s full attention?
If you can empathise with your audience, that is the most effective way to get their full attention. You should always be able to empathise with your audience, and you can only do that if you really understand what they want from your website. You can only do that if you know the answer to these 3 questions:
- Who is my audience?
- What are their wants and needs?
- How would they like me to communicate with them?
You should always try to understand your audience’s wants and needs before you start communicating with them. You can do this by researching more about them and trying to find the answer to the following questions:
- What is my audience’s demographic?
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What gender are they?
- What is their income level?
- How many children do they have?
- What are their hopes and dreams for the future?
- Who do they admire and why?
If you can answer these questions, you will be able to empathise with your audience and maintain their full attention.
Tools to help you work more with your visitor’s attention span
There are a variety of online marketing tools, but only a few can help you work with your visitors’ attention span.
- With a landing page optimiser tool, you can see how long your visitors are engaging with the content on each page of your website.
- With a heat map tool, you can see how far down the page your visitors scroll and what they focus on.
- With the Exit Pop Tool, you can see when your visitors leave the page and why.
- With a chat tool, you can communicate with your visitors in real-time. This is especially useful if you use a landing page optimisation tool, as it allows you to see how your visitors react to the content on each page.
- With a content testing tool, you can test different versions of your content to see which is most effective in increasing visitor engagement.
If you need help finding the right tool, you can always ask us for advice in our comments section below.
Attention spans and social media
The attention span for websites and online businesses is getting shorter and shorter. However, this is not true for social media, where the average attention span is around 10 seconds. More and more people are using social media to escape the reality of their lives, which is why there is no decline there.
Probably because social media has been used as a platform for entertainment. The future of social media will be to facilitate consumption while providing entertainment. Websites also need to take this kind of approach to increase people’s attention span.
Another reason why attention span has not decreased on social media is the large number of users. The more people use a platform, the less time they spend on it. But because there are so many users on social media, they are all divided into smaller groups.
People spend more time on social media when it is easier to consume content and when the content itself is entertaining. At the same time, the content has to be engaging.
The success of an SEO strategy that treats the user’s attention spans smartly is strongly tied to content creation and its optimization. This is a continuous process since digital trends, with SEO in particular, and user behaviour is constantly evolving. There’s no universal recipe that will work for all content types and channels.
You won’t capture the user’s attention in 100% of the cases but you can make your content as engaging as possible. Will require a lot of creativity and hard work. But the rewards will be great for those who succeed.
Each content piece, platform, and channel for its distribution should be approached individually in order to make the content truly engaging for the audience and stand out among the online distractions. Understanding user intent, SEO trends, and finding the appropriate content formats and distribution channels for your ideas and products is the key.
So in Summary:
- Don’t make your visitors work hard to find the information they are looking for.
- Use visual content in order to deliver your message and engage users with a clear benefit.
- Keep it short and simple, but not too short or too simple otherwise you risk losing the attention of your audience. (See Figure 1)
- Use a variety of content formats to engage your audience. (See Figure 2)
- Make it easy for your users to share and distribute the information you provide them with. (See Figure 3)
That’s it for this week! Next week we’ll be back with more news from around the web.