How to Lure Short Attention Span Readers to Your Site

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FEBRUARY 2017

What a sad world it would be for writers if no one reads their stuff. Print media is gentler because anyone can pick up your book scan it and decide whether to buy it or not. At least, someone’s read your material, summary, book review, etc. Plus, people who buy hard copy books are bound to stick to reading with no distractions, even if it’s only about 30 minutes a day.

Online writing is more brutal because of the attention span of online readers. If a reader commits himself to reading an article, that article has to do its very best to keep the reader reading. His distractions range from an unopened email, a friend’s new Facebook post, or pending chat messages. And attention span is getting shorter and shorter.

According to a Microsoft study, in 2013 the attention span of the average human being is 8 seconds! Yes, 8 lousy seconds to convince humans to keep reading. Marketers this year have the undeniably daunting task to create online content 2017 and beyond to attract (and keep) the attention of their consumers.

 

But what for?

  1. One word: Google. Big brother is watching visits to your site. It’s bad if they don’t’ stay long.
  1. Your calls to action are at the end of your post so make them stay and do your call-to-action when they reach the end.
  1. You want people to read your hard work.

Solution?

Creating easily digestible text and giving it a writing style and an uncommon flair could just be the solution you need to lure and hold these short attention span and wandering masses.

Remember, readers just scan. They don’t read a lot. Accept it. Go with the flow and read these tips:

Tip #1 Make content more readable

Embrace the concept of white space, like graphic design white space. It’s putting more whites than black text to inject more readability.

Put differing ideas in separate paragraphs. Clumping two in one will create a longer paragraph, therefore less whitespace. 3 to 4 sentences is short and ideal enough. To create more whitespace, try making some of your paragraphs with only one sentence.

Another readability trick is to keep it short and direct to the point. Unless you’re discussing a topic that needs an in-depth description, keep your post simple.

Tip #2 Use headers and subheaders wisely

We were taught before to make an outline of headers and subheaders. Make your headers strong with great impact. Do the same for your subheaders. But don’t try to fool your readers. If you make it compelling, try not to make it tricky or else you’ll lose your credibility.

Tip #3 Use helpful bullets

Going back to the use of whitespace, bullets have less text specially the indentions. Like this:

  • Readers get fascinated by a bulleted list.
  • It’s easily readable with the short phrases.
  • They rest your eyes from all the full-text paragraphs.

Tip #4 Numbers act like bullets

Lists with numbers are always attractive to readers, like countdowns or “the best whatever.” The reader gets curious as to who made it to the top or is at rock bottom. Numbers give your readers a sense of orientation and direction. Aren’t we just a bit curious to know the best hand-made pizza in town?

Tip #5 Add gorgeous images

Visuals do attract readers. Some of the most viral posts are visually eye-catching. They give an enhancement no words can do. But don’t overdo it. Images help, but they shouldn’t be the main hook of your post or the reason why you get shares and retweets. That wasn’t your intention. You want the images to help your readers stay and keep reading.

Tip #6 Use the power of the caption

An image’s caption is read more than the rest of the page. If you have stunning and attractive images, why not pair it with an equally attractive caption? 1 to 2 sentences are enough to get your readers intrigued.

Tip #7 Put some helpful links

Websites thrive on internal links and if you use them, it will direct readers to your main pages. External links tell your readers that you’ve done your research. Having both internal and external links give your content a much needed boost in value.

Tip #8 Vary your elements

Everybody loves variety so don’t bore your readers with monotonous text or images with no captions. Add more variables that go beyond the norm. Use famous quotes, texts in boxes, caricatures, and other “non-normal” stuff.

We get lured to read a word or phrase because it is bolded. The thick lines of these letters make us see them first before the rest of the normal thin letters. Same effect for highlighted or underlined text. The scanners will pick them up and see the important concepts at first glance. Needless to say, don’t overdo it.

 

It’s your turn

The challenge this year is to make online content 2017 engaging, compelling, and everything else you can imagine just to keep our precious readers glued. It’s not so hard once you’ve adapted a pattern. Just make sure your pattern follows these 8 suggestions. Then you wouldn’t lose out on those nasty distractions and noise you find in our online world.

 

Annie Ianko

Content Manager

Annie has 19 years’ experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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