Writing Content For Short Attention Spans

  • By Siobhan Snaith
  • 21 Sep, 2017

The Goldfish Conundrum!

Could your website content be holding your site back like a turtle stomping through peanut butter?

Maybe you achieved fantastic grades in English. Maybe you’re even able to construct Facebook statuses that look like they are right out of a Hemmingway novel. That’s all great but your website content can be temperamental when it comes to your website building strategy and short attention spans are often the main cause of a swiftly closed browser.

Research has shown that the average human attention span was 12 seconds in the year 2000, or before the mobile revolution came into place. Now, it’s 8 seconds, and goldfish are believed to have an attention span of 9 seconds, meaning that we now have a shorter attention span than goldfish.

If you want to do everything you can to create super great content that caters to those who do have short attention spans, take a look below.

Attention Grabbing Titles

  The average person only gives a page between 3-5 seconds before they decide to click on the “back” button in their browser.

For that reason, it doesn’t matter how factually correct your content is, or how much effort you have put into constructing and articulating it, because there is a high chance that the person on your site isn’t going to read it anyway. As soon as they click off your site, they'll probably forget your article even existed. That is, unless you make them interested enough in those first 5 seconds, to carry on with the page. 

It was this problem that encouraged the rise of clickbait. These are titles that make you want to click on the article because you can’t help but not, when in reality, the content is terrible and in most instances, doesn’t really even live up to what the title promises. For example:

“Top 10 Reasons Why Your Refrigerator Is Trying To Kill you”

“The Shocking and Terrible Truth about Mowing Your Lawn”

“How Pickle Juice Could Save Your Marriage”

You get the idea.

 The truth is that even if you hate clickbait, you still may find yourself clicking on a title like the above, because you can’t help but be interested. As human beings, we don’t like to be out of the loop, or missing key information that could leave you awake at night thinking, “how could my fridge be trying to kill me?”. It’s just the way we are, and for that reason, you need to make your non-click bait content as powerful and as engrossing as content that is clickbait, so you can get the attention of the people on your site for more than those crucial 5 seconds.


Google likes to reward pages that link to great websites. If you have sources embedded in your content, it makes you appear more trustworthy, and Google likes to reward those who do this. On top of this, your user can easily go through the page, and click on the link to find out more information about that certain topic. This means that you’re providing the user with a seamless navigational experience, and also catering for their short attention span. If you don’t want to direct away from your site, make sure that you set your links so that they open up in a new tab.

Subject-Detail Ratio (SDR)  

The amount of detail that you provide on any given topic should be dependent on how many different subjects you are trying to cover. If you know that you re going to be covering a huge range of subjects or if you are going to be creating a list then keep the details and the brief spaced out. If you have one subject that has a much longer paragraph when compared to others then find a way to split this up into two. You should also only give the details that are needed, and include resource links if possible. The main reason for this is because people tend to scan for information as opposed to actually reading it.

Don’t End With A Conclusion

Instead of ending with a conclusion, end with a call to action instead. Now you’ve made your case, you have successfully managed to get someone to read through your entire page, and now’s your chance to command them to do your bidding. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to get them to sign up to your newsletter or whether you are trying to cause a revolt against a political movement, you’ve done the near-impossible and achieved the laborious challenge of getting a gold-fish level attention span to read an entire page of information. So now you’ve earned yourself a well-earned sales pitch, and without further ado, go and check out our other blog posts on the Content Heroes website.

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