The attention span of people today is lower than the attention span of a gold fish, reports The Telegraph. In the same time people’s desire and ability to multitask, that is to look at minimum two screens at a time improves and slowly becomes the norm. So how do you beat that and get somebody to read your blog posts?
Nobody claims it’ll be easy but here are some tricks that make content less boring and easier to consume – two out of the three ingredients necessary to create intriguing content. The third ingredient is the ease of finding content and you can get some helpful advice on that at the end of this post.
How to Create Content for Millennials and Gold Fish
To get millennials’ attention and the attention of anyone who grew up with computers and smart phones you have to take into account their internet behavior and work on the following:
Of course you write about some pre-defined topic and it wouldn’t make sense to write about something unrelated only because it’s trendy. You can, however, do a bit of research within your field and find the hottest news. They should give you a clue about what your target group is interested in. Remember that contemporary people not only want to be updated but to be on top of the wave. If you want to get their attention, you must work on a content curation strategy that will make your blog posts worth reading.
Besides finding trendy content, you should invest some time in analytics, for example Google Analytics which is a great and free service, and research which of your posts get the most attention. Only by delivering people are demanding, you can optimize your content strategy to serve your target group’s interest and to help you get more site visitors.
While video is predicted to dominate online content of the future according to The Guardian, you should be cautious to jump this train. It’s without a doubt true that many love creating and watching videos but – and it’s a very big but – this isn’t true for us all. Different target groups respond differently to different types of content and you should first and foremost make sure that you’re catering to your target group’s preferences when choosing content type.
Furthermore, it’s always – and I mean always – a winning strategy to combine different types of content. You can, for example, add a video for video lovers and add a transcript, or a blog post with the same information for those who like to skim.
Remember that millennials don’t like wasting time so they might not be interested in your 10 min video on writing a blog post for example. They might, though, find it handy to be able to quickly skim through your post and find what they’re looking for. Skimming through a video or an audio recording might result in missing out on important information.
If you’re in doubt what your site visitors prefer, you can find that out by testing. Simply create different types of content with the same information on separate pages and check what gets most attention by keeping an eye on page traffic in analytics. Be aware though that no matter which content type seems to be the winner, you’ll always be excluding somebody by providing only one type of content.
Give your site visitors what they want – also the freedom to choose preferred content type.
Blog Post Length
When it comes to blog post length, some argued before that a post of 1000+ words is your best shot at getting traffic. Later on I read an article arguing that 2000+ words was the new SEO’s black. And today when researching for this post I stumbled upon Neil Patel‘s idea for a perfect traffic-driving blog post: 3000+ words!
While he argues that the only way to rank is to think about long tail keywords and try to create long content matching more search queries at once, I’d rather see optimizing for internet users and not for search engines.
Ranking high in Google is never an easy task and investing everything in SEO does only make sense if you’re really ready to heavily invest in SEO. As a blogger you have much better chances betting on content that fits your target group’s needs, preferences and behavior.
Contemporary site visitors rarely have time for long posts turning and repeating the same small piece of information. According to this article by Affiliate Marketing Training, it’s an outstanding achievement to get people to spend 2 min on your pages, which is way beyond the average time starting at 30 sec. The reason for this situation isn’t that all websites are boring or don’t provide the information internet users are looking for. The reason is that people don’t have the time or the patience to read a 3000-word article only to find the one sentence they need to find. They want a simple and usable answer to their questions. And they want it quickly.
Google figured that out long time ago and started testing already in 2010 the feature short answers. This feature has developed through time and is now known as Google Answer Box, which SEOs desperately try to win a spot in.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t say that you should write a blog post of certain length, for example 300 or 600 words. You should, however, understand that it’s about quality not quantity.
When writing a blog post you should do your research and write comprehensively. You must, though, avoid using unnecessary words, repeating the same information again and again, and including unrelated points just to make it long.
Best practice is to write focused blog posts answering a very specific question. If that means a blog post of 600-700 words, that’s fine. Avoid making it long and empty by adding words without having anything to say. Only this way you’ll be able to provide what people are looking for and your chances for becoming a preferred information source will improve considerably.
Writing this way gives you also the opportunity to pursue ranking for different queries by breaking your topics down into specific answers to questions that are of interest to your target group. It gives you also a shot at getting featured in Google’s Answer Box.
Titles, Lists and Bullets
Besides providing content that is worth reading, you have to make it easy to read and skim if you’re to grab people’s attention. You should not only learn to break your posts down into short paragraphs making it more readable, you should also learn to use these three elements: titles, lists, and bullets.
Titles, especially H2 and H3, can help site visitors quickly navigate through your post to either figure out whether it’s helpful or to skim to whatever in specific they’re looking for. It’s therefore a good practice to use H2 and H3 as a tool to improve user experience.
Besides utilizing titles, you should consider using lists and bullets whenever possible as it makes your content easier to read and comprehend. It’s also a very good tool for grabbing the attention of millennials quickly skimming your pages to find something specific.
Understand that the information overload that contemporary people have to deal with on everyday basis makes it a must to deliver information quickly, in a desired and easy to use format. Not applying this practice will result in losing site visitors to competitors that respected their site visitors’ time.
Headline and Snippet
Even though headlines and snippets aren’t what makes a blog post worth to read, it’s what makes people go to your site and give it a try.
The rules for choosing a great headline are many but here are the basics that you simply must apply:
- Entice people. Asking a question, presenting a list or a ultimate solution usually does the trick.
- Think from a consumer perspective. Find a title that doesn’t only describe what you write about but also connects your content to an existing problem of your target group.
- Be precise and informative. For your headlines to drive engaged readers to your site you must choose such that don’t mislead but tell people exactly what to expect.
- Use keywords. Not only for SEO’s sake but also for internet users’ sake you should include the right keywords.
The same rules apply to snippets as well. The only difference is that instead of 60 you have 160 character to tell people why to choose your posts instead of somebody else’s.
When you choose the right headlines and write good snippets selling your content, you do also make a step in the right direction in terms of making it easy to find your content.
Ease of Finding Content
The times when people would bookmark your site and come back regularly to see what you wrote have passed for non-celebs. Therefore, in order to make people read your posts, you have to actually deliver them directly to people’s hang-out places online.
While it has nothing to do with writing a blog post, it’s crucial for your reader numbers that you figure out the best way to market your blog posts. As I mentioned before, SEO can help but you cannot rely on it alone. Learn therefore to use social media and offer options as mailing lists and RSS in order to avoid losing readers due to your content being unfindable online.