Content for Goldfish: Web Content Writing For Short Attention Spans


What’s the difference between a person and a goldfish? Apparently, the amount of time they’re likely to spend reading the material on your website. (Suspend disbelief for a hot minute and pretend goldfish watched Reading Rainbow in school.) One of these hot marketing factoids points out that the average person’s attention span is 8 seconds long when it used to be 12, while a goldfish’s is 9. There goes that cliche.

Apparently, this is old news. The comparison has been absolutely overused by marketing companies over and over again. But just because the analogy has been warmed over and used to a fault doesn’t make it any less correct. Think about your own internet habits. How do you scroll through Facebook? Do you read everything word for word, or do you glance at a headline and “skim” before moving on?

So while the jury is still out on our goldfish-like attention spans — and even if the nine-second goldfish memory is itself a myth — a troubling point still remains. We are still less likely to read through text. So why does it matter?

Sorry, Fish: Web Content Writing is Still Important

Google needs text. Without text, Google can’t rank your pages appropriately for the search terms related to your business. No search engine can pull text embedded in images, nor can it transcribe text from a video. That scanned material needs to come from our keyboards!

And it’s not just any “ordinary” content, either. Keywords, readability and relevance all come into account. Text should be written in a certain order and placed in its designated spaces and formatting within your CMS. Length is a significant contributor as well: while people may be more inclined to read a tweet than a paragraph, 140 characters on a webpage will do little to boost its SEO value. Even quality matters — good, unique and interesting content will attract more clicks to your site, and those clicks signal to Google that

How to Get People To Read Your Content If Nobody Reads Anyway

While you can’t control human behavior, you can control the image you put out into the world. Blogging is an extremely important way to do that: with a platform all your own, you can put your best foot forward into the digital world. Even if a significant percentage fall off past your first paragraph, you still built a significant case for those who stayed — those who are most likely to become your paying customers.

  • Break it up with bulletpoints. You wouldn’t know from reading this post that it clocks in at more than 800 words. That’s because we broke up the material in a way that’s easier to digest, glance at, even teach the reader something if they only read the five words past the black dot. And if you did read past the black dot, congratulations: you just experienced how effective this formatting can be.
  • Change up your font formatting. Eyes are naturally attracted to something different on the page. Bold, italics and underline are very effective tools in bringing eyes where you want them to go. In the event that the reader is only scrolling through the blog, make sure they aren’t closing the tab without taking the most pertinent information with them. Leverage all that you can in those precious ~7 seconds of scrolling to get your point across.
  • Spend a little extra time on your headline. Not only is your headline what gets readers to click in the first place (hello, clickbait), it’s often the only thing they read. This isn’t a new problem: this is actually why journalists write in the “inverted pyramid” style, cramming as much information as possible into the story’s headline and first sentence. Even “back then,” the vast majority of people didn’t read more than was absolutely necessary. Except now, there’s more money at stake and more opportunities to lose.
  • Write something interesting. How many times does someone need to read about the 6 ways to style a kitchen? Your unique perspective on a subject is what will attract customers. Use your blog to present those ideas and unique perspectives to potential new clientele, many of whom are using search engines to look for a professional just like you.

Web content is one of those unique marketing tools which kills many birds with one stone. However, web content writing is one of the hardest skills to master. Some don’t know the intricacies of SEO, while others simply don’t have the time to write. Well-written text which communicates a smart idea and positively promotes your brand is a great way to make yourself look good. That’s what PR is all about, right? The only way to set a good example is to be a good example — at its core, it’s really that simple.

As for us, we’re a content writing agencywhich hasn’t given up hope for humanity yet. While tiny screens may have inadvertently made the audience a little lazier, we take solace knowing that there’s a market out there for long reads, good reads, and good long reads which feel like short reads, especially when the right tools are employed.

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