Most of you won’t be paying much attention so I’ll get to the point. Nobody reads properly when they’re online.
In fact, I’ve already lost a load of you because 36% will have scarpered immediately. To use a bit of web jargon, they’ll have “bounced" - left before reading the first word.
So assuming 100 people started reading this blog, 64 of you will still be here at this point. Actually, I'm about to shed a few more readers because you're about to get to the fold. Scrolling "below the fold" is a sticking point on the web and about 10 of you won't do it.
Thanks! You’ve scrolled because you’re special. Even so, you’re probably scanning down the page. What are you looking for? Well, I'll tell you. It's this thing:
The attention grabbing headline
Don't worry, you’re not alone and I'm not taking it personally. Everyone does it, skimming a web page for headlines and bullet points.
According to the data analysis firm Chartbeat, web readers can’t focus. Having done some rather clever second-by-second stuff with pixel analysis, Chartbeat found that only a tiny percentage of online readers make it to the bottom of the page.
Interestingly, they also found that lots of people share posts without reading them. So if you see someone recommending a blog on Twitter, don’t just assume it’s great. They've probably only read the title and headlines.
Why headlines matter
So, my 50 or so readers, imagine your website reader as a shark. Even better, imagine them as a shark in a hurry with the attention span of a 3 year old:
• They have to keep moving
• They need constant distraction with shiny things
Your headlines are the shiny things. They allow for your reader’s natural impatience and, crucially, they light up the important information. Your reader can quickly scan the headings to find the sections that interest them. They don’t have to waste time on the irrelevant stuff and are less likely to “bounce”.
Put it above the fold
Take a quick look at your website. Do you have to scroll down to find the important bits? If so, you can bet that most of your visitors won't read it. Heck, I do this for a living and still managed to lose 10 of you below the fold, at the scroll point.
Web readers spend 80% of their time looking at information that's above the fold. This is what they need to know:
If none of this is immediately obvious, they're likely to leave.
You’ve made it to the bottom of the page. You are a rare and special thing although, to be honest, it’s probably only close friends and family by now. As you’ve read the whole thing, you have my permission to share this blog. The rest of you aren’t allowed.