Winning the lottery, finding out if your baby is going to be a boy or a girl, tripping down the stairs—a lot can happen in 10 seconds.
But did you know that 10 seconds is all it takes for your website’s visitors to decide if they’re interested in what you have to offer? Don’t take it from us, there are people much more credible out there saying the same thing. In fact, researchers with Microsoft Research found the same conclusion after recording the browsing habits of 2 billion page hits from 205,873 different websites. Sure, 10 seconds doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but first impressions are.
So what does this mean for your website’s content strategy? Well, a lot. For starters, it means you have to have a strategy to begin with. We know, we know — for most people the word “strategy” can be just as anxiety inducing as an episode of Fear Factor. But without a strategy, you’re stuck in a content river without a paddle. Or a boat really.
You can’t have a strategy without goals and your #1 goal for your webpage’s general word content should be to make a great first impression within those first precious 10 seconds. If you hook them there, your website’s visitors will stick around longer, exponentially increasing the chances of converting their interest into business. BOOM!
Ready to test the waters? Here, take these content best practices with you.
Keep it Simple
If you only have 10 seconds, you definitely don’t want to waste that small window on words that are overly complicated. Simple, informal language and easy-to-use navigational cues are best, even when your desired demographic is educated and professional. If they have to get a thesaurus out to get your point, you’re doing it wrong. The goal is to make sure your readers can read content quickly—the more simple, engaging words they can read and navigate through in that 10-second window, the more opportunity you have to keep them browsing your web pages further.
Keep it Credible
You are an expert in what you do or you wouldn’t be writing about it. It’s that expertise that will influence potential clients and customers to choose you over your competitor and it’s that expertise that your website’s visitors will be making judgments about while they browse. This means that you should avoid the following mistakes like the plague:
- Spelling/grammar errors
- Missing citations for research mentioned
- Anything derogatory, unprofessional, or overly personal (other than your bios)
- Content that could be considered ‘distasteful’
- False facts or inflated qualifications
Keep it Connected with Outbound Links
When you include hyperlinks on your website, this allows visitors to check your facts and increases your credibility. The golden ticket of outbound links, though, is when another credible website provides a link to your website within its pages. And if you have great, informative content, who wouldn’t?
Keep it Engaging
Here’s where content writing gets a little more complicated because the line can be pretty thin between ‘boring’, ‘engaging’ and ‘over-the-top’. You should aim for your content to fall somewhere between an instruction manual and Weird Al’s liner notes.
Keep it Scannable
Again considering the 10-second attention span rule, don’t put large chunks of paragraphs on the homepage of your site. Or really any page. People are busier than ever these days (or at least like to say they are) so if your content is not easily digestible, then you can kiss that 10-second good first impression goodbye.
First-time visitors want to be able to scan quickly to learn the “who, where, what, and how” of your business and content, so keep all such content in easily accessible linked pages (‘about us’, ‘contact us’, ‘our services’, etc.) rather than on the homepage. If your homepage content is engaging enough, it should keep the visitor digging for more info. Also, indicators such as headings, large type, bold text, highlighted text, bulleted lists, graphics and captions don’t hurt either.
Pretty simple, huh? Keep these content tips in your back pocket and you’ll be well on your way to stretch that crucial first 10 seconds into a lot more time. Billable time, to be exact.