User experience on the Internet is often not what it seems. Internet users have miniscule attention spans. In fact, on average, visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. One in every three visitors spends less than 15 seconds on the articles they land on. Even more interesting – many people share content without actually visiting or reading the content. Chartbeat looked at 10,000 socially-shared articles and found that there is no relationship between the how often a piece of content is shared and the attention an average reader gives that content.
In his book “Don’t Make Me Think!” Steve Krug explains his observations about how people use websites.
“When we’re creating sites, we act as though people are going to pore over each page, reading our finely crafted text, figuring out how we’ve organized things, and weighing their options before deciding which link to click. What they actually do most of the time (if we’re lucky) is glance at each new page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their interest or vaguely resembles the thing they’re looking for. There are usually large parts of the page that they don’t even look at. We’re thinking ‘great literature’ (or at least ‘product brochure’), while the user’s reality is much closer to ‘billboard going by at 60 miles an hour.’”
So what does that mean for the anatomy of a successful webpage?
One topic per page.
Now that we know that people will click the first link that interests them, it’s important that they end up clicking on the item that will move the buying process forward. The more links you add to a page, the less likely that becomes.
Every page should have a clear, single topic, and content that leads the user quickly to an obvious call to action. People are looking for the next step, and if they can’t find it they might just move along to the next entry from Google. Be it an email signup, a shopping cart, or even a phone number, people need to know what the next step is.
In cases where you have subpages or a list of relevant links to click, make sure they are immediately visible and self-explanatory. Don’t make people slog through text before letting them move on.
Name your pages by using terms people actually search for.
This is where SEO marries usability. These days, good SEO is about content people search for and want to read. And when they land on your site, users want to see the search term they are looking for. Good keyword research can tell you what those terms are. Often, simplicity is best.
- When building a page about oncology, you want to name it ‘cancer’ because that’s the word people know.
- “Jobs” or “Careers” not “Employment Opportunities.”
- DON’T call a page “Services.” What are your services? Do you clean windows? Call it “Window Cleaning.” Do you offer multiple different kinds of insurance? Have a page for each insurance service such as “Business Insurance or “Group Employee Benefits.”
The more time people spend thinking, “Is this the thing I want to click?” the less likely they are to stay on your website. So make page names clear and simple. Guide people through your website and make sure they never get lost.
Remember that visitors don’t care about you, they want what you’re offering.
It sounds pretty harsh. But you’ve got to convince someone to care about your story, and the first step to building interest and trust is giving them what they’re looking for. The majority of visitors aren’t going to read your “about us” page. Don’t put it high in your menu structure.
Don’t begin pages with long preambles, get to the point. Tell the visitor they’re in the right place first. As a supplementary tool, personal stories are powerful for converting visitors into customers, but they don’t start out wanting a story. They start out wanting what they searched for.
Most importantly, don’t succumb to self-absorption – the most frequent mistake of all!
Original, regularly updated content keeps you relevant.
A lot of people lost a lot of money over the past few years as Google changed its algorithms. Strategies like keyword stuffing, article spinning, and other grey or black hat techniques will get you penalized in search rankings. Today, it’s universally recognized that the best online content is high quality, original, fresh and easy to read. According to Google, content marketing is bigger than ever.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because no one reads, you should not write articles for your insurance blog. Articles illustrate your expertise and build search engine optimization. They make a memorable impression and position you as a knowledgeable and trusted resource. Most importantly, they get shared … regardless of whether they’ve been completely read.
Back to the 15 seconds.
When you only have 15 seconds, every moment and every word counts. Answer the most important questions on your visitors’ minds and direct them to the single most important next step – FAST.