Yeah, I get them all the time. You probably do, too. The infamous email from an alleged digital marketing service:
Despite having a good design, your website is not showing up on Google for your market’s keywords …
Or something to that effect.
Obviously, they haven’t been to my website. They would know in an instant that I’m NOT a madam. Last I checked anyway.
And they don’t know my target market, either. I know that because I DO show up on Google (page one of the SERPs, in fact) for my target market’s keywords… B2B industrial copywriter, safety copywriter, and similar terms.
I’d better show up!
After all, I’m an SEO copy and content marketing writer. Tis what I do, you know.
It does make you pause for a second, doesn’t it?
Admit it. You’ve actually Googled your keywords after getting one of those, haven’t you.
You know … just to make sure.
Yep … still there. Whew!
It does bring up another valid concern, though.
If a customer does find your website … will they know what you do?
Sure, eventually. If they click around a while, they might get an inkling of what you provide.
If they click around.
But if they don’t figure it out right away … you’ll get goldfished.
Yeah … goldfished.
Attention Span 101
It’s called the goldfish principle, or something like that. What it means is that people’s attention span is as short as or maybe even shorter than that of a goldfish.
How short is that?
Somewhere around 8 or 9 seconds, according to people who talk to goldfishes.
Not sure I buy into it completely, but I know what they’re trying to say.
If you don’t capture your reader’s attention right away … they’re gone. Off to another, more productive fishin’ hole, anyway.
Maybe the website right under yours in the search results.
Sorry about that!
Like I said, I don’t really believe in the goldfish principle.
I mean, have you ever read a book or long article all the way through … one you couldn’t put down until finished?
Watched an entire movie without pausing it?
Or gotten so wrapped up in something that time just slipped away on you?
(Hey … if you got down this far, you’ve been here more than 8 seconds. Just sayin’)
What I do believe is people are busy and don’t like to waste time. If they have to think too hard to find out what you do, it’s adios, amigos!
Don’t. Make. Them. Think.
Thankfully, it’s not hard to fix.
Design your website with ATF in mind
No, that’s not the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
ATF is an acronym for an old newspaper term … Above The Fold.
You remember newspapers, right?
When they were sold in vending machines and newsstands, they were folded in half. And the most important, eye-catching news of the day was showing … above the fold.
That caught your eye and made you buy.
In the digital world, above the fold means the first “screen” you see when you get to a website. You know … before you scroll down. If you scroll down, that is.
On a desktop monitor, that can be quite a bit of digital real estate. On a mobile, not as much.
Either way, it better say something to assure your readers they’re in the right place.
Or they’ll find another, easier to comprehend website.
How about your website? What’s above the fold on yours?
Does it make the reader think, wondering if they’re in the right place?
I hope not.
But it happens. Here’s a case in point.
A marketer contacted me a few weeks ago about writing some copy and content for one of their products. That happens a lot.
So I went to their website to check it out. And after several minutes of poking around, I finally found the product in question.
I wasn’t looking for any old product. I was looking for their specific product.
The one they wanted me to write about.
I had to dig around.
Had I been a goldfish … well, you know.
Upon my arrival, here’s what I was greeted with:
- Their trademarked name nestled beside a cool picture logo, crouching over a strong yet somewhat vague motto.
- An amazingly beautiful graphic that revealed little about what they did.
- Three big bold words, written with precise ambiguity, along with their motto (again) and date of birth.
Oh wait … there was a contact us link. I had to click on that to find out how to a call them directly. Or scroll WAY down to the bottom of the webpage.
Don’t make me think.
And don’t make me scroll either, or …
You will make me click elsewhere.
That happens a lot, too.
The web is NOT a fishbowl
And your goldfishes are not captive, by any means.
So check out your site with a critical eye. And judge it, not by how it looks, but by how it reads. Will your reader know instantly what you do?
Or how to contact you … quickly?
Besides writing copy for industry, I also audit websites for usability and reader retention. This is one of the most glaring issues I come across.
Beautiful site … lousy reader experience. Not just on desktop computers, but mobile devices as well.
Especially on mobile, by the way.
Many are deemed as mobile-friendly, code wise; but are not mobile reader friendly.
So get busy and get that fixed, okay? If you need help, you know where to find me.
But for your customers’ sake, don’t make them think anymore.
Help them know… for sure.
You can contact me here.
This article first published on my LinkedIn Profile here.
Michelle Phillip says
Lol! Hi Steve, the headline alone on this article made me laugh, and I actually read all the way through! Which is a great feat for a skimmer like me. I was actually salivating for some kind of cat in the last paragraph! No kidding. Love it!
I started working on my site yesterday and have no clue what to do in terms of content and design. I need help!
Steve Maurer says
Thanks for swimming by! As for content, what do your ideal prospects need to know.
Figure that out … then tell them!
Wishing you the best of success!
Donna M Basinow says
I love it! Made me laugh at the same time as knowing it’s all true. Way too many distractions in this world to make someone waste more than 5 seconds or so if they don’t see anything that catches their attention! If you ain’t got what I’m looking for, someone else does!
Steve Maurer says
So true! And thanks for your comment … much appreciated.
Judith Culp Pearson says
Great article and well said. So well written that even though I knew where you were going, I smiled my way through the article. Kudos.
Interesting to read this article! Thank you so much for sharing well appreciated…
Roxanna Creitz says
So graceful and concise! Loved it! Re fish: a beloved journalism professor told us that people have other things to do, like mowing lawns and spending time with families. If we didn’t write clear and short for newspapers, “They’ll wrap fish in it.” (That was Calder Pickett, who did an NPR series of historical decades described by their songs and movies.)
Ally Lohman says
The headline, the copy, the pictures, the goldfish principle! Love how you use the fish metaphor to keep it all linked behind one major idea. Great writing and great advice!