The rumors about consumer attention spans aren’t 100% true.
Every other article will tell you you have to grab grab grab, because anyone on a smartphone is a goldfish-brained, flashing lights junkie who won’t give your poor company the time you really deserve because they’re too overstimulated to know how good you are for them.
Well, first of all, goldfish actually have such good memories, that they can distinguish one human from another, and learn tricks.
And second of all, we can and do hyperfocus online! The catches are, the content has to be relevant, it has to be interesting, and it has to actually be easy to read.
No, I don’t mean easy to read as in legible, though there’s certainly more I could say about people still using black text on navy blue backgrounds. I don’t mean easy to read as in ‘keep Chaucerian references to a minimum’ either.
I mean easy to read in the purest form: your site and its content needs to actually load in a timely fashion.
I’m blessed with full use of my hands, so I can physically open a book in under a second. But connected to a great source of wifi, even with only one tab open, I can’t always make the same boast of opening a new website on any laptop I’ve ever used, and I definitely can’t say that about sites loading on my phone. Before you start an Apple vs PC/Android war, think about your own experience for a minute. It doesn’t matter what your tech specs are—slow sites are a universal demon!
And because they’re always listening, our Google Overlords have decided to do something about it.
The big G is starting to put the smackdown on sites with crappy loading times by branding them with a big ol’ ‘SLOW’ shame badge in the search results.
That means, even if you’re page one, result one, and the first ad in that little pastel yellow box, you can be passed over just like the losers on page 6 because Google will tell your potential readers visiting your site is buying a ticket to frozen screen town.
That town sucks.
So how do you get ahead of this latest development? You attack what makes your load times slow! The bugbears dragging you down are:
Videos reiterating what your articles say
Needlessly uncompressed graphics
Sites unformatted for mobile devices
It’s ads, okay, the technical stuff is all easily fixable, but your biggest issue is ads.
As hard as it is to deal with your company not bringing in any cash, it’s even harder for consumers to properly peruse your content without getting hit with a video pop-up, some creepy cleavage-ridden clickbait, an animated banner, a new tab forced open, malware, extra sound, and the creep factor of the sites they only spoke about being right in front of them five minutes later.
It’s more than just distracting and dystopian—ish this brings your site load times to a grinding halt.
If they can’t click away from the ads, or have to wait for them to load before your content shows up while everything sorts itself out, more and more users are opting to hit the back button, or click over to be seduced by a competitor’s faster tab. With a ‘Slow sticker’ slapped on your pages by Google, these rightfully impatient browsers will start scrolling past you entirely.
It’s not just a problem for anyone selling directly either. Even the trusty Snopes is getting hit with my ‘NEXT’ thumb swipes on mobile because whether or not I’m scrolling on my personal porcelain or somewhere someone important might notice I’m bathroom blogging, it’s taking too long to get where I need to be.
Bottom line is this: If you have to have banner ads on your website to keep it afloat, it’s time you took the hours to run some intense QA. It’s up to you to vet the ads you’re allowing on your space, to see how they’re affecting your site’s load times, and to ask yourself if the money you’re getting from plastering your content with extra baggage is worth being skipped over for the next search result in line.
Keep your content in the fast lane, or gamble with rocking the sidewalk. The choice is obvious… but as always, it’s yours to make!