Forget Short Attention Span: Make Your Readers Stay No Matter What

gold fish short attention span

Writing online is different. It is far more different than writing offline (for print or other media).

This difference is mostly because of the short attention span of people while they are online. Plus the numerous amounts of distractions they can encounter online.

Imagine you buy a book and start reading it. Let’s say you take the book with you to bed everyday and read it for 30 minutes.

Depending upon the size of the book, you would finish reading it in a week or in a month.

But while you’re reading the book for 30 minutes everyday, you’ll only read the book.

You won’t pop into Facebook to check on your friend’s updates, you will not check this-one-email of yours, you won’t be responding to 4 chat messages from 4 of your different friends and so on.

You will only be reading the book.

With a print book, it is easy to keep people focused for the amount of time they’re devoting to read the book.

Just imagine the same people reading your blog posts.

They have numerous things going on in their background and foreground. They have too many distractions.

And they’re way too busy than you could imagine.

Hence they say that the attention span of people on the web is about 3 seconds.

That’s all you’ve got to convince them and make them to stay!

I know, that’s really challenging.

The “why”: Why should we worry about making our readers read the full post?

What if they read only the first sentence or the first paragraph of your post? Why should you make them stay till the end?

Here are few possible reasons (I might be missing some; feel free to add them in the comments!)

1. You have your call to action only in the end of the post.

2. People will only be enticed enough to respond to your call to action only if they read your entire post.

3. Google is watching people’s activity on your site and if they don’t stay longer, that counts as a black mark. For instance, the metrics like bounce rate and average visit duration.

4. You have put your sweat and blood to create that awesome post and you absolutely want your readers to read it fully *sigh*.

How to know what your readers like?

Making your readers to stay till the end of the post is an art.

It is not magic, but magical. You initially never know how to keep your readers – true story. But as you start building up your presence it will be quite easy for you to get a hold on this.

To start with, lets do this.

Go to your Google Analytics Dashboard. On the left you will see a little module called “Content” > “Site Content”. Expand it and look for “Landing pages” and click on it.

GA dash - landing pages

Now you will get a list of top landing pages on your blog.

If you look carefully you will see a column titled “Avg. Visit Duration”. If you click on it, you can sort your pages based on average visit duration.

GA dash - avg visit duration

Find out those pages of your blog where people spend time the most.

Take a look at those posts and see what features are common; or what features could have attracted people to stay longer.

Bear in mind though, this factor (the average visit duration) is not just affected by one parameter. People could have simply stayed till the end because they were looking for the same thing (that you were dealing with in that post).

But still there could be other parameters too!

Yet, if you find a list of posts on a particular category where people stay longer, this means that your audience love posts on that category; so start posting more useful content in the same category.

On the other hand, if you can’t find a common “category” or a topic in those posts, then there is something else in those posts that keep your audience.

It could be your writing style, the structure of the post or something similar. Find it out. And make more like those.

Alternatively you can also use your own instinct to find out what people want.

Go to popular blogs in your niche and see what posts make you stay till the end.

Have you recently read a post from till the end? Why did you do so? Find out what made you stay. Use that in your posts. Simple.

Why not social count?

I could have simply told you to find out those posts from your blog that have more social shares. But the posts that get shared a lot doesn’t mean they’ve made your readers to stay till the end.

Some posts simply get shared because the heading is good. For some, the image in the post might be good.

And I don’t need to mention that most posts get shared immediately after your readers scan your posts, click share button and then move away.

Write easily digestible posts

If you give your readers too much to chew, they’re surely going to leave.

Remember, as I said earlier, the online world is busy and the mindset of people is different as well.

They want easily consumable content.

How to make your posts easily digestible?

Focus on one problem in your posts.

Instead of reaching out to hundreds of perspectives/solutions for a problem, take one and go deeper. Explore one or two things in detail. Don’t give too much.

Here’s a couple of resources to help you write readable posts:

1. How readable are your articles and blog posts?

2. Can anyone read the writing on your blog?

Use eye-catching images and screenshots

I cannot stress the importance visuals when it comes to online content. If you take a look around in your social media profiles, you will find that visually appealing content goes viral (even for no reason).

Beautiful woman dancing in red dress flying on a wind flow over white background

Visuals add spice to your content and they give that nice treatment your content deserves (given that your content is worthy in the first place!).

And, don’t get off-track here – I am not telling you to add loads of images on your posts so that people will keep their eyes hooked on to them till the end. That’s not your goal.

And yes, although your images could get a lot of shares and pins, that’s not your goal again!

But images make it easier for people to stay on your posts. That’s it.

And if you are doing tutorial kind posts, make liberal use of screenshots; otherwise people won’t get what you are talking about and they might leave because your post is not understandable.

Use varying patterns

Monotonous posts are boring and people tend to jump off! Your post needs to be entertaining and sporty enough to keep them longer.

For this you can introduce “foreign bodies” in your posts. What are they?

Quotes, highlighted text, bold text, underlined text, texts in boxes, lists (ordered or unordered), etc.

All these can add variety to your post and will help readers from getting bored!

Break the post into sub-headings

This one is very important. You really have to break the post into easily digestible pieces so that your visitors can take one bite at a time.

If you put the main points or the outline of the post in terms of headings and subheadings, your readers can still consume the post even if they just skimmed.

You have to make your post digestible both for those who are willing to read it in full, and to those that only wish to skim.

If people are trained that your posts are easily digestible, they will stay till the end.

Also make sure you break the post into short paragraphs with one or two lines per paragraph.

It makes it easier on the eyes and also to grasp. Avoid long paragraphs and large blocks of text in any case.

Don’t make your post too long

Many bloggers often have wrong notions about how long their blog posts have to be. They simply think that writing long posts are good.

Don’t get me wrong here – writing long posts are good both for your readers (when you discuss a topic in depth and provide useful and actionable tips) and for SEO (yes longer content ranks better).

But don’t make a post long just for the sake of it. If you can tell what you have to tell in just 400 words, be it. Or if you really need 4000 words, so be it (for longer posts make sure you use the tips above to make them digestible).

Don’t simply beat around the bush.

Check this post out for additional discussion on this – What Should Be The Length Of Your Killer Post?

However I understand that some posts really need to be long. In that case, make the post look shorter by either writing a series or inserting page breaks (as I’ve done with this one).


Writing posts that keep people hooked on to your posts till the end is really a challenge, given the noise and distractions in the online world.

But if you can do it, you’re golden!

It takes a bit of practice but is totally doable. I hope these tips will help.

Make sure you apply them, OK? Coz reading only gives you knowledge while taking action will give you results. And I bet you are in need of the second one badly!

Don't forget to pick up your FREEBIES!

Blogging Success Foundation course (A 20-part e-course that lays the perfect foundation for your blogging success!) and FREE access to the ever-expanding PBS Library of e-books, workbooks and my exclusive newsletter!

Give me my FREEBIES!


  1. Jens Berget says

    Hi Jane,

    That’s great advice. I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and I have been going through details in my stats to see how I can improve. The thing is that I get more readers to my blog every week, but I don’t get any better results. I need to add a goal for my blog, something to measure. And duration is a great goal, this means that people actually read what you’ve written. And like you said, it’s what Google wants as well.

    I have tested to start the first sentence with something like “I’m going to reveal it at the end of the post…” and this works great. This way it shows the reader that they should read until the end. On the other hand, even though I saw the stats that more people spend longer time on the post, some might have skipped from the beginning and to the end :)

    • Jane Sheeba says

      Jens yep that’s a great idea! I’ve seen it in action in some of the big blogs. Its like creating a suspense and then let your readers stay and wait till the end to know about it!

  2. Khaja moinKhaja moin says

    Hi Jane,
    when I clicked on “blog” from your home page it is landing me on free ebook page!
    Check with that.

    BTW nice post.


  3. AdityaAditya says

    Hi Jane,
    I also think the social count should not be considered as it makes no sense regarding the post is good or not.There are more people who just like the post and leaves without even commenting.Most of the times the tweets and likes are from people who have not commented ever.

  4. BhushanBhushan says

    I have many visit towards your blogs and i think that your strategy is good and after seeing some status of the website i think this is working also.Means to give a peace of bread and catch the victim.

  5. SamuelSamuel says

    Hi Jane,

    I love how you show the process of finding what is your most popular content.

    Through that, you can model your future posts that will help get more of that attention.

    Thanks for the insightful article!

  6. Caroline Baxter says

    Hi Jane, Great Post!
    Having dealt with traffic and social engagement, I too am looking to keep users on my site for longer. People are so busy nowadays! Titles are playing a great role, but I agree, adding calls to action and promising something further into the post is a great way of increasing reading time.
    Caroline Baxter recently posted..3 Disadvantages of Running a BusinessMy Profile

    • Jane Sheeba says

      Thanks for stopping by Caroline! Yes headlines do play a crucial role, especially when we share our posts in social media, headlines help us get clickthroughs… also are images.

  7. Jae MacJae Mac says

    Thank you. I didn’t think to check my landing pages on Goggle Analytics, great tips.
    BTW I almost didn’t read the entire post, but I was interested in finding out more.
    I depend on my writing style to keep their interest as I do not have a niche.

  8. MikeMike says

    Hi jane,

    Excellent blog. Yes this is right thing that if you have low bounce rate then you can get a good repute in Google eye. I would suggest that we should work on decreasing bounce rates on our blogs. Once your bounce rate is less then you can get some sales from your affiliates. :)

    Thank you

  9. Roberta BudvietasRoberta Budvietas says

    Jane, I wonder – I open several blogs I want to read first thing in the morning. As the day progresses, I get to reading them. So if you are looking at the stats on how long I spend on a blog, I could skew the figures to a really long time but in fact, I only actually scan it when I come to it.
    I have long had some serious concerns that Google stats are skewed as I use at least one other tool that gives me different answers.
    There are so many opinions on what works or does not work that we need to experience ourselves or find people like you and Jon Morrow and Brian Clark and Sonia Simone and Marketing Professionals and trust that they test and recommend tools that work.

    • Jane Sheeba says

      Roberta, that is a very good point and I totally agree with you. The stats are for sure skewed. But I can get an overall picture on the most popular blog posts from my blog – even though a little certain percent of the data is not giving the meaning I look at :)

  10. Ameenah says

    Hi Jane,
    I just have to say that I’ve honestly been very impressed with your style of writing. You are able to keep your posts simultaneously informative and interesting. You bring unique views to the table, but the way you frame your ideas and give well-placed visual examples (screenshots) is really well-thought out! I can easily read through your posts start-to-finish and feel that I’ve gleaned useful information. Great advice, and even more so great execution!

  11. LindaLinda says

    Good evening, Jane.

    Like Amy, I’m not what you might call fully clued up with the analytics thing. In fact, if truth be known I’ve avoided them as I find them to be quite depressing to look at. It helps to know what I’m looking at and how to use them to improve in some way.

    Thanks – I’ll be keeping this close to hand for a while.

    Kind regards,

  12. AndyAndy says

    Jane thank you so much for such amazing tips! Short attention span in readers is the cancer for bloggers. this was of immense help.

  13. Chris AdamsChris Adams says

    Hi Jane.

    I am also suffering from this distruction, which is called “informania” in Information Science (I wonder if you knew this). A few years ago I could finish books in days, but now after reading 3 pages I need to check my e-mails or my facebook. It is so horrible, I wish I could stop doing it…


  14. Adeline Yuboco says

    Excellent points here, Jane! You’re right. We tend to be more patient when it comes to reading print material than online. I personally don’t mind reading small print that seems to go on and on when it’s in a printed book or magazine. But when it comes to blog posts, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

    Thanks for the tip on checking my Google Analytics. It never really occurred to me to check the content area for the keywords until now. Gonna head over there now to take a peek.

  15. OlgaOlga says

    Hello Jance,
    As always this is invaluable advice. Thanks. I know many people who failed because they used their sites as if they were books (read by their readers (or visitors) without any distractions). You may have the greatest content, but you still have to take account of the change which occurred in people (shortened attention span being one of them) during the last ten or twenty years.
    Best regards!

  16. Marc Helman says

    Nice article.

    The way to write a good blog for today’s online attention span (short):

    – Write a headline that has pull
    – Use headers for sections
    – Use bulletpoints
    – Add a few interesting photos
    – Break up chunks of texts into multiple paragraphs

    I think those are the basics. Again, thanks!

  17. LuisLuis says

    Jane, i’m a new reader to your blog and I’m happy to tell you that your posts have been helpful, informative, and interesting enough to keep me coming back. The tips I find here are ones I hope will help me get my blog out to a quick start.

  18. AndersonAnderson says

    Well i believe quality content is the key to make readers busy in reading our post. However adding some interesting facts with seductive images will lead more concentration towards our post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge