Saturday, 2 March 2013

Does your Website/Blog pass the 8 second test?

Did you know 50% of website visitors will leave a website if they can’t see what they are looking for within 8 seconds?
Furthermore they’ll want to gain that information from the correct “landing page” and see it “above the fold”.

Landing Page

So what exactly does all that mean? Well, the landing page is what many of us may think is the home page of a website. In other words, it’s where the prospect lands after typing in your web address. But what if he or she, for example, wants to read your blog without going through several pages on your website to get there? This can be done by creating an extension to the web address. As an author your primary web address may be Now if a potential reader of your blog types in to a search engine “John Doe Author” they may very well get your website at the top of the search engines listing. But if they click on the link it will take them to your home page, not your blog. But this isn’t the page the reader wants as it may just have pictures of you, your book covers and a bio. He/she is looking for details of your great blog on writing tips.

If you want people to read your blog, you want them to go straight to the page on your website which features the blog. So you may call that page ‘blog’ and create a secondary web address, which when selected sends the prospect directly to the blog on your website. This is what is referred to as the ‘landing page’. It is the page that you want certain readers to go straight to, based upon their search criteria. The reader who wants to read an interesting blog, and ends up on the main website home page, may well look elsewhere if they can’t see what they want within 8 seconds. The other advantage of URL extensions is you can point readers to a specific page of your choice. So if you've just launched a new book, which has its own specific page on your site, and you want to send readers straight there, you can provide the appropriate URL extension.

Tip 1 – Develop multiple landing pages to provide the correct information quickly. Remember the internet is primarily used as an information gathering tool. If you can’t provide the reader with the information they want quickly, whether it is details of your latest novel, your writing tips blog, etc., they’ll look elsewhere. If you use Twitter a lot, then shortening of URLs can make life easier. (Take a look at and develop specific shortened URLs for when you want to point people to a specific page on your site.)

Above the Fold

Now that we have discussed ‘landing pages’, let’s move on to discussing what ‘above the fold’ means. Imagine you have a copy of the Evening News in front of you and it’s folded in half. What can you see? Well apart from the name of the newspaper, and the date, it will also have an attention grabbing headline. Headlines sell newspapers and the same principle works with websites. How many newspapers, particularly evening ones, would be sold if the main headline was on page two or three? Your website needs to have some attention grabbing information immediately the page pops up on the screen. A reader isn’t going to scroll down the page looking for it, in the same way as they won’t pick up a newspaper and turn the pages looking for a headline story. They expect it to be on the front page, at the top. So above the fold is everything a reader sees on your website before they scroll down.

You may have to play around with the information you have on your website, and the layout to achieve this. Also the use of pictures can help deliver/support a message very effectively. I changed the wording on my home page many times before I was remotely happy with it. My key objective is to engage people who are interested in novels within the broad spectrum of thriller, suspense and mystery. I don’t write romance, YA, erotica, steampunk etc., so if someone arrives on my site looking for that . . . sorry, they need to look elsewhere. The same principle regarding grabbing attention applies to other pages. Each book page has a ‘headline’ before the main synopsis. The home page, individual book pages, articles and interviews are the key pages on my site which require immediate and relevant information to keep my readers on the page.

Tip 2 – Make sure that all the key information about your genre can be viewed ‘above the fold’. Remember you’ve 8 seconds on average to grab the readers’ attention.

Does the approach work? One way of knowing is by measuring how long people stay on each page before moving on. That can be done using Google Analytics, which is covered here

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