Websites must walk a fine line between appealing to search engine bots and human visitors. One area where these two interests are diverging is in visual content. Studies have shown that an increasing amount of time online is spent scanning content and looking at images or videos rather than reading. This means that search engine optimisation remains critical but maintaining the interest of visitors once they arrive on your site has become more challenging.
Changing Online Trends
Online users are increasingly used to switching from one item to another and scanning content. One study found that 81% of educated people spent their time online skimming content rather than reading. This makes it difficult to get your message across. This trend has meant successful websites now limit the amount of text while using visual elements to attract viewer and make a good impression. This good impression may be particularly challenging. Research has shown that viewers will generate an impression of a website after less than one second. Needless to say, this gives your website and company very little time to capture visitors’ attention and generate their interest in learning more.
The biggest change in online usage is the increase in visual content. Image-based sites like Instagram and Facebook are on the rise and video content is becoming a regular part of company websites. Even website photographs are now expected to be part of sliders or other animation to keep the site active and interesting to visitors.
Another challenging to getting your message through to visitors is the increasing tendency for people to multitask. We can no longer hope to have visitors’ undivided attention. Typically, people are view content online while simultaneously watching TV, taking public transportation, or interacting with their children. In fact, Microsoft reported that, on average, people become distracted after only 8 seconds. Once they turn away, an outstanding first impression and intriguing site content can be critical for bringing their focus back to your website.
Less Patience – but Smarter
The change in the way people view information online is more than a trend. It is indicative in the rise in visual intelligence. IQ test results are increasing worldwide, particularly in developing countries. This pattern has been continuing for many years as education, test training, and perhaps even nutrition play a role in improving test scores. The modern emphasis on abstract reasoning has also led to higher IQs.
In reviewing 65 years of data for over 200,000 IQ test takers researcher found that the growth of visual intelligence has outpaced other types of intelligence. They reported that the scores on the portion of the IQ test that is designed to measure visual intelligence have increased an average of 20 points. This is a very substantial jump on a component of a test that is designed to have an average score of 100 across all test takers.
The reasons for the improved visual IQ are being debated by scientist but researchers theorize that the exposure to television, video games, signs, and other types of visual materials may have caused or at least contributed to the increase in visual IQ. Meanwhile, some developed counties have seen a decline in reading and writing test results. These trends are making visual communication even more critical for any business with an online presence.
So how does this all affect SEO services?
The essential principles of effective digital marketing and SEO haven’t budged; what works and what doesn’t work has always been in a permanent state of evolution. SEO specialists must constantly test what they do, seeking out changes in responsiveness to their work, then adjust their approach accordingly. Is written content now less important than it was, say, 12, 24, or 48 months ago? No. A solid keyword-focused strategy remains indispensable to your SEO. But with imagery increasingly growing in significance, there’s now another factor in play when it comes to drawing visitors to your website and keeping them there.