How to Pass the “10 Second Test” that Sends Most Website Visitors Away Empty-Handed

Your ideal client has a particular problem that needs solving. Maybe she gets chronic migraines and no one can tell her how to get rid of them. 10-second-website-testMaybe he hates his job but can’t see a way out. Maybe she can see her marriage crumbling before her eyes and has no idea how to stop it. Or maybe he’s trying to write a website that draws potential clients in but just the right words escape him.

Whatever the case, the challenges your clients face are sort of like an itch that they’re dying to scratch but just can’t. quite. reach. (Have you ever had that happen? Pure torture!)

That itch-she-can’t-scratch is driving your client a little bit bonkers, until finally one day she can’t take it anymore. So, in between the gazillion tasks on her neverending to-do list, she sneaks a few moments to jump online, pull open her fave search engine, and type in a few words she’s hoping will magically reveal the solutions to what ails her. She clicks through a few sites until she stumbles across yours.

And from here, one of two things will happen.

Scenario #1: She’ll take a quick peek around your website, but nothing will really grab her attention, and since the clock is ticking before she has to rush off to tackle the next item on her agenda, she ends up clicking away from your website (and, not to be melodramatic, but I feel it important to point out that once she leaves, she’ll most likely never return…duh duh duh! But seriously, you don’t want her “bouncing” away unserved :)). And if she does click away, it’s likely going to happen after a surprisingly short period of time.

In fact, according to the Neilsen Group, a 3rd party reporting agency, the average page visit lasts less than a minute.

One stinkin’ minute!

And actually, they quote that, “Users often leave Web pages in 10-20 seconds…”

Yowza! If that’s true, then it means your website – and particularly your home page (which most visitors will see first and foremost) – has got big shoes to fill if you want those website visitors to stick around long enough to actually read your message. (But no pressure… *grin*)

Have no fear; all is not lost! The Neilsen Group goes on to report that “Pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer…”

Yahoo! That means that there’s hope for websites across the world yet. It means that when you can explain the value of your products and services in a clear and concise way, people (or, I should say, the right people) are MUCH more likely to stick around, and actually take you up on your offers.

And it also means there’s the high likelihood that with a few tweaks, according to my experience working with 100s of website owners over the years, your website visitor could find herself in…

Scenario #2: Within the first few seconds of visiting your site, she’s hooked. The words are practically calling her name, as if they were written specifically for her. She leans in closer to her computer/tablet/phone and devours every word on the page. Then, convinced that this is the answer she’s been searching for, she takes action, by either downloading a free report (and in the process joining your mailing list, where you can follow up with her over time), contacting you to set up a consultation about working together, or straight up investing in one of your recommended products or services.

Either way, that nameless, faceless website visitor is now part of your world.

She’s on your mailing list, or on your calendar for a free consult, or in your customer database.

She’s entered your community, where you can welcome her with open arms and a warm “how do ya do.”

But. Perfect world scenario aside, the question remains…

How on Earth do You Hook Your Website Visitors’ Attention Before They Click Away?

What typically happens in many business websites is that they kick off their home page with a great, big “Welcome” splashed across the top. But while that might give visitors warm, fuzzy feelings, that doesn’t draw them in. And quite frankly, if you DON’T get readers’ attention right away, chances are high that they won’t even bother reading the rest of the web copy you’ve written, no matter how fantastic it is. (Ouch.)

The solution is…(drum roll please….)

Having a benefit-rich headline front and center on your home page. This is also how you can overcome the all-too-common Short Attention Span Syndrome (I call it SASS :)) that sends website visitors packing without signing up for your newsletter, requesting a consult, or investing in your solutions.

Now, before you get yourself all worked into a tizzy over writing the perfect headline, there’s actually a step you need to take first. A step that will make the actual writing of your headline so much easier.

So, before you even get to writing the WORDS in your headline, you want to brainstorm the MESSAGE you want to get across.

Here’s how:

What you want to do when brainstorming a hot headline that passes the SASS test is to think about the transformations your clients experience. You don‘t want to just talk about what you offer, you want to talk about what you can help readers accomplish or achieve.

Your headline is going to focus on one of two things: the PAIN they’re feeling right now or the RELIEF they’re looking for.

Maybe you are a career coach who’s using your home page to promote a free report on finding a more fulfilling job, something like that. The PAIN might be that they aren’t making enough money, that they feel stuck in a dead-end job, or they feel ashamed in front of friends and family. The RELIEF might be in finding out how to nail their next job interview, land their next promotion, identify their dream job, etc.

Here’s a quick exercise to help you get the wheels turning.

Fill in the blanks:

For the pain option: I help __(your target market)__ to get rid of __(pain)________.

Example: I help entrepreneurs to get rid of boring website copy that sends visitors (a.k.a. potential clients) clicking away unserved.

OR, if you’d prefer to focus on the relief instead:

I help ____(your target market)___ to achieve/accomplish/receive ___(goal)______.

Example: I help entrepreneurs to write authentic and compelling website copy that gets their ideal clients fired up to join their mailing list, request a consult, or invest in their solutions.

When you have a so-so headline, you might get a few people sticking around long enough to read your copy and then take the action you want them to take. But when you have an irresistible headline that really speaks to the challenges they want to get rid of or the goals they’re dying to achieve, you’re going to get their attention in those first 3 seconds and start planting those seeds of interest and excitement that leave them wanting MORE of what you have to offer.


Want the 7-step blueprint for writing delicious home page content that draws hot leads and paying customers into your business? Click here to check out our brand-new book, How to Write Your Irresistible Home Page in 7 Simple Steps: Your Blueprint to Website Home Page Content that Converts Visitors into Leads & Clients. 

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What is YOUR main message that will get website visitors all fired up to work with you?

Tammi_MetzlerTammi Metzler, founder of The Write Associate, is a self-professed “word geek.” Her greatest joy is in playing with words all day to find just the right combination to get folks all fired up. In the daytime hours, this means writing online marketing copy that grabs the attention and interest of readers so that they “get” the awesomeness of the product/service in question and think “I gotta get me some of that!” After hours this often means finding just the right words to get the response she’s looking for from her husband, 9-year-old daughter, and/or toddler son (grin). She offers tons of resources about creating compelling marketing copy that excites & engages your ideal clients on her blog at


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