We need to better understand our audience and recognise the different ways that generations are now engaging with the web.
That’s the argument put forward by Nicola Stott who started her presentation citing a story of how she’d witnessed young people interacting with their phones at a boyband concert.
She made the point that Generation Z (born after 1996) were born with touch screen technology and it’s not alien to them. Rather, they can emotionally engage with that technology and use it to their advantage.
According to Stott’s research, generation Z audiences have an attention span of just 8 seconds – that’s one second less than a goldfish! This is because they expect to be able to reach what they want quickly and if they can’t, they move on to find an alternative method.
For us as content producers, this means we need to focus on delivering our audience to their end goal much faster. While generation Z may not feel relevant to us all yet, by 2020 60% of web users will be part of generation Z, so it is important we think about them now and plan ahead.
How can we better meet the needs of an increasingly expectant audience
1. Speed: Using rel attributes within HTML5 to speed up delivery of content
There is a presentation referenced in Nicole’s presentation from a Google engineer who talks about using link rel attributes:
If you look at BBC’s site for example, some of the content is tagged with the prerender tag which means you tell Google to both fetch and render that content, as it’s pretty much a dead cert that your audience will want to click on that.
Take a look at more of this content from Mike King – he gives an example of how he sped up his site by 69% with one line of code:
2. All device strategy
There’s a lot of talk about how generation Z is multi screening. Nicola suggests this generation is far more inclined to use their mobile phone to do pretty much anything as their first port of call, with iPhones being the most popular.
Social activity is the largest part of this, followed by gaming. Shopping is the 5th most common activity for this generation, but ecommerce managers needn’t be disheartened – this audience is also spending the most time shopping on their phone and is most likely to make a purchase online.
So we need to focus on mobile and how we speed things up there.
You can see the likes of the BBC already using this, but you can also use the Glue for Yoast plugin to implement this on WordPress.
Also think about mobile search. Apps are indexed and this makes them much more accessible to our audience. Google understands app intent searches and provides these alongside other mobile pages.
Way more powerful than this is app deep indexing. It’s worked on Android for a while but now also on IOS9, you can get your apps deeper pages indexed on Google. Nicole tells us it took her 4 hours to find a real example of this in practice, because no one is doing it! But it’s a huge opportunity for marketers to get their app pages into the SERPs and thus surface more content, more quickly, to their audience.
So how do we do this? The easiest way is to have one URL across all devices. If we keep the same URL structure and submit those URLs to the index via the Search Console,
3. Direct to object approach
How can we be faster at taking our audience straight to what they want?
Well we can make our site faster, and ensure it works on mobile. But we also need to move away from our own site and change our mindset to think about the connected web.
This is how Buzzfeed has done so well. They launched with this strategy that 75% of its content views don’t even happen on the Buzzfeed website – much of it comes from Facebook, 21% comes from Snapchat.
So what does that mean for us as content marketers and people trying to sell products?
Facebook is already embracing these opportunities to publish elsewhere, Canvas being an example. One of the most exciting areas to look at over the next year will be personal agents.
Siri is one example of a personal ‘assistant’. Alexa is Amazon’s version, always scanning and waiting for a ‘wake’ word, which, when she hears, will prompt a response to whatever comes next.
The next stage of agent will be the ability for these technologies to act on our behalf. Imagine being able to tell Google “I want to go to Thailand, I want to spend £300, and want to travel next month”, and leave it to go and find that info and come back when it has it. We’ll be able to employ what Nicole calls our ‘robot army’ to act on our behalf.
If we want to reach and speak properly to generation Z, quite simply we need to be:
- Available everywhere