Is the average attention span getting shorter? Is ‘goldfish attention span’ really a thing?
Contrary to popular belief, there is actually no evidence that our individual attention spans are shrinking. In fact, the goldfish attention span myth has been around for about 20 years. Since then the attention span of an actual goldfish has mystically progressed from 5 to 9 seconds in the popular discussion while the human attention span is thought to have shrunk from 12 to 8 seconds.
So what content creators and SEO specialists should be really concerned about when it comes to capturing people’s attention?
In this article, we’ll cover some science behind the attention span and how it applies to the challenges of SEO.
What Is Attention Span? (And the Science Behind It)
Merriam Webster defines attention span as the length of time during which one (such as an individual or a group) is able to concentrate or remain interested.
As Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine explains:
“The cognitive ability to allocate our attention selectively allows us to prioritize only some elements of the environment while filtering out others.”
Our attention span depends on both internal and external factors. The internal factors are things like genetics and human biology, while the external factors are the environmental elements we choose to concentrate on or tune out.
What makes it harder to have longer spans of attention is the abundance of distractions in the way.