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Published

February 19, 2014

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Blue Compass

Writing for Mobile Devices 101

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The number of users accessing Internet via mobile devices is expected to exceed those who rely on desktop and laptop PCs in the next few years. With mobile device usage growing by leaps and bounds each year, there is tremendous opportunity for content marketers to embrace the future of search by creating mobile-friendly copy.

First, Let's Get the Stats on Mobile.

You already know that mobile devices are an important part of your daily life, but what does it mean for your website? Check out these surprising statistics that confirm just how powerful of a medium smartphones and tablets have become in search.

  • 55 percent of American adults are smartphone owners (Source: Pew Internet Project)
  • 42 percent of adults have a tablet computer (Source: Pew Internet Project)
  • 77 percent of mobile searches occur at home or work - even if a desktop is nearly or readily available (Source: Search Engine Land)
  • 81 percent of mobile searches are driven by speed and convenience (Source: Google and Nielsen)
  • 45 percent of all mobile searches are goal-oriented and conducted to help make a decision (Source: Google and Nielsen)
  • 55 percent of mobile searches triggered follow-up actions within one hour of initial search (Source: Google and Nielsen)

Wait, Is Your Website Content Optimized for Mobile?

Optimizing user experience is one of the most fundamental ways to connect with the typical multi-screen consumer. Before you can begin writing copy, test your website on a variety of mobile devices. If your website is not optimized for mobile, implement the following recommendations, as found in Google's checklist for mobile website improvement.

Responsive Design

Among these guidelines for mobile optimization is Google's recommendation for companies to turn to responsive website design that re-sizes itself to fit different screen sizes using the same URLs. In addition to providing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits, responsive websites allow users to interact with content that is optimized for viewing on all types of devices, be it a Web page on a laptop or a mobile device.

Page Speed

While responsive design is an important part of optimizing your website content for mobile, responsive design alone doesn't create a great mobile experience. Google reports the average Web page takes more than seven seconds to load - that's six seconds longer than the average person waits before becoming disengaged. At minimum, strive to render "above the fold" content in less than one second to keep your audience engaged.

Now, Let's Start Writing for Mobile!

Building successful content for mobile devices does not mean you have to scratch your current content strategy. Instead, make special consideration for your mobile audience as you devise goals and implement strategy to achieve desired success.

Understand Mobile Search Intent

Of the estimated 30 billion searches performed each year, about 12 billion are local searches, according to Search Engine Land. Knowing that a large percentage of mobile users have local intent when searching is important to creating a relevant mobile-content strategy. Hyper-localize your content by including phone numbers, maps and addresses to provide practical, local information for your target audience. If your brand is national, consider building regional pages to better serve your mobile users.

Think About Screen Size

Even more so than tablets, smartphone screens are small, and dense content can be hard to fully digest. Make it easier for your reader to absorb the information by using visual techniques, such as:

  • Break up content into short, simple paragraphs
  • Incorporate bullet points
  • Bold and italicize important words and phrases
  • Avoid complex sentence structure
  • Use descriptive sub-headings

Be mindful that users are likely navigating your website with their index fingers, so using long-tail keywords for linking can make navigating to the target page easier.

Make Your Opening Paragraph Count

Mobile users are typically on the go and look for quick answers and bite-sized information to fill small pockets of time. Though mobile users live in a scroll-oriented world, 80 percent of their time and attention is still spent "above the fold." Draw your reader in by front-loading content, a writing technique that puts the conclusion first, followed by the what, how, when and why. In short, make your opening paragraph count by putting the most important information at the beginning, and then, assign just one idea to each of the following paragraphs to maintain a natural flow.

Keep Testing Content Performance

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when writing for mobile devices. Your content strategy will be dependent on your industry and audience. The best way to determine what works best for your unique business goals is to continually test and retest. A/B testing and heat mapping tools can provide important feedback on user engagement.  As you learn more about your audience's mobile behaviors, tailor your strategy accordingly to make the most of your content efforts.

Need Some Guidance? Turn to the Mobile Experts!

Creating content for mobile is a different art form than creating content for desktop and laptop PCs. Mobile audiences have different limitations, distractions, expectations and needs. However, with mobile search growing and evolving, it's more important than ever to satisfy this population through the creation of mobile-friendly content - and not just for eCommerce brands and local businesses. If your website could benefit from customized mobile marketing plan, turn to the experts at your local digital agency to help your Web content flourish across all platforms and devices.

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