Mobile users are consuming more content than ever before.
- According to an Internet Trends Study, in 2018 the average time consumers spent engaging with digital media on mobile devices reached 3.3 hours a day.
- In the same year, 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones. This was up from 43.6 percent in 2016.
The consumer shift toward mobile engagement should be a wake-up call to content marketers. A mobile-first approach to content marketing is now key to remaining competitive.
This guide highlights the importance of mobile-friendly content and will help you create a better user experience for your mobile audience.
First, here’s a quick recap of how mobile has shaped the search engine landscape:
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Updates
In April 2015, Google released their mobile-friendly algorithm update, designed to give higher rankings to mobile-friendly pages and provide better results to mobile users. In 2016, another update gave an extra rankings boost to mobile-friendly sites.
In March 2018, the Mobile-First Index began to roll out. This meant that Google started to use the mobile version of a page’s content for indexing and ranking to make search results more relevant for mobile users.
In July 2018, Google released its Mobile Speed Update, making page speed a ranking factor for mobile results.
From these updates, it’s clear that mobile-optimized content boosts search engine rankings. But it’s still important to publish content that mobile readers love. This is why many brands hire content writers to create engaging, audience-focused content.
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The Way People Consume Content Online Has Changed
Our mobiles have become the go-to device for news, information, entertainment, shopping, and social interactions. If you’re not convinced about optimizing content for mobile, the following stats might change your mind.
Mobile use has exploded in the past decade. There were around half a billion mobile phone users globally in 2010, but this number is predicted to reach five billion in 2019. In the United States, the number of smartphone users is expected to reach 247.5 million in 2019, up from 223 million in 2017.
What accounts for this surge? Some demographics, especially millennials, have moved toward a mobile-only pattern of internet usage. People are taking their phones everywhere – 75 percent of Americans admit to using their smartphones while in the bathroom (the other 25 percent are probably lying) and 80 percent use their phones within 15 minutes of getting up in the morning.
Mobile-Friendly Content Strategies
1. Make Sure Your Site is Responsive
A responsive website is when the design elements adjust according to the device people are using, giving users the best browsing experience. If you’re running a WordPress site, it’s as simple as installing the right theme. If not, check out Google’s guidelines for responsive design.
2. Optimize Site Speed
If a mobile site takes longer than three seconds to load, 53 percent of mobile website visits are abandoned. And according to Google, for every one second delay in site load time, conversions fall by 12 percent.
As page speed is now a ranking factor for websites in mobile searches, make sure your pages are optimized for speed. Use Google’s Mobile Speed Test to discover page speed issues and for optimization suggestions.
3. Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
The AMP Project is an open source project developed in partnership with Google. Its main goal is to improve the user experience by ensuring websites load faster. If you optimize for AMP, your ranking should improve. Visit Google’s guidelines and then test if your AMP pages are valid. If using WordPress, install the AMP for WordPress plugin.
4. Produce a Sitemap
A sitemap ensures Google crawls your site properly. WordPress plugin Yoast SEO will do the job for you. Otherwise, you can use XML Sitemaps to create one for free.
5. Optimize Titles and Descriptions
Titles and meta descriptions appear in search results and are key to improving click-through rates. However, because mobile users may not see the entire descriptions because of the smaller screen size, insert the most important keywords at the start of titles and descriptions.
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6. Use Rich Markup
Rich snippets appear in search results and include content like recipe information, product ratings, and company information. Although they don’t directly impact search rankings, they influence click-through rates and website bounce rates.
Google pulls the information from websites using rich markup, or structured data markup. The most commonly used markups include:
- Book information
- Embedded non-text elements
- Event information
- Article information
- Local business details
- Additional site link information
Use Google’s Structured Data Marker Helper to get started.
Content Writing Strategies
7. Start with the Most Compelling Content
In one eye-tracking study, mobile users gave around 68 percent of their attention to the center and top half of the screen. This is because mobile users have to scroll down through content more than desktop users. It’s therefore important to put your most compelling, engaging copy at the start, above the fold.
8. Write Shorter, More Captivating Headlines
When crafting headlines, create a sense of intrigue or explain how users will benefit from further reading. Shorter, snappier headlines are more scannable and engaging. Long headlines can also get lost below the fold, so minimize the size of headline fonts.
9. Create Concise, Scannable Content
This doesn’t necessarily mean that every article should be short; longer content can still work for mobile viewing. In fact, in-depth content receives higher search rankings. In one study, the average word count of results on Google’s front page was 1,890 words.
However, keep the writing tight by using short sentences and paragraphs. And insert more subheadings and bulleted lists to improve readability.
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10. Focus on Rendering
According to Google, 46 percent of people say they would not purchase from a brand again if they had an interruptive mobile experience. Another study showed that 40 percent of users will abandon a site that isn’t optimized for mobile.
Clean, simple design is key. Use mobile responsive design, display large, easy-to-click buttons, and provide clear navigation. Don’t forget to optimize your email content while you’re at it – over half of all emails are opened on a mobile device!
11. Break up Text with Images
As well as breaking up larger chunks of text, images add visual appeal. Use bold colors in graphics to draw attention to visual elements, and compress larger images to reduce loading times.
12. Use More Video Content
Mobile video consumption is growing. In 2018, global mobile video traffic amounted to 12,051 petabytes per month and is expected to multiply to 60,889 PB per month by 2022.
Publish more informational, educational, and inspirational videos. Then share the content on social networks to increase engagement.
Mobile users expect sharing features such as social media buttons, so make sure they’re clearly visible above and below content. This improves the user experience, increases trust, and encourages content sharing.
14. Optimize for Shoppers
From grocery shopping to booking vacations, consumers are increasingly using mobile technology for purchases. During 2017, 11 percent of consumers shopped online via mobile on a weekly basis. In 2018, 86 percent of smartphone owners used their device to browse, research, and compare products.
To encourage mobile purchases:
- Display attractive product images.
- Show customer reviews.
- Use simple product category links.
- Use exit-intent popups with discount codes.
- Enable guest checkout.
- Show security badges.
- Display clickable customer service phone numbers.
- Add clear “Add to basket” and “Proceed to checkout” buttons.
- Offer a variety of payment options.
15. Add Local Information
Around one third of all mobile searches are related to location. In 2016 there were 65.6 billion local mobile search queries in the United States. This increased by 94 percent to 127.5 billion searches in 2018. In the same period, local desktop searches fell by four percent.
If your business has a local element, optimize your mobile content for local search by including location keywords in metadata. Also, display your name, address, and phone number on every page.
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According to comScore, around 80 percent of social media time is spent on mobile devices. To get the most out of social media, ensure your posts are short and provide value. Use eye-catching visuals and videos, and join in conversations around relevant hashtags.
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With Google prioritizing mobile content and as mobile viewing grows, optimizing your content for a mobile audience is now crucial for brand credibility and online visibility.
Use as many of these mobile-friendly content marketing techniques as you can. It will maximize the reach of your content to mobile users and ensure that more people engage with your brand.
Above all, publish website content that is optimized for your target audience, not just search engines. Then track your analytics data to see what is working and what isn’t.
Is your content mobile-ready?