It’s a well-worn trope. You step onto the underground and everyone is staring at their phones, transfixed. Phone screens are demanding our attention more than ever and Google knows it.
In response, the search engine giant will begin to prioritise mobile-first indexing for all sites from September this year, meaning that the mobile version of your site will be more important than ever. This appears to be one of the final steps for Google switching entirely to a mobile-first index.
What’s this got to do with content? Well, if you haven’t already, it’ll have to adapt to appeal primarily to mobile users if you want to continue ranking, engaging with your audience, and ultimately, converting. In this post we’ll tell you how, and give you some pointers on creating a mobile-first content strategy.
Starting from the top – headlines. Whatever the medium of your content, the headline is the hook. Nothing new here. What is new (or at least, more important), is the length of your headline.
Phones have smaller screens than desktops and your content’s headline needs to be able to fit. As a general rule, try to keep them as short as possible. Co-Schedule recommends using around 6 words, whilst AMI’s Headline Analyzer only considers headlines over 5 words in length.
We ran the headline of this post through Co-Schedule’s tool and this is what it came out with:
As you can see, the number of characters in your headline is also important for reeling in the readers. Headlines like ‘A Guide On How To Floccinaucinihilipilificate’ might sound intriguing (maybe), but when used as a title tag, won’t show up in full in SERPs. (Note – that is actually a real word, it means to describe or regard something as useless).
Keep titles short, simple, and concise.
Mobile content format
How we read on smartphones and tablets is different from how we read on desktops.
Eye-tracking research from the Nielsen Norman Group has shown that we tend to read in an ‘F-shaped’ pattern when on mobile. This means that we read more of the first lines of a piece of content before scanning less the further down we go.
When we’re doing this, we’re basically looking for the most efficient way to get the info we want.
This isn’t a new idea in content marketing – the inverted pyramid structure of a post is well-known. Put the most relevant info at the top before delving into the finer detail the further down you go.
What differs for mobile is how you lay out the rest of the content and the language you use.
Minimalism for mobile
When structuring your content for mobile-first, brevity is key. Use short sentences and paragraphs, giving a point to every word on the screen.
Mobile-users are likely to be put off by walls of text on their screen and click away before taking in the info, so break up your content.
Whitespace does this for you, making it more digestible for mobile readers and encouraging them to scroll down to the bottom (as long as the breaks are natural and don’t interrupt the flow of the writing).
Simply previewing your content on a mobile device before publishing will give you an idea of how it reads. If your eyes are darting all over the place and your thumbs are flicking back-and-forth, try breaking it down further.
The language you use for mobile content should also be minimal. Long and over-complicated words slow down reading speed and risk losing the attention of the reader.
This doesn’t mean your writing has to be boring and lack rhythm. Minimal language is just more considered, and delivers the essentials of a post in the optimal way.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of padding your content out with unnecessary words that don’t add any value to the reader’s experience, so run it through a tool like Hemmingway. It basically highlights the fat you can cut and gives you suggestions on how to make your writing even more lean.
Speed is an important factor in how your site ranks, and AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) helps deliver content at lightning speed. In fact, you might’ve already noticed this in SERPs – pages in AMP format (usually from news websites) have a thunderbolt icon beside them.
Without going into too much detail, AMP essentially strips down your content into a particular form of HTML that loads much faster. One click and it’s on your screen instantly.
This is great for user experience and is why Google gives priority to AMP content. The only downside is that it’s exclusive to mobile users, so you’d need different URLs for the same content for the desktop version of your site.
As Google search places more importance on the experience of mobile web users, it’s vital to have content that works well on smaller screens. In a nutshell, this means simplifying everything – clear language, shorter sentences and paragraphs, and faster loading times.
Yellowball creates high-quality, user-centred content that drives organic traffic both on mobile and desktop. Our talented team of writers conducts thorough research into agreed topics before putting pen to paper (or, erm, fingers to keyboards) and creating content that climbs SERPs. Get in touch to see how our content marketing services can help your business.