This post on making your content mobile-friendly is adapted from a post by Brian Sutter on SCORE.org.
The mobile revolution is well underway. Mobile devices get more traffic than desktops and laptops do. Mobile use is so prevalent that Google’s mobile index is now its default index. And every month, one billion Facebook users access the platform exclusively on mobile devices.
In short, mobile is the go-to way to access all things internet. And all things chat, or messaging apps, bots, or apps in general.
So when you think about your website, or your customers researching anything about your business online, imagine them holding a mobile device in their hands.
This is the first step to having a “mobile-first mindset” or making your company “mobile-centric”. But it’s barely the beginning. Your content needs to be mobile-friendly, as well.
So you need to start developing your content and your search optimization in a way that’s as mobile-focused as your customers are.
Write content for scanners
The average time spent with an article on a mobile device is just 57 seconds. Average readers read about 300 words per minute, so you have about 300 words to communicate your message to them before they leave your page.
You don’t necessarily want to trim your pages’ content down to 300 words, though. It’ll hurt your rankings in the search results. Research shows that pages with more content perform better. Buffer, a social media management tool, says 1,600 words per page is good, though they confirm that “2,500-word posts tend to do best for us.”
So how do you convey all the information on that page in only 300 words? Should you put a box at the top with a summary of the article? You could—it would serve the “TL;DR” crowd well (as in “too long, didn’t read).
But a more common tactic is to structure your pages for scanners. Here’s how:
- Use subheaders. Liberally.
- Keep paragraphs short. No more than five lines each.
- Bold important words the first time they appear on the page.
- Add images. About one every 300-500 words. They’ll break up the text and pull readers’ eyes down the page.
- Use bullet points wherever possible. Got a series of commas? Make them into bullet points.
- Use whitespace. Lots of it.
There’s another way to make your text-based content even friendlier on mobile devices: Write better. As the ageless advice goes, “omit needless words” and write clearly. Use shorter sentences, more concise phrases and words.
Do the hard work of thinking for your reader. Don’t make them slog through turgid sentences. Write like you talk in real life.
This matters on mobile because reading comprehension on the web tends to be lower than it is on a printed page. And it only gets worse as screen size shrinks.
Build an app
Think you don’t have the staff or the $20,000 budget to create an app? Think again. It should only cost you about $600 a year.
There are more than a dozen different services that let you build apps for Apple or Android devices without any coding knowledge. Many of these app builders use templates or drag and drop interfaces. They’re simple enough that a smart intern could figure them out. And it’ll only cost you at most about $50 a month to use the app builder and run your mobile app.
The hard part is figuring out what you want your app to do. So sit down with your team and hammer out what you want customers to be able to do with your app. Have a list of essential tasks or functions, nice-to-have functions, and your pie-in-the-sky dream list. Then find out which app builders can deliver at least your essential functions, and most of your “nice-to-haves”.
You’ll need to do some research. And probably test two or three building tools before you find the right fit. A tool like the App Maker Quiz can help you find a shortlist of the best tools for your needs.
Here are three of the best-rated app builders. But, the best app builder for you may not be listed here.
Optimize your pages for rich answers
Did you know it’s possible to rank at position zero on Google? You just have to get your content into one of the rich answers boxes (aka “featured snippets”, “rich snippets” or “direct answers”) that appear at the top of some search results. These boxes can drive much more traffic to your site.
How do you get your content to appear in rich boxes? Here are the basic steps:
- Identify a simple problem
- Provide a direct answer
- Offer valued added info
- Make it easy for users (and Google) to find
- One thing you don’t necessarily need is a high domain authority. That means there’s an opportunity here for sites that aren’t all that well known.
Search Engine Watch says they think they know what gets content into rich answer boxes. According to them, it’s:
- Sites with more than 1,000 referring domains
- Pages rank in the top 5
- Pages are less than 2,000 words
- Pages with strong user engagement
A study from Moz says:
- The ideal length for a paragraph to appear in a featured snippet is 40 to 50 words.
- The maximum for lists is eight items.
- Use questions in your content, closely followed by an answer to each question, all formatted in a way that Google can easily access.
The best you can do, really, is try to follow all that advice…and then hope for the best. There is no bulletproof, “always-works” tactic. Some of your pages’ content may get picked up in the rich answers boxes. But like most of SEO work, you’ll have to be patient and keep trying.
It’s well past time to be thinking mobile first. Being mobile-friendly is a basic survival requirement. None of this is hard. It’s not even particularly expensive. It just requires some planning—and more content development.
This post is adapted from “3 Ways to Make Your Content Mobile-Friendly” which originally appeared on SCORE.org.
Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing for Wasp Barcode Technologies, a software company that provides solutions to small businesses that increase profit and efficiency.