We’re past the stage where “mobile-friendly” is enough. It’s time to put your mobile users’ needs first.
It’s time to think “mobile first”.
But what does that mean, exactly? How should our websites, and our content, and our content strategy, change to align itself with a mobile first mindset?
Plenty of ways, actually. Here’s how:
- Make it snappy.
Speed matters online. But on mobile, it matters even more. According to research from Google, “53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.”
And yet, according to that same research, “The average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds.”
Clearly, we have a problem.
Or… you have an opportunity. Because if you can speed up your site enough to get it to load for mobile users in 3 seconds or less, you’ll smoke most of your competition. That means more website traffic, more leads, and more sales.
- Be 100% sure your site works on mobile devices.
In tech-talk, make sure your site is “responsive.” As in, it responds to whichever devices it’s read on.
Most new WordPress themes and DIY site platforms like WIX are built to be responsive. But if you have an older site, this might be the single best reason to update it.
But even if your web guy or gal says “sure, your site is responsive”, don’t leave it there. Check your site on your own mobile phone. Thoroughly.
Check every page, submit every form, share pages to social media (every platform), place an order, write a review – test everything on your site to make sure it:
- a) can be done on a mobile device
- b) is as easy as possible to do on a mobile device
Then, just when you think you’ve got this mobile thing tied down… go ask your teenager or a millennial friend (or even your eight year old) to go do all that stuff over again.
Get detailed, candid feedback about what they think of your site’s usability. The younger set often is more savvy – and more judgmental – about what they consider to be a good or a bad site.
- Make key information on your site easy for mobile users to access.
It’s not enough to have a fast, mobile-friendly website. Your site also has to give mobile users what they want – and fast.
So what do they want? Well, as the graphic below shows, they most want:
- pricing information
- locations near them
Fortunately, that information is included on many small business sites… but not all. In our 2017 WASP Barcode State of Small Business report, we found that only 55% of businesses have the company location and phone number, much less directions to their location or pricing information.
- Use a website design (or WordPress theme) that offers tabbed content.
Something like this:
Not sure how to set this up? The free WordPress plugin “Tabby Responsive Tabs” can make it easier.
- Format your content for scanning and small screens.
Here are a few best practices, particularly for text:
- Keep paragraphs short (no more than five lines of text).
- Use bullet points
- Use subheaders
- Break up text with images about every 300-400 words
- Use plenty of whitespace
- Use a highly-legible typeface (like the ones mentioned here)
- Show dark type on a white background (aka with “high contrast” to help your readers see the words and letters without any squinting
- Use a font size of at least 12 points
- Vary your content formats.
Mobile visitors will read… but many of them would welcome other content formats. Namely, video. Or even an interactive tool. Or an infographic. Or a clickable Slideshare or slideshow.
So offer these to them. You don’t have to make everything you publish into a video, but you can “80/20” it. Pick your 20% most visited or most profitable text-based content, and turn that into a video or an interactive tool, or whatever you might work best.
You’ll keep mobile users on your site longer, which is likely to get you more leads and sales, too.
- Keep it brief (or at least offer a summary).
Mobile users tend to be more distracted, and because of that, shorter “snackable” content often works better for them.
Take note: The “short is better” rule is not universally true. For example, there are plenty of mobile users on websites right now, reading 10,000-word articles written at a graduate school level. But the point still holds: Mobile readers usually appreciate brevity.
One way to offer brevity, but still offer the long-form content Google loves is to offer a summary. Summaries can appear either as a first paragraph or even as the last paragraph. On sites like Search Engine Land, summaries are often given the subheader “TL;DR”, as in “too long; didn’t read.”
One other way to distill your content for mobile users (and even for desktop users)? Optimize it for instant answers (aka “answer boxes“). Those are the blocks of content that sometimes appear at the top of the search results, usually to answer a specific question someone has searched for.
It might be tempting to dismiss some of these tactics as “too hard”, but consider this: There’s more traffic from mobile devices now than from desktops. And if you’re a local business, the traffic is even more skewed to mobile users because more mobile searches are location based.
In other words – yes – optimizing content for mobile devices is more work. But it’s how most people use the internet now, and even more people will use it this way soon. Ignoring that mobile traffic and those users is going to hurt your business.
How badly could it hurt your business? I can’t say. But if optimizing your content got you even 10% more engagement with your content – and the associated lift in sales – would that mobile-first content optimization pay for itself? Maybe even be profitable?
It might be worth figuring that out.