Registering a domain, choosing a few themes, creating graphics, and writing text may create a website, but that doesn’t necessarily make it friendly for mobile consumption. And that is a big mistake! According to several studies, more than half of all online traffic now occurs on smartphones and tablets.
Sloppy, difficult-to-navigate sites with overrunning borders are easy to skip over, no matter how high-quality the “content” is. These will never make the grade in an increasingly mobile-accessed web world.
That is why it is critical to think about optimising for mobile from the time you start thinking about the creation of your website, landing page, or post.
WHERE TO START WITH MOBILE OPTIMISATION
The first important thing to reckon with is that websites on a desktop are literally a different shape than anything accessed by mobile. In other words, you have to rethink the default position that people first interact with on their phones. While mobile devices these days offer “desktop view”, and it is easy to switch the perspective of a phone view, first impressions count.
This means that since mobile phones tend to support “portrait” rather than “landscape” upon first look, it is important to keep in mind how things will look to your readers upon first glance.
Further, as a logical next step, the rules of newspaper placement reign supreme when it comes to reader engagement. Content has an 86% chance of being seen immediately if it fits within the top ⅔ of the screen when first seen by a mobile user, and 68% if it’s in the top half.
FORMAT YOUR MOBILE VERSION TO GRAB ATTENTION
What is the most compelling thing about your blog post or landing page? It could be the topic of your article; it could be a picture. Great headlines and compelling images and graphics are some of the best ways to retain eyeballs, if not prolong engagement.
If you choose to lead with text, the words must have a bite. Why is this story worth reading? A good summary (of no more than two sentences) combined with a compelling picture is absolutely what you need to engage readers. This is sometimes called the “lede”.
Beyond the headline and opening picture (or gallery of them), what draws the user in? A great story on a great topic. And that is what you have to focus on next. Keeping the reader engaged until the end, or even the action item, is where you need to focus your attention next—and that means great writing skills and the ability to tell a story in (usually) 600–3,000 words.
Site design is also important when thinking about how to format that text. Break it up into mini sections, with subheadings or pictures/designs every 300–500 words. And, of course, also use lists, bullets, and styling (bold and italics) to further help the reading eye.
10 CONSIDERATIONS FOR OPTIMISING MOBILE
The first thing to do when trying to optimise for mobile is to take an audit of all the elements that make up your site. This includes text but is hardly limited to it. Images, videos, slideshows—even advertisement placement—are all in the mix.
There are a ton of ways to optimise your mobile site—these are just a few suggestions.
1: GOOD WRITING
Shorter headlines certainly help the eye, but so does good communication generally. Tell the reader what they want to know in a medium known for encouraging a short attention span. What is “good writing” from the perspective of internet goals? Anything that increases brand awareness, ranks well on search engines, generates social shares, creates leads, or leads to sales.
2: INCLUDE IMAGES
Even twenty years into the globalisation of the internet, images are routinely overlooked for their ability to not only capture attention but also help a site or post gain legitimacy. Labelling images is equally important, and can also help sharpen the reader’s attention or deepen it.
3: MAKE MOBILE CONTENT SCROLLABLE
Don’t make users jump through multiple pages. If the post is long, own it.
4: DON’T USE POPUPS
If you want to make your website ultra-accessible, skip all popups. They slow things down and are especially irritating to navigate in a mobile context.
5: OPTIMISE PAGE SPEED
The faster one can access your site, the better. There are multiple tools you can use to do this, most of which involve things like optimising images and video. Minify all your code and reduce redirects. And, of course, never forget browser caching.
6: DON’T FORGET WHITE SPACE
If a screen is too packed with content, of whatever kind, no matter how good it is, it is also a turnoff. Let some white space break up your mobile content to give it more potency.
7: PREVIEW YOUR MOBILE WEBSITE
It may sound like a no-brainer, but one of the best ways to optimise your site or post is to just eyeball it on a mobile device before you post it live.
8: OPTIMISE SEO FOR MOBILE
SEO can help you consistently optimise your site, including for mobile. This involves understanding key word strategy (long-term) as you design content.
There are some general strategies beyond word choice for creating the ultimate goal of all mobile optimisers—ongoing visitation via “new” and evergreen content. For example, although news is written in a different voice and style than a more instructional or how-to post, good content that is optimised for mobile tries to use a bit of both.
Thus, if you’re writing a news story about a court case overturning a historical wrong, you should also tie this into historical events (if not include high-value site links) to create an evergreen strategy (i.e. for historical research). This is a skill that takes some time to develop. Start with SEO proficiency and remain committed to continual refinement of content strategy, and you cannot go wrong.
Beyond “written content”, this also means being diligent about tagging, picture and graph labelling, and, of course, remaining relevant.
9: SKIP RETROFITTING YOUR MOBILE SITE
The vast majority of internet searches on Google are conducted on mobile devices. For that very reason, start thinking “mobile” from the time you conceptualise your site. Adopting a mobile-first strategy will make you more efficient all the way through the process. It will also minimise optimisation time—because you were already heading in this direction.
You can also utilise software and blogging sites with specially optimised designs that are faster to load. These are called accelerated mobile pages (AMP).
10: SET UP A MOBILE BUSINESS PLAN
There are many factors to consider when optimising content for mobile, which is why, if starting to think about a website presence now, it is also advisable to have a mobile optimisation plan that is just as strong as the desktop version. While you may miss some things, you at least begin to set up a structure and process for uploading content. This will certainly stand you in good stead, no matter if you have to go back and revise it.
Understanding how to generate traffic is a process that can take years. In the meantime, making sure all the related content (from pictures to links) is optimised will only help you obtain better results, no matter how popular you become online as a content creator.
This means that not only will content on your website be optimised, but you’ll have a structure for driving traffic from other sources. For example, properly labelling your new YouTube video, including links and a logo, will help drive traffic back to your blog or site. It will also help you form a strategy regarding embedded content and external hashtags. For example, do you want to link to other sources, or do you want people to view the content (particularly longer documents or video) from your server?
MOBILE OPTIMISATION CASE STUDIES
There are many associated case studies to be found online. Finding direct comparisons to your situation is also increasingly easy because more and more companies are going cyber as a front door sales strategy.
Here are a few intriguing companies to look at when starting:
Lifeproof, an electronics company that specialises in protective smartphone covers, increased their monthly revenue by 16% by adding a simple call to action button to their front page.
Moz, a highly popular SEO optimisation tool and website, increased their sales by $1 million with a redesign of their landing and call to action page.
Walmart Canada decided to redesign their main page after realising that their mobile traffic had increased dramatically. They prioritised page load time to enhance the customer experience. The result? They experienced a subsequent 98% increase in online orders.
OPTIMISING YOUR MOBILE WEBSITE: IN SUMMARY
There are multiple ways to make your site and content more accessible in a mobile environment. This begins with creating high-quality content; but in this case, the package and presentation are at least as important as the actual content. Everything from bad design to slow loading time can reduce the user experience.
However, by planning ahead, creating a good template, and following a good SEO and site optimisation plan, as well as thinking mobile from the beginning, you can begin creating content that goes as far as, well, anything can in cyberspace.