How to Write Content For Mobile Sites

by Alex Simmonds November 7th, 2012 

mobile-laptop

These days anyone who runs a website as part of their business knows that the days of just throwing the website online, adding some content and a splash of SEO, are long gone. Now, in order to be competitive it is important not just to think about the site and the SEO but also the Twitter feed and Facebook page, the quality of the links and most importantly (thankfully) the quality of the content. Over the last two or three years another consideration has been added to that list; delivering a mobile version of the website. If you want to make the most of every opportunity then it is not enough anymore to simply serve up a mobile site that cuts all the images and graphics, videos and music from your main site. Not if you want to compete at the highest levels. If you want good content available to people on their mobile devices then you will need to do a whole lot more.

Why should you go to all that effort? The answer is simple; more and more people are using mobile devices to access the internet. With wireless available almost everywhere and free to use in coffee shops, people are sitting down for a coffee, pulling out their iPhone or iPad and going online. If you are running a business, it would be crazy to miss out on that market.

Consequently you need to plan your mobile site accordingly. And the first thing to consider is how your content will fit the users needs. When it comes to mobile users it is worth thinking about your average mobile user as being like a young child with a child's low attention span. They want to skim through sites and pages, desperate for something to catch their attention. So you're only going to have a brief window to catch them. It is during this initial window that you get your one chance to pull them in and the way to do that is by having a simple and clean page with no clutter and lots of interesting content. Consequently your home page will need to contain the bare minimum; the information that is bringing people to your site whilst they are on the move. If it is an information-based site then have that information summarized and with easy navigation right there on the front page. Don't try to push the content on this front page, just create teaser headlines to pull people in. Trim the headlines down to as few words as possible without losing the interest of the article and make sure the articles on offer are arranged so as to be simple to use.

The content itself must always be directed at what a user will be looking for whilst out and about. Ask yourself what elements of your site would people be looking for when away from their home computers? If you run a guide to your city, for example, work out what visitors would need in terms of immediate advice. If you run a theatre, movie or review site then chances are people will arrive at your site looking for something that day; plan accordingly and try and help people to find the nearest event to them. And if you run a news site, then make sure you put only the latest news headlines and the most interesting stories on that homepage.

Next, it is important to make sure that the content is written specifically for a mobile site. Your aim is ultimately to get the information across in a way that is simple and easy for a mobile user. The text must be easy to skim through and get a broad strokes picture of what is going on. You will need to be concise and you will not have a lot of room for introductions and backstory; get to the point.

Furthermore, the concise text should in turn be actionable. This means that you will present the user with the basic data, without any frills and offer them a choice. Do they want to click on the link at the bottom of the article to head over to your site and a more in-depth version of the article? Do they want to email the link / article to themselves for reading later or email it to someone else to look at? If they are looking for cinema times at a particular cinema, have the times and nothing else. If they want help deciding whether to see a movie, cut the original review down to a thumbs up or a thumbs down and a couple of sentences why, plus a link to the original review. If you write the mobile review well, no matter how short it is, they will want to read more, and that allows you to send them to your site.

Lastly, you will still need to keep SEO in mind. Nearly 50% of all mobile users will get to a site via the search engines so when it comes to mobile content you're still going to need to think about those keywords. With even shorter content to play with you will need to manage this carefully and bare in mind all the new Google rules; whatever you do don't stuff tiny articles with keywords!

In conclusion, bear these points in mind; the main content should be only a link or two away, both to your main site and to the deeper levels of your mobile site. The mobile site must be easy to navigate, with massive spaces between links (a small touchscreen phone necessitates space between the links) and there should be a way of navigating around the site both at the top and the bottom. And most importantly the content must be concise, interesting and actionable.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Do I need a mobile site: 10 Question Checklist

Alex Simmonds

Alex Simmonds is a journalist and copywriter living in the UK. He specialises in writing content for sites and SEO copywriting.

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2 Responses to “How to Write Content For Mobile Sites”

  1. Great article Alex! Make sure that every word counts on your content by keeping the most important information at the very top, and by keeping it short, simple and in small understandable, important points.

  2. Alex Rascanu says:

    Good post, Alex. We were just working on our site's mobile version and all your points are certainly relevant.