How To Write Content that Engages Mobile Readers

Nolan Wilson

May 12, 20153 min read
How To Write Content that Engages Mobile Readers

Mobilegeddon has come and gone. Did your site landslide down the rankings? Did your online presence erupt like a volcano? Did your ranking shoot up like a shooting star?

Okay — enough with the weather-related puns. In all seriousness, all the news surrounding Google’s most recent mobile-friendly update got me thinking. Yes, this is the type of thing copywriters think about in our spare time. Depressing, I know.

Is there a relationship between writing high quality content, mobile websites and engagement? Are current web copy best practices conducive to a mobile environment? What is the best approach to write for mobile readers? Is writing less better?

Obviously, Google thinks mobile is important, and with 46% of searchers now using mobile exclusively for research, surfing the web’s mobile content is only going to become more of a factor when crafting your SEO and marketing strategy. Use of mobile devices to access the web is only going to increase, and substantially.

The Dilemma with Mobile Copywriting

With mobile trending more and more, how will this affect content? We've all heard that long-form is best, but does the increasing preference for mobile change that?

You would think that writing less makes sense for mobile, however, as serpIQ has found, longer blog posts rank higher in SERPs and receive higher levels of engagement.

Average content length

Writing longer posts seems to be counter-intuitive for mobile. People don’t want to read 2,000-word posts on their small mobile screen — it just looks like a sea of words. But won’t writing less hurt my organic search rankings?

There is a Happy Medium: Don’t Write Less, Write More Concise Copy

You could be losing readers if you are not factoring in a mobile content strategy along with responsive web design. It’s becoming essential to write for mobile users or you risk alienating an increasingly important part of your online market.

How do you write for mobile? You need to write more concisely. Here are 5 ways to do it:

1. Shorten your headlines

Shorter, impactful headlines work best. Longer headlines will take up too much screen space and can get lost below the fold. Avoid making readers scroll to read your headline. Plus, shorter headlines are easier to scan. Try to keep it to about five words or so.

2. Front load your content

If you want to hook your mobile audience, you need to get to the point. The best way to do this is to front load your content.

  • Use attention grabbing sub-headings
  • Make a controversial statement
  • Provide your key takeaway
  • Hook them with a great stat

Remember the inverted pyramid?

Inverted pyramid

image source

If you bore your readers at the start, they won’t have the chance to read your content, no matter how good it is, because they will have left rather than scroll.

3. Shorten your paragraphs

We all know that chunking out your content into smaller paragraphs is important when writing for the web. It’s even more important when writing for mobile. No one wants to read long blocks of text on a small screen. You’ll lose them before they get through the article.

How short? One or two short sentences if possible. When writing for mobile, you don’t have the space to be long-winded. Make your point. Think Twitter.

4. Get rid of the fluff and filler

This includes words, sentences, bullet points, examples and anything else that your post can do without. Writing for mobile is an exercise in being concise and making your point using fewer words. This doesn’t mean write 500 words rather than 1500. Quite the opposite; long-form content is a key rankings factor. But if you can make your argument in 1,300 rather than 1,500 words, then do it.

5. Formatting is vital

Making your content scannable is perhaps the most important mobile copywriting consideration. Make it easy for users to scan your content to find what they are looking for by using:

  • Sub-headings
  • Bulleted and numbered lists
  • Pull quotes
  • Bold to highlight key phrases, keywords and messages

Don’t Forget to Test!

Test your content to see what your users like and don’t like. Since most mobile content is created on desktops, make sure you test your new content approach on a number of mobile devices. See what it looks like on different smartphones and tablets to ensure readers are getting the best user experience possible.

Final Thoughts

Investing in mobile content is the way to go. If you are not writing for a mobile audience, you are not putting your marketing and SEO budget to good use. Going mobile-friendly will help you increase conversion rates, boost your rankings for targeted keywords, make it easier for users to find what they are looking for on your mobile site, and make your users more likely to return.

Have you adjusted your SEO copywriting for mobile readership? Let's discuss it in the comments.

Author Photo
Nolan Wilson is a freelance writer and founder of Nolan Wilson Freelance. He is a content development strategist that helps businesses plan, strategize and create content to support inbound marketing campaigns. Nolan graduated from Western University with a Masters of Library and Information Science. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.