April 21st, 2015, will go down in history as a momentous occasion for web developers, internet marketers and business owners alike. On this day, Google rolled out their mobile-friendly algorithm—the largest they’ve ever released. Now, websites are being required to have a mobile-friendly option if they want to be successful on Google. As this transition takes place, the demand for content optimized for mobile devices is higher than ever.
Search engines use a combination of elements to produce the results on their pages, known as the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This whole system creates the standard search engine system that we all live by in the internet and SEO arena. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Algorithms created by the search engine’s developers
- Current lists of banned and restricted websites
- The quality and consistency of on-page content
- The presence of healthy links to and from the website from reputed sources
In the past, content development experts mastered these elements and discerned that viewers of webpages were spending the most time viewing content on the top and left portions of a site more than anything else. These parts of the site were determined to be the most important, and web developers and SEO companies have built websites to have some of their most important elements incorporated into these sections. However, with Google’s new mobile-friendly update, this is all going to change.
This is an example of the old school heat-maps that skilled researchers developed to figure out where people were most likely to look and click on something. The content goes from red, the most viewed, to green, the most lightly viewed, to uncolored spots, barely viewed at all. Some companies coined these areas the “Golden Triangle,” and SEO companies and web developers have worked their skills around it.
Mobile devices are not going to follow the same classical formula of typical websites. We’ve seen in the past that people spend a lot of time viewing images, and images can take up a majority of space on a mobile device. We also know that people are using their mobile devices to ask questions and seek answers, rather than use very specific keyword-heavy searches. Google took part in a research study with Emory University in order to better understand the different expectations of mobile device users.
Their studies have shown the differences between traditional computer-based searches and searches conducted on mobile devices. They recruited 30 participants who were given eye tracking devices, and then given different devices to do searches with and do business as usual. This study showed the importance of the information within the “Knowledge Graph.” There are a few points that can be taken from this.
- Mobile users are driven towards having their questions answered.
- Mobile users look for instant answers and will search farther down a page if they believe the answer may be there. Users show more time spent searching for what they want, ignoring the rest.
- Being able to produce “instant answers” will drive more mobile traffic to your site/organization.
- According to the study, because of the way people view mobile devices, search engine results between rank two and four are actually getting more visual exposure right now.
So What Can Writers and Developers Do?
In one of his recent publications on The Content Marketing Institute, Author and Content Development Expert, Neil Patel, believes that the new trend in mobile search and mobile compatibility “requires a reorientation to the art of writing.” Writers of all levels shouldn’t be writing less for mobile devices, they should be writing better, more concisely; interesting and informative, yet with direction. The focus in the future will be powerful content that is well-written and to the point. A lot can be taken from Patel’s expertise. Here’s how you can start succeeding with mobile users today:
Separate your mobile development from your PC browser development. Mobile readers and mobile devices are completely different. Don’t shoot yourself and your organization in the foot by not embracing the new world of mobile-friendly web development. Learn the new system or find someone who does, or risk losing traffic to the algorithm.
Shorter paragraphs. It’s true that in desktop browsing and other traditional writing that longer paragraphs are alright if they contain interesting content. In mobile devices, people strain to concentrate on long running paragraphs. When writing for mobile, make sure that your paragraphs are shorter, divided into 2-4 sentences instead of 4-6 or more. It’s more likely that people will continue to read your content instead of bouncing away.
Get rid of unnecessary details and wording. Be short, sweet and to the point. It’s true that short, concise and informative writing takes time, hard work and concentration. However, in the long run, this investment of time and effort will pay off with beautiful, engaging content. If you need help there are content development experts out there that regularly give advice.
Shorten your headlines. Headlines should be short and sweet. Think “smartphone screen.” They are small, and your headline should be too. People are more likely to absorb the angle of your article/content and pay it some more attention—most won’t bother trying to decipher a cut-off headline.
Put the best content first. You want to drive people into your site by raising and meeting their expectations and giving them either a service, or an important point or fact to take away from your site or company. Find your most reliable content and put it up front—people who are truly interested will be enticed by this and look through your site more.
Realize images get more time viewed than text. While this means you can get a lot of exposure and attention through images, it also means that sometimes content may become overlooked as viewers and readers are looking at images. Place images strategically and use them after you’ve gotten your point across to users, giving them a chance to spend more time on your site, enjoying your content.
In conclusion, mobile users expect (and reward with their business) shorter, to-the-point content that is informative and interesting. They expect higher quality, more concise writing, instead of simply writing less. Use fewer, more strategically placed images. Under the new mobile-friendly algorithms, quality content will thrive and content developers will be able to let their skills shine more than ever before. In the new, exciting age of mobile devices and mobile search, make sure your company stays ahead of the curve and has the mobile presence that your customers expect and will look for when deciding whose business to choose.