Today the majority of people reading your blog are doing it on their phone. Here’s how you can optimize and format your blog posts so you communicate effectively with mobile readers.
I recently found myself at the DMV with a long wait. I decided to review some blog posts on marketing360.com.
I went through several recent posts. Then I realized something.
I didn’t read a single post from beginning to end. Instead, I skimmed over the content, consuming it in parts.
Usually, I review my work on a big desktop screen, where I read it completely. But I realized on a phone screen, that was all but impossible. My scrolling habit takes over.
This, of course, is the norm. People don’t read on phone screens the way they do on desktops or print.
We read this way because of the small screen the ability to quickly scroll with our thumb. Because of social media apps, mobile users are used to the infinite-scrolling reading process; expect them to skim your content and read it out of sequence.
And it also happens because mobile users are just that – mobile. We break out our phones and read when we have broken moments and downtime. Instead of imagining your reader sitting comfortably in a quiet corner of the library, imagine them taking in a bit of content – while stuck in traffic or waiting in a line.
So how do you make sure you get your point across with mobile readers? Here are 6 tips.
#1. Break It Up
With online readers, you want to break your content up into digestible bits. That means short sentences and paragraphs divided into short sections with headers.
Mobile readers won’t read long blocks of text. Even a paragraph of just a few hundred words looks insurmountable on a phone screen.
Keep sentences concise, and limit paragraphs to two or three sentences. Break each new idea up into sections with a header that identifies the main idea. Use subheaders, lists, and bullet points.
Don’t worry if your content seems fragmented, particularly when you view it on a desktop. You’ll convey far more information this way to mobile readers.
#2. Start Strong
People on their phones search for fast answers to specific questions. Organize your writing so you start with your most important ideas or even a direct answer to a question.
For example, if your article title is “Is Coffee Healthy?”, you want to start your post with the answer. Yes, coffee is good for your health, and here are 5 reasons you should drink it every day.
Forget what you learned in high school English about building up to a climax. Most mobile readers won’t make it that far. Start with your main point then support it with details.
#3. Use White Space
You want the format of your writing to be uncluttered and open. Remember that people will scroll through material quickly.
For this reason, you want to space your content out, leaving room for thumb scrollers. This also makes it much easier on the eye, allowing people to easily scan your content.
Short paragraphs help with this. Also, use an extra space between sections and center your images.
When in doubt, spread it out. What seems too open on your desktop will work perfectly for mobile readers.
#4. Use Images and Video
Images and video are both effective for mobile readers.
The eye-catching quality of images will keep readers engaged. Where people often won’t take the time to read a lot of text on a phone, they’re more than ready to watch a short video.
You can also use media like infographics. Mix things up with text, images, and video.
Be careful about adding too many images, particularly if they’re big files that slow down page load times, which is a sure fire way to lose your mobile audience.
#5. Keep It Short
It’s best to be concise with all your content, but for content that gets a lot of mobile traffic, it’s essential.
The reality is you’re never going to get anyone to read a 3000-word essay on their phone. In fact, they won’t even skim to the second half of it.
If you have content that requires that type of development, write a white paper or evergreen article for SEO. Distribute it to the right audience through proper channels (like email) so they’ll understand what they’re getting and take the time to read it.
As for ordinary blog posts, the best rule is to make it as short as possible while developing your ideas fully. And again, always keep in mind that mobile readers will skim. Even short articles are unlikely to be read from beginning to end.
#6. Link (with care)
Add links to other pages on your site or cited resources when it will help edify your readers – but no more.
Too many links confuse readers and cause them to navigate from the very content you’re trying so hard to keep them engaged with. Also, when they click on a link it means another page has to load, and any delay will lose people.
To stay mobile friendly, use links sensibly. If there is an important idea you want to connect with, the advantage is that you can link to that content instead of adding it to your post (which keeps things short).
Google now uses mobile-first indexing, which means they index the mobile version of your content for search rankings. If your content is well formatted for mobile and engages readers, you’ll rank better.
And it goes without saying that you need a mobile-responsive website design. If you have an old, static site that’s difficult to navigate on a phone, you can forget it. That traffic is gone.
Pro tip: Right click on your desktop screen and select “inspect”. This displays the mobile version of the page on your desktop.
Take a look at your analytics. You’ll probably find, as I did, that mobile users make up at least half of your overall traffic.
There is a nice bonus to all this. The truth is, these 6 tips improve writing overall. They lead to tight writing that stays on topic. A well-edited, concise article is better no matter what device the reader is using.