Great Mobile Sites Take More Than Just Writing

4 minute read
Rob McCarthy avatar

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As we all know, mobile and smartphone internet traffic is growing, but is still a minority of all web use, about 15-25 percent depending on the industry and has doubled in the last 12 months. So as the vast majority of internet users still get their access from a computer, you may be tempted to just stick with your website as is.

Mobile Media Studies for Beginners

Let’s take a look at your desktop website and ask some basic media studies questions:

  • What is it for?
    • Who is its target audience?
    • What information does it offer them?
  • Is it mainly text, or are video and audio important to your user experience?
  • How long do you expect users to spend looking at each page?
    • According to Nielson, the first 10 seconds of the page visit are critical for users' decision to stay or leave a page.
  • When and where is it going to be used?

Now let’s then look at your mobile site. Are the answers the same? It’s unlikely. Mobile sites and desktop sites have different user journeys and your customer’s mobile user journey may start before they take their phone out of their pocket. With GPS-enabled smartphones and services like Google streetview mobile and Facebook check-in, the internet has become a part of our day to day real world where "AFK"(away from keyboard) no longer means offline.

Keeping up with Technology

When we look at new technologies like location based search, mobile content uploading and broadcasting, (such as http://bambuser.com/ and http://audioboo.fm/) is "how do I write for the mobile web" the right question? The internet, mobile or not, isn’t just about writing any more. If it was, we’d all still be using the Lynx text browser. So if we’re not just writing, what are we doing?

The Answer is … Search

Let's take a hypothetical situation. A discussion among friends or colleagues: when you’re trying to remember who that guy was in that film about that guy, or the name of that really cool pizza place you went to in Chicago, what do you do? If you answered "Google it," then you’ve found the question you need to ask about the mobile web.

If customers are coming to you via Google on a mobile, your mobile website needs to be mobile SEO friendly. When users Google on a mobile they will typically click on the first few results. People want quick answers on mobiles and scroll less. If ads are displayed, there may only be a couple of natural search results visible, so it is vital to get to the top.

Learning Opportunities

To assist your natural mobile SEO ensure your content is punchy and well written with good keywords, headings and tags. Companies with a mobile website will also get ranked higher than those with desktop websites and apps won’t be listed at all.

Additionally, where local information is searched for, your mobile site should make use of phone features like geo-location mapping, to deliver a more local and personalized presentation.

Finally, excellent search and simple navigation on your mobile site is required so that users can continue to browse and find additional content quickly and easily.

If you don't have a mobile website then you are losing out on some 15-25 percent of potential opportunities. Plus, If the answers your mobile site provides aren’t current, relevant and easily searchable, your potential customer is unlikely to even know that your site exists.

So the question you need to ask about producing content for the mobile internet is what was the last question your customer asked. Once you know that, you can anticipate the next question and make sure your mobile site provides the answer.

Editor's Note: Another article by Rob McCarthy you might enjoy:

-- The Importance of Social Media ROI

About the author

Rob McCarthy

Robert McCarthy has been at the helm of GOSS Interactive (www.gossinteractive.com) since its inception in 1999. GOSS is a digital agency that specialises in delivering online efficiency through website engagement and optimisation, hosting and with a leading Web Content Management system GOSS iCM.