First there was Panda and Penguin. Now, Google will release a Google mobile update on April 21. This update promises to be even wider-reaching than both of the “bird-inspired” updates that valued high-quality content.
Google’s new update promises to be a game changer. The algorithm will rank mobile-friendly sites higher than non-mobile-friendly ones. Many webmasters from around the world are (rightfully) anxious about its release since it could significantly impact traffic.
From a writer’s perspective, the update gives us something to think about as well. Does this mean we need to learn a whole new way to create web content?
Before Panda and Penguin made their debuts, it was fairly easy to rank a website at the top of the search result by indiscriminately stuffing a particular keyword. These updates crippled a number of websites because they depended on that tactic to gain traffic.
The Mobilegeddon promises to do the same for webmasters who have neglected optimization for mobile browsers. This could be potentially devastating to some reaches of the Internet. Google has already stated that there will be no middle ground. Your site will either be mobile friendly or not. This could mean an entire reworking of site architecture and the content contained therein. This is of utmost importance to us as webmasters, writers, and marketers.
Get ahead of this potentially game-changing update. Although it isn’t in effect yet, estimate how writing for a mobile site differs from writing for PCs. There is going to be a series of changes that content producers should aim to heed if they intend to keep producing high-quality, compelling content after the update has rolled out. Read this Search Engine Land post that offers three actions to prepare your website for the impending update.
From what we know about the update, it’s likely that we will have to make changes to our content production habits. Here are a few tactics that will help:
User experience on a mobile device is different than a desktop browser. One of the most obvious differences is the change in screen size (and the amount of usable real estate). Currently, a headline can stretch across the full banner-length of a browser, but mobile screens change the game when it comes to headline width.
What this Means for Us: Create shorter headlines. For Twitter users, it just means that you can practice your 140-character limit more often. For those of us who don’t use this particular social media network, now is a good time to start. We need to learn how to condense page-width headlines into more bite-sized chunks, without sacrificing the impact potential of our headline.
“Snackable content” is something that content producers are all too aware of, but is especially important for mobile optimization. Create content that the user can consume in one sitting. However, the format in which we present this content is likely to be as bite-sized as the content itself. Because of short attention spans and aversions to “walls of text” it’s likely that mobile users would feel put upon when it comes to dealing with paragraphs that fill their entire screen.
What this Means for Us: Learn to summarize your ideas. Keep to the point and make your copy more targeted in nature. In some cases, such as home pages, reduce the amount of copy there altogether. Increased copy gives the user a hard time and makes for difficult reading, especially on a tiny display. Get your message across in short bursts.
In Orwell’s 1984, he invented a form of the English language called “newspeak” where words were combined, removing unnecessary and frivolous ones and replacing the others that didn’t serve a purpose. This mobile update is likely to make content producers do the same, paring content down to be less wordy while at the same time interspersing calls to action. Condensing content will require us to consider what we write and distill the message in as few words as possible.
What this Means for Us: Rethink the methodology for creating content. In addition to making content compelling and benefit focused, we must also now take a look at the amount of words we use and how often we call to action. It could possibly mean a change in the basic tenets of web writing.
The exclusion is blog content– they will always rank and read better in long form – but for your home and main pages, less content means a better mobile experience, and happier readers.
Luckily, this change does not require us to find a fallout shelter to survive. Writing habits just need to be carefully considered.
You may need to review web writing and revamp some marketing approaches accordingly to align to with what is expected from mobile friendly sites.