Writing for the Internet.
Strategy / Apr 13th, 2020 8:42 pm     A+ | a-

Most readers use a phone

Sixty percent of web visitors use mobile devices, which means they are attempting to read your message with distractions all around them. Mobile phone users tend to focus their attention for about 15 seconds at a time. During that brief period, and at a normal reading speed of 300 words-per-minute, they’ll read 75 words before being distracted again.

Display information in small sections

Each line of text on a desktop screen equates to about four lines on a phone. Each paragraph should have its own title that describes its content. The paragraph should convey a single concept and be limited to about 65 words.  This format also lends itself well to Google's tendency to grab snippets from website content for presentation as search results.

Using smart headlines helps with SEO

Conventional wisdom suggests each page should have an h1 headline and use an h2 tag for each paragraph headline. Ideally, each headline should incorporate a key phrase (keyword) to boost search results for the page. Don’t overuse keywords (keyword stuffing) because it lowers the quality of your writing and “offends” the Google AI robots. Writing in a natural style for people also works best for Google’s robots.

Each paragraph is a stepping-stone to a goal

Each headline should encourage readers to read the paragraph. The subject of each paragraph should entice visitors to read the next paragraph and so on. This progression creates a process, leading visitors to a specific goal. In many cases, it’s a call to action (CTA) like filling out a form or clicking on a link. Writing this way creates a direct path to the overall goal of the page.

Using graphics effectively

Where practical, include graphics or photographs that support your message. Your graphic elements should function like headlines. They should “say something” in support of your content. Gratuitous graphics waste everyone's time and risk confusing visitors. Avoid animated graphics. They are enormously distracting on small screens, especially for mobile users who are half distracted already.  

Call to action (CTA)

This is the goal…the whole purpose of the page. This is where your visitors are prompted to take some sort of action. They can click a text link (blue, underlined text), click on a button or fill in a form. A blue text link should describe what will happen next. The target, or "anchor text" will also help with SEO. A button should also contain descriptive text and be large enough for a finger press on a phone.

Using a form

If you want your visitors to fill out a form, there is one well-established behavior pattern to be aware of. Each additional field in the form lowers response rates. Only ask for the information you absolutely need. For example, successful email capture forms only ask for first name and email address. Also asking for the last name, phone number, etc. dramatically reduces your chances of success.

Concluding advice

Always, always write for mobile users. Content formatted for a phone works fine on a desktop or laptop screen. The opposite is not true. If your content is written to look good on a large screen, you will lose a huge percentage of mobile users. In today’s mobile world, that is marketing suicide.

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