On-the-Go Content: How to Write for a Mobile Audience

Sarah McInerney

Head of Content

Sarah has almost three decades of experience in crafting compelling, engaging content specifically designed to boost sales and enhance brand loyalty. She’s also an expert in developing unique tone of voice that helps brands connect with their audiences. Her marketing and client service background has given Sarah a natural understanding of how to write content that makes readers take action. Whether it’s signing up to a mailing list, making an enquiry or donation or clicking the buy button, Sarah knows precisely how to convert with words. Pen down, Sarah is a proud member of the Essex Wildlife Trust and spends most of her free time enjoying inspiring walks through her local woodland and nature reserves, admiring everything that flaps, flutters and flowers.

Google’s big search index divide is coming. Responsive web design has never been more important, because without it, websites that don’t cut it on mobile quite simply won’t factor in the results across both of the newly separated indexes. But what of responsive COPY? Just how do you write for a mobile audience?

  • Google’s big divide will split mobile and desktop search results
  • Responsive websites crucial to avoid missing out on rankings across BOTH indexes
  • CONTENT must also be responsive to hook in all types of audience
  • How to write content for a mobile audience
mobile user experience

The mobile user experience MUST be just as pleasant as the desktop one, and that goes for the quality of content too.

Google’s big search index divide means responsive content is crucial. But what exactly IS responsive content?

Earlier this month we covered Google’s forthcoming ‘big divide’, talking about how mobile search and desktop search are set to divide so that mobile pages are indexed differently to those accessed through desktop searches.

With separate indexes, there will be no room for sites that split into mobile and desktop versions, which means that responsive is the way to go in terms of design, user experience and content delivery. But that’s not all that needs to be responsive.

Design is by a long chalk not all that matters for mobile users: content that responds to a range of platforms is crucial too, more so now than ever before.

Now when you produce content, you need to think about how it will be read across different platforms, with special attention being given to mobile. So just how do you write for mobile?

Mobile users enjoy a good read. After all, what else is there to do on that long commute?

Firstly you have the smaller reading area of course, so you’re going to need to get to the point, and fast. Summing up is crucial, but do bear in mind that mobile users actually DO, contrary to popular belief, enjoy a good, long indulging read. After all, what else is there to do during that commute or on your long, lonely lunchbreak other than get involved in some juicy content?

In fact, wouldn’t you say people are more likely to read longer, more in-depth content on a mobile device than they are on a desktop, bearing in mind when they’re at their desk they’ll probably be working?

reading on the mobile

What else is there to do on that long commute other than get involved in a good long read on your mobile?

How to write for mobile

So start your piece with a nice, short, compelling paragraph that addresses an emotional or practical need. This will hook in your reader.

Next, summarise what you are going to cover in bullet point form. That’s your above the fold dealt with. Now you can let loose and get into your piece. Observe how this piece started with the intro paragraph followed by the points outlining what we’re going to cover. See how it works to engage the audience, set out what the reader can expect to find out then carry on into the main body of the article.

Make your mobile readers feel important: negative experiences damage a brand

Write for your mobile users as if you’re addressing THEIR reading habits. Don’t let them think they’re the poor relation; that you actually wrote with a desktop audience in mind but hey, if someone wants to try and navigate your content when they’re on the go that’s up to them. Always remember that a negative mobile experience can damage a brand, so making your content flow seamlessly from desktop to mobile, and back again, is a must.


Address the reading habits of your audience and NEVER make the mobile experience the poor relation to desktop.

Give readers options

Make the whole shebang available to your readers regardless of whether they’re on mobile or desktop. Don’t dumb down your content just because it’s sitting on a mobile platform. By the same token, make sure you also offer a bite-sized version just in case the reader needs to get to the crux of what they want to know quickly. They might, for example, be looking for a quick yes or no answer to help them make a buying decision. On the other hand someone else might want to actually sit and learn more in-depth about the same subject so they can take their time and make an informed choice.

Build in blocks

Mobile content needs to be broken down into bitesize blocks. Readers will often work their way through in chunks, maybe even coming back to read more when they have time. Think of the commuter again, making their way through pieces of content as they switch from train to train and then home again. Pose questions, deliver answers, put ideas forward and provide solutions in list form. And always avoid long paragraphs.

story on blocks.

Break your story down into bitesize blocks.

Writing for mobile is a whole new kettle of fish if you’ve only ever been used to getting your message across to a desktop audience. Give it some practice: test your results by looking at how long people are sticking around to read what you’ve put together. If you’re going to hook that mobile audience and make it in Google’s newly isolated mobile search index, you’ll need to put some effort in, so give it a go.

Not sure where to start in writing content for a mobile audience? Get in touch!

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