The concept of Google’s mobile-first indexing carries a lot of baggage, but for site owners and administrators, it means making sure the mobile version of your site is slick, quick and clean (read our tips for designers here). But what does it mean for the troops on the ground – the bloggers, the copywriters, the content-creating masses? Mobile-first content creation isn’t an exact science just yet, but luckily, a lot of the best practices for content creation already play nice with the mobile-first index.
First off: Do you even need to worry about mobile-first content?
Probably not. (How’s that for giving you what you came for early?) Google hasn’t rolled out mobile-first indexing for every website just yet, but most experts assume it’ll be the new standard eventually. If you’ve been selected for mobile-first indexing, you would’ve gotten an email from Google saying as much.
BUT! Mobile-first content is secretly just… good content
Don’t let the “mobile” part of “mobile-first” fool you: you shouldn’t skimp on writing quality content – or length if the subject demands it – just because a user might not be glued to their seat while reading. Remember: Google is seeing everything the average user is and more.
This one’s more of a practical use concern than a technical fumble, but you should know that it’s very, very easy to lose mobile visitors with chaff. Fight the urge to include your key phrase just one more time in yet another paragraph above your most useful copy. From the chair-mounted desktop denizen to the ambulatory smartphone surfer, nobody likes scrolling a lot to get to what they came for, so don’t pad your posts with irrelevant copy or information just to fill space. (Consider for a moment the downright frustrating preamble to this pretty tasty-looking recipe, for example – now imagine how much scrolling that’d be on a phone or tablet.)
Stay on top of your metadata
It might not be “content” in the typical sense, but the metadata associated with your content is a huge factor its findability. When 75% of people never scroll past the first page of Google results, just showing up is half the battle.
Google’s so good at this that it even picked up “metatdata” as a misspelling of “metadata”.
Title tags, URL slugs and image alt tags are among the most important metadata for optimizing your content for search engine visibility, including Google. Some CMSes make this easier than others, and WordPress is usually recognized as a great compromise of “flexibility” and “having a scrupulous user interface.”
Go beyond just content if you can
Copywriters and content creators only have so much influence over the larger content strategy of a website, but optimizing for Google’s mobile-first index is part of a sitewide effort. If you’re up for the new mobile-first paradigm, your site administrator, content strategists, social media folk and more should be briefed on the changes you’ll need to make as a team.
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