Mobile vs desktop content:
How can you get them both right?

When creating our mobile and desktop sites, we spend significant time deciding how their designs and structure will differ. But what about the content? Should we consider the differences here as well?

The short answer is almost certainly no – Google’s Developer Guide doesn’t mince its words: “Make sure that your mobile site contains the same content as your desktop site.”

But the long answer is more complex – and it’s one that will help maximise your content’s reach.

Because we have to consider how we can create content to optimise its impact on both sites. This means taking into account things like readability, mobile search engine optimisation (SEO), and CTAs.

1. Readability

A 2017 study of online medical information found that while 71% of webpages were mobile-friendly, only 16% were actually designed to optimise readability.

There’s a big difference between making a website mobile-friendly and making the content easily readable, as this study from Australia shows.

Long gone are the days when people would predominantly read thought leadership articles at their desk. Content is consumed on the run. In the UAE, for example, consuming content by smartphones (54.87%) now dominates over desktops (43.63%) according to global statistic website Statcounter.

The way we’re digesting content is changing too. People no longer read in a linear fashion. They skim over a whole piece and then decide whether to read every word, just a section, or not at all.

Making your content readable for desktop and mobile screens

In the study mentioned earlier, one of the big issues people faced with readability was that they got disorientated while scrolling content on a mobile.

Content needs lots of subheadings, bolded text and bullet points to help readers rapidly recognise both where they are in the article and what the key point is. Think short paragraphs and lots of white spaces. This allows people to pause and engage in thought while digesting what you have to say.

So we have people reading the content, now they want to reach out. But can they?

2. Call to action (CTA)

The average number of CTAs per page is 2.68.

This is analysis from 969 company CTAs carried out by CopyandCheck in 2019. They were interested in how CTAs were used across homepages. Over 90% used verbs like Learn, Start and Read. Only 5% included the company brand name.

All interesting stuff, but one thing not asked was whether the CTA worked on different screens. In fact, this is potentially the most important CTA question of all no matter where it is.

For example, does the CTA at the bottom of your email list a phone number but not link to it? If it’s not hyperlinked to open up a calling service from the mobile, then you are asking your reader to copy and paste the phone number in order to call you. This can cause some people to go to the “I’ll do it another time” option. It’s hard to blame them.

Making your CTA mobile friendly

Clearly, then, you should check the responsiveness of your CTA. But be sure to also make them obvious, not numerous.

We’re dealing with a small screen here, so try not to overwhelm the reader with many CTAs. (On a desktop it will just be surrounded by more white space, and that’s never a bad thing.)

Also keep words to a minimum. Some people become obsessed with finding the right words that will make us click through or get in touch. But the quality of the rest of your content counts far more.

So now you’ve optimised your CTAs for mobiles. But how about making your content findable in the first place?

3. Mobile SEO

In the UAE, mobile cellular subscriptions doubled between 2006 and 2017.

This data from Oxford University shows that people in the UAE may have more mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people than any other surveyed nation in the world. It averages at two per person.

A knock-on is that mobile internet use has skyrocketed. According to analysis by, the world’s internet users spend on average six hours and 42 minutes online each day. Nearly half of that is on a mobile phone.

In light of this, Google in particular is very keen to make the web more mobile-friendly. In 2019, it took steps to force this by introducing mobile-first indexing. This means the mobile version of your website is now the starting point for what Google includes in its indexes, and the starting point for its ranking.

Making your content mobile SEO ready 

In terms of indexing, I recommend you read the Google advice for Mobile-first indexing best practices. It offers important information on how to make sure the Googlebot can access your pages successfully.

Ultimately, mobile web and responsive design should be your priorities. Go for easy navigation, quick loading times, and a smooth experience across all devices. Don’t use Flash and don’t block CSS, JavaScript, or images. Reduce the need for swiping. Make finding and accessing your content as easy as possible.

Found this useful?

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Posted inDigital marketing Posted on
written by

Alex Ionides Managing Director, Silx