Optimize your hyperlocal publishing site for mobile devicesOne of the most important things a hyperlocal publisher needs to focus on today is mobile friendliness. Our studies have shown that over 70% of all visits to publishers are coming from mobile devices. This number is consistent with what large publishers share as their mobile usage. This represents a series of opportunities and challenges. The challenges include lack of space, lack of visibility for display ads (the primary revenue source currently for these publishers) and speed.

Content placement platform Taboola works with thousands of publishers and has studied the mobile engagement issue for several years. They have written a few articles on how to optimize your mobile strategy. We will outline the critical tactics that hyperlocal digital publishers should be focusing on to optimize your publishing site for mobile devices:

    1. Responsive isn’t enough – Unfortunately, the simple answer of “my website is responsive” is not enough for publishers. Your site needs to be visually appealing, load very quickly, and be low on noise when on mobile. One of the reasons Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles has taken off is because they strip out a lot of the “fat” on a web page that causes it to load slowly. Make sure your images are optimized and small, and that there’s as little javascript as possible loading on your pages.
    2. Keep calls to action and headlines short and sweet – If you are going to engage your readers to do something else on mobile after reading an article, you need to catch their attention quickly. Make your calls to action short and easy to follow. A little marketing never hurt either, so don’t hesitate to make a headline just a little sensational. One great way to try this is to keep your original headline, but add it as a call to action in your other articles under another headline. Test different types of headlines to see which ones generate the most clicks.
    3. Interstitials are your friend, and you can do them better than anybody – Taboola talks about the benefit of native content and takes a page out of Facebook when then say:

      “Prominent in-feed or mid-article placements on publisher websites present a unique opportunity for brands to reach highly engaged audiences.”

      Many larger publishers, and most certainly Facebook, are doing this programmatically. How many times do you hear a reader complain “I was searching for a widget online and now all I see are adverts for widgets everywhere I go!”

      The great news is that you curate each article and you know who your advertisers/customers are intimately. You could (for example) offer 3 “in placement” interstitials as part of an ad package, and make sure you add them only in relevant articles. If you’re writing about lawn care, add an interstitial for one of your landscaper businesses. That’s more targeted and relevant than anything a business can get on Facebook, and this “ad” shows up right in-line with the article. It’s easy to see on mobile, and won’t get blocked by ad-blockers.

    4. People don’t read – ok, a bit of an exaggeration. But sadly, not really! In a post discussing their “read more” feature for mobile, Taboola says:

      “Data from Taboola’s network have found that 80 percent of Facebook-referred mobile users never see the bottom of the article. This problem persists across many kinds of mobile audiences, who often exhibit flighty types of behavior, skimming a paragraph or two before bouncing back to where they were before.”

      We see this with alarming regularity. The bounce rate of readers who come from Facebook is as high as 88% on some sites! There is an amazingly interesting psychology about how people read online that is worth reviewing. You may be getting lots of people to read a story you wrote, but unless you’re getting them to engage, you aren’t getting the value out of those eyeballs that you want.

It’s time to go beyond the simplistic “mobile responsive website” and actually think about how to engage your readers on a mobile device. As you know, we talk a lot about how “near me” searches on mobile devices are surging, and that is the fifth area where a hyperlocal publisher can shine (contact us to see how!). Beyond that, think about the 4 options above and start improving and optimizing your mobile experience.