Google’s Mobile Ranking Algorithm went into effect exactly one week ago today. It is quite possible that you are already feeling the impact if your website has not been optimized for mobile devices. Sites that are not optimized for mobile will see their search rankings fall. Declining search rankings result in less online traffic and we all know the negative effect reduced traffic can have on any business.
Does Mobile Search Matter in Healthcare?
When it comes to healthcare, just how important is mobile search? Simply put, it has become truly transformational. Research from both Google Think and Pew Internet provide statistical evidence that the public’s consumption of healthcare-related information on mobile devices is experiencing a sharp increase. In 2014, a little over 30 percent of all online searches originated from mobile devices. When we compare this year to date, that number has increased to more than 60%. Not only has the overall traffic from mobile devices more than doubled, but these are also your most engaged consumers. 76% of potential patients are turning to hospital and medical practice websites for primary research and of those who conducted their search on mobile devices, 44% went on to schedule an appointment. This conversion rate is staggering and clearly points to the importance of an engaging, responsive web presence.
Wow, It Really Does Matter! So, What Does Google Consider “Mobile-Friendly”?
There are several factors that the mobile search algorithm will look for on your webpages. These factors will include responsive design elements, page load times, and other mobile best practices such as:
- Page text can be read without the need to employ “pinching and zooming”
- Links are appropriately spaced to make it easy for the site visitor to select the one that they want
- Content is designed to fit the screen to cut down on the need for excessive scrolling
- Pages are free from technologies such as Flash, that will not render properly on mobile devices
- Call to actions and contact areas are easy to access
Google has provided a free tool that will allow you to gauge “mobile-friendliness” on a page-by-page basis. I have included it here for you:
Simply enter a URL in the search bar and Google will do the work for you. It will let you know almost immediately if a specific page is considered mobile-friendly by the search algorithm and will also provide a screen shot of exactly how the Googlebots view your page. I think you will find this very helpful.
My Site Didn’t Pass the Test, Now What?
Even if all your pages do not meet the standards, there may still be some light at the end of the tunnel. The algorithm is applied on a page-by-page basis, not site wide. What this means is that even if you are not in a position to transition to a fully responsive site right away, you can begin by focusing on key pages and making appropriate changes. Begin with your homepage and other commonly used pages on your site. Be sure to refer to Google Analytics to know which pages receive the highest traffic. This way, you are sure to focus on the areas of your site that can provide the biggest benefit in the near term. By improving the mobile usability of these pages you can still improve your position as you plan for a more permanent, long-term site strategy.
Google has spoken loud and clear. Mobile is not only the future of healthcare information and engagement, but it is also the present. It is no longer a nicety or a luxury, rather, an imperative. Anywhere and anytime we want and need healthcare information, it can be right there in the palm of our hands. In this ultra-competitive market, it needs to be your information the consumer sees first. A strong mobile presence will do exactly that!