Which means you have to, too.
This just in: The moderators in the Battle for the First Page just upped the stakes.
Google has announced that mobile-friendliness will soon play a bigger role in how a web page ranks in search results; the less mobile-friendly your page, the lower your site will appear on the list.
Why the change?
Have you ever landed on a web page that wasn’t optimized for the device you were using? If the answer is yes (and I imagine it is,) you understand the reason behind the change. Google is essentially forcing us to make our websites more enjoyable to look at, no matter what device we are using. No more scrolling aimlessly and squinting to read text that doesn’t really fit onto your screen? It’s a great idea.
It makes sense; Google wants to make browsers happy. Since a growing majority of online searches are done from mobile devices, presenting them with a mobile-friendly list of results is more likely to give them a pleasant searching experience.
Browser-focused initiatives like these are why Google has such a lead on the search engine market, and their status as reigning champions is the reason you need to step back and evaluate what the change in ranking standards means for you.
Or rather, for your practice.
How will it affect your practice?
As an every-day Internet user, the changes to the pagerank algorithms will have a positive effect on your browsing experience. As a small business owner, however, they will mean dire consequences if your practice website isn’t meeting mobile friendly user requirements.
The implications for marketing your practice through online searches are potentially severe. Everything in the SEO strategy that you should have for your practice revolves around getting your website onto the first page of results; when prospective patients type the criteria into the search box, you want your practice website to be the first thing they see.
But whether you’ve made it to the top page ranking (by generating great content, creating engaging pages, collecting reviews, and even being active in social media,) or you’re still clawing to get there, you now must also take a look at how your website performs on mobile devices.
No matter how grand your website, if it doesn’t comply with mobile requirements, your visibility will suffer–if not disappear altogether.
What do you do?
1. Understand what Mobile Friendly Means
Google has listed a few key criteria for having a website that is optimized for the Mobile Friendly label:
- It avoids software that isn’t common on mobile devices (like Flash)
- The text doesn’t require zooming to be readable
- The content is sized relative to the screen (so you don’t have to turn the device and scroll horizontally)
- The links are spread out enough that they can be tapped easily from a small screen
2. Test your Website
If it’s not broken, don’t amputate! Before you go hiring someone to revamp your whole website, give it the Mobile Friendly Test to assess the condition.
3. Do some light reading.
You can learn quite a bit from scrolling through Google’s Webmaster’s Mobile Guide. If you aren’t actively involved in the creation of your site, check in with the people that are. Do they know what’s been added? (If not, skip to number 5.)
4. Make your website mobile friendly through 3rd party software.
Where and how is your website hosted? If you are using a 3rd party software like Wordpress, Blogger, Tumblr, or one of many others, this guide will help you learn to mobile-optimize your site through that platform.
5. Choose the right developer.
If you’re going to be using a developer to create your site for you, do yourself a favor and know what you’re looking for. Google has a great list of criteria to search for in order to find the right person for the job.
I’m impressed with the level of support that Google puts into helping people who want to be helped. Just like Google guided you to the best Italian restaurant in town last weekend, if you want to learn how to mobile-optimize your website, Google will show you how to get there.
You can’t afford to pass on the Mobile Friendly label; too many people are looking for a healthcare provider online, and most of those people are doing it from a smartphone. The sooner your site is back in Google’s good graces, the sooner your name will be at the top of page one.
And life’s better at the top of Page One.
About the author:
Amy LaVange is a professional educator for healthcare providers. She specializes in helping practices reduce inefficiencies and lower costs, so providers and their staff can spend less time worrying about their bottom line and more time caring for their patients. She currently manages communications for Solutionreach, where she consults with their clients and creates educational content to help them establish patient-centered practices by utilizing tools and techniques that allow them to streamline their productivity and improve their patient experience.