It’s been almost three months since Google rolled out its update designed to reward websites that are user-friendly for people using their mobile devices. Since then, various analyses have suggested that the update may have had some impact on search results but nothing as dire as feared.
Turns out it wasn’t “mobile-geddon” — which is not to say it wasn’t significant. Whether or not your practice website took a hit, the update should serve as a wake-up call for any doctor who hopes to reach today’s increasingly mobile aesthetic consumer.
Why? Because mobile search is the future. In May, Google officially announced that mobile searches surpassed desktop searches in 10 countries, including the U.S. (More recently, the company announced that the U.K. had also joined the list.) And, as a new report from BrightLocal notes, a lot of those searches are conducted by people looking for local businesses. Comparing their findings with a similar survey conducted two years ago, they found that:
- 38% have searched at least once per month for a local business (vs. 30% in 2013)
- 38% are impressed when a local business has a mobile site (vs. 25% in 2013)
- 61% are more likely to contact a local business with a mobile site (vs. 38% in 2013)
And a surprising number of those searches are for healthcare services. According to the survey, 27% of respondents have searched for a doctor or dentist on a mobile device vs. 15% two years ago. Only restaurants and general retail stores scored higher.
The key is to provide those searchers with the information they seek. Let’s say, for example, that a woman on her lunch break is researching where she can get Botox in her town or city. Typing (or increasingly speaking) her request into her phone, she clicks on the link to your website. If she doesn’t find what she needs and quickly clicks back to her search results, you’ve not only lost her as a potential patient; you’ve also sent a signal to Google that your website provided a poor user experience. That, in turn, is factored into subsequent searches by others.
So what do searchers expect to find when considering local businesses? According to the survey:
- 52% say that a physical address is the most important information
- 47% say a map and driving directions
- 44% say opening hours
- 37% say a phone number
The bottom line is that local searchers aren’t looking for flashy web design and in-depth details; they’re looking for practical information that can help them take appropriate action. For some, that might mean calling for more information; for others, making a note to themselves to visit your full website when they have more time and/or a larger screen to view it on.
Either way, ensuring your practice website helps them in their quest is the best way to ensure that you’re protected, mobile-geddon or not.
Make mobile-searchers happy and Google will smile on your website
While the intricacies and technicalities of SEO are best left to the professionals, taking a completely hands-off approach isn’t an option. Talk to your webmaster or agency about the impact of Google’s latest update. If it’s caused a drop in your search rank, ask them what steps they’re taking to counteract the drop. If it hasn’t, ask them what they’re doing to ensure you maintain your position in a world that’s only going to get more mobile as time goes on.