How can Mobile-First Websites help you get More Patients?
In This Article, We look at:
- What is Google’s Mobile-First Indexing?
- Mobile-Friendliness vs. Mobile-First Indexing
- Three Things To Keep In Mind When Designing Website For Mobile Devices
- Four Ways To Make Your Healthcare Website Ready For Mobile-First Indexing Right Now!
- How does mobile-first indexing affect the healthcare industry SEO?
- The Top Three Most Common Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
- Key Takeaway
Google is one of the most popular search engines used to access information all over the world. We rely on its user-friendly interface and consumer-centric approach to resolve our queries at lightning speed.
Gone are the days when having a desktop-friendly website was enough to drive foot traffic to your healthcare practice. With the digitization in the medical industry through telehealth and telemedicine, it is paramount to have a mobile-friendly website for your practice.
Almost 60% of total search traffic on Google searches gets directed from mobile devices. The current update in Google analytics focuses on optimizing your website for mobile usage. Especially as a healthcare provider, this enables prospective customers to access your website from anywhere, increasing leads and patient conversions.
Let us start with the basics of mobile-first indexing and how it is revolutionizing the healthcare industry!
What is Google’s Mobile-First Indexing?
Google algorithms constantly evolve to accommodate the changing landscape of user patterns and behaviors. The shift from desktop to mobile devices to conduct Google searches marked the inception of Mobilegeddon in early 2015.
Mobilegeddon, as the name suggests, had the power to disrupt the search engine ranking of existing web pages based on their mobile friendliness.
While some websites were penalized for inept user-friendliness, most of them retained their rankings despite the lack of a mobile-friendly website.
Mobilegeddon gave web developers a preview of the upcoming changes in Google’s algorithms to optimize websites for mobile users soon.
Let us move on to understanding the difference between mobile-friendliness and mobile-first indexing.
Mobile-Friendliness vs. Mobile-First Indexing
In 2016, Google announced another change to its algorithm, which serves as the cornerstone of modern-day search engine optimization:mobile-first indexing.
Google’s mobile-first indexing algorithm uses your mobile version of the content to rank your web page rather than the desktop version. The introduction of mobile-first indexing in 2016 offered Google unique market insights that helped optimize the search engine rankings in line with the growing popularity of searches using mobile devices.
The 2016 Google mobile-first indexing update meant that the sitemap, content, metadata, etc., of your desktop site, would be considered before crawling your mobile site.
While the mobile-first indexing update of 2016 entailed Google experimenting with the mobile version of the content in indexing and ranking to improve its search result relevance, Google kept publishers and site owners in the loop with its ongoing research and development through 2017 and 2018.
In November 2018, we had a better understanding of what mobile-first indexing meant for website owners. The Google update shared in 2018 covered structured data, images, and mobile-first indexing, covering over 50% of the websites globally.
An interesting observation made during the update in 2018 was Google’s statement that may appear confusing at first glance:
“A page does not need to be mobile-friendly to be considered for mobile-first indexing.”
Before you pull your hair in frustration, allow us to shed some light on Google’s statement.
Mobile-friendly and mobile-first indexing are two separate factors that allow Google to rank your website. Mobile-first indexing entails Googlebot crawling your mobile content and indexing it accordingly.
It means your site can have mobile usability and functionality issues and still be equipped with the content required for mobile-first indexing.
Google’s John Mueller explained it by taking an example of a pdf file; it contains everything that can be indexed using mobile-first indexing; however, it lacks mobile-friendliness making it difficult for the reader to navigate through the page or click on links.
Google bot can crawl all pages irrespective of their mobile-friendliness and index them using mobile-first indexing. However, a non-mobile-friendly website would affect your search engine ranking tremendously.
Now that we have understood the fundamental definition and importance of mobile-first indexing algorithm change, let us look at how to create a website for mobile devices:
Three Things To Keep In Mind When Designing Website For Mobile Devices
Healthcare practitioners and franchisors should be mindful of these three things when designing and writing content for mobile devices to effectively utilize Google’s mobile-first approach.
Optimizing Desktop Websites
As a healthcare practice owner, the first step to designing a website is with a desktop design. While this approach may have been fruitful in the past, Google’s mobile-first indexing nudges website owners to create content for mobile users.
So, what if your practice already has a good desktop website design? Do you start from scratch and design a mobile website?
If you already have a good desktop website in place, using existing data from the desktop version and compressing it to shift to the mobile version may hamper the customer experience and website’s usability.
The shift from the desktop version to the mobile version may appear cramped up, negatively affecting its aesthetics and functionality, which is why the process of optimizing your desktop website for mobile devices needs to be carefully implemented.
However, if you don’t have a healthcare website yet or are looking to make a new one, creating a mobile version of your website would take less time and effort. You can always add more when you build your desktop version, including more information and features.
It lets you put your healthcare practice on the map with essential information that can be elaborated on the desktop version later without affecting your SEO ranking.
You can use your mobile website as a primary means to interact with your patients to boost more traffic to your practice. Once Googlebot crawls your website, you can create a desktop website with more information about your field and practice.
Google Analytics and Mapping
Google Analytics and Site mapping allow you to chalk out the tools you need to achieve your website goals. Once you have begun the journey to optimize your business using SEO tools, it is pivotal to map your steps.
Site maps allow Google to gain insight into their website aesthetics, content placement and identify important content. Site maps provide insights into the relationship between the videos, content, and pages on your website. Analytics, on the other hand, provide essential insights into how your website is performing.
Google analytics offers views and the time spent on your website using a mobile device versus a desktop. It enables you to conduct a comprehensive website analysis starting from the landing page to your exit page.
Site maps and Google analytics help enhance the usability of your website along with the customer experience.
Write for the small screen
The first step to creating content for your mobile-first website is acknowledging that your target audience is different from a desktop-first website. Mobile-first websites are accessed by a modern digital audience with a higher information consumption rate.
It is vital to keep your paragraphs short and website content scan-able. Using simple language with captivating visuals or infographics is the best way to increase your engagement and traffic.
Tweaking your content writing and marketing strategy according to your customer’s preferences is a sure-shot way to achieve your business goals in no time.
Once you have your mobile website ready, how do you ensure that your healthcare website is ready for mobile-first indexing?
Four Ways To Make Your Healthcare Website Ready For Mobile-First Indexing Right Now!
Let us look at the top four tips that can take your healthcare website to new heights and make it mobile-first indexing ready (Google’s recommendations):
1. Googlebot Accessible Content
Google uses ‘crawlers‘ to automatically scan and discover websites by following links and indexing website content. Once the mobile-first indexing algorithm update was rolled out, Google switched from Googlebot Desktop to Googlebot Smartphone to crawl webpages by simulating users on a mobile device.
While both kinds use the same product token, you can check the subtype of the crawler used on your website by checking the user agent string.
How to facilitate Googlebot indexing for your webpage:
- Keep your meta-tags the same for both versions of your website. Meta tags help Google control how your web pages appear in search results.
- Enable lazy-loaded content on your website accessible for Google to see.
- Ensure not to block specific URLs using the disallow directive accidentally.
If you wish to check the index status of your website or inspect a live URL to be crawled by Googlebot, you can access the information from Google’s URL Inspection Tool in Google Search Console.
2. Uniformity on Desktop and Mobile Version
It is non-negotiable that you use the exact content on your mobile site as your desktop site. However, if you intentionally showcase less range on your mobile page than your desktop page, brace yourself for a dip in your web traffic once the page gets indexed.
Ensure that the headers on your mobile site are the same as your desktop site. If your mobile website uses AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), it can cause discrepancies in the data shared by the two versions of your website. If there is a gap between the data sent to Google through your mobile device and the desktop website, your SEO will get hurt and lead to a negative user experience.
3. Structured Data
Structured data enables Google to grasp the contents of your webpage by providing information in a standardized format. It helps Google classify the page content.
If you are using structured data on your website, ensure it is present on both versions: desktop and mobile. Use correct URLs in structured data and train Data Highlighter to work on your mobile site.
4. Eliminate Glitches and Errors
The only way to eliminate glitches and keep your site running smoothly is by regularly checking the Search Console for mobile errors and fixing them when they present themselves
Google’s Search console can be used efficiently by claiming your site in the Search Console followed by a sitemap submission. It helps Google provide mobile usability reports that can help you identify errors impacting your website performance.
You can use the coverage and insights to manage other aspects that your website is lacking affecting its SEO ranking, such as different meta tags, uneven images, page quality, absence of structured data, and much more.
If you wish to check your website’s mobile-friendliness, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test here.
We have covered mobile-first indexing basics, ways to create a mobile-friendly website, and making it mobile-first indexing ready. Let us understand how mobile indexing affects your healthcare SEO and ways to improve your SEO ranking.
How does mobile-first indexing affect the healthcare industry SEO?
1. Responsive Websites Boost SEO Ranking
Having a mobile-friendly website doesn’t automatically mean that your website is responsive. A responsive website can automatically resize according to the device it uses on- desktop, mobile, or tablet without needing a separate website design.
Responsive websites eliminate the need to design individual mobile and desktop websites. So, if you are building a website from scratch, making a responsive website will help you save time in the future.
However, if you already have a desktop and mobile website in place, it would be a good idea to audit them in terms of mobile-first indexing factors such as page speed, navigation, etc., that affect their search engine ranking.
It is crucial to align your mobile website content and functionality with your desktop website, so no elements diminish the mobile user’s experience.
Your website’s meta description should contain the exact keywords throughout your website irrespective of the device it is accessed. The user experience on your mobile website should be the same as your desktop website with exposure to the same content.
Once your website meets the mobile-first indexing requirements, you need to focus on factors that affect its mobile-friendliness, such as your XML Sitemap and server capacity.
2. Increase Your Patient Base Using Mobile-First Indexing
Once you have a responsive site in place, you don’t require significant changes to optimize it for mobile-first indexing. However, if your healthcare website is neither responsive nor mobile-friendly, the chances are that you may have to redesign your desktop website completely.
Google’s mobile-first indexing attempts to improve the patient experience, which helps your healthcare practice drive more traffic to your websites. It is crucial to build your website, keep your patient’s needs in mind, and tailor the website design accordingly.
According to Think With Google’s Insights
76% of people using Google search on smartphones end up visiting nearby businesses within a day.
28% of those leads result in sales.
Audit your website from a patient’s perspective: how easy it is to make appointments, navigate, fill forms, or access information, and the mobile-friendliness of your website helps patients access services quickly.
Now that we are equipped with the knowledge to create a website and get it going, let us look at common mistakes made by beginners and ways we can avoid them:
Similar to Google’s continuous updating of its algorithms to tailor its search results according to the changing needs of its users, medical websites need to focus on the changing needs of their patients.
The shift to telehealth and telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic helped medical facilities to retain and improve their patient base.
Your mobile-first healthcare website allows prospective patients to access information effectively and efficiently, generating more leads for your practice.
Now that we are equipped with the knowledge to create a website and get it going, let us look at common mistakes made by beginners and ways we can avoid them:
The Top Three Most Common Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
According to Google, the top three common mistakes made by beginner website owners and developers are as follows:
1. Neglecting Mobile Customers
The key to obtaining a high rank on search engines for your healthcare website is to make it user-centric or patient-centric.
It is crucial to remember that mobile-first indexing isn’t just a prerequisite mandated by Google; it makes your website accessible and optimized for maximum customer satisfaction. Creating a mobile-first website doesn’t mean generating a mobile-formatted site with functionality issues.
Remember, your brand reputation and awareness depend on the smoothness of your website and customer experience. Create a website that prioritizes your customer’s needs irrespective of the device it is used on.
2. Using Different Domains For Mobile and Desktop Site
Google supports multiple mobile configurations for your website URL; it leans towards keeping the URLs and HTML codes the same irrespective of the device it’s being accessed on. Generating separate URLs for desktop and mobile devices may hamper your website’s maintenance and lead to technical problems.
Creating a responsive website is an excellent way to eliminate the difference between domains and subdomains on your mobile and desktop website. Responsive websites are not only Google’s recommended configuration but also use the same website URL throughout whether you access it on mobile, desktop, or tablets.
3. Overlooking Competitor Insights
While originality and authenticity are the cornerstones of a successful website, your website design and aesthetics are equally important.
It is crucial to check other competitor websites and gain inspiration from their best practices that garner patient engagement. Using competitor insights can help you tweak your designs and enhance the patient experience on your mobile website.
- Mobile-first indexing is convenient over desktop-first indexing since most Google searches are made using a mobile device.
- Responsive and mobile-friendly websites get better SEO rankings.
- You can attract patients by optimizing your website for mobile devices, leading to improved conversion rates and foot traffic.
- Take inspiration from your competitors and tweak your customer experience to boost your patient leads.
- Ensure your data is accessible to Googlebot and ready for mobile-first indexing using Google’s Search Console and Mobile-Friendly Test.
Use this guide to check if your healthcare website and SEO are ready for mobile-first indexing. If not, which of the tips are you planning to incorporate into your mobile website design mentioned in the article?
Please share your recommendations/suggestions on achieving better search engine rankings and what has worked for you in the comments below!
Mobile-first indexing and mobile-friendliness are two factors that Google uses to rank your website. Google’s mobile-first indexing entails Googlebot crawling your website pages and indexing irrespective of its mobile-friendliness and functionality issues. It essentially means your website can be ready for mobile-first indexing without being mobile-friendly.
Some common mistakes developers make when creating websites for mobile devices are missing the mark on identifying the needs of their target audience – mobile device users. It is essential to curate a patient-centric mobile website irrespective of the device it gets used on. Last but not least, leverage the power of competitor analysis and use the insights to your advantage.
When developing a website for mobile devices, it is essential to consider the factors Google uses to rank and index it. These factors include making your content accessible to Googlebot, facilitating smooth crawling, using structured data, and eliminating any glitches and errors from your website.
You can use Google’s free services from Google’s Search Console to test your website’s mobile-friendliness and the status of your website if it has been crawled by Googlebot using the URL Inspection Tool.
Creating a responsive website eliminates the hassle of creating individual desktop and mobile websites. If you already have a desktop website in place, you can create a mobile-friendly website, ensuring that both versions have a uniform layout and content.
A glitch-free mobile-friendly website with content accessibility to Googlebot, including structured data for better ranking, is needed to get your healthcare website ready for mobile-first indexing.
Since most Google searches are carried out using mobile devices, mobile-first indexing helps you rank better in Google SERPs, helping you expand your patient base and improve engagement and conversion rates.