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Google’s Mobile-Friendly Notice is a Dire Warning for Healthcare Websites

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Laptop with an iPad, and two iPhones on top of itThe Godzilla of search engines—Google—has published a warning that, beginning in April, websites that are not “mobile-friendly” will rank lower in search results. We can test that and evaluate your website for you, but here’s why being mobile-friendly is especially important to hospital and healthcare websites.

 

Most people who look online for health information, providers or hospitals, will begin with a Google search. And until now, the search results (and where your site appears on these pages) would be pretty much the same for a desktop, laptop or mobile device.

But as of April 21st, Google warns, “we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

Google sees this change as a benefit for the user, reporting: “Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” And, considering the nearly universal popularity and wide use of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, it makes sense for Google’s algorithms to give mobile-friendly web pages better ranking position.

On the other hand, Google’s changes also mean that the search rankings could be at serious risk for websites that don’t meet the mobile-friendly requirements.

The “significant impact” on healthcare…

Of course, everyone wants their website to be listed among Google’s top listings in search results. That’s what good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts are about, and why “page two” is a marketing dead zone.

Search results, Google’s PageRank, is vitally important to healthcare marketing, online visibility and your website’s ability to be seen by new patients. So much so that Google’s notice about being “mobile friendly” is a dire warning for non-compliant healthcare websites.

The Internet has formed a special connection between users (patients, prospective patients, health information seekers) and the online presence of doctors, hospitals and others. Conservative estimates say that nearly 90 percent of the general population goes online for health information, and at least half are mobile users.

What’s more, patients rely on their smartphones and mobile device for health and wellness matters including monitoring conditions, tracking health data, locating a doctor’s office, checking social media sources and much more.

Therefore, Google’s emphasis on mobile compatibility—and the significant impact on search results—has far greater consequences for doctor, healthcare and hospital sites than for, let’s say, a local retail store. To properly display the web page information, sites employ a "responsive design" that detects the user's device and shows information in the compatible format.

We can check your “mobile usability” compliance…

The potential marketing consequences are easily understood. Healthcare sites will drop out of sight unless they’re properly configured and comply with Google’s mobile criteria.

It’s not surprising that information about Google algorithms, PageRank and Mobile Usability are mainly written for the technical minds of webmasters and SEO experts. Give us a call…we can help (in regular-people talk).

We can do compliance testing of your healthcare website as part of a free Internet marketing screening. The mobile-friendly test checks the programming and tells us how Google sees your website, and we’d be glad to help without technical talk.

Mobile Usability with be a ranking factor as of April, so give us call today at 800-656-0907. And for related reading about Internet marketing, see:

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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