How Healthcare Marketers Can Capitalize On Google's New Mobile-Friendly Algorithm

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Having a mobile-friendly website has become even more important for mobile search ranking with Google’s recent update. What medical marketers need to know.

With every Google search update, you can almost hear marketers hold a collective breath as they wait and see whether they’ve been doomed or saved. As Google’s recent mobile-friendly search update demonstrates, the truth can usually be found in the middle. 

On May 12th, Google finalized the second portion of its mobile-friendly update, which will boost the Google search results rankings of websites that cater to mobile users (the first part of which concluded last year). While this will undoubtedly decrease mobile search traffic for healthcare websites that aren’t mobile friendly, it probably won’t shutter their businesses, either — in other words, this isn’t Mobilegeddon Part 2. 

The key takeaway is that the medical community needs to follow Google’s lead and do all they can to optimize their online presence for the ever-expanding mobile user base.

What Does The Mobile Algorithm Rollout Mean?

Writing on Google’s webmaster blog, Google engineer Klemen Kloboves explains that the updated search algorithm will now lend more weight to a website’s “[mobile-friendly] ranking signal.” In other words, when a mobile user searches Google, they’ll be more likely to encounter a mobile-optimized site in the top results. This is part of Google’s larger strategy of making the search experience more equitable across all digital devices.

But this doesn’t signal a death blow for non-mobile-friendly sites — rather, a strong prodding. As Google notes, there are many factors that contribute to a website’s search ranking; for one, “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal.” If your site content is still exceptionally relevant to a user’s question, despite being relatively non-mobile-friendly, Google likely won’t bump you off the list. If your site is already optimized for mobile, then you’ll enjoy a comparative bump in traffic. 

And if your worries haven’t yet been fully assuaged, don’t fret: it’s possible that the update won’t take full effect for some time, perhaps months. As Search Engine Land reports, Google’s algorithm must first crawl and index each individual page within every website — signal ratings are on a per-page basis — which is an unsurprisingly time consuming process. In the meantime (which isn’t necessarily long), Google recommends that you pass your website through their Mobile-Friendly Test and consult their Mobile Guidelines to ensure that you are prepared for the transition.

How Medical Marketers Can Capitalize

In truth, Google is aggressively courting mobile users because it is increasingly becoming a primary platform for consumers; the majority of all Google searches today happen on mobile, reports Search Engine Land. This means that, for healthcare marketers, the mobile platform is becoming increasingly important not only in light of Google’s new search algorithm, but also within the context of evolving patient trends and preferences (consider Millennials, more than one-fifth of which no longer use desktop computers to access the internet).

The goal for marketers, then, is to simply make the patient path from mobile device to treatment as seamless as possible. Within the context of Google’s search update, this means that your website must be optimized to pass the mobile-friendly test, of course (start by eliminating small text and non-auto-formatting screen sizes).

But it also means that marketers have to reach patients while they’re searching; pay-per-click (PPC) and click-to-call (CTC) ads can get your content placed at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), helping your to connect with every patient searching “Local back pain” or “strep throat treatment” in real time.

Google’s update is significant, not because it will suddenly zero out search traffic for non-mobile-friendly sites, but because it signals a paradigm shift towards mobile users. Healthcare marketers must pay heed to this trend — or risk losing out to their more mobile-savvy competitors.

Targeted Medical Marketing, Digital Marketing

(Main Image Credits: Syed Ahmed/Pexels)