Attention Medical Marketers: Are You Ready for Google’s Next Big Search Algorithm Shake-Up?

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Google is planning some significant algorithm changes in the coming months — here’s how to avoid being penalized.

Earlier this month, Google began rolling out its new Search Console to website owners around the globe. Companies can now see how they’re being indexed, view analytics, submit and remove content for crawling, and more.

Google’s raising the bar again with a recent announcement about its new mobile SEO project, which will factor page speed into mobile search rankings. Though the company has incorporated page speed into ranking algorithms on desktop for some time, this project marks the first update where page speed will impact mobile rankings. The update makes perfect sense, given that 40% of mobile users will abandon a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. All companies, including medical organizations, have until July 2018 to get their mobile sites up to snuff.

What to Do

By announcing these changes early, Google’s given medical organizations enough time to audit and update their sites to comply with the new guidelines. First thing’s first – medical practices should run a full mobile SEO audit, reviewing keyword strategy, crawlability, design and user experience, content distribution, and tracking practices. Unless you optimize all of these areas, updates to site speed aren’t likely to make much of a difference.

Google recommends three different tools to specifically evaluate page speed. PageSpeed Insights is perhaps the most user-friendly of the three – simply enter your webpage URL and the tool will create a report on your mobile speed and optimization. The tool not only flags issues that might be causing your site to lag, but also gives quick and easy fixes. Website developers can use the other two tools, Lighthouse and Chrome User Experience Report, to evaluate mobile performance in more detail.

>But What About AMP?

It struck me that Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project was missing from the speed announcement. Since Google created AMP to improve site performance and speed across devices, readers might infer that AMP will play a major role in this speed update. But is that really the case?

Suffice to say, medical organizations should definitely create AMP pages for their most valuable content. These pages now load twice as fast from Google Search as they used to, and the AMP team is planning a makeover that will deliver pages from publisher URLs instead of Google URLs. But it’s clear that implementing AMP won’t be enough to take advantage of the speed update. Google’s looking for companies to improve mobile site speed across the board.

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