On April 21, 2015, Google will introduce a new algorithm update to help users discover more mobile-friendly content and if you’re not prepared, you may face some serious consequences. However, if you optimize your website and mobile applications in advance, you can reap the rewards of better rankings in mobile searches.
This update will have significant implications for healthcare websites, as search engines and mobile usage fuel patients’ digital journey. In many of our previous posts, we’ve cited a report from Google that reinforces just how important it is to cater to patients on these platforms. Here is a recap of some of the most impressive statistics:
- 77% of patients used search prior to booking an appointment
- 44% of mobile device researchers book an appointment, compared to only 34% of desktop researchers
- Roughly 1/3 of patients used tablets or mobile devices on a daily basis for research and/or to book appointments
If you want to know more details about Google’s new algorithm update, check out yesterday's post, “What Healthcare Should Know about Google’s New Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update.” In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss how to prepare your healthcare website and other assets to ensure that you’re taking advantage of this update.
Use Responsive Web Design
Designing a separate website for mobile users is never recommended – it would only double your workload when comes time to update. Instead, you should use responsive web design (RWD). This means that the page uses the same URL and the same code whether it’s displaying for a user on a desktop computer, mobile phone or tablet.
With RWD, only the display adjusts or “responds” according to screen size. Responsive design makes a world of a difference in user experience. If your user interface isn’t specifically tailored for mobile users when they visit, they won’t hesitate to abandon your website and never look back. If this is the case, Google will choose to showcase other mobile-optimized sites above your own in search results.
Prepare the Back-End
There are some considerable differences in the connectivity of mobile devices versus desktop computers. With mobile, you’ll need to understand how bandwidth and other network factors are going to affect your users. The internet connection on smartphones and tablets isn’t as fast as a cable connection, so take this into consideration when preparing your back-end for mobile users.
Here are a few ways to improve the experience of mobile users on your site:
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) – If you look up the benefits of using a CDN, you may be overwhelmed with all the technical jargon. So here is the main, simplified version of why you should use a content delivery network: it will place your web assets closer to site visitors, ensuring a quick and seamless mobile experience.
- Performance Testing – Work with your QA team to initiate application testing for mobile users. If done correctly, QA will be able to identify any performance issues users may have on their mobile devices and then relay these back to the development team to improve upon.
- Optimize Pages for Mobile: Whether it’s your home page, a landing page or any other page on your website, it should be designed with mobile users in mind. Make sure that both desktop and mobile visitors can easily navigate through your most important user paths.
Boost Your Mobile SEO
There is no better way to appease Google search engines than by implementing mobile SEO tactics from Google itself! The company created this page on mobile SEO that will walk you through choosing your mobile configuration, signaling your configuration to search engines, avoiding common mistakes and configuring your website for other devices.
Get it Done ASAP!
This new algorithm update will occur on April 21, 2015. Don’t put off making these mobile improvements to your website, though. Google will still need time to crawl and index your changes. To avoid any penalization of your healthcare website, you’ll need to optimize your website for mobile as soon as possible.
After you make these changes, you can check page’s mobile friendliness here.