Google’s recent announcement of mobile-first indexing is encouraging many healthcare practitioners to be done with their desktop website and adapt to the new mobile-first or responsive design. According to industry experts, this move has not come as a surprise because smartphones now outnumber traditional desktops in search queries. This move is being seen as Google’s shift from “old-fashioned” desktop websites and into preferring mobile content when ranking search results to meet mobile phone’s increasing dominance in searches.
What is mobile-first indexing?
Until recently, Google looked at websites through the eyes of a desktop user and treated mobile web pages as important, but secondary to desktop web pages. However, with mobile-first indexing, Google is planning to treat the mobile version of each web page as the primary page, with desktop versions being the secondary ones.
So, Google will now be giving preference to mobile-optimized websites in order to allow for a better search experience for your patients using mobile devices.
What does Google count as a mobile-friendly website?
A website is considered mobile-friendly when it allows the user to read text on a small screen without zooming or pinching the screen. Also, the content should be sized to a smartphone screen, and there should not be any applications that cannot function on smartphones, such as Flash.
In a mobile-friendly website, the navigation and content should be tailored to mobile search behavior. Websites that do not meet these criteria are not considered mobile-friendly and will most likely dip in search rankings. However, informative and relevant content will continue to be rewarded.
If you are concerned about the mobile friendliness of your medical or dental practice website, you can use Google’s mobile-friendly test to determine if your website is lacking. Though Google is getting all websites to a “bare minimum” of mobile friendliness, it is worth the effort to make your practice website targeted to mobile users.
How does the mobile-first index impact your practice?
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According to Pew Research Center’s Health Fact Sheet, 52 percent of smartphone owners have used their mobile devices to search for health or medical information online. Therefore, it is beneficial for your medical or dental practice to invest and update to a mobile-friendly website.
Google’s mobile-first indexing will test your practice website for a mobile-friendly design, which is likely to have a significant impact on search results. If your website is built primarily for desktop users only, your search engine rankings may dip significantly. This means your potential patients will not be able to find your practice website on the first page of search engine results.
It is important to note that the mobile-first index will not impact what Google has considered being mobile-friendly. Your practice website will not be rewarded or penalized based on your mobile friendliness score. Instead, the mobile-first indexing will impact you if your mobile and desktop versions are significantly different. For instance, if your mobile version has significantly less content than the desktop version, Google will treat the mobile version as the primary version. Now, this will impact your ranking as the visitor may not find much useful content on your mobile website.
Responsive design is the solution!
If you are not looking to get your website redesigned right now, a responsive website can work brilliantly in place of a mobile website. A responsive website will not only cost less, but the content will also be identical to your desktop website.
A responsive website platform is nothing but an advanced version of a mobile-friendly website. The responsive technology detects the size of the user’s screen and automatically adjusts the website to adapt to that screen size. All the elements of the website are displayed correctly on the detected screen size for better readability and user experience.
Google’s changeover to mobile-first indexing should not hurt anyone who is planning to switch to a responsive website. However, you may need to suffer from this update if you still under-serving your mobile users and relying on the desktop-first crawler. If you are using best practices, have built a responsive website and are interested in serving your patients better, you have nothing to fear from the recent search indexing changes from Google.