Mobile-first indexing, and what it means to your Dental Practice Website

While doing some research on Google’s recent mobile-first index that apparently went live with the unnamed major update that Google provided to Penguin 4.0 on November 10, 2016, I tripped over an article by Greg Sterling titled, “Report: Nearly 60% of searches now from mobile devices.

In this article, Greg talks about a study that he discovered from Hitwise -a subscription based service company that provides consumer data analytics for smarter search. He discovered, as you might tell by the title of his article, that nearly 60% of searches now happen from mobile devices! Also included in his article was an impactful graphic provided by Hitwise that identified different mobile search results broken down by industry. What really resonated with me, as you can see in the graph below, was that a resounding 68% of “Health” industry searches were initiated on a mobile device!

Percentage of Search Conducted on Mobile Devices

This is a huge eye-opener for multiple reasons:

First, we have quite a few clients that still don’t have a “mobile-ready” website in place. Although these instances are becoming fewer and fewer… they still exist.

Second, of the mobile-ready sites that do exist, many of them are actualy just “responsive sites,” which still classifies as a mobile-ready site, yet doesn’t necessarily mean that it was designed with a mobile user experience in mind. Basically, a lot of these responsive websites are designed for the desktop user interface, and they display on a mobile device.

Finally, the fact that 68% of searches initiated for a “Dentist” are from a mobile device, combined with Google’s “mobile-first index” algorithm, now means that if you don’t have a mobile ready website, it will be more difficult for a potential new patient to find you online!

Why is this important?

Unlike direct marketing (eg direct mail), where a user will interact with your brand and/or message while literally scanning your printed piece, your website is completely different. Users are unlikely to “trip” over your website while searching online for a new iMac…or looking for hip socks on Amazon!

A user’s interaction with your website often has one step prior to interaction…the Query. This means that they are actively searching for a dentist in your area for a personal reason. The reason may be that they just moved to the area, or that they need a new general dentist, or maybe they are looking for a specialist? Regardless…there is almost always a search element involved prior to getting the opportunity to find you in Search. And yes…this also includes you Pay Per Click Advertising as well!

Considering a Search element is first, and considering mobile-first is a key component in the updated Google Penguin 4.0 algorithm, and also considering that 68% of “Health” search occurs on a mobile device (this is becoming like a compound interest algorithm) …all of this combines to one conclusion:

If your website is not mobile-ready…then it will not exist in Search!

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