Ask any high-schooler to pull out her phone (joking! It’s already out), pull up your medical website… and try to find the description of your services. Then wait. If a 16-year-old has a hard time finding that basic information, you’re in trouble because there’s no way a 56-year-old is going to manage it. You’ve got a mobile-unfriendly website, and you could be sacrificing contact with new patients and valuable SEO benefits.
The statistics are clear: Eighty percent of users search the Internet on their smartphones at least once a day, and nearly half of those searches are local. At this moment, a prospective patient could be searching for your specialty and finding your competitors at the top of the results page—or visiting your site, finding it unmanageable, and going to some other doctor with a more mobile-friendly site.
I'm going to need to see some numbers.
80% of users use a smartphone to search the Internet. (Smart Insights)
48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine. (Smart Insights)
33% of online traffic in 2014 came from smartphones. (Marketing Land)
46% of Google searches are local. (Business2Community)
23% of small business sites aren’t mobile-friendly. (Inc.)
61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site once they’ve had trouble accessing it. 40% go on to visit a competitor’s site instead. (McKinsey & Company)
57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a lousy mobile site. (CMS Report)
59% of smartphones users expect companies to make their websites mobile-friendly. (Forrester)
68% of smartphone users use the “Get Directions” or “Call” button rather than making a phone call or searching for directions themselves. (Search Engine Land)
Why does mobile-friendliness affect SEO?
It affects SEO because Google says it does, and Google makes the rules. When they rolled out their biggest mobile search update in spring of 2015 (and another one a year later), they made it a point to reward mobile-optimized sites and penalize non-mobile-optimized sites in mobile search results. The idea is to give users the most relevant search experience possible by boosting sites that they can easily view on their phone.
After the first rollout, mobile-unfriendly businesses found themselves losing ground on mobile search as their mobile-friendly competitors jumped ahead. A pulmonologist with an unresponsive site might rank at the top of the first page on desktop searches—but show up toward the bottom on mobile searches, ranking behind other pulmonologists in the area who have phone-friendly sites. This can negate a lot of your hard work on local SEO.
How do I know if my site is mobile-friendly?
The first, and by far the easiest, step is to pull out your own phone, visit your practice’s website, and put yourself in the shoes of a potential patient.
- Is it nice to look at and easy to use?
- Is the font big enough?
- How easy is it to find information like your phone number, your address, or which insurance you accept?
- Are the buttons big enough to press with the unsteady fingers of, say, an elderly patient, a nervous one, or one in a hurry?
- If you have videos on your site, are they in a format that can play on your phone?
- Can patients touch a button to call you directly from your site, without having to switch from their browser to their dialer?
The more important and decisive test is to run it by an even more demanding audience: Google. Visit their conveniently named Mobile-Friendly Test, type in your site’s URL, and wait for a brief analysis before it gives you a straightforward, yes-or-no answer. (This blog gets a mobile-friendliness thumbs-up from Google, which you’ll appreciate if you’re reading this on your phone). If Google declares your site unfriendly, it’ll provide a list of problems you’ll need to fix.
If I’m not mobile-friendly now, what do I do about it?
Responsive web design—sites that squish and stretch as the browser changes size, graphics that scale and stack, menus that collapse into that little hamburger-looking icon—are the current standard for mobile-friendliness. They offer a consistent user experience across multiple devices, so that a patient looking you up on their phone will be able to navigate your site and find important information just as easily as if they were on a laptop.
If your site doesn’t squish and stretch, talk to your web designer about making it do that. If you manage your site yourself, don’t worry—responsive templates are available for most web platforms, so it’s just a matter of swapping templates.
Think of it as an opportunity to get better SEO, a website makeover, and an attention-grabbing re-launch all at the same time (If you’re a plastic surgeon, the “Our website got a facelift!” announcement is pretty much a requirement).
And then take that teenager out to lunch. By rolling her eyes at your website, she’s done you a big favor.