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There are a few things we can count on in life. Death, taxes, and that Google is always making changes their search engine.

Long gone are the days of building and website and forgetting about it.

Google is continuously changing it’s search algorithms to better meet the needs of users. Today, if websites aren’t kept up-to-date, they’re “demoted” by Google and can be dropped several pages back in search results so they receive little traffic.

Without question, the biggest changes in the last few years have related to mobile. And “mobilegeddon” was just the beginning.

What Was Mobilegeddon?

In April 2015, Google made a dramatic shift in how it ranked websites relative to search. This change was (appropriately) named “mobilegeddon.”

In short, Google recognized that more people would soon be using mobile devices than desktops for the majority of their internet usage. In response, Google began to devalue websites that weren’t mobile friendly (displayed correctly on a mobile device).

This caused the websites of many physician practices that had previously showed up on the first page of Google in patient searches, to drop several pages, making it much harder for both new and existing patients to find them (most people don’t go past Page 1 results).

There are many physician websites that were negatively affected by mobilegeddon who still have not recovered their previous Page 1 ranking.

Then Came Mobile First Indexing

Google collects information about every website and webpage in a massive database/catalog (index).

Even after “mobilegeddon,” Google still primarily viewed webpages through the eyes of desktop users. This meant that while mobile friendly was important, it was still secondary to a desktop experience.

Now, we’re finally past the point that more than half of all internet users are using a mobile device.

So things have changed again in 2017 as Google has now officially gone from a Desktop first index to a Mobile first index. This means that Google now views, indexes, and thus ranks websites based upon the experience of a mobile user.

Mobile Friendly Is Not Enough Anymore

Since Google now indexes all websites from a mobile perspective, merely having a website that “displays correctly” on a mobile device is not good enough anymore in the eyes of Google.

The experience a patient has when visiting your practice’s website is what Google is now focused on.

This means things like site speed (how quickly your practice’s website loads on a mobile phone) are now a major ranking factor. From a technical standpoint, this means doing things like:

  • Optimizing images
  • Eliminating render-blocking Javascript and CSS in “above the fold” content
  • Prioritizing visual content
  • Leveraging browser caching
  • Reducing server response time
  • Minify CSS
  • Minify HTML
  • Minify Javascript
  • Etc..

These things will all have an impact not only on where your practice’s website will display in search results, but on how patients judge your practice based upon the experience of visiting the website from a mobile device.

Future Proofing Your Practice’s Website

Redesigning your practice’s website for a mobile first experience is one of the most important steps you can take for the future of your practice.

We all know that mobile devices are here to stay, and will continue to become your patient’s primary way of connecting with your practice.

Taking the steps today to create a great mobile experience, along side of a comprehensive SEO strategy will ensure that patients continue to find and visit your practice.

Author Travis Mark

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