Posted: February 14, 2017

Today, most people search online using a smartphone or other mobile device. As more and more searches happen on mobile, Google wants its results to represent the majority of their users—mobile searchers. So if your healthcare organization has been slow to join the mobile revolution, now is the time to take action! If your hospital doesn’t have a mobile-friendly site, it’s time to create one. If you already have a mobile-friendly site, make sure it is optimized for Google’s new mobile-first index! Here are five ways to optimize your site for mobile search.

1. Speed: According to Maile Ohye, a Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, two seconds is the longest acceptable length of time for a website to load. But Google strives for half a second! Users want fast-loading websites, and that means Google wants that too. It’s important that your mobile website loads quickly to rank well. How can you be sure your website loads quickly?

  • Optimize your images to an appropriate size. Loading large images will slow down the site. Side note: Here at Influence Health we find that large images are often the culprit in slow page loading. As you manage your website overtime, it is really important to ensure you only use images that are sized appropriately for the web.
  • Eliminate unnecessary characters in your source code without impacting the functionality of the site.
  • Use browser caching, which will store resource files onto the user’s computer when he/she visits a web page.
  • Minimize the use of redirects since they can lead to loading and reloading of the site.

2. Avoid Blocking JavaScript, CSS, and Images: In the past, it was necessary to block these elements because they led to a series of issues slowing sites down. Today, smartphones are just as powerful as computers, and they can deal with pretty much anything that’s thrown their way. Google’s crawlers want to see and categorize the same content that users see. As a result, avoid blocking these elements to allow Google to better crawl and index your mobile site.

responsive-design

3. Mobile/Responsive Design: Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed from being a technical skill to a creative science. It’s not just about code and ranking signals anymore. Now, you should know how to use design and content to influence Google’s ranking. Here are some things to remember when you optimize your website for a mobile or responsive design:

  • Don’t use Flash. Since many mobile devices (Apple) still can’t view Flash, use Java or HTML5 to give your site the edgy or interactive elements you want.
  • Eliminate pop-ups. While it’s important to generate leads, communicate an offer, or simply get the attention of the web visitor, pop-ups are annoying for users, and they will leave the site. This will lead to higher bounce rates, which signals a poor user experience to Google, which will result in decreased rankings.
  • Remember “the finger” in your design. People using mobile devices navigate by using their fingers instead of a mouse, so you want your design to be “finger-friendly.”

4. Be Concise With On-Page Optimization: You don’t have much room to work with on mobile search results pages. As a result, it’s important to have concise but descriptive page titles and description. You need enough relevant information in your page titles to let both users and the Google crawlers quickly understand what your page is about. Good on-page optimization increases click-through rate, thereby helping rankings as well.

5. Make it Easy for People to Find Your Locations & Providers: Google recently updated its local search algorithm with the release of “Possum” in September. If your brick and mortar business wants to bring in more foot traffic, you need to have a mobile site that’s been locally optimized. Location and provider pages are among the most important page types for a hospital website. Think of it this way: If product pages on Amazon are important because that’s where we buy a product, then provider and locations pages are the most important for your hospital’s website because that’s where prospective and current patients can “buy” your services. Make your hospital’s location and provider pages easy to find on mobile. Here are a few tips on how you can increase visibility on mobile:

  • Include City, State in the <title> tag
  • Add City, State in H1 heading when appropriate
  • Naturally use City, State in body copy
  • If possible, include City, State in the URL
  • Use City, State in the meta description
  • Include the location or provider name, address, and phone number

Google is still experimenting with their mobile index, so we will learn more about how to optimize for its mobile-first index in the coming months. However, if you get started now, not only will you be ready for the changes, but you’ll give your hospital an edge against the competition!

Want to see how mobile-friendly and ready you are? Request a free healthcare marketing assessment.