Your Dental Practice Needs A Mobile-friendly Website
Google’s New Mobile-First Indexing Strategy favours mobile-friendly websites. Learn the importance of and best practices for optimizing your dental website
In September 2020, Google’s search engine made a crucial shift to mobile-first indexing for all websites. In other words: if your dental website isn’t mobile-friendly, your dental practice will lose its ranking on Google’s search engine results page (SERPs) and ultimately lose potential leads—but if you keep reading, you can learn how to stop that from happening.
Many dental practices have websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices. The dentists, who run these practices, are unknowingly losing leads and patients by the day. Even worse, they are being left behind by the rapid changes in digital marketing and consumer behaviours. 63% of organic search traffic on Google in the United States originates on mobile and half of those searches are targeted at small businesses like dental practices. In contrast, only 1 in 10 small businesses—including dental practices—have mobile-friendly websites. This means the majority of dental practices are not prepared for the mobile-first evolution that has already begun.
In this article, we will describe mobile-friendly dental websites, define Google’s mobile-first indexing and discuss the best practices for mobile-optimization. Before we go further, you should confirm if your dental website is mobile-friendly or not. If you don’t know if your website is mobile-friendly, you can take Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test now.
What Is A Mobile-friendly Dental Website?
The term ‘mobile-friendly’ simply means the website in question is adapted for mobile devices. An alternative term for such websites is ‘mobile-responsive.’ The main difference between a mobile-friendly website and a non-mobile-friendly website has a lot to do with the user experience on mobile devices. When using mobile devices, web visitors typically find it difficult to read content or use site features on non-mobile-friendly websites. They may have to pinch or zoom to see the text and images on these websites. Alternatively, mobile-friendly websites are readable and easy to navigate.
Google reports that 77% of mobile searches occur at home, offices and other places where desktop computers are likely to be present. This means that most of your current and prospective patients prefer using their mobile devices to surf the web even when there are desktops or laptops around them. Chances are the majority of the web traffic coming to your dental websites are from your patients’ smartphones. If these patients can’t read or access content on your website, they may get discouraged about learning more about your dental practice or using your dental health care service.
To avoid losing web traffic and leads, you must optimize your dental website for mobile searches and browsers. Your mobile-friendly dental website should fit the scale of mobile devices, include resized and formatted images, have a compact layout and emphasize contact and booking information that patients need to know. This improves your website’s user experience and provides more value to patients using their mobile devices. Since several small businesses and dental practices in North America are yet to optimize their websites for mobile devices, a mobile-friendly website gives your practice a competitive edge and allows Google to accurately index and rank your content.
In essence, mobile-friendly dental websites help dental practices rank higher on Google’s SERPs, attract more web traffic, improve their patient experience and engagement and generate more leads.
What Is Mobile-first Indexing?
Mobile-first indexing is Google’s core strategy for indexing all websites and ranking them on its SERPs. This doesn’t mean Google only indexes mobile-friendly websites. Instead, it means Google’s search algorithm begins its crawling process by accessing mobile-friendly websites before non-mobile-friendly websites. If your dental website is adapted for viewing and navigating on desktop and mobile devices, Google crawls both versions. After crawling, Google ranks mobile-friendly websites higher because those are the websites that are more likely to get more engagement from users.
For years, Google has been moving towards a mobile-first indexing strategy. Data and information about consumer behaviours and search queries indicate a sustained rise in mobile usage. As the world’s largest search engine, Google deemed it necessary to adjust its indexing strategy to favour websites that meet the increase in demand and usage of mobile-friendly websites. When indexing dental websites, Google considers the features on the websites that allow patients to easily find useful information, book appointments or contact the dental practices.
What Are The Best Practices For Running A Mobile-friendly Dental Website?
We’ve established the benefits of having a mobile-friendly dental website. In this section of the article, we will outline four important features of mobile-friendly dental websites that help them rank high on Google’s SERPs. These features—or best practices—are based on Google's recommendations in its mobile-first indexing strategy.
- Your dental website’s content must be the same on desktop and mobile
When optimizing websites for mobile devices, web designers tend to leave the mobile version of the website with less content than the desktop version. This is a big mistake. With mobile-first indexing as the norm, you can’t afford to omit content from your mobile site. Google prioritizes the content on the mobile version of your dental website more than the desktop version. Your website will be indexed based on the content on your mobile site.
A proper mobile optimization process must account for all content on both versions of your dental website. The headings on your mobile site must be clear and meaningful. Your title tags, metadata and URLs must be consistent with those on the desktop version of your website. If you’re working with a web developer, make sure they check your website’s structured data and ensure it is present on both versions of your website.
- Check your Ads Placement
Many dentists run paid advertisements (ads) that are placed on their dental websites. These paid ads serve as key marketing elements for announcing promotions, discounts, seasonal offers or updates. Given the difference in scale, the placement and size of paid ads on the desktop version of your website should be different from your mobile website. For example, if a paid ad appears to fill a good deal of space on the mobile version, your website would look less appealing to your web visitors or patients.
It is important to provide a good user experience for web visitors and patients. Wrong placement of paid ads on the mobile version of your dental website could negatively impact your user experience. To run paid ads on your mobile site, Google recommends using 300x100 or 300x250 ad units at the top or bottom of the page respectively. By paying attention to the size and placement of paid ads on your mobile site, you can boost your user experience and engagement.
- Resize your visual content for mobile-viewing
Visual content—images and videos—are great web elements for engaging patients on your dental website. These elements should be consistent on the desktop and mobile versions of your website. Much like your headers, title tags, metadata and URLs, Google prioritizes the visual content on your mobile site when indexing your content. Avoid using different images or videos on both versions.
On your mobile site, use high-quality images with descriptive alt-texts and in image formats supported by Google (BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, WebP, and SVG). For videos, avoid using video URLs that change every time the webpage loads or refreshes. Make sure your videos are properly embed or tagged and are in formats supported by Google (.3g2, .3gp2, .3gp, .3gpp, .asf, .avi, .divx, .f4v, .flv, .m2v,, .m3u8, .m4v, .mkv, .mov, .mp4, .mpe, .mpeg, .mpg, .ogv, .qvt, .ram, .rm, .vob, .webm, .wmv, .xap). The descriptive elements of your visual content, such as alt-texts, captions and URLs) must be consistent on both versions of your dental website.
- Verify your mobile-friendly website using Google Search Console
As you optimize your dental website for mobile devices, put your patients and web visitors in mind. Consider using web content and design that will boost their experience and engagement with your website. Essentially, you want to have a dental website that is engaging, useful and high-converting. When your mobile optimization process is complete, you should verify your mobile-friendly website using Google Search Console.
Google Search Console is a free service that allows you to check your dental website’s indexing status and improve the visibility and usability of your website. With Google Search Console, you can assess how your website’s content ranks on Google’s SERPs. You can also request that Google index your website so that the changes you have made, in your mobile optimization process, can show up on Google’s SERPs sooner.
If your dental website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you are probably wondering how you can make your website mobile-friendly. You have two options: you could either optimize your website on your own or work with a website developer. If you're considering the latter, a Connect the Doc website specialist can support your mobile optimization efforts.
Connect the Doc specializes in building high converting and mobile friendly dental websites. Our mobile optimization strategy ensures your dental website’s content is properly indexed and ranks high on Google’s SERPs. We focus on the essential features—such as usability, page speed, engaging design, lead conversion etc.— that make your mobile-friendly dental website stand out and generate more leads for your dental practice. Contact us today to get the most out of your dental marketing.