There is much more to web design than simply making it visually pretty. You want to build your website so that it is viewable on any device. The best way to do this is to build your website as a Responsive design. Google has been adjusting its algorithm ranking based on how mobile-friendly your website is, and it will continue to do so.

Once a potential patient lands on your beautiful website, you want to keep the potential patient’s attention so they do not immediately bounce (push the back button and return to Google.) Lastly, your end goal is to have a potential patient visiting your website call your office or submit a contact form on your website. A successful site design continuously guides them along that path.

Responsive Design

Responsive website design is a recent innovation to create websites with an optimal viewing experience, easy reading, and navigation with minimal resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices (from desktop computers to mobile phones). Google recommends responsive website design because it:

  • Allows visitors to link to the content or to share it using only one address or URL.
  • Makes it more direct for Google to designate indexing properties to your content instead of requiring different signals for both the mobile and the desktop states.
  • Reduces load times by eliminating the need for redirects from a desktop site to a mobile theme.
  • Prevents Googlebot from having to crawl multiple versions of a site, ensuring that more of the content is indexed.

Mobile-Friendly Ranking

On April 21, 2015, Google released their mobile-friendly algorithm update. This update was coined Mobilegeddon by researchers because it was going to give a ranking boost to all mobile-friendly websites over non-mobile-friendly websites. Researchers feared that rankings would change across the board, because Google basically said, “If your site’s pages aren’t mobile-friendly, there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search.”

Google’s mobile-friendly update was more than just an algorithm update; it represented a cultural shift for Google because everything after this update centered around the mobile device.

Mobilegeddon was one of the first updates for which Google gave the public a full explanation of what was happening, while it was happening, and how long it would take to roll out. This unprecedented disclosure preceding an algorithm update triggered a fear of non-compliance and resulted in most websites immediately converting to be mobile-friendly. Consequently, the release of the algorithm did not have the big negative impact that researchers feared.

Google defines a mobile-friendly web page as one in which the text is easily legible without any interaction, buttons have adequate spacing from one another, and there is minimal content that only shows for desktop. The image below illustrates the difference between mobile-friendly and traditional design.

Google posted this to show the difference between mobile-friendly and traditional design.

On March 26, 2018, a year and a half of experimentation, Google announced that they were starting to migrate sites to mobile-first indexing. Up till now Google has measured the relevance only of the desktop version of a page, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version differs from the mobile version. In mobile-first indexing, Google will use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking to better serve the user base, which are primarily mobile searchers. Google still has one single index that they use for serving search results. They do not have a separate “mobile-first index,” but they will be using the mobile versions of content now.

Bounce Rate

A “bounce” occurs when someone visits your website and leaves with no interaction. Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who bounce off your site. Google Analytics for your website can show you the bounce rate for your overall site, segments of your site, and specific pages. If a user searches for “breast augmentation,” sees your result in the organic listing, clicks on your result, but then clicks the back button to go back to Google’s search result page, that might signal to Google that the user did not find a relevant answer to their query on your page.

On March 23, 2016, Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, said in a Question & Answer session that the three main ranking factors are “content, links, and RankBrain.”

RankBrain is Google’s name for a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that is used to help process its search results. RankBrain’s main purpose is to improve search results for users by better understanding their search intent. If a user clicks on your page and leaves without any interaction and does not stay for more than a minute, that could signal to RankBrain that your site is not what they are looking for.

As a result, RankBrain might not give that page a high ranking. Lowering your bounce rate will signal to Google that the user successfully found the answer to their query on your page. Google’s primary goal is to rank pages that deliver the best result/answer to a user’s query/question at the top.

Ways to lower your bounce rate

  • Improve the readability of your content by avoiding huge chunks of text. Next, break your text up into manageable pieces using subheadings, bullet points, images, videos, and bolding words.
  • Ensure your font is big enough to be easily read. If your text is too small for people to easily read, they will quickly bounce. Avoid pop-ups, opt-ins, and advertisements above the fold and provide the user with what they were looking for right away.
  • Beware of choice paralysis. Overwhelming a visitor with too many options makes it harder for them to find the information they’d like, causing them to bounce. Keep your website as minimalistic as possible by not overwhelming them with options; simplify navigation, sidebars, and calls to action.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate optimization is a system for increasing the percentage of a website’s visitors who take a desired action on a webpage. Your desired action is to have your website visitors call your practice or fill out a contact form to get more information about a procedure and become your patient.

A simple strategy to do this is to make your phone number visible at all times by including it at the top, usually the right-hand side of your website. As a website visitor scrolls down the page, your navigation should scroll with them, always appearing at the top of the screen. The same goes for contact forms. Usually, you will place a contact form in the sidebar of your website, but as a user scrolls down your web page, the contact form should lock into place so it is always visible.

When visitors have a split-second desire to ask you a question or inquire about a consultation, an additional click can spell the difference between a new patient or another bounce.

The website visitor should not have to search around your website for a phone number or a contact form. It is also good practice to include a call to action on all pages to promote contact and link to the contact page. Make it as easy as possible to contact you at all times.

The more pages a visitor views, the more likely they are to contact you. To get visitors to navigate internally to other parts of your site, utilize calls to action related to your photo gallery interlinking monthly specials or other procedural pages Enticing the potential visitor to spend more time on your website helps lower your bounce rate, which helps raise your site’s Google search rank.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

The web development community is already moving on to a new mobile format called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). As mentioned, Google and Google users love fast-loading websites, so Google became a big advocate of an open-source framework geared towards web pages designed to load near instantaneously. This framework ultimately became AMP. It accomplishes instantaneous page loads by allowing you to only use a stripped-down version of HTML to display content. You cannot use your own JavaScript, and you must use their off-the-shelf JavaScript library and extensions to do certain tasks.

Google started displaying AMP results within their mobile search results for their “Top Stories” section in February 2016, and by September 2016, Google started linking to AMP content in the main mobile search results area.

AMP is very restrictive because it wants to be as lightweight as possible to ensure efficient load times for the user. Also, Google will cache these pages, so when a user clicks on an AMP result from their search result page, they will load your AMP result from within their own servers. This means AMP results will not reach out to your server to get the page–Google will just serve it instantly to the user which makes it even faster.

The AMP framework looks and sounds wonderful, but it also creates problems. Although users get the result immediately, they tend to bounce and never go to your actual website, resulting in bounce rates of ~99% for AMP enabled pages. To get users to go from the AMP page to your website, the design of your AMP result page, including header, navigation, and calls to action, should be as alike as possible to your normal mobile website. If the user feels like they are still on your website, you can utilize similar tactics explained above to guide them to click to another page within your website, bringing them back into your conversion funnel, and getting them to contact you for a consultation.

Top Medical Marketing Agencies Combine an Artistic Eye with Technical Expertise

Site design, much like high-quality cosmetic treatments, are an ideal marriage of artistry and technique. Achieving the results you are looking for will require working with a vendor-partner who is attentive to your practice’s needs, communicative, transparent and highly-qualified.