Monday, September 23, 2013
It’s no secret that your potential patients are searching for you online. Finding you in an organic search is one thing, but the user experience, once the visitor is on your website, is another. Knowing whether you should have a mobile website or a mobile-friendly website is important—especially because according to a recent mobiThinking article one in seven internet searches are performed on a mobile phone.
Mobile vs. Mobile-Friendly (Responsive)
Let’s start by differentiating a mobile site and a mobile-friendly, responsive site. A mobile site is designed for the smaller handheld display and touch-screen interface. Like any website, mobile websites can display text content, images and video. They also can access mobile-specific features such as click-to-call (to dial a phone number) or location-based mapping. The mobile site is a subdomain (example m.dentalwebsite.com) of your website with condensed information—sometimes only four to five pages of content—to provide visitors with quick, easy-to-read, on-the-go content.
A mobile-friendly website is a website built in a platform known as responsive. This new web design approach is crafted in a way that the website will now recognize the content based on what type of device is being used to reach the website. Responsive websites actually alter the site’s structure for optimal viewing and user experience.
Each block of the site is given a priority based on what device is being used. The site changes its visual structure so pinching to zoom is not required.
Here is a look at the progression of a dental practice’s website. You can see what was once extremely difficult to read on a mobile device is now in a format that includes all of the content, is easy to navigate and looks great on all devices.
An example of a HTML website with no mobile optimization.
A mobile version of that site with m.website.com subdomain.
An example of the original domain built on a responsive platform.
The click-to-call function engaged on a responsive website.
This is the same URL and responsive platform as the mobile image above, but viewed on a desktop computer.
Ultimately, all websites should be moved into the responsive platform. Why? Well, from a search engine optimization standpoint, Google supports it. Google encourages webmasters to “follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices and using only CSS media queries to decide the rendering on each device.”
But that’s not the only reason. You want your prospective dental patients to have the best experience while visiting your website. The visitor should be able to get to the site, and find what they are looking for in a timely manner based on their search intent.
The intention of a mobile user was once very different than the intent of a desktop user. Mobile users were categorized as people on-the-go, quickly looking for directions or a phone number. However, it has been predicted that mobile phones will surpass PCs as the primary means of accessing the Internet in 2013. Users are spending more time shopping, researching and browsing on their phones. The user doesn’t just need your practice’s phone number and directions now, they want to research your qualifications and history, see your Before and After Gallery and read reviews you’ve linked to on your website. Users are now using your website as an educational tool, reading your blogs and learning more about the procedures you offer, not just that you offer them as seen on the condensed mobile site version.
Lastly, if everyone links to your web page online, search engines will see that version as holding more value than a URL specific to a mobile device, which actually won’t even have enough link signals to tell search engines of its value. This not a good thing for your SEO.
While building a responsive website, you have the ability to give each “block” of your website a different hierarchy. Keep the patient in mind while choosing those blocks to help compensate for the lack of the smaller mobile site. If they are on your website through a mobile device, they may still need to call the office or get directions. Keep those calls-to-action at the top of the site, readily accessible if that is the searcher’s intent. The beauty of responsive is that if the user’s intent is to read multiple pages on the website, they can accomplish that too.