When the iPhone debuted in the summer of 2007, few people thought it would grab hold with the steadfast grip that it did. Instead, it became the catalyst for a smartphone revolution, one that boiled everything down to fit right within your pocket.
The mobile revolution is here to stay. As a matter of fact, the international smartphone market reached a momentous milestone in 2014, shipping 1 billion units in a single year for the first time. On top of that, an estimated 65 percent of emails sent today are opened via mobile.
With recent advents in iOS and Android development, more smartphone users have adapted to a mobile way of doing business than ever before. The mobile ecosystem in general has skyrocketed with a truly cosmic force, allowing people to do more than ever with a single device. Slowly and surely, the smartphone has worked its way into homes and hearts as what could truly be considered a fifth appendage.
It’s with this reality in mind that Internet search giant Google has decided to overhaul its Web-ranking system, and as a result, the functionality of websites toward mobile will soon be a significant part of Google’s ranking system.
While this may come as a surprise to some, veterinary consultants like myself and those working directly within the marketing and tech world know that when the Google giant roars, it’s best to listen and respond. This is because Google represents well over half of all search market share, and they call the shots when it comes to what survives and thrives on the Web.
Pet owners and veterinarians alike use their smartphones more than ever, and Google is not taking this trend lightly. Desktop and mobile rankings that are currently similar have diverged, based on mobile compatibility and functionality. Those unable to adapt will drop in mobile rankings and could lose a significant amount of business. This means that if pet owners are searching for a local veterinarian from their mobile device and a clinic’s website is not optimized for mobile, there’s a high probability that the practice won’t show up at all.
Veterinary practices that wish to keep up will face a choice: Allow the current website, however recently updated, to sink in the rankings, or adapt to mobile now to leverage the changes. The word “now” is significant, considering that the changes recently went into effect.
Mobile websites leverage a host of features that are aesthetically and practically fit for the smartphone user. Mobile development emphasizes big buttons that are easy for clients and users to utilize while on the go. This means tap-to-call buttons, locators that instantly open a map or GPS feature for direct navigation to a location, and a simple and clean design.
Proper mobile designs do not utilize flash media, contain no pop-ups and emphasize simple bits of information that allow people to learn more about a veterinary practice and its services and staff, and access other bits of concise information.
Google has made these changes transparent so that website developers can evolve and adapt. These adjustments must be made so a veterinary practice remains as competitive as ever.
To begin, check your website’s mobile compatibility using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool at http://bit.ly/1NNlwDw. If you find that the website is rated “Not mobile-friendly,” several options will be provided to guide you toward making it mobile-friendly. Outside companies such as Vetstreet may be hired to make the process easier.
When Google says change is necessary, webmasters and website developers must react and adapt to the new normal. By taking action now, veterinary practices can avoid a drastic decrease in search rankings and ensure that the clinic is on the cutting edge of technology both now and into the future.
Eric D. Garcia is the founder of Simply Done Tech Solutions, a Lutz, Fla., company that helps veterinary practices streamline their technology and attract and retain clients. He also is a technology consultant for Vetstreet.