Google search changes could reduce practice website traffic

Websites which are not ‘mobile-friendly’ could suffer and be ranked lower in search results for mobile device users

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Changes to the way in which websites are ranked in online search results could slash the hit rate for practice websites not optimised for mobile devices, making the business harder to find for customers on the go.

Google has introduced the changes to search rankings, which came into effect last week (21 April), to include how mobile-friendly a website is when returning search results.

The updates are in response to the changing habits of internet users, which are seeing people increasingly browsing and searching from mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by some, the changes mean that mobile-friendly sites will be boosted in the search rankings, while companies without a mobile-optimised website could suffer. A blog page for Google webmasters states: “Pages designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results.”

Commenting on the changes, chief executive of the Sight Care Group, Paul Surridge, said: “As consumers increasingly use mobile devices to search online there is a very real need for independents to ensure their web sites are mobile friendly if they are to maintain or improve their Google rankings.”

He told OT: “Practices which have invested significantly in their online presence should ensure they keep up to date with technology changes as they happen, rather than wait until they notice a drop in traffic. Those practices that haven't yet invested, or have just put a toe into the online water, would be wise to invest in this vital communications medium, ensuring mobile compatibility.”

Director of business development for the National Eyecare Group, Phil Mullins, added: “It is even more important for practices to have a correctly formatted site. People will move quickly away from your site if it doesn’t display on their device, thus leading to the potential loss of new patients and with the changes to Google rankings, they may not even be seen in the first place.”

The director explained how the group has seen increased web traffic since launching its new website last year, which can be used on all devices and “has removed any barriers from people visiting our site.”

Mr Mullins told OT: “We mustn’t underestimate the importance of a good website for both new and existing patients and the requirement to make changes as the way people use the web evolves”

Businesses can test if their website is mobile friendly at