Will Google Make Mobile Sites Extinct?
We have just returned from a myriad of meetings during the spring tradeshow season where we fielded numerous questions about the need for mobile websites. Views vary among Internet marketing professionals — you get different opinions depending on who you ask, and the cacophony of voices can be very confusing. However, Google has now spoken, and this is one voice that will undoubtedly affect the outcome. A hint? Google does not recommend mobile websites. Keep reading to find out why and how this will affect you…
First, the data. The statistics on mobile Internet search are compelling and, at first glance, might lead you to believe that the only website you need is a mobile site (this is not true).
- 5.1 billion people worldwide own cell phones (more than own tooth brushes)
(Mobile Marketing Association Asia, 2011)
- On average, it takes a person 26 hours to report a missing wallet, but only 68 minutes to report a missing phone (Unisys 2012)
- 44% of Facebook’s 900 million monthly users access Facebook on their phones (Facebook 2011)
- Mobile marketing will account for 15.2% of global online advertising expenditures by 2016 (Berg Insight 2012)
Local Intent vs. Research
On the flip side, most of your prospective patients do not have a “local intent” when they search online. That is, when considering elective health care procedures, particularly high-end procedures, consumers normally require weeks or months of research to make a decision; most are not searching for the nearest practice in order to make a decision about the procedures or treatment that interests them. The following statistics support this trend:
- 70% of all mobile searches result in an action within one hour (Mobile Marketer 2012)
- 53% of mobile searches have local intent (Bing 2012)
- 88% and 97% of total search volume for the words “restaurants” and “bars,” respectively, derive from local devices (Google 2012)
These statistics demonstrate that mobile search is becoming more important; however, it is clearly dominated by local entertainment and social venues, such as restaurants and bars. For consumers interested in research, including those wanting to learn about elective procedures, a desktop computer or iPad-type device is preferred. A survey of our own clients’ websites (we host 170 client websites) shows that only 15% of visitors arrive at the sites via smartphones (and it is likely that many of them are on their way to your office and looking for directions). Of course, this trend makes sense because the majority of visitors to your website want to review before and after photos, testimonials, videos or similar information, which requires a larger screen and a higher quality viewing environment than a smartphone.
What Does Google Have to Say?
Google has taken a significant interest in mobile device usage for search marketing. At a recent search engine conference in Seattle (June 2012 SMX Conference), their representatives finally made a definitive pronouncement about mobile websites. Essentially, Google does NOT recommend mobile websites, because these websites are placed on separate URLs (e.g. m.yourdomainname.com), and these additional URLs create significant clutter in the search database. Instead, they are recommending “Responsive Web Design,” which utilizes modified CSS code to display a website using a different configuration depending on the device, but using the same URL.
At present, we are following Google’s recommendations regarding mobile websites and therefore we are not recommending them to our clients. However, we also recommend that you determine if your regular website is mobile friendly. It is relatively easy to check; go to your Google Analytics account and see if mobile users visiting your website are leaving your site because your design is incompatible with mobile devices.
Let us know if we can be of help!
Read about our Case Study of the Month
Ask the experts
Q My SEO company has promised me exclusivity. But I have a competitor just 15 miles away who is also their client, and he wants to rank on Google for the same search terms. Do I have exclusivity?
A There are two types of exclusivity, geographic exclusivity and search engine exclusivity. Search engine exclusivity means that an SEO company is agreeing to target certain search terms for only one practice in a metropolitan market. Ask your SEO company if they have other clients who are targeting the same search terms as your practice. If so, you may have geographic exclusivity, but not search engine exclusivity.
What Is Your Google Potential?
Come by the Ceatus booth for a FREE website evaluation!
Breast Surgery and Body Contouring Symposium
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dates: August 22-25, 2012
Booth: Santa Fe Convention Center
Join us at this year’s 27th Annual Breast Surgery and Body Symposium to learn about the latest trends in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery! Ceatus Internet marketing experts will be available throughout the symposium to assess the effectiveness of your website’s call to action along with other important features that are critical to increasing your patient volume.
American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS)
Dates: September 5-8, 2012
Internet marketing experts from Ceatus will be on hand at the 47th Annual Fall Meeting of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. FREE SEO and website evaluations will be available from September 5-8 in booth #315. Speak with one of our experts and learn how you can increase conversion and bring new patients to your door!
International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS)
Dates: September 4-8, 2012
Ceatus, which manages the Internet presence of surgeons worldwide, has been invited to attend this year’s ISAPS meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. ISAPS has more than 2,100 members in over 91 countries, and this year’s program will include the largest faculty in history, with topics ranging across the breadth of aesthetic plastic surgery. Ceatus Internet marketing experts will be offering FREE website and SEO evaluations in booth #17!
European Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS)
Dates: September 8-12, 2012
Booth: Milano Congress
Europe’s leading organization for cataract and refractive surgeons, ESCRS is also at the forefront of developments in anterior segment surgery. Leading Internet marketing innovator and Ceatus CEO David Evans, PhD, has been invited to give a 3-hour seminar focusing on how to optimize your Internet marketing strategy and grow your practice revenue. Real-time analysis will be performed on actual websites. Join us at ESCRS and learn how to develop an effective Internet strategy for your premier ophthalmic practice.
CEATUS Case Study of the Month
Background: Dr. Zubowski is a well-established board-certified plastic surgeon in Northern New Jersey (Paramus).
Challenge: Northern New Jersey medical practices face two unique challenges when attempting to market themselves online: 1) They must compete with droves of marketing-savvy doctors in nearby Manhattan and 2) Their region lacks a well-defined metropolitan area; instead, many small communities sit in close proximity to one another. It’s fairly easy to achieve good Google rankings for a small local town, such as Paramus, but because there are so many of these small but populated towns — and because the area lacks a central, well-defined market — consumer search patterns normally include the region, e.g. “Plastic Surgery New Jersey” or “Cosmetic Dentist North Jersey.” This search pattern pulls a lot more competition into the SEO battle. New Jersey practices are, in essence, competing with the entire state for the top search results. Enter Ceatus Media Group.
Solution: Dr. Zubowski had worked with a number of SEO and website management companies, but his Internet marketing efforts were reaping few benefits. In June 2010, Dr. Zubowski came to Ceatus with the goal of attaining significant Internet presence for his region. Ceatus immediately went to work dissecting his website and making it Google-friendly in hopes of achieving top rankings for the most important search terms. Ceatus personnel also crafted his Google Places strategy, and more recently, his Google + Local strategy, so that Dr. Zubowski’s listings would appear at the top of the search results.
Fact is Stranger than Fiction
Test your airplane travel IQ
You may be the jet set type, but can you pass our air travel quiz? See if you know whether the following statements are true or false.
1. Aircraft radar can detect turbulence.
Turbulence is movement in the air that cannot be seen on aircraft radar. It can occur in clear skies and can happen unexpectedly. A variety of factors can contribute to turbulence, including the jet stream, cold or warm fronts, atmospheric pressure, and thunderstorms. False.
2. Autopilot is used during takeoff and landing because a computer system can better analyze such precise procedures.
Autopilot is rarely used during takeoff and landing. Autopilot systems are often used throughout the flight once an airplane reaches a certain altitude. They can make more precise adjustments and improve fuel efficiency. False.
3. If an engine fails, commercial airplanes can get to safety on only one engine.
If an engine fails during flight, the other engine(s) should be more than capable of getting the plane to safety, even if that means crossing an ocean. True.
4. You get more drunk in the air than at ground level.
Your blood alcohol level doesn’t actually change when you’re in the air. However, you might feel drunker due to lower oxygen levels and cabin pressurization. False.
5. Cell phones are banned on planes because the signals will interfere with wireless networks.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned the use of cellular devices on aircraft. This rule was put in place because of potential interference with wireless networks on the ground. Cell phone use on planes is also prohibited by FAA regulations due to potential interference with aircraft communication and navigation systems. True.
The Right Track
Is your SEO working? There’s no way to know without proper tracking.
Chic new design, authoritative content, intuitive navigation — when it comes to SEO, you have your ducks in a row. But how do you know if your strategy is actually working? It’s impossible to know for sure unless you have some way to keep track of the people visiting your website. Luckily, the top Internet marketing companies offer tracking as part of their product line, often as a value added.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex, continually evolving process, not a static entity. Why? Because the Google algorithm that determines which websites appear on the first page of the search results is in constant flux. Your position in the search results pages can (and likely does) change every time Google updates its algorithm.
To make matters more unpredictable, the team at Google often changes its mind as to which elements it considers “valuable.” One day, your website is flying high; the next, it’s nowhere to be found. Your website is continually compared to other websites and constantly rewarded and penalized according to Google’s latest whims. It’s a challenging and time-consuming task to maintain high placement in the search results pages, because it’s tough to keep up to speed with what Google wants.
In this chaotic environment, the only way to assess the effectiveness of your SEO strategy is to track certain key factors and modify your strategy based on the data.
3 Essential Tracking Strategies
There are a number of useful tracking options out there; analytic software, tracking phone numbers and proxy websites are three of the most important.
Analytic Software. To understand who is visiting your website, you need sophisticated software to analyze your website data. One of the more familiar options is Google Analytics. But whichever software you use, it should be able to tell you how many visitors come to your site, which search terms got them there, where they came from, how much time they spent on your site, and which pages they visited.
Tracking Phone Numbers. Want to know which of your Internet advertising investments are paying off? Tracking phone numbers are a good place to start. These dedicated numbers are an extremely effective way to determine which calls derive from which source (organic SEO, PPC ads, directories, etc.).
To ensure that you get a real assessment of the value of each marketing instrument, you will want to make sure that your SEO company provides more than just a list of calls and time spent. With your approval, they should also listen to the calls to determine if the calls lead to booked consultations. Our experience shows that only about one-third of phone calls represent patient leads, so a simple list of calls doesn’t provide a realistic evaluation of your marketing investments.
One note of caution regarding your website phone number: Your excellent reputation and referral sources are responsible for many calls originating from your practice website. To avoid confusing traffic/leads generated by your SEO company’s efforts with visitors that would have visited your website anyway, such as word-of-mouth referrals or prospective patients searching specifically for your name, don’t allow your SEO company to place a tracking phone number on your website. PPC ads, directories, etc., should have their own tracking numbers, separate from the number listed on your website, in order to track the leads/treatment volume generated by these lead strategies.
Proxy Website. A proxy website is a copy of your website that is used for tracking purposes. The proxy is exactly the same as the original website, except that the phone numbers are different. Your various advertising campaigns (directory listings, PPC ads, etc.) link directly to the proxy website; this and the unique phone number allow your SEO company to see which calls and emails derive from visitors who entered the site through your ad campaigns.
The Right Thing to Do
Ceatus Media Group offers all of these tracking tools for free. Why? Because we know that tracking is a necessary component of an effective SEO strategy. Generating Internet visibility and increased patient referrals is a process, and one size does not fit all. Every client has different needs and every market presents different challenges. As our premier SEO team implements your customized strategy, we continually monitor multiple variables and adjust our strategy to maximize your benefit. Listening to and evaluating phone calls, analyzing website traffic reports, and creating reports for email leads are all part of our regular duties, and therefore we include them in your SEO package — at no charge.
To learn more about SEO and tracking, contact Ceatus today. Let us help you maximize your Internet marketing success — we’ll make sure you’re on the right track!