Will Mobile Searchers Find You… or the Doctor Down the Street?

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, Google will process nearly 370,000 searches, almost 100,000 of which will be conducted by people on mobile devices. The actual numbers will vary by time of day, of course, but over time, that latter figure adds up to roughly 3 billion mobile searches per month.

That’s a lot of people who are turning to their smartphones when they need a quick hit of information. Unfortunately, unless you’ve been paying attention to the ongoing evolution of search, there’s a good chance you and your practice won’t be among the results.

The fact is, search results for mobile devices and desktop computers can vary greatly because Google and its peers assume mobile searchers are seeking different types of information than computer users: According to data compiled by Econsultancy, 36% of web pages (URLs) shown in mobile Google search results were different than those for the same searches carried out on a desktop or laptop and 23% were from completely different domains.

To ensure those mobile searchers can find you, you need to give them what they’re looking for:

A local focus: According to BIA/Kelsey, 50% of mobile search queries have “local intent,” meaning that the searcher is looking for something nearby. (By comparison, only 20% of desktop searches include local intent.) Highlighting your location and contact information on your practice website, local directories and social profiles sends the signals search engines are looking for.

Mobile-appropriate content: As more mobile searchers turn to voice-based queries, their searches are shifting from a few typed words to full sentences. (Think “Who does tummy tucks in Seattle?” vs. “tummy tucks Seattle”.) Content that correlates well with natural-language queries (e.g., FAQs) and long-tail inquiries will naturally rank higher.

Incorporate video: Despite the smaller screen size, mobile video is exploding. According to eMarketer, 72 million U.S. smartphone users watched video on their devices at least once a month last year, a figure that’s expected to rise to 86.8 million by the end of this year. Because they’re easily consumed, videos generate increased engagement and time on site, strong signals that searchers found their results useful — a crucial factor in search algorithms.

Include click-to-call: According to BIA/Kelsey, mobile search will drive 65 billion calls to businesses by 2016, a volume that will grow at a 42% compound annual growth rate. Considering that half of mobile searchers demonstrate local intent, providing a button so they can call your office immediately makes it that much easier for them to do so.

Doctor Takeaway

If you want to get found, think mobile

Mobile is changing everything and search is no exception. Not only do mobile searches currently account for roughly 25% of all Internet searches but, earlier this year, Google’s Matt Cutts said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if mobile search exceeded desktop queries this year. Coupled with the different results that mobile searchers typically see, now’s the time to work with your webmaster or marketing agency to ensure your practice is easily found on whatever device potential patients decide to use.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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