Is Your Website Causing Issues for Patients on Their Phones?

By Scott Zeitzer, President, P3 Practice Marketing
Twitter: @p3practicemktg

Over the years, we have often mentioned the need for practices to have mobile-friendly websites. Mobile-friendly websites are very important in terms of user-friendliness and keeping your patients happy, as more and more patients browse the internet via their mobile devices.

In fact, if your website isn’t easy to use on phones, you could be driving your visitors away. With the wide availability of mobile devices, people have come to expect instant access to the information they need. A website that isn’t optimized for mobile usage could be frustrating to your website visitors, and you may have some give up on your website altogether. A poor mobile experience could also affect your website’s ranking in Google in a number of ways.

How important is the mobile performance of your practice’s website? Here are some important stats on why mobile performance matters.

Mobile Performance: The Stats You Need to Know
If patients are on your practice’s website, they are more than likely looking for specific information about your practice or trying to get the information they need to book an appointment. You might think that if patients are accessing your website via a mobile device, they really need that information and will be willing to wait for the page to load. However, current statistics tell us otherwise.

According to 2018 data from Google, the average mobile site takes about 15 seconds to load. The current benchmark for mobile speed index in the healthcare industry is 5.4 seconds. Generally speaking, the longer it takes your website to load on mobile, the less likely patients are to keep waiting.

Google reports that even taking as long as 3 seconds to load can result in a 32% increase in the probability that users will leave your site. If your website takes as long as 10 seconds to load on mobile, that probability increases by 123%. Furthermore, a report from Unbounce states that more than half of users will leave a webpage if they have to wait more than 3 seconds for it to load.

If you aren’t providing a favorable mobile experience for your website visitors, you could very well be missing out on connecting with patients who really need your practice’s help.

How Mobile Performance Influences Your Website Visitors
When you consider your website’s mobile performance, you also need to consider the possibility that your patients may be experiencing discomfort with their health issues and are ready to speak to a doctor as soon as possible to find a resolution and treatment plan.

If your patients are already in a stressful situation, they may not be willing to wait forever for your website to load, even if they really need the information. It’s very possible that they may move on to a competitor instead. Andy Crestondina of Orbit Media explained in the Unbounce report why patience often wears thin with slow load times, saying, “Web pages don’t have loading bars. So when the page is slow, the visitor doesn’t know if the delay will be another 500 milliseconds or 15 seconds. Maybe it will never load. And the back button is right there.”

There are a number of things that could be affecting your mobile load speeds. Google Developers have outlined some more technical things you can do to improve your site’s speed, but there may also be low-hanging fruit. For example, adding elements like images could make your website more visually appealing, but it could hurt your site speed if you add too many design elements. In their report, Unbounce found that more than half of consumers would be willing to give up video and animations if it made the website load faster. With that said, if you are going to add a video or animation to your practice’s website, consider how helpful it is for the patient. If it doesn’t serve a clear purpose on the page, it might be best to cut it.

Google also places a lot of emphasis on site speed when determining site ranking in search results. According to SEMRush, time on site, pages per session, and bounce rate are all top ranking factors for a website; all of these stats can be negatively impacted by slow load speeds. Google wants to send its users to faster, more efficient sites whenever possible. For that reason, faster sites tend to rank higher in search results, as long as the content is relevant to the search query.

Mobile sites that consider both site speed and user experience also tend to rank higher in Google search results. If other websites provide highly relevant information and a great user experience, including site speed, they may very well outrank your site. This means that patients searching for information on Google may not see your website as one of the top options in search results, unless they are searching directly for your practice’s name.

All of this to say, practices need to make mobile performance a priority for their websites if they want to continue to reach out to the right patients.

Testing Your Mobile Site Performance
We’ve given you a lot of statistics to work with here, but how do you know if you really need to worry about your website’s mobile performance? Luckily, there are a couple of easy-to-use tools out there that will give you an idea of where your website stands.

Pingdom is a free online tool that provides a lot of technical information, but also provides 3 easy-to-understand scores if you don’t have a lot of knowledge about technical stats. First it provides a Performance Grade, which is a letter grade. Just like when you were in school, A is the best possible grade, and F is the worst possible grade.

Pingdom will also give you a load time. As we stated earlier on, you should aim for 2 seconds or less with your load time. Finally, it will provide an average page size. Currently, the average page size for most websites is 2 MB, so anything less than that is good; below 1 MB is even better.

Google’s Mobile Website Speed Tester
The Mobile Website Speed Tester is the consumer version of Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool for developers. This tool will give you 3 scores: Mobile Friendliness, Mobile Speed, and Desktop Speed. The tool will also let you know whether your score is good or bad. For mobile friendliness, you’ll want to aim for 95/100 or better. For site speed, you should aim for a score of 80/100 or better for both desktop and mobile.

Give these tools a try, and see how your website performs. If your scores are less than satisfactory, it is probably time to make mobile performance a higher priority in your online marketing strategy. Much like SEO, the emphasis on site performance continues to evolve. The further you let your website fall behind, the more you’ll have to catch up in the long run.

This article was originally published on P3 Practice Marketing and is republished here with permission.