On April 21, 2015, Google will begin using mobile-friendly compliance of websites as a ranking factor in searches performed on mobile devices. Translation: If your practice website is not mobile-friendly, it will likely be penalized in Google’s search rankings.

It’s common knowledge that, for many Americans, the Internet is the go-to source for health information. In fact, a 2013 Pew Research Center survey found that 72% of Internet users have looked online for health information in the past year. And many of those searches have been done using Google. With more than 60% of total digital media time spent on mobile platforms, according to the Internet technology company comScore Inc, Google’s algorithm change could have a significant impact on the ability of prospective patients to find your website.

“Your website is your best opportunity—outside of a face-to-face discussion with a patient—to communicate what makes your practice unique and to convince a prospective patient to make an appointment,” says Tony Pacheco, senior director of sales at Seattle-based Sesame Communications. “Even prospective patients who hear about your practice from family members or friends are still likely to check out your website before making an appointment.”

Just like the technologies and treatments you use in your practice, your website must remain up-to-date in order to continue to be effective. “Web design practices are constantly evolving, and your practice must be vigilant for signs that your website is out of date,” says Pacheco.

According to the same Pew Research Center report, a whopping 61% of Americans now own smartphones, and almost 90% of them access the Internet on these devices. Not having a mobile-optimized site can hurt your relationships with current patients and drive away prospective ones. When smartphone and tablet users encounter sites that are not optimized for their devices, they might simply leave.

In fact, the Google Mobile Blog says, 50% of people surveyed reported that even if they like a business, they will use it less often if the website isn’t mobile-friendly.Or perhaps worse, they might go elsewhere—61% of customers who visit a website that isn’t mobile-friendly said they would leave to visit a competitor’s site. In addition, 48% of users reported feeling frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that’s not mobile-friendly and that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business.

In order to turn these consumers into new patients, build their loyalty, and earn their referrals, your practice’s website must deliver a top-notch experience on a variety of mobile platforms,” Pacheco cautions.

So how can you know if your practice site is mobile-friendly? There’s an easy test you can take on the Google website . If it turns out your site is mobile-friendly, congratulations, you’re all set for Mobilegeddon. However, if you find that your practice site is not mobile-friendly, a web design company, like Sesame Communications, can help you upgrade it in an effort to ensure that your Google ranking remains strong.

As smartphone and mobile web usage continues to grow, not having a site that is optimized for all devices will only become a bigger issue for your practice, so make it a priority to keep up with Internet technology as it happens. OP