John McAlpin: “One of the downsides to the healthcare industry is that a lot of people are behind the time, they have older websites. If they have mobile issues at all with their sites, there could be some issues and impact there.”
Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.
Alex Membrillo: Hey, everybody. I’m really excited to have you guys on, we’ve got John McAlpin with us here today. John, I’ve always regarded him as the best technical SEO guy in the country. Now our clients are starting to figure it out too, but he’s not just limited to technical SEO, he does all of the content strategy for our big healthcare clients, link building, etc.
The guy’s a wiz, you’re about to learn from one of the best in the business. I’m excited to have him on. John, welcome to Ignite.
John McAlpin: Thanks for having me. You read my script perfectly.
Alex: [laughs] No introduction needed, your reputation precedes you. Let’s get cracking here. Today I want to talk all about mobile-first ranking and Core Web Vitals because they’re going to be big this year. First of all, introduce it to us.
What is mobile-first ranking is that different than what’s currently happening now?
John: Before it was mobile-first indexing. That’s typically what this is. Google would crawl the mobile version using their mobile crawler of your website and before desktop or anything else like this, now it’s mobile-only indexing. They’re only going to be looking at the mobile version of your site.
There’s a difference in content, images, whatever it is, there’s a difference between the desktop and mobile version of your website, Google will only see what’s on mobile. If there’s key information missing from your mobile site, Google’s not going to know about it.
Alex: What about websites like Cardinal that are using the AMP stuff?
John: AMP will still be preferred. Because AMP is what’s dynamic and what is showing up for mobile. So, it’s what they’re going to crawl.
Alex: AMP’s restricted a lot of my content. I don’t think I have like a quarter of what’s on my full desktop so do I need to load up my amp pages with everything on them now?
John: One of the downsides to the healthcare industry is a lot of people are behind the time, they have older sites. If they have mobile issues at all with their sites, there could be some issues and impacts there, if they try to get too fancy with different experiences for mobile versus desktop, they could see a negative impact to there. However, there’s been a big wave, we’ve seen it internally, a big wave of healthcare organizations, really taking a charge of their digital presence and hiring good agencies who are going to have it prepared and could see a positive benefit.
Alex: If they get ahead of this– we know our healthcare organizations are notoriously slow to catch up to the marketing innovation but if they get ahead of it, when this stuff starts rolling out, they actually could see some positive change is what you’re saying?
John: Absolutely. Mobile-first indexing is already a thing, it’s already happening, where we’re going to see probably the bigger shift is in May when we have Core Web Vitals roll out.
John: The first step is to look in your Google Search Console, if you don’t have it, get set up, let Google crawl your site and check your mobile coverage report and see what URLs are being crawled by Google. Then do a mobile-friendly test tool in detail, have a little preview window and you can see what the content they’re seeing is. If you’re seeing content missing is a big sign that there could be some issues there.
Alex: Okay, beautiful. You teased us a little bit, what’s the Core Web Vitals thing that you’ve mentioned, is that the same thing as mobile-first ranking? What is that?
John: It is not the same thing. This is less about mobile-friendly versus how efficiently your website loads on mobile devices. Now in the past, we’ve relied on Google’s page speed insights and it was always about in 2018, they released the pace-feed update where you really had to have a fast website and Core Web Vitals is the next step. It’s the 2.0 version of that.
It’s not just how fast your website loads, it’s how efficiently does content shift around? Have you ever been on a new site out and you’re trying to read an article and then an ad loads and all of a sudden you’re right here, it shifts up then you just can’t find where you’re reading?
Alex: Yes, all the time. Yes, it’s messed up.
John: That’s called cumulative layout stiff, and they’re now accounting for that too. They can actually measure it. They’re adding in these new metrics to see how efficiently your website is loading. In May of this year, they’re going to release this update and if you have a score between 90 to a 100, which is really well, so we want to be– you’re going to get a pretty big ranking boost.
Anyone who’s not in there is not going to receive that ranking boost.
Alex: It sounds like interstitial ads will have a penalty on this because they’re going to move your stuff around it or as long as the ads don’t move things around and it loads efficiently, it’s okay. What about my guys with ads on the site?
John: Ads on the site are going to be the ones that are going to be hit the most, but unfortunately, actually most of us are not going to qualify for this. Because here’s the thing, the average website is in the middle rate between 50 to 80 and even below that sometimes so most people aren’t going to qualify for this, which means that’s a huge opportunity for people to really invest into their web architecture, to get better ranking boosts.
Alex: All right, I got you. What are some of the things they need to do on their web ranking architecture? What do they need to do? If I’m in healthcare, what do I need to make sure of/ or send a list of notes, my SEO guy or girl?
John: First you need to do a speed on it. Then this is going to be able to tell you, hey, these are some quick– It’s either there’s a couple of quick fixes they really get you up there or in some cases you need a complete rebuild. Sometimes the designs are friendly, but maybe they used a part of theme off theme for us and they’re just using this really bulky theme and it needs to be completely rebuilt. Because a lot of these prebuilt themes and anything that’s drag and drop or what we call the WYSIWYG in the industry, those are really heavy themes that are very slow.
What we’re seeing is that a lot of healthcare organizations are investing in rebuilding their website to be a lot more efficient.
Alex: All right. From the ground rebuilt– Where do I go to check out my score? Is that in Search Console?
John: In Search Console, they do have a Core Web Vitals graph where you can see which percentage of your site is– what URLs are affected and it breaks it down by subfolder so you can see the similar links. If you want to get specific and want to know exactly what’s wrong, you can actually go to Google PageSpeed Insights, which is a free Google tool and it’ll tell you some quick opportunities and quick wiz that you can do to optimize your site. If you want to get more granular, go to the inspect tool in Google Chrome and run a Lighthouse audit, that will get also a little bit more granular, very similar to the same tool that Google uses.
Alex: [unintelligible 00:07:46] Google Chrome, I’ve never heard of that. I’ll have to look into that. I need to see how the Cardinal site is performing. This is making me nervous, I haven’t looked into this.
It’s not just about being fast, it’s about loading efficiently. This skill set you’re talking about, through my healthcare organizations that can’t afford to go hire an agency, what should they do? They go to Upwork and what do they type in? Is it like page speed optimizer?
Is it an SEO person? A developer? It seems like the confluence of a bunch of different skills. Where do they go to hire?
John: Well, you need to hire an honest auditor, because some people will say, “Hey, it can optimize your speed,” but they’ll optimize it for one tool, not the other and in reality, we need to be optimized for Google because they’re the ones who are in– that control the ratings. If there are only a few quick things you need, you could hire a technical SEO to fix that but a real auditor may say, “Hey, you need a ground-up rebuild and then you need a developer, not the SEO.”
Alex: I got you. Honest auditor, okay. All right. Back up the honesty claims with quantifiable numbers is what I always say. Make sure they’ve got a case study and proven returns on other sites.
John, I appreciate, anything else the audience needs to know about mobile-first ranking or Core Web Vitals? Say that five times fast. What else? Anything else they need to know?
John: Test, test, test, make sure that you have your numbers in order, make sure you have a scalable infrastructure, and don’t get crazy with the plugins and the gadgets on your website.
Alex: Don’t get plugged, don’t get crazy with the plugins, those are often the ones that bog things down. Guys and gals you got till May, you got until May to roll this out or you’re going to be penalized. All right, guys, John, thanks for joining us.
John: Thanks for having me, man.
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