Mobile Search And The Apple Maps Opportunity
Patients, like everyone else (including yourself!), are using their mobile phones more than ever before. We know that they’re going to search engines to find information about their health more than ever before. This creates the (digital) perfect storm to make mobile search an area of opportunity for those practices who are paying attention to the ways patients are interacting with technology.
If you’re wondering just how important mobile search is, a 2016 HitWise study examined hundreds of millions of search queries. At the end of the study, HitWIse found that 60% of all searches are now done on a mobile. As the years go by, it’s abundantly clear that the popularity of mobile search will only continue to rise. In fact, chances are good your practice has already being found by a patient who search on their mobile phone.
Understanding Mobile Behavior (and Discovering an Opportunity)
Let’s simplify the process: here’s an example of what patients are doing daily.
- A prospective patient pulls out their iPhone
- They open on the default Safari browser
- They then begin typing into the address bar
And that’s when it happens.
Before the prospective patient is even done typing, they are beginning to see suggested search queries based on what was initially typed. They may even be given an initial suggestion as to what business they may be looking for. Powered by Apple Maps, this business location appears because of its relevance to the search query and proximity to the users location. Before a patient even saw a Bing or Google search result page, they’ve been given a result.
This is the reality savvy practitioners, practice managers, and SEOs must live and work with.
Apple Maps and Your Practice
Now, if you want you start to understand the importance of Apple Maps, simply plug your practice into the equation.
- The prospective patient pulls out their iPhone
- They open the default Safari browser
- They then begin typing into the address bar: “dentist”
Before they even see a search result page for “dentist,” the prospective patient is presented with a visible recommendation of a dentist nearby.
It’s unknown to what extent this visibility affects the patient’s decision making process. But it’s something that comes from every patient experiences when using their mobile phone to search for information.
If you’ve never done it, you should! Pull out your mobile phone right now. Use it to search the internet for a “doctor,” “dentist,” “chiropractor,” or “dermatologist.”
If you’re an iPhone user, it’s highly likely you were exposed to a suggested practice or provider before you even saw a search result page. In fact, all the searches we conducted on our iPhones in the office all showed an Apple Maps result suggesting a practice or provider. It’s what provoked this post!
What About Other Maps?
The mobile phone industry is dominated by two main operating systems: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Apple iOS comes with the Safari web browser installed by default on iPhones. No surprise, Google Android comes with the Chrome web browser installed by default on a wide variety of mobiles.
Why does this matter? Well, depending on the type of phone and web browser the patient is using to search the internet, they’ll see different things. This means you making sure you show up on more than one map.
If a patient is using an Android device and the Chrome web browser, for example, they’ll never see the suggested location from Apple Maps. This applies to those patients using Chrome as the default on their iPhone. These patients are more likely to see you on Google Maps, the other map app that influences what patients see when they search on their mobile.
Luckily for you, Google Maps pulls from your Google My Business profile. Which as a RepCheckup reader, we’re sure you already have on lock-down. (In case you don’t you can learn more here.)
Get on the Apple Map
If you want to take advantage of the potential to put your practice in front of thousands of potential patients searching every year you need make sure your office locations are claimed on the Apple Maps platform. To see if your practice is on Apple Maps, you can search for it using the app. To create, claim and edit your Apple Maps profile, you will need to have an Apple ID and account on Apple Maps Connect. The whole process, should take you under an hour.