A Mobile-Friendly Website Is Crucial to Dealership Success

With mobile usage continuing to grow at an astounding pace, Google wants to make sure that the search results it serves deliver an exceptional user experience, regardless of device.

Most recently, this past April, Google’s newest search algorithm began to use mobile-friendly design as an important criterion to affect ranking on mobile search engine results pages (SERPs). Websites with mobile-friendly design will have higher positioning on the SERPs, and mobile-unfriendly sites will likely see a drop in ranking.

Now that Google has explicitly announced that mobile-friendliness is going to be a ranking factor in search results, dealers need to determine whether their website is mobile-friendly to optimize their marketing strategies.

The changing landscape

Mobile’s ever-present importance to search engine optimization (SEO) has been driven by today’s consumer. According to J.D. Power, prospective car shoppers are increasingly using their smartphones to become better informed for their next major vehicle purchase. The number of vehicle shoppers using an automotive website or app on a smartphone grew by a staggering 73% between 2012 and 2013.

In 2015, where the car-buying focus has shifted toward millennial purchasing habits, a reported 80% of this demographic uses mobile devices to help with at least one car shopping task, according to a study conducted by Edmunds.com.

It’s clear that mobile technologies are helping simplify and streamline the car-buying process, creating efficiencies and higher performance for the dealer and a more meaningful, positive experience for the consumer. As consumers continue to turn to mobile for their car shopping needs, it’s critical that dealers incorporate mobile-friendly design into their overall marketing strategy.

Here are a few questions that dealers should be asking themselves about the mobile experience they deliver to consumers:

Am I giving my customers the best possible mobile and online experience? Your customers should be greeted with a user-friendly experience when they visit your mobile website.

Images should be sized properly for the mobile site and content should be formatted so users don’t need to pinch to zoom or scroll sideways. Also, your mobile Web pages should load quickly.

Do my main website and mobile website work seamlessly together to deliver a satisfying customer experience? You should present the same look and feel for users as they transition from the mobile site to the desktop (or vice versa). Also, set up your Web pages to shift the most relevant information to the top of the page on the mobile version, and look to eliminate or reduce any excessive scrolling.

Think about designing your Web pages for mobile first, desktop second. With an advanced and seamless mobile-based website platform, customization of the experience for a specific device is possible—and easy.

How can I test my mobile experience to ensure we are optimized for the new Google algorithm? Testing for mobile-friendliness is easier than ever. Just use Google’s Mobile-Friendliness test and enter a page of your website.

This tool tests on a per-page basis, so feel free to test out different pages of your site: inventory listing pages, vehicle details, etc.

Better search visibility . . . and sales

Dealers that we work with are experiencing significant results when their mobile experience is optimized for users and, subsequently, the new Google algorithm. These dealership pages and the keywords that direct shoppers to them saw increases in mobile-specific rankings with Google after the mobile-friendly algorithm update.

The screenshot below (from a client’s website) shows great mobile-specific ranking increases after the Google Mobile-Friendly algorithm update in April. The screenshot shows sample keywords and their current rank alongside recent increases. The blue numbers are the current rank; the green numbers are the increases in positions since April 13, 2015.
p 26 - DealerTrack_screenshot
The strongest search visibility and the highest ranking across any device should be guiding tenets of any high-quality, seamless website. These sites will deliver an exceptional user experience within the complex nature of automotive retail.

With mobile-friendly sites resulting in better search visibility, dealerships and marketers have heightened opportunities to capitalize on and capture the growing market of mobile car shoppers.

Pete Bruhn is the SEO product manager at Dealer.com, a Dealertrack Solution. He has been in the digital marketing industry for 12 years, including six and a half years at Dealer.com. He has a strong passion for SEO, PPC, content marketing, and all things search marketing-related to deliver high ROI for local and national businesses.

Peter Bruhn


  1. Avatar
    Ben September 25, 2015

    Keep in mind that even more important than whether your website passes Google’s mobile-friendly test is the “experience” your potential customers have with your dealership. Your website has to deliver an exceptional experience on whatever device your customer happens to be using, whether mobile or not, and when that doesn’t happen, you lose that customer.

  2. Avatar
    Andrew Compton September 28, 2015

    Pete on of the things I am finding is dealers that have invested in responsive websites but then lack the ability to receive and respond to incoming text messages in real-time. Many use a third party plugin but not real-time communication. Digital savvy consumers want instant gratification to their request, having an omnichannel solution built into the website is a wise move.

  3. Avatar
    Tony scott September 30, 2015

    Love the update information.


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