How Google’s New Mobile Algorithm Change Will Affect Your SEO

The search giant’s new algorithm moves to a mobile-first index standard

We all know that there has been a general change in how people search online. The trend toward using mobile devices has skyrocketed since the development of tablets and smartphones, thus altering the digital landscape dramatically.



With 65% of internet users on mobile devices and 35% on desktop computers, mobile usability is more important than ever. Google agrees.

In April 2015, the search engine giant announced an algorithm change that would include mobile usability as an indicator in its algorithm. You probably heard about it: The industry playfully called it “Mobilegeddon.”

The change meant that Google would take zooming, text legibility, scaling, and other mobile-experience factors into consideration when determining how various sites should rank for certain keywords.

What has changed?

In November 2016, Google made another change to its mobile algorithm that will affect search engine optimization (SEO). Let’s call it “Mobilegeddon: The Sequel.”

Instead of the desktop being the primary index factor, the new standard will be a mobile-first index. Google is currently in the initial stages of this transition; it’s not a hard algorithm deadline like the first Mobilegeddon.

Google put out this recent statement regarding the switch:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

What does this mean for dealers?

In short, Google’s latest algorithm change means if your dealership is still using a nonresponsive website, you will see a decrease in its search results for major industry keywords. The automotive marketing space is so competitive that any mobile-experience issues could be detrimental to your ranking.

Or you may have a mobile version of your website enabled, but it’s technically a separate version of the site, with less content than the desktop version. In this case, users of the mobile version may not see all of the SEO-rich interior pages and features displayed on the desktop version.

This would have been OK back in November because Google indexed the desktop version of the website first. Now that Google is moving to a mobile-first index, however, those missing interior pages on the mobile version may not be indexed at all.

What should you do?

The most important action to take is to make sure your dealership has a responsive website. But you may be thinking to yourself: What is the different between a responsive website and a mobile website?

A mobile website is technically a separate website from your desktop website, but is specifically designed for mobile devices. It displays the most important aspects of a dealership website, such as inventory, contact information, etc., but it doesn’t always display every page.

A responsive website, on the other hand, is one complete website that is designed to scale to any device. So whether the user is on a desktop or smartphone, the site uses the same code and will display the same pages.

If you’re not sure if your website is responsive, nonresponsive, or mobile, take the Google Mobile-Friendly Test:

www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly

This test will explain every issue a mobile user may experience on your site, and even shows you how to resolve the issues it finds. So, for example, if your pages are loading slowly or text is stacked on top of other text, Google’s mobile test will break down the problems for you.

If you find that your site is not optimized for mobile, talk to your website provider about the best strategies for moving forward. If your website provider does not offer responsive websites, find one that does.

Luckily, “Mobilegeddon: The Sequel” is a bit more transitional in nature than the original, but the sooner you switch to a responsive website, the better your automotive SEO strategy will be.

Mark Stansbury is the marketing manager for AutoManager, a provider of dealer websites, marketing solutions, and dealer management software. For more information, visit www.automanager.com.

Mark Stansbury

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