ResearchAug 31st, 2022

How Google’s Website Ranking Factors Rank Website Vendors Part One


How do you measure up?


In our previous two articles, we wrote about how Google uses its software to assess a website’s performance, from page speed and technical SEO, to download rates and accessibility compliance. The first article looked at page speed, your speed index score, and SEO rating, while the second article reviewed Google’s accessibility and best practices score. The focus of those two articles was on how OEM websites performed relative to each other and Independents. 

The topic of this article will be to review how website vendors perform relative to each other, as seen through the eyes of Google.

Our data source was over 35,000 dealer websites.

Google’s Speed Index Score

Google’s Speed Index Score is based on the average time it takes for visible parts of the page to be displayed. For this study, we only looked at mobile devices since around 80% of car shoppers shop by mobile device, while over 90% of Hispanic shoppers shop the same way.  

Let’s look at the data…

As an industry, we can do better than this. I’ve identified two critical cut off points - at 5 seconds and at 10. Ideally, mobile load times should be 3-4 seconds at most. Any time longer, and you start to suffer an increasing volume of drop-offs.  

I have chosen the 5 second mark just to be practical, recognizing that some OEMs require a lot of time consuming add-ons and features that guzzle load time. But even with this said, it is hard to justify the speeds we see here. I imagine some providers might not like this article and will argue that our data is faulty or should be ignored. That’s fine, they can take that argument up with Google. These are Google’s numbers after all.

We need Standards

Brian Pasch, a well known automotive veteran, has quite wisely launched an initiative to have the automotive community come together on some GA4 standards in the hopes of crafting common and usable standards for the industry. Based on these numbers, we would do well to apply the same thought process to automotive website performance to ensure that we deliver highly usable, fast, and Google complaint websites to our dealer customers.  

To do this, we would have to identify what’s slowing down the sites (think third party code), what metric we’ll use to gauge success (think Google since it’s the 8,253 ton Gorilla in the room), and ensure that all vendors play by the same rules. Otherwise, we’ll continue to get results like you see below for Google’s sister metric to Speed Index, that is, their Google PageSpeed Score. Not good.

The Final Word

Like I said in my previous two articles, you can’t bury your head and try to ignore Google’s ranking factors. You have to learn how to work with them to maximize the performance of your customer’s website. Google can’t be ignored, but it does serve as a neutral metric for evaluating website performance. If your provider is listed here, see where they rank relative to their competitors and contact me for a deeper analysis, or just use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to do your evaluation. Speed counts, and your website should be as fast as possible on your customers’ mobile and desktop devices. Otherwise, you risk losing potential customers who don’t want to sit around waiting for your website to load.

Part 2 of this vendor review will follow in a couple of weeks… Stay tuned.

With over two decades of experience revolutionizing the automotive industry, Adam leads SurgeMetrix who, through Bilingual Marketing Strategies, AI powered SEO, Market Intelligence Analytics, & Cybersecurity solutions, help dealerships build new markets. 

Focused on data - finding it, understanding it, leveraging it and protecting it -  Adam is invested in providing solutions which help dealers make informed decisions about how best to sell cars.

View full profile
Curated, quality insights?
Content worth the click