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Apr 28 2015

Mobile devices are becoming a standard means of browsing the internet, researching products and services, and making purchases online. According to Global Web Index, 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone and 47 percent own a tablet. With these kinds of statistics, you better believe that your website is receiving a significant amount of its traffic from mobile users - unless you fell subject to the latest Google algorithm update last week. 

That's right, Google has just rolled out one of its biggest algorithm updates in quite some time to provide a better search experience for its mobile users. In a Google Webmaster Central blog post, they stated that "this change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results." You may ask yourself, "what type of impact?" Websites that do not pass the "Mobile-Friendly Test" were penalized in Google search rankings, which would explain its unofficial name "Mobilegeddon."

Businesses across all industries rely heavily on Google search for generating quality traffic that will ultimately increase leads and customers. A Google study from November 2013 titled "Mobile Path to Purchase" found that 48 percent of mobile research starts on search engines (42 percent for automotive mobile research). Since Google's ultimate goal is to better its users' experience by serving up the best results possible, and a large number of its users are coming from mobile, penalizing websites that hinder their goal makes perfect sense.

More specifically to the automotive industry, there are number of ways in which the lack of optimizing for mobile is detrimental to auto business' growth. In this article I've listed a few segments of the auto industry that have or will notice a negative impact from the Google algorithm update if their sites are not optimized for mobile. I've also provided some insight as to why a mobile-friendly website is so important, not just for Google ranking but for your visitors as well.

1. Vehicle Shopping Sales

Whether you're marketing inventory on a dealer website or classified auto listings site, it's essential that your website is mobile-friendly. Most consumers research and compare their next vehicle on a mobile platform at some point in the process. This could include reading reviews on social media, searching for vehicle media, or even comparing prices on the dealership lot. In any one of these scenarios, it'd be nice if your website ranked in Google search queries.

A study from Edmunds shows that "80 percent of Millennials used their mobile devices to help them with at least one car shopping task, compared to just 46 percent of people age 35 and over." It's hard to ignore these numbers, especially when you include Google's findings mentioned earlier (42 percent of automotive mobile research starts with a search engine). Your company should be noticing a sizeable decrease in organic traffic if your site is not mobile-friendly.

Let's not forget that the content you provide must also be of high quality both for the consumer and search engines. There are many resources vehicle shoppers can easily access, so it's important that the resources you provide engage your visitors with additional value.

Google's algorithm is very sophisticated and has continued to grow in its complexity, as seen with the new mobile algorithm update. If your goals align with Google's, providing great content that's easy to navigate, then optimizing your website for mobile should be a no-brainer. If your site is not yet mobile-friendly, this should be high on your list of priorities.

2. Vehicle Service & Maintenance Appointments

Similar to vehicle shoppers, many consumers looking to get their car serviced will first research online for the most convenient shop with the best reviews before scheduling an appointment. If the design and usability of your website is not mobile-friendly, your visitors simply will not engage. As a consumer, nothing is more frustrating than searching on your phone for a local repair shop and having to comb through the entire website for contact information, only to find a phone number that is not hyperlinked. With Google's new algorithm update, sites matching this description will now rank much lower on mobile searches.

Discouraged by the toll "Mobilegeddon" has taken on your service appointments? It may be difficult to see the direct correlation between appointments and their traffic source, especially if you haven't hyperlinked your phone number and tracked the clicks. However, there will be many missed opportunities for your business with your website buried in Google's mobile search results. 

It may take some time to increase your site's Google ranking, but it's still worth getting back on your feet and taking some steps towards optimizing for mobile. As we've seen, much of Google's search traffic now comes from mobile and is continuing to increase.

Here are some instructions from Google on how to optimize for mobile

3. Auto Insurance Policy Quotes

Searching for and getting an online insurance quote on a mobile device should be a simple task for vehicle owners. However, insurance websites that are not optimized for mobile certainly make the process more difficult than it needs to be. If your insurance site is not yet mobile-friendly, there's a good chance that you don't fully understand the benefits it would provide your mobile visitors.

Here are just a few ways in which a mobile-friendly auto insurance website will add value for mobile users

  • Visitors won't have to zoom in to read the content
  • The insurance quote form you'd want your visitors to fill out is easy to locate
  • Users are able to easily fill out the form without bumbling over tiny form fields or drop-downs

Optimizing for mobile is not just something you should do because you're forced to by the new algorithm. While satisfying Google's mobile-friendly requirements, your company should also see higher conversion rates from mobile traffic with an easy and convenient way to convert. 

Key Takeaways

  • 80% of Millennials use their mobile devices for a portion of vehicle research (46% 35 yrs and older)
  • 42% of automotive mobile research starts on a search engine
  • If your website is not optimized for mobile, you should expect a drop in your website's organic traffic
  • Mobile-friendly websites are not the end all be all. Your content still must be of high quality in order to rank highly

Mobile use is continuing to trend upward as more consumers jump on the smartphone/tablet bandwagon. Google constantly strives to improve the user's experience, making web browsing, researching, and online shopping more convenient than ever. They also have plans to display indexed mobile applications more prominently in search results. No matter which segment of the auto industry you come from, your website needs to be optimized for mobile in order to survive on all digital platforms. 

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