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What Google’s Mobile-Friendly Search Update Means to Your Dealership

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Here’s the elevator pitch: If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you might as well go back to advertising in the Yellow Pages. Google’s latest algorithm update is so heavily weighted toward mobile-friendly sites that some are calling it “Mobilegeddon” for sites that aren’t optimized for viewing on a phone.

What does it mean for your dealership? It means that every page on your website needs to be optimized for viewing on a mobile phone. Not a tablet. A phone. Inventory pages, service schedulers, everything needs to be optimized so that mobile phone users don’t have to expand the screen to read the content on your site.

On the one hand, Google is presenting this revision as a natural evolution of the internet toward the mobile world in which we live in, which is a good thing. “We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling,” reads the official Google Webmaster Central Blog.

Google is still telegraphing that content is what makes a page rise to the top, regardless of whether it’s mobile-friendly. “While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query,” reads the official Webmaster Central Blog.

But Wired reported that last year, some Google staffers said during during a public appearance that “the change would have a bigger impact than its ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ algorithm updates, which Google rolled out in 2011 and 2012, respectively.” According to Wired, “Panda affected about 12 percent of English searches, while Penguin altered four percent,” but you’d be hard-pressed to find any webmaster that wouldn’t suggest Panda or Penguin had some negative impact on site traffic after they rolled out.

So what can you do? Roll with the changes and make sure your websites are as mobile-friendly as possible. Google provides tools to verify the mobile-friendliness of your website. Use the Mobile-Friendly Test or you can verify the status of an entire site through the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools.

If you do find that your dealership’s site needs revision, you may notice a drop in traffic. But once you’ve revised your site to be more mobile-friendly, Google says it will “automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages.”

You can also expedite reprocessing using Fetch as Google with Submit to Index, and then your pages can be treated as mobile-friendly in ranking.

Google also has a FAQ in the Webmaster Forum, as well as a Mobile Websites section that can answer many of your questions.