Search engine optimization can be a confusing thing. As search engine algorithms frequently change, many find it hard to keep up with the latest trends and best-practices in order to maintain high website rankings.
Well, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is Google which, according to the 2018 Search Market Share report by SparkToro, commands 93.76 percent of all searches. This breaks down for all Google properties as follows: Google itself (69.3%), Google Images (21.03%), YouTube (2.9%) and Google Maps (.80%).
Sure, there are other search engines out there (and they shouldn’t necessarily be discounted completely). But, Google is, by the numbers, the single most important search engine in existence.
The problem is that many dealers don’t understand how to optimize their websites to improve rankings. As a result, many SEO efforts are falling short. But, luckily, it is not that hard to do better — you could greatly improve by simply knowing the “rules” and playing the game according to those rules.
To keep it simple, there are four key things every website should adhere to in order to stay in the good graces of Google and garner favorable consumer search result rankings. They are as follows:
- SSL Secured Sites –To ensure search engine results point to more secure websites, Google recently announced that it will start marking non-secure websites with a warning when searchers click on them.
If you have an unsecure site, this should be cause for alarm. In addition, in July 2018, Google started looking further into secure vs. non-secure sites and takes this into account in search engine rankings. This now presents a two-fold problem: First, consumers may be afraid to click on your site if it presents them with a message that it is unsecure. Second, this will affect search engine rankings.
- Mobile Friendly Sites – Today, an increasing number of consumers conduct searches on mobile devices. So, Google now looks at whether or not your website is mobile friendly and factors that into its search algorithms.
According to Google, 94% of smartphone owners search for information on their phones. With its focus on search relevance and customer experience, there’s no doubt that a mobile friendly site merits a higher ranking in their algorithm. It is vital to know if your website is mobile friendly (by Google’s definition) and make this a priority if it is not.
- Page speed – We’ve all been victims of slow-loading websites and know how frustrating that is. When online car shoppers encounter a website that takes too long to load, many simply find a new website that provides a faster experience.
While page speed is vital for mobile searches, that same consumer action (choosing a new site rather than waiting on the initial one to load) can just as easily happen on a desktop. Because of this, Google considers how fast a website page loads as one of the many factors that dictate search rankings for your webpage. Ensure that your websites load quickly, or you will be penalized in search rankings.
- Responsive Design – It’s one thing to have a mobile-friendly website, and quite another to have one that is responsive. What does responsive mean? It simply means that your website is automatically optimized to be user-friendly regardless of which device the consumer chooses to use.
In fact, responsive design is Google’s preferred design pattern, according to Search Engine Land. Google dictates which sites appear first in its search results and is (for the most part) tight-lipped about their algorithm. I therefore think it’s safe to assume that whenever Google provides “advice” on the features websites should have, they are providing clues about how to achieve better results in their rankings.
While things in the search engine optimization world can certainly change depending on Google’s mood at the time, if you do these four simple things to speed up your websites, you should have a considerable advantage over any competitor’s websites that don’t adhere to these rules.
Take some time to review your website and, if it falls short of any of these points, have a conversation with your web provider to get your website up to speed. Otherwise you will see less website traffic and conversions, and nobody wants that!