Best Practices

3 Steps to be Ready For Google Mobile Search Update

April showers might bring May flowers, but April 2015 will be marked by more than a few sprinkles and a tax deadline…

According to Search Engine Land and Google’s latest announcement:

“Starting April 21, we [Google] will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

In the following, we distill what this means to you and your dealership and provide a game-plan on how to handle this change. Unless you are a newcomer to this site (in which case, welcome!) you should already know the importance of mobile compatibility. This is not a new phenomenon and I encourage you to poke around our other posts to see additional ways to beef up your mobile approach. Google has even used their invisible hand in the past to nudge website holders down the path of mobile-friendliness by highlighting those sites that are doing a great job of it.

Of course, we here at DealerRefresh know that you know you should already have a Responsive Website…

The game-plan starts here, with three recommendations to assess and optimize your web presence:

  1. Optimization Status: identify and improve it

It all starts with your search engine optimization (SEO) audit. Jump to Google’s mobile friendly test tool to validate your website making sure images, CSS and JS are crawlable. If you currently have a mobile-ready site, do not skip this step! This will help you dig deeper into your user experience.

Additionally, check out the report generated by Google Webmaster Tools mobile usability. This will let you known issues with Flash (like, if you have it – shame on you), content size and touch elements that are improperly placed. Site crawling errors may include:

  • Instead of crawled and indexed areas of your site, are you inadvertently blocking them?
  • How many 404’s do you have?
  • What has the Googlebot returned?

When you identify crawling issue be sure to unblock or block as you see fit. Dodge linking or sending people to dead pages.

How do your most important pages look? To find out use the “fetch as Google feature” in the Webmaster Tools. Think about:

  • Accessibility of content
  • SEO components like title and meta descriptions
  • Are your pages set up correctly?

Tools like Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl will aid in this analysis as well. Through it all, do not forget time is money and site speed is extremely important in site optimization. Tools like “Google’s PageSpeed Insights” and the “Speed Suggestions report in Google Analytics” can make sure your page is first out of the starting gate.

  1. Visibility and Traffic behavior: Assess your mobile web search

Find out your “top queries” and “top pages” in mobile search by utilizing Google Webmaster Tools. In the Search Queries report look under the “Mobile” filter. After generating the report think about:

  • Are your top hits the same on your mobile search as your desktop search?
  • Are different users looking for different things on your site?
  • Where are your high click-through rates (CTR)?
  • Where are you low CTR?
  • What is your traffic telling you?
  • Are certain search queries trending?
  • What direction?

In what has now become your new best friend, Google Analytics, take the time to learn your mobile search visibility and behavior of your online guests. This falls under the mobile organic advanced segment. Think about:

  • Where is your top organic mobile traffic?
  • What are your high bounce rates?
  • Where is your low conversion rate?
  • How do mobile, tablet and desktop numbers compare?

Google Analytics Mobile report, nested under “Audience,” will let you know the mobile devices your visitors prefer.

  1. Competitiveness and Performance: Establish your mobile web search

Tools like SEMrush, Sistrix, SearchMetrics, or SimilarWeb will reveal keywords related to your mobile search competitors. From this, develop more keywords to targets. From this list of keywords your competitors are ranking for; add them to your top keywords found from your mobile search queries. This will give you a master list of keywords, exciting I know!

From here, break it down. Cut this list into categories and cross-reference them with the Google Keyword Planner. This will give you new keyword ideas. See “Mobile Trends” and a “Breakdown by Device” for an idea of volume and trends over time for your mobile searches.

Just like you heard in last Monday’s meeting, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. Now that you have measured your sites mobile abilities, it is time to start tracing and observing your advancement.

Search Engine Land recommends doing this by “Using a ranking tracking tool that supports mobile rank tracking (such as SEMrush position tracking feature or Advanced Web Ranking), keep track of where you and your competitors stand with the valuable keywords you’ve identified — those that are already bringing the highest mobile search visibility along those with the highest potential with a rank tracking tool that supports mobile rankings.” See what pages have those important keywords popping up on them. Now do the same for your competitors. How do the rankings compare? Is there any difference? If so, find out why. You can do this by developing a mobile targeted competition analysis using URL profiler.

Oh, by the way – if you have an app (fixed ops, please!) … Promote your App!

It is now game time people! Get out there, get ready and get optimized! Do not be caught on the sidelines on April, 15 when your competitors have already successfully navigated this process. Follow these easy steps, break it down, and March Madness can stay on the basketball court and out of your website optimization efforts!

Jessica is a Branding and Marketing professional, working to keep DealerRefresh the automotive industry's leading community based blog and forum. She'...