It’s a Mobile-first World: Are You In It?

A majority of your future customers are searching for your business on their smartphones, and Google ranks mobile first. Do you show up?

During the past five to 10 years, there has been a dramatic shift in the way consumers shop and interact with a brand. In fact, 89 percent of people are likely to recommend a brand after a positive brand experience on mobile (Google).

A mobile-first approach centers on design, improvement, and marketing that places the most importance on the consumer’s mobile experience. Mobile should be the starting point as you build out your user experience, which is the reverse trend of what used to be a desktop-centric approach.

According to GeoMarketing, “Mobile is one of the ‘front doors’ to a physical business.” Having a great mobile presence is becoming the standard for any company – especially dealerships. Mobile is so important now, that 57 percent of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site (socPub).

Taking it a step further, mobile internet search volume in the United States has been growing at an extraordinary rate, while desktop has decreased during the past five years:

Optimizing for mobile is nothing new to users who have stayed up to date on digital marketing trends. But up until now, ranking has been based on the desktop versions of websites. This means that there have been no obvious consequences for websites with no mobile optimization – again, likely many of your competitors. 

Google recently rolled out its long-anticipated mobile-first indexing, stating “Our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.”

In 2018, 80 percent of smartphone users were more likely to purchase from companies with mobile sites or apps that help them easily answer their questions, and more than 51 percent of smartphone users discovered a new company or product while conducting a search on their device (Google).

This is where investing in a mobile-first website comes in handy. Google considers three types of mobile layouts as mobile-friendly: dynamic content, responsive design, and mobile URLs. Each design is viewed equally by Google.

What is a responsive website? A responsive website is one that automatically “responds” to any screen size by altering the placement and layout of the elements so that users can easily interact with the site.

Your site may look great on a desktop platform, but if users need to horizontally scroll to find clickable links on a mobile device, then it is not mobile friendly. Similarly, if users need to pinch, widen, and manipulate the page just to read the content, that’s user-hostile as well.

Ready to dive in to this mobile-first world, but don’t know if you already have a mobile-friendly layout? Use Google’s mobile-friendly test (www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly) to ensure you aren’t ignoring the majority of searchers online. Then get in contact with your website provider and have a conversation about which layout is best for your business. See below for an example of a successful Google Mobile-friendly test:

Once you have a mobile-friendly layout, you need to optimize your content for easy mobile consumption. Always consider mobile user experience when creating your headlines, URLs and meta descriptions. Space is at a premium on mobile, keep these as short and to the point as possible.

You will also want to navigate your website page-by-page on a mobile device to confirm each web page is fully optimized for mobile. Keep an eye out for text that runs off screen, images that don’t load and pages that are only partially optimized.

Increase your mobile user experience by designing your website specifically for touch screen mobile navigation:

• Clearly list your phone number, e-mail address and location as tap-able links or calls-to-action.

• Consistently format images, videos and content throughout your website.

• Use large text that’s easy to read for the user.

The faster your website loads, the higher your site will rank on search engine result pages. This is the case for desktop and mobile load times alike; however, the bar is set much higher on mobile with an expected load time of less than one second above-the-fold (the portion of the website that is immediately visible).

So why not take it a step further and make sure your responsive site is as user-friendly as possible? Not only will you be rewarded by Google for your mobile optimization, but you’ll also be rewarded for the superior experience that you offer to your customers. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they are to buy – and isn’t that the entire purpose of your online showroom? 

With these tips and tricks in hand, your dealership will be equipped to handle this new mobile-first world, and ensure that you aren’t losing out on quality leads.

Article provided by ARI Network Services. ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 23,500 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”

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