How Google’s Website Ranking Factors Rank OEM Websites (vs Independents)
In Part 1 of this two-part series on website ranking factors, we discussed Page Speed, Page Index, and Technical SEO scores. We look at the results of our AntiguRecon tool which surveyed over 35,000 dealer websites using Google’s algorithm to drive its calculations. We found that independent dealer websites tend to be faster than franchise websites and that we have some work to do if we want to improve our industry’s performance overall. In this article, we look at dealership website Accessibility and website design Best Practices scores. Let’s have some fun…
Average Accessibility Score
What is Accessibility and why is it relevant? In the past I’ve written about this topic in detail, but for here let’s just say that your website should be designed so that it can be “read” by people who have limited sight, or are sight impaired in full. In the latter case, a screen reader needs to be able to “read” the page in an understandable way. All of this is required because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which became law in 1990 and lawsuits have been on the rise for non-compliant websites.
All that said, there is good news in that while there is room for improvement, the ratings are not as horrible as the page speed and index ranking factors. If we look at the graph below, Independents over-perform OEMs again with an average score of 83.4 to an OEM rating of 73.9. Mazda got the lowest average rating at 67.1, while the highest score went to Bentley at 87.1.
Average Best Practices Score
The final score in Google’s Lighthouse algorithm gets into the best practices that are employed in the creation of a dealer website. This score tracks common mistakes made by web developers. Google’s algorithm weighs elements based on the risks they might pose, among other things. Google itself states that this quality score is a “helpful diagnostic tool, not a key performance indicator”. Nevertheless, a low score tells you that you should talk with your provider to see what might be improved to improve performance. Often, you will find that some of the best practice issues have to do with optimizing file use which in many cases can improve speed.So how did our intrepid OEMs and Independents do? Let’s look at the table below. Bentley, following its previous trend, is the top performing OEM, while Hyundai has work to do at 57.8. That low rating definitely says that there is room for improvement on the Hyundai websites. Further research could tell us why those sites score so low, but we’ll leave that for another time. Finally, Independents outpaced OEMs at 76.7.
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The Final Word – Part 2
What all this data tells us is that there is a lot of room for improvement in how we construct dealer websites. OEMs and their website providers would do well to look at the data and think seriously about how they can reduce the impact, or volume, of third party code on their websites.
This is a bigger conversation than what you might think. In my view, many dealer websites have become cluttered and clogged with distractions that slow down the site’s load time and lose sight of the purpose of the website, that is, to generate leads and business for the dealership.
With mobile by far outstripping any other tool that is used to view a website, it would behoove us to have websites that really are designed with a mobile first mentality and a commitment to speed.
I can only hope for change, but in the meantime we’ll keep collecting the data and releasing it to spur conversation and improvement.
Should anyone want to discuss this article, or the tool we used to collect the data, you can reach me here.