Mobilegeddon 2.0 – Are NZ Car Companies Ready?

Google is turning the dial up on its mobile-friendly algorithm. We look at how ready the leading NZ car brands are for this update.

Last April, Google made mobile-friendliness a stronger ranking factor and advised that this would significantly impact rankings in mobile search results. Google took the then unusual step of telegraphing its algorithm changes well ahead of time and, in preparation for what the media quickly dubbed “mobilegeddon”, many businesses scrambled to make their websites mobile-friendly.

Do a search on your mobile phone and you’ll see that today the majority of top ranking sites shown in Google’s search results have a mobile -friendly tag, indicating they meet Google’s mobile-friendly requirements.

Sites that aren’t mobile-friendly can still rank well, but this is likely to become increasingly difficult.

This week Google started rolling out an update to mobile search results which puts greater emphasis on mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. If you’ve already made your site mobile-friendly, you won’t be impacted by this update. But if your site is not mobile friendly then chances are it will slip further in the rankings on mobile search results and as a result you’ll receive less mobile visitors. In other words, you’ll lose business to competitors whose websites are mobile-friendly.

Earlier this week, with the update impending, we decided to take a look at NZ’s top 15 automotive brands to see who’s mobile-ready and who isn’t. And there were some surprising results.

Below are the top 15 brands ranked by total new vehicle sales in 2015 (according to the Motor Industry Association). We ran each of these brands’ websites through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights tools. Here are the results…

Google mobile-friendly website test results for top 15 New Zealand Car Brands

We were surprised to see the Toyota site failed Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, given that in mobile search results it has a mobile-friendly tag and looks good on a mobile phone.

Toyota mobile friendly test fail

Clearly neither Suzuki nor Honda’s websites are mobile-friendly. Their sites failed the test, lack mobile-friendly tags and are difficult to use on a mobile phone — particularly Suzuki. See below.

.Suzuki NZ website viewed on an iphone  Honda NZ website viewed on an iphone

With the update from Google both Honda and Suzuki may experience drops in mobile organic rankings. Honda currently ranks #1 on Google New Zealand mobile results for “new cars” — so the impact could be significant.

Apart from Honda and Suzuki, all other brands scored very highly on mobile usability. However there’s no room for complacency because speed is another ranking factor Google uses and, as can be seen, many of the sites have plenty of room for improvement — in particular those for Ford, Volkswagen and BMW.

Why should you care?

Unless you’re involved with any of the above sites you are unlikely to care how they’ve scored. However, if you do have a website that’s not mobile-friendly or slow, then now would be a great time to fix it.

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About the Author Mark Sceats

Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).

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