a fast site load speed is important to Google (and users)

A lot of automotive website providers are touting the benefits of having a responsive website. It’s the new norm and if you’re not on board, you can kiss leads goodbye… But you can’t stop there, because site speed is what’s truly going to keep your dealership in the black.

Speed – The Key To a Happy Customer

Think about your own daily experience using your phone to shop, search for directions, or read reviews. You know that if a business isn’t delivering a screaming fast mobile experience, you’re on to the next one. Guess what, your customers feel the same way when they come to your dealership’s site. We’re not the only ones that believe this and there’s actual science that backs it up.

According to KISSmetrics, 40% of internet users will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. That’s not a lot of time. The same study finds that just a 1 second delay in load speed can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. How long does your mobile site take to load… and can your dealership afford to lose leads at 7% per second?

Don’t blindly trust that your mobile site is delivering. Test it.

Don’t Be Misled By The Google Page Speed Insights Tool

A lot of stock has been put into Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool – and far too many dealers misinterpret its scores. The tool simply runs through a checklist of elements that can influence page speed, it does not test the actual load time for a page.

The tool assigns a score based on which elements are present and optimized, and is meant to be a guide. It’s almost impossible to achieve a 100/100 score… but that doesn’t mean your site can’t still be incredibly fast.

We ran the Page Speed Insights tool on 15 different dealers’ websites:
Google Page Speed Insight scores for auto dealers

Those scores may look grim, as none of them scored more than 80 for their mobile sites. But remember – none of these scores do not reflect actual page load speeds.

Now, here are 4 sites that we reviewed, all of which had the same Page Speed Insights score from Google. As you can see, load speeds were VASTLY different from site to site.

 

By all means, take advantage of the checklist of suggestions, as it will HELP you deliver a faster experience to your users. The reality is that some website platforms, third-party vendors and agencies are completely ignoring these suggestions. Maintaining or improving Site Speed is NOT easy, but everyone and anyone who touches your website is responsible for doing no harm. If they tell you that speed doesn’t matter, or that there is nothing that they can do, RUN do not walk, the other way.

Keep Testing Your Site

While the Page Speed Insights score is a solid guide, it’s not the only tool out there that will help. Make sure to run your website through an actual page performance test, like Web Page Test.
You’ll gain important insight into all the items that adversely affect load times. Everything from bloated third party plugins, poor coding practices, and poorly (or non-) optimized images can all lead to pitiful scores.

Stick With It

There is no silver bullet to increasing site speed and converting those customers that desperately want a fast experience. However, now that you know what’s happening under the hood of your website, you can start making the small fixes that will make large improvements in load times. Do the research, present your findings, and hold yourself, your team, and your vendors accountable for the results!