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Clearing Up the Responsive vs. Adaptive Debate

Everyone is telling you that your dealership website NEEDS to be responsive…but what does that really mean?

Responsive web design means that the same URL and HTML are passed to each website visitor, regardless of what device they are using to view that website.  This is different from adaptive web design which first detects which device is accessing the website, then serves a potentially different site to the website visitor.  Most car dealership websites today are built on an adaptive platform.

Okay, so now you know what people mean when they say responsive…but how does having a responsive website benefit your dealership?

Google recommends responsive website design for three reasons:

  • A single URL makes it easier to share/link your content
  • Sites load faster since there is no need to redirect users in order for them to get an optimized view
  • Google site crawlers only have to crawl your pages once, on one device, thus increasing efficiency

Another thing to consider – the average dealer website gets traffic from literally hundreds of unique screen sizes each month.  Without a responsive website design, you’d have to design for every single unique screen size, or risk missing the opportunity to serve each user the best experience.  And next year, when new phones and tablets hit the market? You’ll have to add those design sizes to your portfolio as well.

MobileDevicesResponsive sites lend themselves to better SEO results as well.  Aside from being Google’s recommendation, having a single URL for each page of content, with faster load times, is a huge benefit to your site’s search engine rankings.  Also, there is less of a chance for user error – building just one version of your website means users will have a unified experience and you don’t have to worry about errors trying to communicate to Google which pages on the mobile site correspond to desktop pages.

Granted, your dealership may not be in a position to switch to a fully responsive website platform. It can take a lot of work, time and resources.  Don’t worry, you’re not destined for failure, but there are things that your website provider absolutely needs to do in order for an adaptive website platform to work effectively.

Most likely, your site is currently using a mobile sub-domain.  This would be the /mobi or m. you’ll see in the URL when on a mobile device. If your dealership website is built this way, you MUST implement switchboard tags properly – this helps Google understand the connection between your mobile and desktop pages, and tells Google which pages on your desktop platform correspond to the same page on your mobile platform.  When set up properly, switchboard tags help clear up any potential indexing and link equity issues with Google.  When correctly placed on your website, this can be a great way to see a lot of the benefits having a responsive website would give you without having to switch platforms.

Unfortunately, most of the website providers in the automotive space aren’t placing switchboard tags properly. Make sure you ask your website partner how they’re helping your adaptive website keep up in a responsive world.'

Author Acacia Grant

DealerOn Marketing Manager

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