Top Performing Automotive Dealer Websites

Recently, I was asked to recommend a website platform to a client of ours whose website is currently on CDK’s platform. (As you’re probably well aware, CDK will soon no longer host dealer websites.)

I’m glad our client asked because 1) working with a website that’s optimized for a mobile, search-driven world makes our job as a digital marketing agency so much easier, and 2) I had literally no idea which platform performed the best. Here was an opportunity to learn something valuable. And that’s exciting!

For this project, I analyzed the websites of 124 dealerships. The points of analysis included:

  • Google Lighthouse audit
    • Speed performance score
    • Speed index
    • Accessibility
    • Best practices
    • SEO
  • Fundamental search engine optimization (SEO) factors
    • Unique title tags for each search results page (SRP)
    • Unique title tags for each vehicle details page (VDP)
    • Unique indexable URLs for SRPs
    • Unique indexable URLs for VDPs
    • Unique indexable content and links on SRPs
    • Unique indexable content on VDPs

From these data points, I calculated a total score for each content management system (CMS), i.e. website platform. This total score gives us a relatively objective basis for ranking and perhaps choosing one CMS over another. Bear in mind, of course, that this analysis looks only at those factors that would help the website rank well organically in Google and provide a positive experience to your website’s visitors. 

And let me just say… the results surprised me. Some of the best performing website platforms are used by relatively few dealers. And other significantly more popular platforms showed only mediocre performance.

One last word about this research… Neither Mudd nor I have any affiliation with any of the businesses whose products I’ve analyzed. Like you, I simply wanted to know which website platform would deliver the best results. For my part, I wanted to be able to make a confident recommendation to our clients based on objective data.

Anyway, without further ado…

Results

Results of the website performance analysis
Dealer CMS Performance Ratings

Explanation of the Results

Top Performing Website

As you can see, the top performing website was fusionZONE. fusionZONE was the second fastest website and had the third-highest speed performance score. Google’s Lighthouse audit ranked them about average for accessibility, best practices, and SEO. Finally, fusionZONE checked all the boxes on the three fundamental on-page elements for search engine optimization (unique title tags, unique indexable URLs, and unique indexable content and links).

Although fusionZONE topped the list, coming in a close second was Dealer eProcess. Dealer eProcess’ platform actually scored better than fusionZONE on the Lighthouse Speed Performance Score. However, their accessibility and best practice scores were among the lowest, leaving them ranked #2.

Fastest Website

Outside of the content of a web page, speed is perhaps the most critical element to your online presence. The majority of your website’s visitors are on mobile devices, and they’re often not on WiFi. So, if your website doesn’t load almost immediately, customers will quickly give up and take their attention (and business) elsewhere.

The fastest website by far was the obscure Spinutech, who happens to be local to Mudd’s home town of Cedar Falls. Unfortunately for Spinutech, their website lacked four out of six of the critical search engine optimization elements. And because they scored only average in the other areas of Google’s Lighthouse audit, they found themselves ranked last overall. If they were to improve the content and indexation side of their platform, their CMS could potentially become a great option for dealers.

Most Accessible Website

Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.

Most websites, unfortunately, scored in the 60% to 69% range. However, one underdog website platform has clearly made accessibility a priority, scoring 81%. This inclusive, disability-conscious CMS was ProMax. Unfortunately, it was also the slowest website, taking nearly 15 seconds to load. But if accessibility is a major concern, check out ProMax.

Have questions or want to learn more?

Leave me a comment below.

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