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Website speed is one of the most important factors in the success of an eCommerce business. It helps increase SEO and provides a better user experience (UX) to visitors. Your website may look great, but if your website is slow, users will get frustrated and leave your site. How fast does it need to be? Well, according to Maile Ohye from Google, “Two seconds is the threshold for eCommerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half second.”
Note that there are many variants in website speed. There is a difference between mobile vs. desktop website speed. Your mobile website version may be slower than your desktop one and vice versa. There may also be a difference in speed among different pages in your website. For instance, your homepage may be slow, but your product pages may be loading faster.
It’s important to take those variations into consideration when testing website speed. There are speed optimization changes that may affect one thing but not another one. Now, with the Mobile First Index update by Google, which prioritizes indexing of mobile sites before desktop ones, we recommend that eCommerce businesses prioritize their mobile speed.
Things to Keep in Mind When it Comes to Mobile
Do you have a responsive website or a site configuration for mobile? If you have a responsive website, it means that the content is equivalent across mobile and desktop. If you have a different configuration for mobile, the primary content will be different in mobile vs. desktop. These factors can affect mobile speed. Dynamic content can be fastest when dealing with different content, and responsive websites can be faster when dealing with the same content.
Tools to Test Website Speed
To improve site speed, start by learning more about its current state. Here’s a list of tools to help analyze your current site speed:
Pingdom: Scores your website according to different metrics and user experience data
GTmetrix: Provides valuable data and actionable recommendations to improve site speed
Google PageSpeed Insights : Allows you to test mobile and desktop speed and provides personalized suggestions to improve speed performance.
Tips to Improve eCommerce Site Speed
Image size is one of the primary factors weighing down many eCommerce websites today. If each product image on your site is not optimized, that means there may be hundreds of product images weighing down your performance. Even if your product images look small to the naked eye, they may be carrying large amounts of additional data that can be compressed to make your website load faster.
There are different components to keep in mind when optimizing images:
File size: Denotes how “heavy” or “light” the image file is. Reducing file size is called compression.
Image dimensions: Refers to the length and width of a digital image, measured in pixels.
Image resolution: This term refers to the quality or detail in your images. Measured in pixels per inch (PPI). The higher number of pixels results in a sharper image.
Are you confused yet? Many people get confused about these terms because they seem closely related; however, they are import distinctions that can help your site speed.
Let’s start with image dimension vs. image resolution. The difference between the two is that image dimensions count the number of pixels in a specific image length and width, whilst image resolution counts the number of pixels per inch.
Two different images may have the same dimensions, but different resolutions. This may cause one image to look blurry and the other image to look sharp. See the example provided by Adobe below:
Knowing these details are important because they will help you estimate the ideal image dimensions you need to have in order to preserve the quality of your photos. The idea is to have consistent image dimensions and file sizes that will enable the website to load fast.
As a rule of thumb, images shouldn’t be larger than 70kb. If you’re using Photoshop, save the images as “Save for Web” as JPEG files. If you’re not using Photoshop, you can use online tools such as Canva and PicMonkey to optimize images.
Reduce Redirects and Redirect Chains
Each time a page redirects to another one, a user has to wait for the HTTP request-response cycle to complete. This increases the amount of time the website takes to load. The situation gets worse when there is a redirect chain in place. In other words, a page that redirects to another page that is a redirect and so forth. For instance, page A redirects to page B which is a redirect to page C.
Besides slowing down the site, redirect chains also carry less “link juice” from page to page. This means that page B may only carry 85 percent of page A’s link equity, and page C will carry even less.
The solution is to reduce the number of redirects by redirecting page A to page C. Therefore, you reduce waiting time and avoid losing any link equity. Redirects would usually require some minimal coding work, but fortunately there are many redirect plugins you can use to get this done without a developer.
Use a CDN
Did you know that your website speed may fluctuate according to your visitor’s location? Some visitors may experience more latency (a delay from the moment the visitor requests to load a page to the moment the content appears) than others. This is due to the distance between your visitor’s location and your website’s hosting server. The farther the user is from your server, the more latency they will experience.
CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) solve that issue by minimizing the distance between your website visitor and your server. This will speed up your website’s response time. They work by storing cached versions of your site in various locations or points of presence (PoPs).
For instance, if someone in Mexico tries to access your website hosted in U.S., they would do so by accessing a local Mexican PoP and not a U.S. one – shortening the distance and making your website faster for everyone. Some of the most popular CDNs are Amazon’s AWS, Incapsula and Rackspace.
Now that you are armed with effective ways to improve your site speed, it’s time to optimize your eCommerce store just in time for the busy holiday season. That way, you can turn traffic into revenue and wow your visitors with a great user experience.
Do you need more help improving your site speed? Our development team can take a slow site to warp speed in no time!
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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