Planning to scale? Whether you’ve started your Shopify eCommerce business this week or you’re planning to expand internationally, knowing how and when to optimise your Shopify website speed is crucial to supporting your growth. Impacting your website SEO and user experience, the difference between a well optimised site and one that’s slow to load can have devastating results for your digital marketing campaigns, click through rates, and converting potential leads to paid sales.
While we always recommend starting as you mean to go on, you can make changes to an existing, well established Shopify online store to start attracting better results. Read on to learn more about the quick changes our digital marketing experts suggest to help optimise your eCommerce store speed and why it’s important that you make this a priority project today.
Why You Should Optimise Shopify Store Websites
If you thought optimising a Shopify site was a set it and forget it project–think again. While this sounds all doom and gloom, implementing and monitoring for ongoing optimisation best practices can mean the difference between a great user experience on your Shopify and a not-so-great one.
(Better yet–we recommend doing one large audit of your site’s speed and then following up with smaller, more manageable optimisation tasks consistently. This is a great way to publish a new website–but breaks the ongoing job down into smaller tasks if you already have one!)
Among the factors most influenced by a website’s speed, there are:
- Higher conversion rates
One study showed that fast loading web pages are directly correlated with higher conversion rates. If you’re planning to drive traffic to your website for the purpose of bringing in new sales, this is one major factor you’ll want to consider.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
If leveraging search engine traffic is one of your lead generation strategies, how well your Shopify store loads can have a major impact on your overall SEO score.
Because Google (and other search engines) consider a wide array of factors when determining your site’s overall SEO score, loading time is just one of several variables you can adjust to optimise your site. From image and video loading to redirects and web hosts, a slow loading website results in a poorer user experience and high bounce rates–both of which can affect your SEO score.
While on-page SEO variables should be considered when optimising your website for search engines, make sure you add ‘loading time’ or website speed onto the ‘to-be-optimised’ list.
A Word About User Experience and Shopify Sites
Shopify is one of the go-to platforms when it comes to hosting eCommerce websites–and for good reason. With well designed, easy-to-implement store templates, powerful business operation capabilities, and a seamless payment platform integration, Shopify is an often-used host for both new and well-established digital businesses.
Differing from traditional website hosts and platforms like ix and WordPress, Shopify was created as an eCommerce platform first–meaning, most websites will sell a form of physical or digital product to their visitors. A niche among the website hosts available, the need for an excellent user experience is equally (if not even more so!) as important as traditional, static sites.
Why? Some landing and web pages may act as online business cards for their brands. Sharing key company information, product and service highlights, and a means to contact or connect with the brand, static websites prioritise a good user experience so their visitors can easily find an answer to their questions and then connect directly with the brand.
eCommerce sites differ–Shopify stores use the same website and platform to directly engage with and sell to their customers, meaning, their entire end-to-end business experience is online. Instead of having the opportunity to engage with customers in a store front or face-to-face, the user’s experience with the brand will be entirely influenced by their user experience online.
From website navigation to payment and delivery, eCommerce stores have to impart the same great customer service experience remotely. While this presents an excellent opportunity to sell to international customers and scale your operations, it does mean having to design a memorable, easy, and fluid buyer experience without the benefits of in-person interactions.
How can this be done? Website optimisation is one way–and this includes prioritising your Shopify page speed.
How to Optimise for Website Speed on Your Shopify Store
Regardless of your experience with SEO, eCommerce website development, or finding and driving new traffic online, there are a number of different ways to optimise your Shopify site speed. (Meaning, you can pick and choose which steps can be most easily implemented–and save some of the more challenging tasks for later down the road!)
Among some of the top recommended, most easily implemented tests and steps you can action today to optimise your Shopify site page speed you can:
- Site Audit
First things first: run a site audit using Google page speed insights. You can use any free tool to help assess your current website performance and highlight specific problem areas that affect site loading time, search engine optimisation, and overall user experience but we always recommend starting with this one first.
Regardless of which platform you use, we also recommend prioritising your site performance recommendations based on your website and customer conversion goals first. While it can be tempting to change every recommended error at once, knowing which quick changes will have the most impact on a better user experience (for example, lazy loading time and hunting down broken links) can leave the front-end of your site well optimised to help convert visitors while you work on the off-page variables at a later date and time.
- Track and Remove 404 Errors and Broken Links
We get it–once a website starts growing and you’re rolling out to product lines and bundles, your Shopify website can scale to mammoth size. We recommend you fix broken links, track down 404 error pages, and un-publish web pages that lead to nowhere.
- Optimise Images and Compress
If you’re in the eCommerce business, chances are you know how pivotal great product imagery is to your customers. While top image quality should always remain top of mind, compressing image files to their smallest allowable file without compromising quality is key. Why? Images and video content notoriously influence site loading time–the more you have, the higher risk your store site is at for lazy loading time. There are free online tools you can use for image compression, so this can be a quick win to optimise lazy load images if you’re working within a strict budget.
- Reconsider Apps
For those who have taken advantage of the plethora of apps that can be integrated with your Shopify site, reconsider which connections are needed and beneficial to your customers–and which you can go without. Why? Because Shopify is built around website-and-user-friendly themes, adding custom code (and apps) onto your web page can significantly slow down loading time. While you don’t have to forgo every add-on, consider which you truly need and which significantly benefit the user experience.
- Disable Theme Features You Don’t Use
Using a Shopify website theme? Great call. Even the best pre-designed themes can include features that affect loading time—so we recommend turning off online store features unnecessary to your website functionality and user experience. Less features = less content to load on your web pages.
- Turn to System Fonts
Love your new branding? Us too. While eCommerce sites commonly invest heavily into unique branding that will resonate with their consumers and set them apart in a busy online landscape, using fonts that are new to your customers computer will slow down their initial page loading time.
Why? Most operating systems recognise ‘system fonts’–meaning they are recognised and load quickly from day one. New fonts that need to be discovered and downloaded by new visitor computers can lag page loading time–meaning websites that are willing to sacrifice a bit of branding and rely on built-in system fonts will see faster content delivery load times.
Shopify Web Page Experiences for Customers and SEO
Before we part, we want to focus on two more considerations that should be prioritised when building or overhauling your Shopify site.
- Customer Experience:
From product images to the checkout process, a fast, seamless, and accessible user experience will boost your brand’s reputation as a professional provider–and maximise the customer experience. (Meaning–they’re more likely to position your brand as a good solution provider to their future problems.)
When designing (or redesigning) the user flow and experience for your website, always remember to consider both desktop and mobile devices–studies show that more customers are accessing eCommerce web pages from their phones than ever before.
While the Google algorithm can seem like a shadowy figure well out of reach, the relevance, usability, and load speed of an eCommerce site are all factors considered when ranking your site’s SEO score. In a nutshell–a higher SEO score means a higher ranking on search engine result pages. (Which can mean a higher chance of relevant leads finding and connecting with your store.)
Focusing on your site performance and UX design is critical in converting potential customers to sales–likewise, considering influential SEO factors and building them into your site is critical to the right leads finding and engaging with you.
We appreciate both UX and SEO can seem like a chicken-egg situation–which comes first? Instead of foregoing one for the other, we recommend prioritising your Shopify store’s speed and customer experience first–many sites will choose to optimise later down the track. (And know that it’s an ongoing effort.)
Further still, your brand may have additional platforms that connect with, find, and drive traffic to your shop–including social media and EDM campaigns. While SEO plays an integral role in boosting your online presence, it’s not the only way to find and convert new customers. (But having an eCommerce store that’s not optimised for a seamless user experience is a fast way to lose a new lead–regardless of how they found you.)
Deep Dive into About Shopify Speed Optimisation and SEO
Ready to boost your Shopify store presence and convert more leads to customers? The Edge Marketing team are one of Australia’s go-to industry experts when it comes to building and solidifying your position online.
Deep diving into topics focusing on eCommerce, digital marketing campaigns, and page development for mobile and desktop websites, we walk through the How To’s, best practices, and why not each and every week. Curated for both the beginner Shopify store owner and experienced marketers alike, we’re committed to sharing the best practices and upcoming trends that will make the online experience better for businesses and buyers alike.
If you’re ready to outsource or level up your online marketing efforts, reach out to the Edge Marketing team to see how we can help. Not ready to outsource your eCommerce advertising just yet? Follow along with our weekly blog to learn the best hacks that you can take on your own.