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Before we get into it, I want to tell you one thing: What you think is "page speed load time" is actually not!
Search engines care about "time to first interactive" which is the time until you can see and use a webpage. That is very different from the final load of that webpage, especially if you have review widgets, live chat, etc.
So please don't book a consultation with me and tell me that "this tool is slowing down my site." It isn't slowing down the site, it is changing the final load time because it requires alot of information to complete - a review tool dynamically populates reviews and often incorporates large image files, of course it is going to take 10 seconds to load, that doesn't mean conversion rate is dropping... An A/B test will prove it.
Test your page and site speed here: https://www.testmystorespeed.com/
Here are our trusted partners, who are experts at improving this from a manual labor standpoint: https://ecomexperts.io/products/site-speed-optimization
Tell them Derric from EcommerceTech sent you.
Site speed tools come in 3 major categories:
And there is a fourth sort of category that I found here, which is a "Browser-side caching" tool. So far, I only know of one product that does this for Ecommerce, Edgemesh, and its quite a simple and brilliant idea. If you know what pages a customer is likely to visit after "this" page, start loading those pages into the browser cache (basically to that users browser) now, so that when they hit that next page, it loads super fast. And this works incredibly well for improving page speed load time.
Page speed and site speed tools are ultimately a conversion rate booster, and an organic ranking booster (since most search engines factor in page speed load as part of their ranking factors - and also page speed load leads to a lower bounce rate which is another ranking factor).
Sooooo many merchants get caught up in this category because they think there site loads slowly, but please remember, the only thing you are trying to do with these tools is increase conversion rate, and there are many ways to do that, site speed is just one factor. Investing into improving site load time follows a law of "exponential cost to return." OK, I just made that up, but basically what I mean is that going from 10 seconds to 5 seconds first load time won't cost too much, but going from 5 seconds to 4 seconds, and then 4 seconds to 3 seconds, and 3 seconds to 2 seconds...The costs get more and more severe and the return on that investment is less and less.
Having a good understanding of your site speed and how to keep it loading fast is important from day 1 and starts by using the right image sizes and file types, and ends with keeping your code base clean - removing unused or redundant code that tends to accrue over time, almost like dust and dog hair under my desk right now, if I'm being honest.
Small and early stage stores will benefit significantly less from investing in this tool category. Instead you should focus on building trust, driving more traffic, and getting more sales.
As you scale, I like to give 3 main overhaul points:
$50k/month - at this point it makes sense to invest in Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and ensure you've got an optimized mobile browsing experience.
$100k/month -now its time to consider a Progressive Web App (PWA) to really get your load times to an optimal level and improve that user experience. At this point of scale you can afford the investment and the time/team resources needed to fully execute on this.
After that point of scale and execution, it just comes down to bi-annual reviews of the site and code base, cleaning things up, and staying on top of it.
Honestly, a lot of this work is often outsourced to an agency that specializes in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - specifically technical SEO or page speed / site speed. It will be overseen by the head of marketing, head of Ecommerce, or if you have a Chief Technical Officer (CTO) or lead developer or dev agency that oversees the code base. Worth noting: Oftentimes a dev agency is not a great technical SEO agency and you will need to look for that additional resource, such as our friend at EcomExperts.
While this topic isn't completely "set it and forget it," you typically will have times where you focus on improving site speed, and then after its done, you won't think about it for a few months until a new problem creeps up on you.
Integrations are important for PWAs! For example, if you have a loyalty tool or pop-up tool, or push notification tool on the site, and you are looking to upgrade to a PWA, then you need to be sure that it will still work once you move over to the PWA. For this reason, you need to start with the integrations and work your way back to features.
That being said, some of the basic tools for image optimization are simply plug and play and you really just want to understand what they are optimizing and how much they cost, and then baseline your cost based on per visitor or per revenue to really understand how much you are paying to increase conversion rate.