In the highly competitive world of ecommerce, the longer you take to optimize website speed, the more you risk watching your customers move on to a faster competitor’s site. A study by Google found that with every second it takes for a page to load, a site’s bounce rate goes up.
You can use online tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Web Page Test to test your site speed and identify weaknesses in your site’s performance as well as which areas could use some optimization.
But why is page loading speed crucial to your ecommerce store’s success in the first place? Well, for starters, Google loves pages that load fast. This is because beyond keyword match and content relevancy, another key factor that Google now takes into consideration for its search engine results page (SERP) rankings is user experience quick loading time is a vital element of a good user experience.
Furthermore, the faster your Shopify website loads, the lower the bounce rate it’s likely to suffer and the more conversions it’s likely to make from the traffic it manages to attract. Slow page loading is often the biggest contributor to a high bounce rate that causes losses in paid ads and other marketing efforts.
Fortunately, Shopify already comes with a couple of standard performance features to optimize website speed that are automatically implemented as soon as you create a new Shopify site. These are:
CDN (Content Delivery Network) which allows some of your content to be stored on servers all across the world so your visitors’ HTTP requests travel less physical distance to reach your site’s content.
Beyond these, here are more ways to easily optimize website speed for your ecommerce store.
Use Google Tag Manager to organize your tracking code
Customer data is crucial to building and fine-tuning your approach to digital marketing for your ecommerce store but the process of gathering this data presents the risk of slowing down your site.
Google Tag Manager enables you to easily add and remove tags from your website without any need to touch the code, putting all your website’s tracking code management in one place.
Furthermore, all of the code loaded through it loads asynchronously, meaning it doesn’t get in the way of the rendering of your site content. Here’s how to add Google Tag Manager to your Shopify store.
Compress images and leverage lazy loading
Images make up anywhere between half to three quarters of the total weight of your web pages and this goes up with the quality of images you use. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the quality of your images as that’s extremely important to your visitors’ user experience.
To achieve lossless compression, you can start with a tool like TinyJPG or TinyPNG for new images and Crush.pics or Image Optimizer for existing images. You should generally make sure to use images only where necessary, especially GIFs given that they are extremely large despite looking great for users.
Another key tip to keep in mind when it comes optimizing images for website speed is lazy loading. Ecommerce store websites typically have a large number of image assets due to the highly visual nature of ecommerce and if all of them are loading at once, this naturally reduces the website’s loading speed. Lazy loading helps with this by only loading the necessary images as the user scrolls down the page.
Optimize for mobile devices using AMP
AMP is a Google project designed to significantly increase page loading speed on mobile devices by reducing the page size to a standard predefined format. This is extremely important in today’s ecommerce industry where more than half of shoppers are using their mobile devices for purchases. Your ecommerce store has to be mobile optimized to keep up with modern consumers.
Although Shopify doesn’t offer a default AMP version for its stores, you can easily generate AMP pages for your site quickly with Shopify apps like FireAMP or RocketAmp. However, should you stop using whatever AMP app you choose, your indexed links will start giving 4040 errors so you should consider creating the Shopify API to build pages with AMP to make the store mobile optimized on your own.
Keep third-party Shopify apps to a minimum
The more third-party apps you have running in the background of your Shopify store, the more likely they are to affect your site performance. This is why you should regularly check for any apps that you are not using and remove them. As a busy owner, it’s easy to try out an app and forget to delete it.
Even the apps you are using should be regularly checked to see if you can just fine without them. Testing the page speed with and without these apps installed can give you a sense of how they are affecting the page speed so that you can weigh that against the benefits they have to offer. Three key questions to consider when evaluating your third-party Shopify apps to optimize website speed are:
- How often do we/our users use this app?
- Is there a lighter version that we could use?
- Is this app’s benefits worth the speed reduction?
Keep redirects and broken links to a minimum
Unnecessary redirects and broken links also negatively affect site speed, performance and overall SEO rankings. This all contributes a greatly reduced quality of user experience for your Shopify store.
For redirects, Shopify has a built-in redirects function called “URL redirect” you can use to apply 301 redirects and for broken links you can use a tool like Broken Link Checker to find and remove them.
It’s also a worthy investment to create custom 404 error pages for visitors who accidentally enter an incorrect URL for your site. With light-hearted humor you can use this page to show your brand identity while guiding the visitor to correct links for your Shopify store pages.
A slow website affects the user experience which in turn affects the conversion rate. This is why optimizing your ecommerce website speed is an exercise every ecommerce entrepreneur should regularly perform.
It’s also why it’s extremely important to download a fast, responsive, mobile optimized theme for your Shopify store and remember to keep it up to date. Your choice of theme plays a significant role in your site’s speed. Choosing a lightweight Shopify theme without any unnecessary bloat puts you in a great starting position as far as site performance goes.
This is why Debutify still remains the highest converting theme on Shopify today with its loading time of just two seconds (that is not affected by any of the available add-ons), a mobile-first approach and regular updates to keep users abreast of the competition.