eCommerce Made Easy

Speed Matters: How Faster Websites Drive More Sales

March 26, 2024 Carrie Saunders Episode 47
eCommerce Made Easy
Speed Matters: How Faster Websites Drive More Sales
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Is your slow website holding back your sales and hurting your brand? In this episode, we’ll dive into the importance of site speed, how to check it, and what you can do to improve it!

Site speed can impact your reach and customer satisfaction. From optimizing your site images to choosing the right hosting provider, tune in to keep your e-commerce platform leading the pack in the online competition.


Mentioned Resources

Measure your site’s performance:

Increase your site’s speed:

Find out more information about the Business Visibility Made Easy Course at www.ecommercemadeeasypodcast.com/bvme

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Carrie Saunders:

When we have a client come to us needing help with having more customer conversions on their website, the first thing that we look at is website speed. There are so many aspects of an online business that a slow website can be a very detrimental for, such as search engine rankings, customer trust, customer frustration, brand reputation, etc. When you have a high-performing website, you can really skyrocket your success. So join us as we discuss what a slow website does against you, what it does for you when it's fast and how you can work through some of these issues. Welcome to the Ecommerce Made Easy podcast. I'm your host, k Saunders. When we started this business, all I had was a couch, a laptop and a nine-month-old my main goal To help others. Now, with over 20 years in the e-commerce building industry and even more than that in web development, I have seen a lot. I love breaking down the hard tech and to easily understandable bits to help others be successful in their online business. Whether you're a seasoned e-commerce veteran or just starting out, you've come to the right place. So sit back, relax and let's dive into the world of e-commerce together.

Carrie Saunders:

Welcome back to the Ecommerce Made Easy podcast. Today we're talking about website speed and why it's important and how do we fix it? So let's first off, though. Let's imagine you're driving home from work. You make your next turn and you see that traffic is backed up, but you're already on that path and you're stuck. Now. You're stuck in that slow traffic. You just really want to get to your destination, but it's going so slowly. Does it bring up feelings of frustration? Just imagining this? Do you want to just find a different way to get your destination? This is what customers feel like when they're trying to use a slow website, and most of the time, they are going to abandon it and try a different website, even though it might take them longer to get what they want. In the long run, they're going to probably do it just like. We're very tempted, when we're driving in slow traffic, to take a detour, even if the detour might take us the same amount of time or longer. We feel like we're getting somewhere because things are moving along faster when we're driving, even though, at the time, difference may not be there, and having a speedy website is vital to having a great online business. When your website is fast, you increase your search engine optimization rankings or SEO for short. You build customer trust, you reduce customer frustration, you build up your brand reputation and you have a great competitive advantage whenever your website is fast, for many of these reasons we're talking about.

Carrie Saunders:

So how do you know if your website is slow or not? Well, first off, I want to reference our episode 20. You can get to it by ecommercemadeeasypodcastcom, forward slash 20. In that episode, I talk about Google's web core vitals and why they are so important. So Google's web core vitals are there to help you understand how a consumer or a customer perceives your website as they're using it. It has several different factors that measure usability and speed, both. So if you haven't already listened to episode 20, I highly recommend it. You go to that and we will have it linked in the show notes.

Carrie Saunders:

Also in the show notes, we're gonna have three different web pages that we're gonna link to that can help you determine how fast your website really is. One of them is a tool by Google and it's called webpagespeedwebdev. Again, that's a little bit of a mouthful, so we'll be linking to it in the show notes, but that gives you one the web core vitals that we're just talking about and that we talked about in episode 20, but it also shows you some of the places that could use improvement and what's slow. And the great thing about this tool is you have a mobile and a desktop perception that you can look at. Two other websites that I love to use as well is webpagestestorg and gtmetricscom. Both of these we will link to in the show notes.

Carrie Saunders:

Now, why do I like to use three different website tools that are free? Just so you know they are free. They do have some paid options for the last two, but they're all free in general that you can use for your own use. But why do I like to use three? Well, they all kind of come at web speed from a little bit of a different angle and they provide a bit of a different information for you when you're looking at it. Now, some of the information they provide you is going to be pretty darn techy. So if you're not really really techy, you may need somebody like us to help you out with some of the speed issues that you might see. But these are great tools that at anybody, even the non techy people, can use and can read the results, especially just the summaries at the top, to get a good vibe on how well your website is performing speed wise Okay.

Carrie Saunders:

So once we decide how well our website's performing and also I need to make sure I remember to say in episode 20, we give you on our website on the eCommerce Made Easy podcast, again forward slash 20. If you want to go to that one, we have a download there that's going to help you walk through testing your website regularly for speed. It's a very, very good idea. I highly recommend it, at least once a month so we have a checklist there and we also walk a little bit more through the web core vitals. Now why I want to say that is we need to be regularly checking our website speed. Hopefully you're taking some of our advice and are continually adding new, fresh content to your website regularly, whether that's new images, new blog posts, anything really that is new is going to help you with search engine optimization, like we talked about before, as well as customer trust and customer happiness and retention. So when you do add those new things, you're going to want to be regularly testing to make sure what you added didn't slow down the website. I've seen clients time and time again all of a sudden have slow website issues and because they didn't optimize their images for the web. So that's going to be my next point on how to fix this is one.

Carrie Saunders:

We want to make sure we're optimizing all of our images, the banners, everything for the web. Now we also want to be optimizing them not only for desktop view but also for mobile. A lot of things that I see recently is people will make an optimized image that works well for desktop, but that image is huge. It's really big, obviously because it wants to fit. You want it to fit on the desktop, but when you go down to a mobile screen, it responsibly or it automatically adjusts the size to fit the mobile screen. That's great and all from a visual perspective It'll look fine, but many times that image is too big for the web on your phone. That is so too big for mobile. So what you really need to be able to do is have one image that you upload that views only on desktop and another image that uploads and views only on mobile, or maybe some sophisticated software that will auto do that for you. Now, that's a little bit of a tougher tech thing to deal with. So if you do get stuck, use us or your trusted web provider to help you do that, because many times I'll find a site is much slower on mobile because of a big banner image, for example.

Carrie Saunders:

Also in episode 22, we go even more in depth into image optimization and we have a great freebie there for you that you can download, and it, step by step, walks you through the most common image editing tools out there and how you can use them to optimize your images for web. So if you wanna do it yourself on optimizing those images or double check what you're doing, make sure you go to episode 22 on our e-commerce made easy podcast. Okay, so when you're testing your website too, you're going to see something at the top If you're using the tools we suggested. That is called Time to First Byte. That's one of the web core vitals. What that really kind of in a nutshell means is how fast does your server respond? Many times, if that is a long period of time, you simply are on a too slow of a server. You need to upgrade your hosting plan or find a better hosting provider. So we have episode actually, all the way back to episode three.

Carrie Saunders:

I talk about hosting providers and how to pick a good one. So I want to encourage you not to shop for the cheapest hosting provider out there. It's probably going to affect your search engine optimization rankings as well as your customer feel and vibe on the website, because you're going to be too slow. So it is important to invest appropriately into a hosting provider. I don't mean you need to spend gobs of money, but don't be super cheap here and super skimped on here. And a side note I've found over the past 20 years when people have skimped on their hosting provider and gotten something really cheap, they've also unfortunately gotten hacked because that just that web provider just isn't great at keeping things up to date. So keep that in mind too, which is devastating for our business many times.

Carrie Saunders:

So another way that we can speed up the website and this is usually pretty easy for people to implement is a CDN. You probably have heard of a CDN before. That just stands for content delivery network and that kind of sounds like a mouthful, but really all it means is a web page out there, a website out there, like Cloudflare I think there's one called Cloudfront. There's several out there that they are going to host your images for you and host some of your components that don't change all the time and they're going to deliver it a lot faster because of how they operate. So you may want to look into a CDN if you are having trouble getting your website faster.

Carrie Saunders:

Also, another thing you can do is ask your hosting provider to turn on server side caching and also ask them quite how that works, because it kind of depends on where you are as to how that works. So what does server side caching mean? Okay, so let's think of a photograph versus a video. A photograph is like a snapshot of a piece of time, right? Versus a video is dynamic and moves and you have many different elements in it. So server side caching takes basically a snapshot of your website and serves them up in a, let's say, photographic form. They're quicker and faster than the contents are already determined on the website. They don't have to figure out what to deliver to the consumer before they deliver it.

Carrie Saunders:

So it's kind of a complicated thing to explain, but basically it's having something already ready and prepared for you. So you can think of it as a frozen meal. Boom, it's right there and ready for. Maybe meal delivery service would be a little bit better. You open your door and your food's ready and you go eat it. Versus you have to open your fridge, get all the ingredients out and start making and cooking yourself, and it takes more time to be able to get to the task of eating right. So server side caching is more like those already ready to make meals that are just delivered to your door, and your consumers are going to find that they get their content a lot faster that way, okay, so the basic gist of this, though, is that we really really need to be conscious of our website speed, and I want to make sure that we aren't afraid to check it.

Carrie Saunders:

If you check your website speed and it's too slow, don't panic. Follow some of our steps we've given you go through episode 20, go through episode 22 and go through episode three and evaluate what can you do to improve it, and then double check it again. I do recommend that you use these free tools, like I said, about once a month, but if you're working on optimizing your website many times, it's best to optimize it the speed some, on Monday, wait a few days and then test it again. Sometimes it takes a little bit for these tools to see the changes you've made, because they may be caching on their end some of your information. So just be aware of that, and if you can't really stock, then that's what we're here for and that's what many great web developers are for is making sure your website speed is fast.

Carrie Saunders:

One red flag you can note too when you're looking at those three especially the web page test and the GT metrics, the two websites that I mentioned at the end of the list for testing is see how many number of requests it takes and you'll you'll see what I mean. Whatever you go, try one of those tests, it's going to list straight down the page what, what queries are being asked, which images are being loaded, which CSS files are being loaded, which JavaScript files are being loaded. And if you don't know what those words mean, don't worry about it. Just see how many things won't. Just say call them things are loaded on your web page. Most fast web pages are going to load 50 or less.

Carrie Saunders:

I have seen websites load 150 or more individual elements just to make up their web page, and that takes a lot of time. It doesn't matter if each one of them is a millisecond or point five seconds. That adds up right half a second added up. You know, 150 times is a long time. I'm not going to try to do that math on the fly in my head, but that's a long time. So if you have a mix of really fast and kind of fast things, that's going to take a long time. So when you're evaluating your site and if you see a long, long list of items being loaded and you're not a web developer yourself, it's probably a good idea to get a trusted web developer to help you minimize and reduce the number of items on the website being loaded. Okay, so that was a bit of a mouthful and a lot of things to talk about in, honestly, really short period of time, but let's recap real quick. So website speed is vital because it affects your search engine optimization. You're going to rank lower if your website is low, higher if your website's fast. It's going to affect your customer trust. The customer trust is going to definitely go down if your website's slow.

Carrie Saunders:

Thinking about, thinking about frustrated. You are sitting in that traffic in slow website or slow car traffic trying to get home or trying to get to your destination. A slow website can cause lots of customer frustration. You know, just like we get frustrated in traffic, it's going to cause lots of customer frustration. They're going to leave your web page. It could also affect your brand reputation, especially if you're an established brand and then you're having chronic slow website issues, it can really affect your brand reputation. But if your website's fast, it can give you quite the competitive advantage, because then you're going to be so much faster than the other websites that are out there and people are going to want to shop your website just simply because it is fast and speedy and they and you have what they need.

Carrie Saunders:

Alright, so that's it for this week's episode. If you're watching on YouTube, be sure to hit that subscribe button, and if you're listening on the podcast, be sure to follow us and hit subscribe there as well, so you don't miss out when we release new episodes. As always, we appreciate your feedback and ideas. Drop us an email to podcast at bcsengineering. com. We would love to hear from you and we will see you next week.

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