Steven is an SEO strategist who believes in quality over quantity. He works for an SEO agency in Colorado and loves seeing his client’s organic traffic and conversions grow!
How to Increase the Speed of your Shopify Store for SEO
It’s interesting to think about how long humans have had an obsession with speed. It’s like we have an instinctual drive to be fast and efficient. If you give a group of kids some bikes or scooters they will likely be racing each other in a matter of minutes. The very first car was invented in 1886 and humans were racing them by 1895. Fast food. Instant messaging. Same-day delivery. Our need for speed is reflected everywhere we look.
Here we are in 2022 and I would actually argue that this obsession with speed has evolved into an expectation due to the rapid advancement in tech. The internet has made it so informative, and now even physical products can be delivered almost instantaneously. There is an extreme hyper-focus on being able to get instant results in the palm of our hands, and people are less patient than ever.
If you are a Shopify store owner or manager, the speed of your eCommerce website is important to consider. Online retail is an extremely competitive space and oftentimes you are competing against massive retailers like Amazon that have entire teams focused on optimizing their websites. Offering a high-quality product that has demand simply isn’t enough to compete anymore. Your Shopify store and products need to be optimized for search engine performance and speed in order to be competitive.
Think about the process that most individuals will go through when they think of a product or service that interests them. They pull out their phone, open Google, and type in the product or service they want. Within seconds, they have hundreds of options to choose from. If your Shopify store has not been optimized, you likely won’t be in the top Google results and you’ll never even be considered. Once your ecommerce website does start showing up in the top search results, you better have fast loading times! If your store doesn’t load within seconds, chances are your potential customer is going to leave and try for another, quicker result. Take a look at the data below from Google’s research on mobile page speed load times in relation to bounce rates. You’ll immediately notice that even a 6-second increase in page load time increases bounce rates by 125%! Again, people don’t just like a fast-loading webpage, they expect it.
Arguably the most important and easiest feature to optimize on your Shopify store is the page loading speed. This will directly improve your rankings in Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) and will decrease the bounce rate* of your website. The more visitors that get to and stay in your store, the more sales you are likely to make!
*Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that visit your website and then immediately leave instead of continuing to browse.
How to Measure and Improve Your Shopify Store Speed for SEO (With Free Tools)
Shopify’s Online Store Speed Report
First and foremost, Shopify offers an online store speed report. This is a great first step in analyzing your Shopify store’s overall speed. Shopify’s scoring is based on Google Lighthouse performance metrics so you can be sure that their analysis is similar to that of Google Search Engine. Shopify also offers different tips and resources that can help you improve your store speed.
To find the Online Store Speed Report log into your Shopify account and click on Analytics in the left navigation menu, then click Reports. You’ll be presented with a speed score that will tell you exactly how your store performs in comparison to similar Shopify stores.
Google’s Pagespeed Insights Tool
The PageSpeed Insights Tool is really useful. It will test your page speed on desktop and on mobile and give your page an overall speed performance score. Page Speed Insights will also diagnose page performance issues and tell you exactly what to fix to increase your page speed performance score.
What is actually slowing down my Shopify Store?
It’s really the “same old song and dance” for most Shopify stores when we look at what is actually slowing them down. The problem is that the slowdowns are all part of extremely important features of a Shopify store so the fixes aren’t exactly straightforward and simple. The analytics tools do a fantastic job of breaking down where the biggest slowdowns lie but you will have to figure out the best way to optimize these slowdowns. Sometimes you may have to find the best balance between speed and quality.
Here are the top three things slowing down your Shopify Store and our best speed optimization suggestions for each one.
Do your research before you choose which apps to use on your Shopify Store and be mindful of how many you have in total. There are many apps that are very useful for shipping, emailing, gathering customer reviews, and more. Just be sure that you keep your Shopify store lean and only use apps that are essential to your business. Do your best to research any app before you decide to install it and disable any app features you aren’t going to use. Advanced Shopify developers are even able to delete code within the app that is not being used. This may be a worthwhile investment if you have a large store or need many apps. Finally, and it may sound obvious, make sure to delete any apps that are not being used!
There are a lot of theme options out there, both good and bad. You can choose a free or premium theme from Shopify or even branch out to a third-party option, but it’s best to first research what types of features can be included with Shopify themes. Once you have an idea of what different themes can offer, sit down and really think about what types of features you want your store to have and what you want your store to look like. Keep in mind, that a theme with a lot of extras, features, and add-ons requires a lot of code and this will ultimately slow down your store. Like I said earlier, we want to find the best balance between speed and quality. If you end up finding a theme that you like but it has a lot of extra features that you don’t need, there may be a way to turn some of these off. This is a great compromise that will help keep your theme light and fast.
Images and Videos
Large image files are usually the second biggest culprit behind slow loading Shopify stores. The fix to this is surprisingly simple! Compressing images is one of the easiest ways to improve your Shopify store’s load speed. You should get into the habit of reducing your image sizes where possible. Choosing a JPEG file format will allow you to retain image quality while drastically reducing the size of the file through compression. In addition to image file compression, be cognizant of how many photos you include on a single web page. If you have quite a few, many optimization apps offer a feature called “lazy loading” which means the pictures will wait to load until the web page visitor has scrolled further down the page closer to where the photos are.
Videos are hands down the biggest offenders when it comes to slowing down a Shopify store. Most often, people simply add an embedded Youtube link to their page. It makes sense, it’s a simple and easy way to add a video to your website or store. However, uploading the video to your storage media and adding it that way will significantly improve server time and increase your page speed.
You should also avoid autoplay for videos and instead use a static image. This will allow your video to “lazy load” until the store visitor clicks play, overall increasing your page speed.
Other Ecommerce Search Engine Optimizations
Page speed is extremely important but also only one small part of Ecommerce SEO. If you’re serious about increasing your search engine traffic you should learn more about what an ecommerce SEO Agency can do for you. Many companies have full-time employees working on their SEO but as a small business owner that may not be realistic. An Ecommerce SEO agency is a great way to have SEO work done without paying a full-time employee or taking the time to do it on your own.
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