If you want to increase your website conversion rate then your first port of call should be to improve the speed of your website, i.e. the time it takes you to serve a complete page to your user so that he/she can start using it.
In our tests it has by far the biggest ROI of any action you can undertake to increase conversion.
Did you know:
– Facebook estimates that for every additional 1 second it takes for their site to load they lose $50,000 per day
– Google has said that site load speed plays a part in quality score for PPC campaigns and where your site places on the organic results
– Tests at Amazon, in 2007 revealed that for every 100 ms (that ís 1 tenth of a second) increase in page load time of Amazon.com their sales decreased by 1% (1% to Amazon is a LOT of cash!)
In my experience working in E-commerce I would say that a 10% improvement in page speed will give you a 2-3% increase in conversion. Dont forget that a 1% increase in conversion will hit the bottom line of your business directly as we are not talking about increasing traffic here in parallel.
Double your page speed and increase conversion on that page by as much as 15%
Internet users with quick connections are no longer prepared to wait for pages to download. They have come to expect that pages will load almost instantly.
Today, your page must load within a maximum of 4 seconds. Anything more than 4 seconds and you’re losing visitors and therefore your conversion rate is impacted.
Faster internet connections are not an excuse to ignore your website speed. They are not an excuse to overload pages with superfluous content, hoping that they will download quickly on broadband anyway.
The ROI is incredible here, as we are basically talking about ensuring that standard best-practices are put into place by both marketing teams (or whoever animates and updates the website) and the IT team who is responsible.
Through various tests I’ve been a part of on both Facebook and Twitter campaigns I’ve seen first hand how speed improvements can dramatically increase conversion rates. I actually think poor site speed is one of the factors that caused the demise of MySpace. Think about it…. a slower site means less friend requests, less status updates, fewer picture uploads, fewer ads being clicked on, fewer invites sent, etc etc etc.
Google has provided a great Page Speed Testing Tool for anyone to use here:
It generates detailed reports giving specific site speed recommendations.
If you’re a WordPress site owner then site speed can be a real issue especially if you’re a heavy user of plugins. Try using the Plugin Performance Profiler to look at individual site speed implications for each Plugin that you’re using:http://wordpress.org/exte
It generates reports like this that help you diagnose latency contributions per plugin:
Next up is your hosting
If you’re still using hostgator or 1and1 (or similar) then you’re losing sales… no doubt about it.
You need something fast, and fast can actually mean cheaper, for instance we host ROARlocal.com on rackspace and boy is it ever fast! Now it’s NOT cheap on rackspace BUT it is the best, for cheap and very good try host for web
The 2 things to look for are the cpu speed and the ram (just like on your compooter at home ;-)) so more RAM and a faster CPU means a faster site.
Then because this site is built on wordpress we also use the following plug in:
Is an excellent caching plugin for WordPress. Caching is the process of storing static parts of your website, so that they only need to be loaded once, instead of on every single page-load. Caching will speed up your website and will be especially noticeable for return visitors as well as visitors that browse several pages on your site. Install the plugin and then watch the sparks fly.
Next up is images:
The two best image formats to use online are JPEG and PNG. As a general rule, JPEG is better for photographs and complex images with many colors and PNG is better for images with sharp contrasts, lines and text. Also, PNG allows for transparancy in images, while JPEG does not. JPEG is a lossy compression format, meaning that you can reduce the size of an image, but it will be noticeable, as the image quality is also reduced. PNG is a lossless compression format, but can’t reduce complex image sizes to the degree that JPEG can.
Install WP smush.it
You can further reduce the size of your images by installing the WP smush.it plugin. This plugin will automatically run any image you upload through Yahoo’s smush.it, which is quite an efficient, lossless image compression service. I did not manage to find any visible difference between smushed vs. un-smushed images, even though smush.it will usually reduce image sizes by anything from 5% to 50%+.
Install the Revision Control Plugin
Left to it’s own devices, WordPress will store every variation of every post or page you’ve ever created. When you’re writing a post, every time you click on ‘save draft’, the current version will be stored indefinitely. Even if you just edit a post to fix one simple typo and then update it, you’ve now got two versions of that entire post stored in the DB.
Revision control fixes this. I recommend that you set it to store a maximum of two or three revisions per post or page. That way, you still have something to fall back on, in case you make a mistake, but your database isn’t unnecessarily bloated with dozens of stored revisions.
Install the WP-DB manager Plugin
WP-DBmanager is a plugin that can backup, optimize and repair your WordPress database. This makes it useful for security purposes as well as helping you keep your database lean and mean.
In the DB Options, I recommend that you set it to automatically optimize your database every 2 weeks to every 2 months, depending on how often you update your site with new content. Also set it to automatically back up the DB every once in a while.
If you do nothing more than the things I’ve outlined above your site will be 2 to 3 times faster than it is now… which should result in extra cash in your pocket.
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