Page speed is a Google ranking factor, but its influence isn’t limited to your organic visibility. For e-commerce sites, speed is always a concern because low page load times improve the user experience and, in turn, conversion rates.
The fastest Shopify sites share some common characteristics. “They generally use a very, very lightweight theme, very limited in terms of the images they use and the apps they run — essentially they’re limiting the total amount of requests they’re making,” said Chris Long, SEO senior manager at Go Fish Digital, during our Shopify SEO session of Live with Search Engine Land,
Here are four things to keep in mind for making your Shopify site load quickly.
Compress your images
E-commerce sites are typically image-heavy, which can slow down page load times if product photos or other graphics aren’t compressed. JPEG images generally have a smaller file size than PNGs, which are a better format when you require a transparent background. Scaling your images down to the appropriate size can also decrease file size and shave off some page load time.
Shopify’s app ecosystem has numerous options merchants can use to automate some of these tasks. TinyIMG SEO Image Optimizer, for example, compresses and resizes images, and automatically adds alt tags.
Related: Shopify SEO Guide: How to increase organic traffic to your store
Implement lazy loading functionality
Lazy loading enables store visitors to load images as they scroll through your page instead of all at once, which would result in longer upfront load times. “It’s actually exceptionally easy for developers to implement in most cases,” Long said, recommending the lazySizes Library, which he uses on his own clients’ Shopify sites.
Be conservative with your apps
“When you have an e-commerce site, and you want to have all of your different things — your pop-up ads and your chatbot and all of these different functions — that’s going to come at a tradeoff of page speed,” said Long.
Shopify apps make additional requests and can add to page bloat, slowing down your site for users. To identify which apps aren’t worth keeping, ask, “‘Does this app drive value to us? Does it improve user experience? Does that help with conversions? Is it actually a value-add or is it just kind of nice to have?’ and if it’s the latter, consider removing it,” suggests Long.
Get a head start with a fast theme
Loading times vary across Shopify themes. Through his agency’s own experiments, Long has found that the average theme takes about 3.8 seconds for First Contentful Paint (FCP), makes 171 requests and weighs in at around four megabytes. These benchmarks can help you gauge whether your Shopify site performs below or above the mean.
He has also compiled a list of the top-performing Shopify themes, according to First Contentful Paint and Time to Interactive (TTI), for store owners that want the fastest experience right out of the box.
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