Why Your Ecommerce Site Is Hidden From Your Customers: Part Two

by Helen Pollitt, Head of SEO Avenue Digital

The second installment of my visibility in ecommerce series will cover the speed and security of your site. These two areas are very important, particularly in terms of UX, so I’m sharing my tips to help make sure that you are optimising these facets. You can read part one to find out the benefits of internal linking.

Slow Load Times

Slow load times irk me as a website user. Particularly if I’m on my mobile whilst rushing around town, looking to compare the price of an item I’ve just seen in store with sites online, and the website I click on to show me the exact item I want greets me with a blank page. No wait, sorry, it’s not blank, a banner carousel is loading in. Slowly. I can’t scroll past it to the item I want to buy though. I’ll just have to wait. Actually, I might go back to the store I was just in, it’ll be quicker than waiting for this webpage to load. Those who know me well will testify that patience isn’t necessarily my greatest virtue but it also isn’t for many modern shoppers online.

An often quoted study by Akamai suggested that a 100 millisecond delay in website load time can influence conversion rates negatively by seven per cent. This reinforces Google’s own study published in 2017 which claimed that 53 per cent of mobile users will leave a web page that takes longer than three seconds to load.

Three seconds, on a mobile device… that’s not long. In fact, you can test how quickly your webpage loads on a mobile device using Google’s own tool. You might be shocked by the results.

Google released an update to the way they rank websites in searches conducted on mobile devices in July 2017 which factored in load speed.

The “Speed Update” only affects very slow loading websites so increasing your load speed on a mobile device from 1.5s to 1.3s might not affect its ranking much but it could well influence user behaviour on your site. As already discussed, with the competition amongst ecommerce websites being so strong, every small advantage helps and SEO is a game of incremental wins.

Fixing the load speed of your webpages will most likely require the assistance of a developer, but to get an idea of what needs changing have a look at tools like Pingdom’s Website Speed Test or Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This will give you an understanding of whether your issue is with your code, server, content or a mixture of all of them!

Security

In this day and age, with data security scandals happening all too often, it is crucial that data provided by customers over your website is handled securely. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers are so committed to alerting users of sites that are not protecting their data that you will be greeted with a warning in the search bar when looking to visit an insecure site.

Internet users are getting savvier about how their personal information is being used and how safe it is online. The search engines want to serve the best webpages to their users and take note of these behavioural trends.

In 2014, Google introduced a small ranking boost for webpages served over HTTPS. This means that webpages with an SSL certificate will have a small advantage over non-secure webpages.  However, Google made it clear when the algorithm update was announced that this boost would only be a “lightweight signal.”

Essentially, if your website isn’t already running over HTTPS, it should be. However, be careful when moving over to HTTPS that you take full stock of what a website migration entails. If done incorrectly it can have a disastrous effect on your website’s visibility in the organic search results.

It is not something to undertake lightly and I would highly recommend getting advice from an SEO before you proceed.