Ecommerce SEO | Site Speed
Your Server (and CDN)
Having a really fast and reliable server is one of the biggest things you can do to improve your site speed. A quality server will not only reduce your delivery time, but will reduce your response time – which can be one of the biggest culprits in large load times. If you are on a shared host (likely the cheapest hosting you could find) upgrading to a good server for ecommerce should be your first step. While a VPS solution is likely ok for many small ecommerce sites, most sites will want to move to a dedicated server or cloud solution. If you’re already running on a good server, you should look into leveraging a CDN. This will allow browsers to download images and other assets from a different and fast server in order to decrease the page load time. If your site is image heavy, you should definitely be using a CDN to optimize your ecommerce site speed.
GZIP simply compresses your files when your server sends them to your users’ browser. The browser then de-compresses the files and renders them. This allows for a faster page load time as the amount of data that has transferred to your users is significantly reduced. Using GZIP on text files (HTML, JS, CSS) provides optimal results, sometimes even in the range of 70% – 90% for larger files. GZIP tends to have a limited effect on images though; here you are better off optimizing your images (below) rather than trying to use GZIP to compress your images. You can test to see if your site is currently leveraging GZIP compression here. If you want to enable GZIP compression, and you’re running on Apache, simply paste the code below into your .htaccess file:
# BEGIN GZIP
# END GZIP
Another way to speed up your browsing experience for your users is to make sure you have caching enabled. Downloading assets from your server to your users’ browsers takes a lot of time. Caching allows you to save common assets to your users’ computers so when they are requested, they can be loaded directly from the computer rather than requiring bandwidth. To enable caching, you need to configure your headers to have a max-age command. This is simply the amount of time (in seconds) that the browser should keep a saved version of the asset.
Reduce Plugins and Add-ons
Plugin bloat, especially with WordPress sites, is a common problem that can bring a site to a crawl. When you are running a ton of plugins, frequently, these plugins will all be making calls to the database each time the page loads. This can have a huge impact on how long it takes your page to load. To combat this, start by removing any unused plugins. You should also look for opportunities to combine plugins – for example, the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin has capabilities that often makes several other plugins redundant. If you can remove several plugins by installing another, this can often reduce calls to your database and improve your site speed.