Hit the optimal speed score: 5 ways to optimize your Shopify e-commerce site speed

by Julia Jackle - Feb 4, 2021

Combining all the right factors together to achieve a well-performing, SEO-compliant and user-friendly Shopify e-commerce site can be a bit like trying to follow exactly the right steps to beat that tricky final level on a videogame. When you need to hit the perfect score but keep falling short, it’s time to consult an expert (us!).

What is the optimal speed score of a regular Shopify e-commerce store?

Everything comes down to site speed: if you’re linking to your Shopify site from Google ads, PPC, social media, guest blog posts and so on, every single one of those revenue streams is impacted by a slow-loading site. If it takes too long, your potential customers won’t wait, no matter how interesting your ad or your guest post is. So what’s the magic number to keep them interested? How fast is fast enough?

How fast should your Shopify site load?

If your ultimate aim is to appear on the first page of a Google search result, your site needs to load in under three seconds. Google uses a number of performance indicators to rank your site. So your website’s main objective is to make Google’s job easy – so they can rank your site at the top of their results (or as close as possible). But how?

5 ways to speed optimize your website

We’ve already explored a few ways to optimize your Shopify site in our earlier blog post, The Importance of Speed Optimization, including using Content Delivery Networks and compressing Javascript/CSS. In this post, we’re going to take a deeper dive into optimization with more essential tips for Shopify e-commerce.

1) Reduce and compress your images and videos

As we’ve looked at previously, large JPGs, PNGs, GIFs and videos make up the bulk of your Shopify site’s weight. It’s vital to not only compress them for web use but also to ensure that before they’re uploaded they’re saved at the exact dimensions needed – including for image thumbnails. A large image squashed into thumbnail size is still going to load more slowly than an accurately-sized and compressed thumbnail.

Also think about the number of images you have – do you really need them all? Similarly, consider swapping animated GIFs or video for still images unless they’re absolutely necessary. Homepage sliders can also be a drain on site speed; we recommend sticking with one powerful static ‘hero’ image instead.

2) Don’t overload your Shopify store with unnecessary apps

Alongside ensuring the only site apps you download are lightweight, you also need to regularly delete apps you no longer use, including trial versions you’ve installed and then forgotten about (whoops). All apps installed on your site run in the background, slowing things down. If needed, enlist a developer to purge unnecessary apps.

3) Reduce redirects and broken links

Too many forwarded pages or links that go nowhere can not only damage your site speed, but also your SEO ranking. Even temporary redirects can trigger additional requests and delay data transfers. Even worse are redirects that lead to redirects. Instead a “cacheable redirect” or Shopify’s built-in redirects will perform the same function without penalties. 

Similarly, broken links for pages, images, CSS or Javascript files will also increase requests and slow down the loading. Link Checker tools can highlight issues needing clean up. From a user experience point of view, a custom 404 page will help customers find their way more easily.

4) Limit pop-ups

Aside from being pretty annoying at times, pop-ups can seriously slow your Shopify site, so only use if absolutely necessary. Consider other ways of highlighting newsletter signups or other key sales information that don’t drag your site down.

5) Select fast hosting for your Shopify site

There are a lot of hosting providers who support Shopify sites, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily configured to deliver those sites optimally. Do your research to discover which hosting is best for your e-commerce store. Shopify even offers hosting plans themselves, which allows you to access a number of benefits around payment gateways, site security and file storage.

At Creative971, we keep our Shopify knowledge and training up-to-date in order to offer our clients quick, beautiful and user-friendly e-commerce sites. To discover how optimized your Shopify store is, or to get started on a shiny new site today, get in touch.

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About the Author:
Julia Jackle
Julia is the co-founder and CEO of Creative971 and has written blogs in the past for the Entrepreneur Magazine UAE. Her extensive knowledge in the E-Commerce industry in the UAE and GCC is widely appreciated.

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