Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your WooCommerce Website and Boosting Sales

August 2, 2018 Chris Lema

Your WooCommerce website will convert more browsers to buyers when it’s optimized for performance and functionality. Your customers demand an intuitive and pleasurable experience, and you should too.

There are many ways to optimize a website, and this guide covers three foundational categories: speed, operation, and add-ons. It suggests strategies and offers resources for trimming down a bloated website and alleviating migraine-inducing management.

Hand your IT team this guide and have them make sure your WooCommerce conversion optimization is on track.

Improving Website Load Times & Reliability

The faster you get your products in front of shoppers, the more likely they are to continue shopping. One Akamai report, which looked at optimal load times for conversions, found that:

  • Two-second delays on eCommerce sites reduce browsing times by more than half.
  • For peak conversions, websites need load times between 1.8 to 2.7 seconds across all device types.
  • For the lowest bounce rates, pages should load between 700 ms to 1.2 seconds.

Online website speed tests like Pingdom and GTmetrix offer performance evaluations into load times, page size, and an overall performance grade. These tools also suggest ways to improve performance, like removing query strings from static resources and combining external JavaScript. You can also examine how individual pages use JavaScript with this free JavaScript usage tool.

If your website’s lagginess is costing you sales, here are some boxes to check that’ll keep your customers more engaged and converting.

Optimize Media

Online stores need plenty of demo videos and product images to make sales. The more accurate and detailed the visual information you give shoppers, the more likely they are to buy your products. Research on the impact of images on eCommerce stores shows a twofold increase in conversions just by having two product images rather than one.

Double your conversion rate by adding a second image

But all of these images and videos take a toll on your site’s performance and your sales. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the cost of serving all of those high-resolution images and videos to customers can really add up—and dramatically lower page load speeds, further suppressing conversions.

To combat performance problems from bloated product pics, make sure you optimize your images and videos for the web. Here are some online tools and resources to help.

Photo Optimization Tools

 Covered by Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting

Every image is automatically compressed for high performance.

Video Compression Tools

You can use video hosts like YouTube, Vimeo, or Wistia to embed product videos without a big hit to your performance. But if you want video integrated into your site’s design (e.g. as a homepage header), you’ll want to compress it to as small a file as possible for quick load times. Here are some video compression resources.

Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Optimizing file size isn’t the only step in serving static files to customers quickly. Using content delivery networks to serve consumers high-quality content wherever they live is no longer an optional part of your WooCommerce conversion optimization process.

graphic showing the difference between Single server distribution and content delivery networks

CDNs can significantly cut down on page load times for customers who visit your site from the other side of the globe. Most top-tier hosting options now offer a built-in CDN option by default, so it’s possible to blend this with your normal month-to-month hosting fees.

Leverage Browser Caching

Another effective strategy for keeping large media files from slowing down your site is to have your developers leverage browser caching. When your customers first visit your site, you can tell their browsers which files (images, HTML, CSS, JavaScript) to save locally. Tell your IT team to make sure they’ve done the following:

  • Change request headers of your resources
  • Add .htaccess code to cached files
  • Set optimized caching times

We’ve covered top WordPress caching plugins in the past here at LiquidWeb; Google’s PageSpeed Insights also offers a good primer on how to use browser caching.

Enable GZIP Compression

Any files your server sends to a browser can be compressed or “zipped” before being sent. Compressed files transfer much more quickly, cutting down on bandwidth usage and increasing page load times. Have your IT team configure your server to return zipped content when possible and to run a GZIP compression test to ensure things are running smoothly.

Get the Right Hosting Plan

If you’re currently on a shared plan and you want to boost your site’s speed, consider switching to either a managed hosting account that is optimized for WooCommerce, or if you have internal developer resources to optimize your store, a VPS or dedicated server.

Good website performance starts with finding the right hosting service for your needs and settling on the right hosting package. Many smaller eCommerce stores opt for shared hosting plans because of their low cost, but the smaller price tag usually means slower speeds. Shared hosting is “shared” for a reason—your website is sharing computing resources and data space with other websites on the same server.

Regardless of the type of hosting plan you’re on, you’ll want to also consider these nice-to-haves when looking for a hosting provider:

  • Customer support – Look for hosts that provide free 24/7 phone support with real people who pick up the phone when your website is down.
  • Hassle-free scalability – Many hosting companies start you off at a low rate but constantly try and sell you upgrades and extras as your business grows. Look for a plan that lets you scale without the hassle.
  • Redundancy – Not all web hosts are the same, so look for good customer reviews, strong uptime guarantees, and a robust backup capacity.
  • Server Access – If you’re going with a dedicated server, you’ll have access to it for making changes, altering code, etc. But not all plans offer access. Check to see before you commit.

Improve Store Operations

Aside from speeding up your site, you can also optimize your store’s performance and boost conversions by streamlining its functionality and increasing its analytics power—allowing your team to spend more time on the areas of the site that need improvement.

Disable/Remove Features You Don’t Need

WordPress plugins bring a lot of functionality to your website, but chances are you won’t need every feature running at once. Cut through the clutter and simplify your admin portal by disabling or removing features you don’t need:

  • Admins areas and widgets you don’t use
  • AJAX cart fragments
  • Internal and external embeds
  • Emojis and pingbacks
  • Query strings

List of features to Disable to boost conversions on your site.

Here are some WordPress plugins to help ensure the speed of your WooCommerce store:

  • Code Snippets – WP plugin that makes it easy to add snippets for disabling tasks, areas, or widgets that aren’t being used.
  • LittleBizzy – Suite of plugins that lets you disable AJAX cart fragments and internal and external embeds to speed up page rendering and loading times.
  • WP Disable – Speed up WooCommerce by disabling emojis, pingbacks, and removing query strings.
  • WooCommerce Speed Drain Repair – This plugin instructs WP not to load WooCommerce scripts unless the user is on a WooCommerce page.

Upgrade Your Store Analytics

Boosting conversions depends on data to deliver valuable customer insights, and Google Analytics can get you a long way. But today’s eCommerce stores require even more granular metrics for managing customer relationships. All of this data can get in the way of running your store.

To combat the flood of information, consider upgrading your analytics to a platform that brings together data from your eCommerce platform, analytics tools, and advertising sources. Platforms like Domo give every decision maker real-time data across all of your analytics sources.

Get powerful customer segmentation tools with glew.io

Using data consolidation, you’re also able to pull from more data points. With analytics platforms like Glew.io, you can micro-target your customers to personalize sales and find more revenue opportunities. For example, with Glew.io you can segment customers who only buy with a coupon from customers who pay full price. That means no wasted special offer emails being sent to customers who don’t use them, lowering your email costs and increasing conversions.

 Covered by Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting

Glew.io is a standard feature of our Managed WooCommerce Hosting service.

Improve Shipping and Fulfillment

Your shipping and fulfillment process is another area where you can boost conversion rates. There are plenty of WordPress inventory and shipping plugins that can streamline your process and give you additional functionality.

  • ShippingEasy – Automates shipping, order tracking, and customer notifications.
  • ShipStation – Integrate all of your sales regardless of where they’re made.
  • Composite Products – Create customized product kits like gift baskets.
  • TradeGecko – Start wholesaling and integrate multiple stores into one inventory system.
  • WooCommerce Stamps.com – Create ready-to-print shipping labels for USPS.
  • WooCommerce Dropshipping – Send automated order notifications to wholesalers.
  • Ordoro – Ship orders from each of your sales channels.

Optimizing for Mobile

As the global mobile retail commerce revenue reaches $669 billion annually, eCommerce owners are scrambling to improve customers’ mobile experience. However, the majority of eCommerce sites get mediocre scores when it comes to shopper experience, especially on-site search functionality. For example, 72% of mobile sites don’t suggest highly relevant categories to search within in their autocomplete recommendations. Here are resources to unlock the power of WooCommerce on mobile:

  • Algolia – SaaS that integrates with your store to provide personalized search results based on their purchase history, preferences, and demographics.
  • WooCommerce Product Search – WP plugin with live search, filters, and analytics.
  • Checkout Field Editor – Simplify your checkout fields for a more mobile-friendly UX.
  • WooCommerce Social Login – Shoppers can sign into their accounts via social accounts.
  • WooCommerce One Page Checkout – Consolidate your checkout process into one page and cut down on abandoned carts.
  • AppPresser – Create a customized mobile app that integrates with WordPress.

Add New Features and Merchandising Strategies

After you’ve gotten your WooCommerce site loading fast and streamlined your store’s operation, it’s time to add some new features and strategies that will improve your customer experience and push your conversion rates northward.

Set Up Split Testing

Split testing, or A/B testing, is an effective way to test two versions of a website layout, checkout flow, or similar component to discover which version converts better. A/B testing is how eCommerce owners continually improve the customer experience, and there’s no shortage of testing ideas to increase your conversion rate. WooCommerce owners can use specialized platforms like Google Optimize, Optimizely, or VWO to easily perform split testing on just about anything they can think of. Common eCommerce split tests look at …

  • Product page designs
  • Calls-to-Action
  • Forms
  • Advertising
  • Follow-up emails
  • Product images or videos
  • Coupon offers
  • Recognizable security seals
  • “Thank You” pages
  • Checkout pages

Product Sizing Tools

No one likes to get a product that doesn’t fit. If your products require sizing, you can increase your customers’ experience and conversion by incorporating a sizing chart into your product pages. Here are some resources to help:

Add a Cart Abandonment Solution

The fact that 70% of all carts are abandoned should move every eCommerce store owner to action. That represents an enormous amount of untapped sales to reclaim. There are plenty of reasons people abandon their shopping carts. Most of these pain points are solvable problems.

While there’s little to guard against unforeseen issues like website crashes or a declined credit cards, you can fix an overly complicated checkout process or too few payment methods. Here are some resources:

 Covered by Liquid Web’s Managed WooCommerce Hosting

Liquid Web offers Jilt free to all customers who have Managed WooCommerce Hosting.

Before you spend thousands of dollars on advertising and SEO, make sure you’ve covered the basics of WooCommerce conversion optimization. Improve your store’s page load times, reliability, and security, and your customers will reward you by converting more.

 

The post Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your WooCommerce Website and Boosting Sales appeared first on Liquid Web.

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