In online sales, few statistics are as important as conversion rate. When you are able to make more money without adding a single new visitor, that’s a very good thing, after all!
There are many things that can help boost a website’s conversion rate but one of the most often overlooked factors is a site’s images. Images not only play a vital role in creating appealing pages that people will want to look at, but a good product image can often be just that little bit extra that causes someone to be enticed enough to hit the “Add to Cart” button.
Unfortunately, that brilliant, large image could also hurt your conversion rate if it causes your page to load too slowly. Recent studies have shown that just a one second increase in page load speed can lead to a 7% drop in sales.
For a modest website doing $20,000 per month in gross sales at a 25% profit rate, that could mean a loss of $4,200 in annual profits for a page that is just one second slower than it could be. If your page load time is lagging by two, three or four seconds, user abandonment rates soar. And, if your website is doing hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales per month or more, the loss in profits can be equal to several employees’ salaries!
So, what can you do to strike the proper balance between excellent image quality and fast page load time? In a recent article, titled, “Why Image Load Time Matters & 3 Things You Can Do About It,” David Monterroso outlines a few basic things you can do to have your images working for you, not against you:
Scale Images Only When You Have To
For eCommerce websites, this may be next to impossible if you are using certain shopping cart solutions that dynamically generate thumbnail images on the fly for things like category pages. Other shopping carts will create thumbnail images from the large images that you supply and will store them for use on pages that use thumbnails.
If you have an eCommerce website and are using a shopping cart, check to see how your shopping cart handles thumbnail images by visiting a category page, right clicking on the image and saving it to your computer. If your shopping cart is storing the image as a smaller thumbnail and not dynamically generating thumbnails, it should save it as the smaller thumbnail and not the large image you uploaded.
|Tip: If you use Mozilla Firefox, you can simply right click and select “View Image Info.” It will show you the dimensions of the image and, if your shopping cart stores smaller images in a separate place, the actual directory where those smaller images are stored.|
If your shopping cart has an actual directory where thumbnails are stored and is not dynamically generating them, you are in good shape. If not, perhaps you should consider using a different shopping cart platform.
Test Different Compression Rates and Image Types
The lower the resolution, the smaller the file size is, which means those files will load faster. Your image compression rate is certainly one of the most significant factors that determine how fast an image loads.
Since most monitors do not display more than 72 pixels per inch, make sure your images don’t have resolutions that are greater than that. Try experimenting with compression rates that are even less than 72 pixels per inch and see if the picture quality is still decent – especially on larger monitors. If they are, you can definitely increase your page load time with greater compression.
Host Your Image In A Cloud
Using a Content Delivery Network (also referred to as “cloud” hosting or a “CDN”) is one of the best ways of increasing your image load times. In a nutshell, CDNs store popular content on servers that have the highest demand for the requested content. These shared network servers reduce bandwidth requirements and server load. Most importantly, they improve the page speed of your website by retrieving the cached data from the “cloud” servers.
Not only are your images stored in “the cloud” when you use a CDN, but scripts are also stored there. As you may know, scripts also are known to bog down page load time so by using a content delivery network, you are killing two birds with one stone!
CloudCache, RackSpace and Peer1 are all popular cloud hosting solutions. We won’t recommend one particular solution over another. Just use your search engine of choice and type in “cloud hosting” and you’ll find more options than you care to sort through!
Check Your Images on Mobile Devices, Too!
Although David did not address this in his article, Google has stated that slow page load times in mobile search could affect your website’s ranking. Make sure that your images not only look good and scale properly on mobile devices but that they aren’t bogging down the user experience by causing super slow page load times.
If your website is having problems on mobile devices, you may need to set up a completely different version of the website for mobile. Again, some software automatically adjusts for mobile devices and others don’t. If you don’t have a slightly different version of your website for mobile, you may need to consider creating one manually or switching to software that does it for you.
If you’re not sure if your website is meeting proper page load benchmarks or if you have no clue how to make it better, give us a call! We’ll take a look at your site and be happy to provide you with suggestions.
You can also ask for an SEO Report Card that will show you how your backlink profile stacks up against the competition. And, of course, we’ll be happy to discuss with you how we can help improve your website and your position in the search engines.
You can call us at 404-994-4577 or use our Contact Us page and we’ll get right back to you – usually the same day!