As we head into the autumn season, digital marketers need to check that their websites are ready for everything that the next three months will throw at them.

Just a small glass

An Ofcom report, published in August 2015, acknowledged that “UK is now a smartphone society”. The report revealed that British people are far more likely to reach for their smartphone than their laptop when searching for goods and information online. This means that marketers need to be aware of customers viewing websites on much smaller screens.

This shift to a ‘Mobile-First’ future was also reflected at this year’s Search Marketing Summit in Sydney, where Google announced plans to adjust its search algorithm to reward sites that load quickly on mobile devices. That adjustment has now been made.

Boost your SEO

In effect, Google’s change means that web pages that are optimised to load quickly on mobile devices will receive a boost in search rankings. Conversely, sites that frustrate mobile users will slow loading speeds will be pushed further down the rankings.

As we head closer to Cyber Monday, the biggest online retail day of the year, it is well worth checking that your site works just as hard on smaller screens.

Watch your speed

Landing pages are commonly the most optimised pages of your website and digital marketers will naturally focus on design, key words and messaging to ensure that they can be found by search engines. However, it is critically important that page load speed is also measured for all types of device, so that you don’t lose customers on the first encounter.

Your landing page ideally needs to load in less than two seconds. People become incredibly frustrated with slow loading pages and once you’ve lost them to a competitor’s site, it’s very difficult to get them back.

Increase your sales

In fact, there have been several recent studies that demonstrate the correlation between page load speed and conversion rates. Staples, the office stationery retailer, found that its online conversion rates increased by 10% after it made its site load 1 second faster

Conversely, a half second slower page load cost Nordstrom 11% of its conversions. Amazon, KissMetrics and Akamai all report an increase in conversions of around 7% for every second shaved off the page load speed.

Protect yourself against the elements

You can help to speed up page load times by checking to see that there are no third party elements on your landing page that are slowing down the page load process. It’s also important to manage the sequence in which page elements load. If a relevant image loads first, your site visitors will perceive that their query is being correctly answered from that point, even if the rest of the landing page content takes a few milliseconds longer to appear.

For landing pages that are designed for paid ads such as AdWords, SEO is often not as important. However, it is imperative to ensure that landing pages that are linked through from paid services such as AdWords are in fact available to both mobile devices and desktop users. Imagine paying for an ad only to find that the landing page is not available to mobile users.

Walk in your customers’ footsteps

It is vital that you check the full user journey through to the call to action to check that every element loads correctly on your site. An example user journey to ensure that your online checkout process is working correctly might follow this sequence:

- Browse for a specific product
- Choose a product in the right size and colour
- Add item(s) to shopping basket
- Proceed to checkout.

User journey monitoring allows you to simulate real users accessing and interacting with your site at various times of the day and night, so that you can identify the exact points at which slow page loads or broken buttons might damage the user experience and affect your sales.

User journey monitoring allows digital marketers to spot any issues ahead of expected online shopping sprees, rather than racing to correct the site in response to customer complaints, or abandoned shopping carts.

Add RUM

Just in time for Christmas shopping, we have gone one step further an added a splash of RUM: Real User Monitoring uses the W3C Navigation Timings API and allows you to monitor the network, server, browser, and page load times that combine to affect user experience.

RUM allows you to use data taken directly from browsers to show how long each element of your website takes to load on real users’ devices, be they desktops or mobiles. Once configured, RUM allows you to monitor how well your site is performing, from a real user’s perspective and tweak it to optimise the performance of your website.

With Cyber Monday just fast approaching, now’s the time to make sure your site is working optimally on all types of device.

 

By Andrew Mason, co-founder of RapidSpike

 

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