How to Optimize Your Site for Holiday Sales

  •    Content strategist for TrustedSite, which provides marketing and security solutions for online businesses.

The holiday season is right around the corner and people are getting ready to search the web for the perfect for gifts to give their friends and family.

As online shopping patterns peak around this time of year, ecommerce businesses need to get their websites in tip top shape. We’ve come up with a list of things you should be thinking about leading up to the holiday rush.

Check your website load time

Every second counts! According to data from Akamai, 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. If your website load time is lagging your visitors will become impatient, likely resulting in them leaving your site to find another faster option.

As of July 2018, Google's speed ranking algorithm went live, confirming that page load speed is now an important ranking factor in search results. This makes now the perfect time to jump on the opportunity to improve your site's page speed. First, test your website speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Then, try to cut down the size of your pages by removing some of the unnecessary 'extras' from your site. Think simple—optimize images, load fewer external scripts, and compress your files.

Follow the 8 second rule

People's attention spans are getting shorter. The average attention span is down from 12 seconds to 8 seconds (less than that of a goldfish). That means your website has up to 8 seconds to charm a customer. After that, the majority of people will tune out, and leave.

The 8 second rule mostly applies to first time visitors who aren’t familiar with your website. It is all about giving the best first impression that encourages people to stay and ultimately make a purchase.

So how do you make customers stay and prevent them from leaving in 8 seconds?

Make each page pitch the benefits
Visitors should clearly see on your landing pages or homepage why they should do business with you. Use eye-catching images and copy that communicate why your business and not anyone else's deserves their business.

Keep your navigation and layout simple
Don’t overwhelm your visitors with links. A simple navigation allows users to easily find what they're looking for, meaning they won't get frustrated and abandon your site within 8 seconds.

Use high-quality images. Always.

People typically don’t buy things without seeing what it is they’re buying. In a perfect world, consumers could see, touch, hold, and maybe even take the item for a test drive before purchasing. Of course, that’s impossible when shopping online. That's why it's your job to make your products come alive on your site through high-quality images.

High-quality images actually increase your site’s SEO value and decrease your bounce rate. Quality images and content can also result in longer visit times from visitors, allowing you more time to sell your product.

Make it mobile-friendly

In today’s mobile-driven world, it’s no surprise that 43% of smartphone users say they’re as comfortable making purchases on the mobile devices as they are on their personal computers. But if a user pulls up your website on their smartphone and they have to pinch and zoom to find what they’re looking for, they most likely aren’t going to purchase anything from you.

Even Google knows that more people are performing searches on their mobile devices and has decided to reward websites that are mobile friendly with higher rankings in search results. Essentially, websites that are optimized for mobile devices will show up more prominently than those that are not.

Unsure if your website is mobile friendly? Check by using the Google Mobile-Friendly test and see if you're ready for the holidays! All Weebly websites are mobile friendly.

Keep your site secure

One of the main priorities for online shoppers these days is to stay safe, and keep their personal data secure. Consumers want to know that they can shop online without putting their personal information at risk (especially during the holiday season when fraud attempts are on the rise).

According to a 2018 internal study by TrustedSite, 71% of people won't buy from a site if it doesn't display a security policy or trust seals. That’s why building consumer confidence and establishing trust begin and end with displaying trust seals on your website and landing pages to ease your customers concerns.

Trust seals can result in longer site visits and lower bounce rates and, with the right seal, can also increase conversions. However, not all trust badges are created equal. A recent test conducted by InFlow, showed the McAfee SECURE trustmark had the highest lift rate of 15.7% with a 97% confidence score.

The McAfee SECURE trustmark is recognized all around the world and scans your site to make sure that it’s free of malware, phishing, and malicious links. As an added bonus, the trust badge can also help your site’s performance in Google search rankings—just in time for the holiday season!

Live chat

Remember when you were a kid at school and had a question you would raise your hand? You’d keep your hand raised until the teacher noticed you, but what if she never did and you never got an answer for your question? You would give up and lower your hand.

That’s how customers feel when they have a question about a product on your website. They send an email with their question and wait patiently for maybe a day or so and then may move on to a competitor with a faster response time, which means you’ve lost out on a sale.

Live chat is the quickest method of customer service because it helps real people get real answers, fast. These quick response times are known to increase conversions and sales. In fact, 63% of customers said they were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat as opposed to one that doesn't.

Holiday shoppers avoid stores in order to avoid the lines. The last thing they want to deal with online is waiting around for answers to simple questions—set up a chat service and give your visitors the customer service experience they're looking for.

Wrapping up

The holiday season may seem far away but there’s no time like the present to get prepared for the annual rush. The peak selling season can be a stressful time which is why it’s a good idea to get your website into gear to give your customers the best holiday shopping experience.