Does your website have what it takes to survive Black Friday?
Last year, $1.5 billion in sales were generated on Black Friday -- a new record for the post-Thanksgiving shopping holiday, according to Comscore. In addition to the impressive growth in sales, IBM stated that 51.2% of all ecommerce browsing was from mobile, and 28% of purchases came from mobile devices.
While the scale of opportunity presented by Black Friday is no joke, many businesses -- specifically ecommerce -- fail to adequately prepare their websites for this uptick in traffic. So with the shopping holiday quickly approaching, we've put together a few last-minute tips to ensure your website is ready to handle the influx of traffic and potential sales.
These tips are mainly directed towards ecommerce, however, most of them can be used by any business looking to strengthen their website for instances of high traffic.
One of the big concerns for marketers and respective IT folks around this time is a surge in traffic. Many websites can see multiple-times the traffic that is standard during other times of the year, and it all happens over the course of a few days. So how do you ensure your website is ready for all of the impending visitors?
1) Contact your CDN provider.
If you utilize a Content Delivery Network (CDN), check with your IT team to ensure they have reached out to the CDN provider and planned for the increased traffic.
If you don't utilize a CDN, talk to your web hosting provider and inquire about the traffic limitations and cost of an upgraded server. Generally a better server can help handle increased traffic and sustained volume. Before you agree to anything, make sure you ask about the time it will take to get the new server and any procedure to move over. You will want to be sure your website and content is on the new server before Black Friday to avoid any potential problems on the shopping holiday.
HubSpot customers: If you use the HubSpot Website add-on, you're covered. We have automatically built-in scalability to handle increased traffic and sustained volume over-time.
After analyzing 26,000 websites through Website Grader, we found the average time for a website to display was 3.9 seconds. If your visitors are waiting any longer than three seconds for your website to display, you could be losing some of them -- especially on mobile.
So, how should we ensure our website loads as quickly as possible? There are a few last-minute things we can all do to recover lost milliseconds, which add-up.
2) Compress and resize images.
If you have any images -- especially on your homepage and popular product pages -- make sure they are sized appropriately. For example, if you uploaded a high resolution image of one of your products, but it's only displaying as 500 x 500 on the page, the browser still has to load the entire original image.
If you don't have time to check through your entire site, we'd recommend at least going through your homepage and your top product pages to ensure they are optimized. For more tips and tools to help you reduce your images, check out this post on page weight from my colleague, Carly.
3) Reduce or remove unnecessary third-party snippets.
Third-party snippets that display content from another service take up valuable time to load. If you have any scripts on your website from a service that you're no longer using, remove them. To do so, talk to your IT team about ensuring these are no longer on your website.
While there are more complex, longer-term changes you can make to improve the speed of your website, the above changes should be relatively quick and help measurably improve the load time of your website for Black Friday.
Trust & Security
One of the key concerns for shoppers online is ensuring their personal information is going to stay safe. We've covered a few key elements of trust below to help you ensure conversion rates are as high as possible for Black Friday.
4) Display content that proves it's safe to shop with you.
Many ecommerce websites display safe shopping badges, and as long as you have this guarantee and service, it's wise to display it. For example, Zappos shows a lock icon with their "safe shopping guarantee" at the bottom of every product page and also during the checkout process.
5) Ensure your return policy is clear and easy to find.
Some shoppers like the added peace of mind that they can return an item if it doesn't meet their needs. This can especially true with categories such as clothing home decor. To ease any concerns, make sure you have the return policy clearly stated on your website. For example, check out the return policy Pottery Barn includes on all of their product pages:
6) Enable SSL.
SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a technology that encrypts the connection between your visitors browser and your website. At a minimum SSL, which can be seen when the URL contains HTTPS instead of the traditional HTTP, should be enabled for your checkout process to ensure the users private information remains safe, and the confidence they have shopping with you remains high.
HubSpot customers: Anyone that hosts their website with HubSpot automatically gets SSL included at no additional charge.
Search Engine Optimization
Organic search can help generate additional sales from visitors looking for a specific item, but unsure of where to find it. While an SEO strategy takes time to implement, this audit is meant to address any significant omissions that could help contribute to more organic traffic and sales on Black Friday.
As we mentioned before, many shoppers are carrying out their Black Friday errands on mobile devices. To help optimize your website for those visitors, check out this free mobile SEO guide.
7) Optimize for specific keywords.
If you don't have time to go through all your assets and ensure everything is perfect, you should aim to make sure that your homepage and key product pages are optimized. To optimize for specific keywords, focus on including them in: titles, descriptions, headings, body content, alt text, and URLs.
If you utilize a lot of imagery on your product pages, alt text is very important. To improve your site's crawlability, be sure to go through all of your images to add alt text that is relevant to the item and ties back to the keyword(s) you're optimizing for.