If you want to have the best possible sales this fall, now is NOT the time to take your foot off the gas!

While you might be inclined to take it easy as the weather starts to change, now is actually the perfect time to prepare your site for a massive holiday rush.

Optimize and plan, starting now! 

Read on for a list of essential tasks, optimizations, and best practices to consider for your eCommerce site.   

Optimize Your Store and Website Performance

Raw performance is obviously important, but it’s no longer just about the time it takes for your server to deliver bytes to your browser.

  • Cut the cruft – Disable unnecessary plugins and trim features and code that aren’t required. For example, don’t load cart fragments on pages that don’t need them.
  • Check your vitals – Follow best practices for performance testing so your visitor’s experience doesn’t get bogged down and so Google looks kindly on your store when it comes to rankings. Don’t forget, a page speed test only checks one page, it is not a full site speed check, so don’t make the mistake many people fall into and check your homepage and then consider the job done!
  • Clean up media – One of the major causes of slow page loads (after hosting performance) is forcing massive downloads on your visitors. Make sure your images are sized, cropped, compressed, and converted for the optimal definition to download size ratio that you can manage. Modern formats such as WebP offer excellent image quality at much smaller file sizes, but also not every photograph has to be super high resolution either.
  • Use Cache whenever possible – Another huge source of slowdown for your browsing prospects is generating every page from scratch. Whatever you can cache, ensure it is cached. Serving from memory is going to be a lot faster, and it is going to save your server from excessive processing.
  • Migrate to a new plan or hosting – Of course, there will come a time when your little store has grown up. This is a moment to celebrate! … and upgrade to a hosting plan that’s capable of supporting your growing site.

Migrating to a WP Engine eCommerce plan is a great way to boost performance and increase conversions during the holiday rush. 

Optimize Your Content for Search

For many potential customers, if a business can’t be found on Google, it doesn’t exist. Use your time to ensure you rank now and into the future.

  • Update evergreen content – Are you still trying to rank that “Best 2019 father’s day gift ideas” article? Does your social media round-up still list Google Plus? Make sure all your content still makes sense and offers real value today. Old, out-of-date content will make you look out of touch, or worse, it gives the impression that you don’t care.
  • Create new content – Humans and search engines love fresh new content, and they especially love it when you have a steady flow of fresh, valuable content over time. If you aren’t rushed right now, all the better, as you might be when you really need a new blog post. Use this time to write, stage, and schedule your content well in advance of the holiday rush.
  • Work the on-page basics – Optimize product descriptions, titles, reviews, and pricing from top to bottom, then check it all again. Ensure your site map is generated correctly and search spiders can read it.
  • Interlink your content – Wondering why your fresh, optimized content doesn’t rank? It could be that search engines can’t find it! Make sure all your content and pages are interlinked. The gift of links starts at home, and your most important pages need the bulk of your link love.

Improve User Experience and Navigation

The best SEO-polished site is still going to fail if visitors hate browsing it. Make your site a pleasure to buy from and you will win loyal customers.

  • Test your experience – You need to routinely check your user experience and accessibility. This is especially important if you’ve added new products, menu items, or sections to your site recently.
  • Can visitors find what they’re looking for? – Are you naming things in a friendly way and organizing them so visitors can understand your categories and tags? Industry jargon is all well and good until it confuses your actual buyers. Enhance your site search experience with Instant Store Search and help customers find exactly what they’re looking for.

Site & Server Maintenance

There are few things worse for a store owner than the disappointment of your site going down or failing during the busiest sales period of the year. Here’s how you can prevent that from happening:

  • Keep your plugins up to date – With Smart Plugin Manager, you gain the added security of automated plugin and theme updates as well as visual regression testing.
  • Clean up your database – Especially if you have a large site or site that has been around for a while.
  • Backup and test your backups – Don’t be caught out, make sure you’re getting regular backups and that your backups actually work when you need to restore them!
  • Check for breakages – Check for broken links, shipping costs, lost images, old pricing, or products that need to be updated.

Run a Sale or Promotion

Not everyone is on holiday over the summer, and business doesn’t go on vacation just because many of us have mentally checked out!

  • Don’t ignore your warm leads – Your best sales could happen while everyone else is distracted! Even if they are on vacation, people don’t stop shopping.
  • Brainstorm and test new campaigns – Right now might be an excellent time to beat your existing advertising, calls to action, and promotions. Keep working on any winners then unleash when your market is hottest.
  • No bites? Give them a reason! – Our Australian friends have Christmas in summer, there are industry events, birthdays, back to school, summer housekeeping lists such as this one … lots of reasons to offer a discount, a special bundle, or just remind your audience that you are around and have what they need.

Finally, Plan for a Fall and Winter Spike

Do you know how your hosting plan handles a large burst in traffic? What is their policy should your site get overwhelmed? Get Smart Scale to ensure your store is ready for the rush.

Running tests is always important but it is far better to run your tests at a time when fewer people will be negatively impacted!

Now is the time to prepare for a big spike. If you have a big campaign in the planning phase, make sure your site is prepared to handle the rush when you launch it.

Find out more about WP Engine’s WooCommerce-optimized eCommerce plans here or speak to a representative now for answers to your questions.