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PageSpeed and Shopify Themes

Shopify says “Your store is slower than similar stores on Shopify”. You only have a 23, maybe lower according to them. So of course your site is horrible, and there are so many problems, and clearly this is the reason your site isn’t making you millions right? Wrong!

We are going to jump into PageSpeed, Shopify, What some of the influencing factors are, and hopefully debunk some myths at the same time.

What is “Page Speed”?

Back in the day, yes I am old I know, Page Speed meant just that. How long does it take your site to load on a screen. It was REALLY important because we had really slow internet where we had to hear the squelches and squeaks of connection to our favorite internet provider. But what does it mean today? Well simply put, it is a made up number! Ok not really but it the numbers your see when you go to sites like Google PageSpeed Insights aren’t always the real speed most people see.

According to the Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) info page it “reports on the user experience of a page on both mobile and desktop devices, and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved. PSI provides both lab and field data about a page. Lab data is useful for debugging issues, as it is collected in a controlled environment. However, it may not capture real-world bottlenecks. Field data is useful for capturing true, real-world user experience – but has a more limited set of metrics.” They go on to link to an often missed piece of information on “How to think about Speed Tools” which says REALLY important things like User experience can’t be captured with a single metric. They also say that they simulate page load conditions on a mid-tier device (Moto G4 which was released in 2016 does not support 5g and essentially isn’t used anymore) on a mobile network for mobile, and an emulated desktop with a wired connection for desktop.

So they use an old device… and what? Well not only do they use an old device, but they use a throttled network. Thats right! They use what would be considered today as “Slow 4g”. They even say it here. So your page speed, is essentially done on devices and network connections that aren’t used by many these days.

So Google PageSpeed Isn’t Real Data, Why should I worry about it?

Great question! There are a ton of reasons… but essentially they boil down to Google thinks it is important. They officially announced page speed as a ranking factor in 2010 (yeah I know you are shocked). They consistently are making changes, but PageSpeed has been there for some time. Recent updates have started to shift to more direct impact to this, but it is still just a factor, not the reason behind poor SERP (Search Engine Result Page) positions. Usually speaking your content needs work before page speed. But as time goes on, they will continue to push for good page speed as a factor on your rankings.

How do I fix my poor page speed on Shopify Sites?

Here is the question everyone wants to know, so we will tell you 5 important things in short which you can do to improve your PageSpeed on your Shopify Store

Update to the latest theme version

We know, why would you have to? Well Shopify pushes their theme developers to make consistent improvements. This includes using new features like how images are loaded, or fixes that have implemented to improve page speed. Other things that are fixed is old Apps that you “uninstalled” may have left code causing issues, old functionality from Shopify may no longer be supported, an lets be honest if you haven’t done it in over a year it is probably time for a refresh of what you can do with the new features of Shopify!

This is not always an easy task as most customizations will need to be done again, so just shoot us a message here and we can help.

Minimize Apps

Adding apps is easy right? Did you know however a lot of apps install code into your site? These pieces of code are not necessarily removed from your theme when you uninstall them. More importantly we see MOST apps impacting the PageSpeed numbers so you really must check the benefit of the app before and after installing them. More importantly speaking with a Shopify Expert might make sense as a lot of things they can code into the site without an app.

Simplify Above-the-fold Content

Above-the-fold’ pertains to the part of a webpage that you see right away when the page loads. Typically, it includes the header (containing the logo and navigation) and any content introducing the page. Some themes offer fancy features for this area, like slideshows, but these can slow down how quickly the page appears.

You might want to speed up your page by simplifying the content at the top. Try turning off the slideshow and using different image-based sections, like an image with text overlay. Another option is to limit the slideshow to just one slide, which can help the page load faster.

Optimize your Images

Images are the most important, and the hardest thing to get right for almost every eCommerce store. They take time, require the right people, maybe models, the right backgrounds etc. We get it. Many themes these days offer the ability at the code level to take your largest image and loading only the right size. However this doesn’t always solve the problem.

Common photo editing apps include lots of extra data in the image when you save them which can be stripped out, the image sizes should be relatively sized close to what you will use them for, and complex images are simply… big. So we recommend at a basic level to run your images through TinyPng to start. Need more help… you get the drift contact us

A New Theme All Together

We know that migrating to a new theme seems like a major pain in the… but it is sometimes worth it. We generally recommend a new theme when

  1. The old theme is no longer being updated
  2. It has been over 1.5 years since a refresh has been done
  3. You are using a lot of apps that can be replaced with theme functionality out of the box (like cart fly outs, free shipping thresholds, dynamic page templates etc)
  4. You have had a lot of apps uninstalled, and a lot of different people coding things. This is often the SAME AMOUNT OF WORK to move to a new theme vs updating to the latest version

How do I do this PageSpeed Optimization on Shopify myself?

It is possible. Go out, read, learn, dicypher all of the differing messages, try, fail, try again. It takes time. There are a lot of great developers out there that are more than ready to help and we are some of them. Just… you got it… contact us!