Website Speed Optimization
Design/Conversion

Website Speed Optimization: 10 Tips To Decrease Page Load Times, Get Better Rankings & Make More Sales

Website Speed Optimization

For every second it takes for your website to load you are leaving money on the table.

The most recent studies show the average person using the web had an attention span of a measly 8 seconds in 2013 (and I doubt it has gotten any longer in 2014). This means that if your website is not optimized for speed most people will leave before ever making any sort of meaningful interaction (i.e. buying your stuff!).

And keep in mind, 8 seconds is an average. That means that there is a huge percentage of your visitors that have attention spans that are even less than 8 seconds.

If this isn’t reason enough to put a little time into website speed optimization then consider the fact that Matt Cutts (Google) has blatantly said that the speed of your website affects your search engine rankings.

But knowing this, it amazes me how often I see people investing tons of time and resources into SEO, writing content and building backlinks… to a painfully slow website.

So in this in this post I want to share some powerful cheap/free website speed optimization tools you can use to immediately improve the speed of your website, but before I do that you should take a moment to determine how your website performs using Google Page Speed Insights.

This powerful tool is dead simple to use. Just enter your URL and they will give your website a speed rating out of 100 for both desktop and mobile browsers.

Here is the report generated from my blog:

Google-PageSpeed

Here is a report generated for CNN.com (Sweet… I’m faster that CNN ;):

speed post image 2
The reason I am showing you these two websites is I want to you understand that the results that Google gives you are simply a guide. You are never going to get a perfect score. When I type in “Google.com” they only got a 92/100 and it offered suggestions for ways they could improve their OWN website.

So the point is this: You are never going to get a perfect score and if you are above 75 you are probably in pretty good shape. If you are above 90 give yourself a pat on the back.

So now that you’ve run this report on your website and you have an idea of how your website is performing along with Google’s suggestions on how to optimize your website for speed (many of which you may not be able to make) it is time to dive into the specific website speed optimization tools and strategies you can use to accelerate the speed of your website.

10 Tips For Maximum Website Speed Optimization

Tip #1: Choose a Fast Web Host & Hosting Package

The first step in optimizing your website for speed is choosing the right web host. Most of the big US based web hosts are very fast and do a good job of managing their loads and bandwidth to ensure fast ping and load times. For a list of the fastest web hosts click here.

That said, if you choose a fast web host but sign up for the budget hosting package there’s still a good chance that your website is going to be stuck on a server with hundreds of other websites all competing for server resources and bandwidth. So if you are serious about running a business on the Internet, bargain shopping your hosting package is typically a bad idea.

Tip #2: Maximize Your Image Compression

If your website is loaded with uncompressed and unoptimized images then you can have the fastest web host in the world and it won’t make a lick of a difference.

In fact, unoptimized images are the #1 cause of slow websites (this ‘fact’ is not based on anything but my gut feeling… but I figure I’m pretty smart so it must be right ;) and this is sooooo unnecessary since there are tons of tools out there to help you optimize your images for maximum performance.

Now in this post I am not going to get into which image format is best for which type of image (ie. PNG, JPG, GIF), nor do I want to get into reviewing all of the different image optimization tools out there but I will tell you that if you are a WordPress user it is hard to go wrong with a plugin called EWWW Image Optimizer which you can find here:

https://wordpress.org/plugins/ewww-image-optimizer/

This handy little plugin can be configured to optimize and compress every image you upload to your website and will also optimize your entire existing image library. I was pretty impressed with the results achieved from this plugin. It was able to substantially reduce the size of tons of the images on my site with minimal impact on the image quality.

speed post image 3

Tip #3: Minimize HTTP Requests (AKA Keep it simple!)

Every element on a webpage generates an HTTP Request (images, scripts, stylesheets, videos, etc) so the more stuff on your webpage the longer it takes to load. Here are a few strategies to minimize the HTTP requests and speed up load time:

  1. Eliminate unnecessary items on your web page. If it really isn’t necessary and offers no measurable value does it really need to be there?
  2. Use CSS instead of images when possible.
  3. Combine style sheets into one whenever possible.
  4. Reduce unnecessary scripts on your page.

Tip #4: Simple Themes

WordPress developers are constantly trying to build the holy grail of WordPress theme, a theme that is everything to everyone; this has led to themes that sound great on paper but are bloated and slow.

In fact, recently we moved a large website from Joomla to WordPress and we used one of the most popular themes from ThemeForest called the Avada Theme. This theme looked great on paper, built with a ton of useful features we knew we needed… along with even more that we did not need. After converting the site over using this theme, no matter what we did, the site felt sluggish and when we looked behind the scenes at the source code for each page it was bloated with unnecessary code.

So after a few weeks we bit the bullet and migrated the site to another theme called Headway which allowed us to achieve the same result with far less code bloat and immediately knocked a few seconds off the page load time.

Tip #5: Minimize Plugin Usage

If you are not using a plugin, deactivate and uninstall it. Need I say more?

Tip #6: Enable Caching

If you are using WordPress, this is one of the fastest website speed optimization strategies that will instantly speed up the load time of your website for repeat visitors using these two popular (and free) plugins to enable caching:

W3 Total Cache
WP Super Cache

I’ve used both plugins with success and if I had to summarize the differences I would say WP Super Cache is easier to use whereas W3 Total Cache is more powerful with more features allowing you to really fine tune your website’s performance.

Tip #7: Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Without getting into the technical details, if you have an image heavy website, distributing your images out over a CDN like Amazon’s Cloudfront can substantially increase the speed of your website, reduce load on your server and substantially reduce your bandwidth costs.

Again, if you are using WordPress there are numerous plugins that will streamline the process including W3 Total Cache which offers CDN support along with its caching features.

Tip #8: Minify Your Code

If you are using a WYSIWYG editor on your website I guarantee the code is going to be full of unnecessary and unoptimized code. Fortunately there are programs like W3 Total Cache that offer an option to clean up (aka Minify) your code, effectively pulling out all of the unnecessary crap and decreasing load time.

Tip #9: Optimize or Remove Redirects

I know redirects are a necessary evil but avoid them if you can. If you can’t avoid them try to set up redirects using your .htaccess file rather than page level redirects. I know plugins like Yoast – SEO For WordPress make it simple to do page and post lever redirects but these are much slower than .htaccess level redirects.

Tip #10: Put Scripts at the Bottom

Browsers read and load webpages from the top down so if you are running numerous different scripts placed at the top of your page (analytics, tracking, split testing, etc.) they will slow down the load time of any content below it on the page. This means that while scripts are loading in the background, the content that is going to keep your visitors on the page isn’t visible.

In summary, website speed optimization is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve both user engagement and search engine rankings. Seems like a no-brainer to me!

Have any additional tips or tools you would like to share?

Go ahead and leave a comment below.

Here’s to faster websites!

Derek Gehl

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Design/Conversion, Driving Traffic

How Much Traffic Do You Need To Make Your First Sale Online?


Lesson Transcription:

A questions I am frequently asked when my students put up there first website goes something like this…

“How many visitors do I need to get before I make my first sale online?”

How much traffic to make a sale?You want to know how much traffic you should expect to get to your site before you make your first sale online. This is also known as “sales conversion” or the percentage of people who visit the site who will make a purchase.

Now this is a damn tough question to answer because there are so many variables that come into play that can be affecting this number.

One of these variables is your sales process:

  • Do you have a good sales letter?
  • Do you have a good offer?
  • Is your offer competitive?

Your Conversion Depends on Your Traffic Source

The second variable that has a big impact is the source of your traffic.  Different traffic sources have different conversion ratios, so you should expect different results from different traffic.

For example, affiliate traffic is a quality source of traffic.

If you are getting traffic through an affiliate who is endorsing you and encouraging readers to buy your products and that affiliate has a strong relationship with their list and their readers, then you can expect a very high conversion ratio.

In fact, the highest conversion ratios I have ever seen have come from affiliate marketing.

The second highest quality as far as conversion rate goes will come from Google organic traffic. 

That doesn’t include Adwords, because that is paid traffic. But in my experience, a visitor from an organic search in Google will convert exponentially higher than a visitor from a paid ad.

My point is that numerous different traffic sources will affect your conversion ratio, so you need to take that factor into consideration.

So if you go out and do some advertising and buy a whole bunch of unqualified junk traffic, you will likely see your conversion plummet.

If you are finding you make 1 sale for every 20 visitors from affiliates, you may well see that it takes 500 visitors from junk traffic before you make a sale.

Social media is a good example of this, as a lot of marketers have tried and failed to get good conversions from social media traffic.

So at the end of the day, there is no one right answer to this question because so many variables impact it.

So What Should Your Conversion Rate Be?

What I want to do is answer this question based on the assumption that the following facts are true:

  • You have a good sales process
  • You’ve done your market research and you know you have demand
  • You have a good sales letter or sales video
  • Your website is functional and working well
  • You have a targeted traffic source (you are using Adwords or you are ranked well organically)

Assuming those factors are true, I’ll tell you the number I generally tell people to shoot for when they are starting a new website.

But before I throw those numbers out there, I want to make a “disclaimer” that these are average numbers that I’ve gleaned through experience with working with numerous different businesses over the last 15 years on the Internet.

This is by no means a strict rule, rather it is a benchmark for you to measure a new website against.

As your  website develops and you get more traffic, you’ll be able to set your own benchmarks to measure against within your niche.

What I mean by that is that once you have a thousand visitors to your website, those stats become your control group. That is what I do with my sites – once I have a thousand visitors, I use the number of sales I’ve gotten to create my benchmark.

For example, if I get 15 sales from my first thousand visitors, I calculate:

15/1,000 = 1.5% conversion rate

Now I want to start…

  • Adjusting
  • Tweaking
  • Fine-tuning

…my website and my traffic sources to try to increase that benchmark.

What I do is make a change and then leave it for a period and wait for another thousand visitors to come to the site and see if conversion increases.

You can get more advanced and do split testing, but I’ll save that for another video.

What I want to do is give you a baseline that you can use with your new website.

The best way to break down the baseline is by price point.  This is because lower priced products typically range within a certain conversion ratio and as the price point rises, the conversion drops slightly.

This isn’t true for all niches, but on average I’ve found that this is the way it works.

So let’s take a look at benchmark conversion ratios by price point:

  • Up to $100 = 2% – 3% (2 – 3 sales for every 100 visitors)
  • $100 – $250 = 0.5% – 1.5%

If your site is under these rates, then you need to make sure you have the basics right because something isn’t working.

If you’re way over these rates, give yourself a pat on the back!

If you’re really close to the rates, then you’re doing well but there is room for improvement over time with some fine tuning.

Of course, as I said, traffic sources play a large role in this. I’ve seen $1,000 products converting at 7% because all of the traffic was strong referral traffic. But if you sent regular, unqualified traffic to the same site you could easily see virtually no conversion at all.

For products over about $250, conversion becomes more difficult and a direct sales process doesn’t generally work well.  At that price point you need to establish a sales funnel and nurture your lead to conversion.

This is something that can apply to lower price points as well. You can get traffic into your funnel and start building a relationship. The stronger your relationship with your audience, the higher your price point gets.

But that’s a discussion for another day!

What I want to give you today is just a benchmark so you know what you should expect with a new website.

Are these numbers absolute?  No way!

But they are a good reference point to start from so you know if things are going well.

So remember, once you have 500 – 1,000 visitors, use your conversion rate to establish your control and compare it to the numbers I’ve given you.

make your first sale onlineThen, continue to fine-tune to increase conversion.

I’ve given you averages, but everyone can be better than average!

It just takes a little bit of hard work and testing.

Good luck, hope you learned something!

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Design/Conversion, Driving Traffic

How To Write Headlines That Could…

Increase Your Sales Overnight!

– 11 Surefire, Time-Tested, Money-Making Formats –  

[shadow300]

“How To Write A Headline” – Lesson Transcription:

What I want to do today is show you how to write a headline using 11 time-tested, money-making styles that have been successfully implemented in every single niche imaginable over the past century.

Not all of them may work for your offer or for your business, but I guarantee that there will be headlines in here that work for your business.  Not necessarily the specific headline, but the format of the headline.

And you can utilize these formats to create headlines for your sales pages.

So let’s jump into this.

[shadow300]

#1 How To Write A “Benefit” Driven Headline:

A benefit headline is a headline that clearly indicates a solution to the reader’s problem using specific, measurable benefits.

This is the most common, time-tested and reliable of the direct response headlines and if you’re just learning how to write a headline you should start here.

Say someone is coming to my website with a problem that I want to solve.

Remember, before you write your benefit headline you need to sit down and really be able to quantify

  • How much?
  • How long?

You need to quantify what kind of result there will be, and how long will it take to get it.

The more specific you can be, the more of a response you’re going to get.

If you are vague, people can’t relate your message to their personal situation.  But if you give an exact result that they can quantify in their mind, it will be much more meaningful to them.

Here are some great examples of these:

This is a headline I used for many years when I first started out in the Internet marketing world.  This headline has sold millions and millions of dollars in product.

“Earn $10.87 For Every $1 You Invest Online – Starting Today”

So we’ve answered “How much?” with $10.87 for every dollar you invest.  And we’ve answered “How long?” with today.

We’ve told them how much and how long.   More specifically, we’ve used quantifiable and measurable results.  This makes it far more meaningful to the reader.

Notice also that we haven’t used a round number.  Instead, we have used a specific number that makes the message far more real.

“Free Video Reveals 4 Minute Exercise That Can Help Your Dog
Finally Listen To You…Without Having to Touch, Scold or Yell”

So the specific result is that your dog will listen to you and you don’t have to touch, scold or yell at it, and it’s only going to take 4 minutes.

“Clinically Proven to Reduce the Appearance of
Stretch Marks By Up To 72.5% After Just 2 Months”

Another perfect example of clearly laying out the benefit and answering “How much?” and “How long?”

“Get Instant Access to Over 12,000
Shed Plans & Wood Working Projects!” 

In the next 5 minutes you’ll learn step-by-step how to start building
amazing outdoor sheds and wood work designs the faster and easier way…

#2 How To Write “The Teaser” Headline:

This type of headline is a bit tougher to write than direct response headlines, but they can be very powerful.

A teaser headline is an intriguing statement that piques the reader’s curiosity to find out what happened next.

This is probably one of the most popular and successful direct response headlines ever written:

how to write a headline

This was written back in the 1940’s by one of the original direct response copywriters.  When you read it, you have to continue reading because you need to know what happened next.

“They grinned when the waiter spoke to me in French –
but their laughter changed to amazement at my reply…”

Again, this captures the reader’s attention and leaves them feeling that they need to know what happens next.

 

#3 How To Write A “Testimonial Driven” Headline:

This type of direct response headline uses a “result” that the reader is trying to achieve to generate interest in reading further.

“I was two days away from bankruptcy,
but now I am making $750 per week”

This is someone talking about a result they got, and it’s a result that the reader also wants to achieve.  That will grab their attention and get them to keep reading.

 

#4 How To Write A “Take The Test” Headline:

This type of direct response headline uses people’s desire to feel superior to compel them to continue reading.

“Can You Identify Which of These 10 Foods
Can Naturally Stimulate Weight Loss?”

Questions like this ignite people’s inherent competitive streak and makes them want to prove how smart they are.  This is a great attention grabber.

 

#5 How To Write A “Don’t Buy…” Headline:

This catches people’s attention because it is not what they expect to see and it piques their curiosity.

“Don’t Waste Another Penny on Overpriced Quilting
Patterns Until You Read This Tell-All Report…”

#6 How Write A “How to…” Headline:

This type of direct response headline lets people know that if they are going to keep reading you are going to show them “How to” solve a problem they have.

If I want to learn “how to make soap” and I go online to find out how and the first thing I see on a website is this…

“How to Make Bars of Soap At Home Using 100%
Natural Ingredients For Just Pennies Each”

…then I will know I am going to learn exactly what I want to learn.

 

#7 How To Write “The Big Question” Headline:

Asking people a question that they answer “yes” to is subconsciously telling them that this web page has something for them.

This compels them to keep reading because they have already confirmed they need your information.

“Are You Suddenly Speechless the Second
You Approach a Beautiful Woman?”

If you have a dating product, you have just sold it to any shy man who reads this headline!

 

#8 How To Write “The Guarantee” Headline:

A desirable benefit with a guaranteed result can be a strong motivator!

This takes the benefit headline one step further by throwing in a guarantee.

“Skin That Looks 10 years Younger in
30 Days or Less…Or Your Money Back”

#9 How To Write The “Reason Why” Headline:

This type of direct response headline gives your people “reasons why” they should read your sales letter or web page.

“7 Easy Tricks You Can Teach Any Dog”

“7 Reasons Why Positive Reinforcement is a Better
Dog Training Tool Than Negative Reinforcement”

For some reason (I’m not sure exactly why!) people seem to really love lists, so offering to provide one is a great attention grabber.

 

#10 How To Write “The Command” Headline:

This one is simple – just tell your visitors what to do!

“Quit Buying Over-Priced, Commercial Soaps That Are Riddled
With Toxic Chemicals…Read More Before it’s Too Late”

#11 How To Write The “Big News” Headline:

This type of direct response headlines positions your key benefit as if it were a major announcement in a newspaper.

If you peruse the headlines in any newspaper, you’ll see that they are written in such a way to grab the attention of the reader and compel them to read more.  You can use that format in your sales letters and on your pages.

“New Diet Burns More Fat Than Running 63 Miles Per Week”

This doesn’t sound like a sales page, it sounds like news which can make it more compelling to your reader.

So there you go…11 different direct response headlines.  I know that at least one will work for you.

If you learned something or have an idea you would like to share, please leave a comment below…

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