How to Get Your Website Ready for Holiday Traffic

On your mark, get set, go! 

The holiday season is here.

Despite the fact that Halloween has barely come and gone, grocery stores are decked out with holiday merchandise – and sales are heating up at online stores all across the internet.

If you’re an eCommerce merchant, or you run any business with an online store, there are certain steps you should take to get your website ready for holiday traffic to maximize sales.

Not sure where to start?

Here are five tips to help you improve your website and prepare it for holiday shopping

1. Take a Deep Look at Cart Abandonment

The overall average cart abandonment rate in 2016 was 77.24% – so cart abandonment is a serious problem on all eCommerce sites, regardless of which platform you’re on.

Customers abandon their carts for a myriad of reasons. A few of the top reasons include:

  • Difficulty understanding the checkout process
  • Unexpected shipping costs
  • Mandatory account creation
  • Not able to find the field to enter a coupon code
  • Concerns about payment security and legitimacy.

If you know that you have some cart abandonment issues, don’t wait. Seriously. This is the time to address them. You’re probably going to see your sales skyrocket over the next month or so – and if you don’t address cart abandonment, you’re likely to lose out on quite a bit of revenue.

A good place to start is to troubleshoot your checkout process. Make sure it’s intuitive, use an add-on to show the contents of a user’s cart throughout the entire checkout process, and use a clean, professional UI design to add legitimacy and increase user confidence in your website.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that customers can check out as a guest – with the option to sign up for an account later. You may also want to include some free shipping promotions on your website – at least, for the holidays.

2. Make Sure Your Site is Responsive on All Mobile Devices

Traditionally, it was thought that most folks don’t use their smartphones to shop online. And, to an extent, this is true.

More purchases are made on desktop and laptop browsers than are made on mobile devices. By the end of 2018, eCommerce sales on phones are predicted to make up about 27% of all sales.

This may not sound like a lot – but it’s up from just 19% by the end of 2017. If mobile sales grow at this pace in the coming years, more than half of all online purchases could be made from mobile devices by the year 2021.

So make sure your website is using a responsive design that displays seamlessly on any mobile device, including smartphones and tablets. If you don’t have a responsive, mobile-friendly website, you could miss out on quite a few sales – both in 2018 and beyond.

3. Examine Your Page Loading Times

Page loading times are always an area where you can improve, and there’s no better time to do so than the holiday season.

Want proof?

Here are a few statistics from Hubspot and SEMrush that are sure to convince you that page loading time should be one of your primary areas of focus.

  • 79% of customers who are dissatisfied with a page’s loading times will never visit the website again.
  • 64% of mobile users expect a website to load in 4 seconds or less, and 47% of all customers expect your page to load within 2 seconds or less.
  • A one second delay in page loading, on average, results in an 11% loss of SEO page views.
  • A one second delay can reduce conversion rates by up to 7%.

Your goal should be to reduce your page loading time to 3 seconds. Max. This means you’ll be faster than about half of all other websites. And if you can reduce your loading times to 1.7 seconds, you’ll beat about 75% of the competition. Google PageSpeed Insights is a great tool to use to assess the loading speeds of your website, and see how you can improve.

What are the best ways to speed up your loading times? Here are a few tips:

  • Choose a faster cloud hosting provider.
  • Reduce the complexity of your website and eliminate unnecessary code.
  • Compress and downsize large images.
  • Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to reduce page loading times
  • Optimize caching.
  • Try to avoid 301 redirects, which typically require multiple server queries.
  • Update and optimize any plugins you’re using, and consider removing plugins that you no longer use.

4. Consider Altering Your SEO Strategy 

A fast website and a great shopping cart won’t do much for you unless you can bring in holiday traffic. So consider altering your SEO strategy, and trying to rank for holiday keywords that may help your website bring in traffic.

For example, if you run a car accessories or car parts website, you could:

  • Publish some gift guides targeting related holiday keywords, such as “best gifts for car guys 2018”, or related long-tail keywords.
  • Reach out to related blogs about promotional guest posts.
  • Send out an email newsletter or gift guide with special promotions to your current customers

You may also want to create some dedicated landing pages with special holiday promotions, which will help you bring in more customers and rank more highly in search results. And don’t ignore your email newsletter, if you have one – a special holiday edition of your newsletter with special deals and discounts can be a powerful way to bring in more customers.

5. Add Extra Server Capacity Before the Rush

You don’t want your web server to crash during the holiday rush. Not only will you miss out on sales, but your reputation among your customers will also suffer.

If you’re using a cloud hosting company, you may want to consider purchasing more storage and processing capacity, to ensure that you can handle the massive surges in traffic that may come alongside the holiday season.

You may also want to think about switching from a shared cloud server to a dedicated cloud server. Dedicated servers are not shared with other companies, so the only traffic on your server will be from your customers. 

This means you won’t have to worry about your uptime being affected by others. Sure, it’s more expensive – but worth every penny, especially if you avoid a crash.

Follow These Tips – And Get Ready For The Holiday Rush!

Before holiday web traffic hits, follow these simple guidelines and tips to make sure you’re ready. If you do, you’ll be able to optimize your website’s UI and SEO, bring in more customers and provide a great, smooth customer experience all throughout the holidays.

Happy holiday selling!