Today’s ecommerce lesson is brought to you by the WNBA website. [NOTE: This post was written last week before the Lynx swept the Western Conference Finals and secured a place in the WNBA Finals.]
If you live in Minnesota or follow women’s professional basketball, you probably know that there’s a flurry of activity around our local WNBA team, the Minnesota Lynx, as we defend our WNBA championship title in the playoffs this year. Basketball is a big deal in my household and as the Lynx gear up for the first game of the Western Conference Finals tonight against the Los Angeles Sparks, my honey and I were trying to determine the potential dates of the WNBA Finals, should our Lynx advance that far. We figured that a quick trip to the WNBA website would answer our questions and so we pointed our browser to WNBA.com, hit “go,” and waited.
And WAITED some more as the WNBA home page loaded.
I admit it—it was frustrating to wait and my extremely short, want-it-now attention span was starting to get a little testy when I was informed by my web browser that I was waiting on another 37 items to load on the page.
Now the women’s basketball fan in me wants to believe that the WNBA site took forever to load because everyone in the five-state area was trying to access the site at once before tonight’s playoff game. The ecommerce professional in me took one look at the WNBA website and knew that the slow load times were actually caused by all the exceptionally cool content on the WNBA website. Now, I imagine that you are thinking, “Wait! Isn’t loads of quality content a GOOD THING?” and while I would normally answer in the affirmative, in this case that content might be something of a liability.
See, here’s the thing: Being the destination website for an entire sport, the WNBA site offers some really cool and dynamic content on their home page. There are tons of big photos, substantial video clips recapping the highlights of the most recent games and tons of links to the sites of each WNBA team. There are live social media feeds; news feeds that share WNBA news from a variety of sources, links to interviews, a link to the WNBA store and rotating carousels with lots of pictures. (Did I mention that there are lots of big images on the site?) For women’s basketball fans, this is a good thing. For search engine results rankings, which rely partly on page load speeds, this is a bad thing.
Now, the WNBA has a distinct advantage in the realm of search engine optimization and that is the fact that they are THE SOURCE for all things related to women’s professional basketball, so they don’t have to concern themselves as much about ranking for relevant searches. They come up in the #1 spot by default.
You and your organization, however, are not the WNBA. Your organization has competition and, therefore, you have to worry about how your content affects page load speeds and search engine results. You also need to worry about how your page load speeds affect your CUSTOMERS. The reality is that most women’s professional basketball fans will stick around on the WNBA site and wait for the site to load because there is limited, if any, competition. On the other hand, I’d wager that your organization has a fair amount of competition and with that in mind, you can’t risk losing visitors because your site is taking forever to load.
The moral of the story?
Make sure that your website loads quickly. Optimize site code and images to load as quickly as you can to engage your visitors—and the search engine crawlers
To learn more about how to improve your B2B ecommerce experience, download the white paper, B2B E-Commerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.