Generating tons of traffic is something that most online entrepreneurs dream of for their websites. Who wouldn’t be? The Internet is a big, virtual hodge podge of just about anything and everything under the sun. Having a surge of visitors to your site means that your online marketing efforts are working and there’s a wealth of opportunities to convert this traffic to revenues.
For what it’s worth, traffic spikes are not only unpredictable, it can turn into a huge ordeal if proper systems are NOT in place. Much like inviting guests to your wedding dinner, you want to ensure that your venue can host everyone on the guest list.
Maybe you’re a blogger who wrote a viral post or a news site that generates tons of clicks for viral stories. If you don’t prepare for traffic spikes, it may cripple your website and drive away potential customers in the process.
One great example of a traffic surge by a viral post would be related to the recent Western Co. debacle that happened in November this year. This topic was picked up by one of our client’s website, Mothership.sg, with its article “Looks like The Western Co. is latest S’pore eatery on its way to social media destruction” and it generated a surge in readership. The article chalked up over 8000 shares on Facebook at present, making that one of the most viewed articles on their website.
Here is an example of how the load on a website is affected when there is a huge spike in traffic:
If a site was not prepared for this spike in traffic, their website would have gone down at the time of it hitting the max server resources allocated. They would have lost significant amount of potential readers during this time. As the late Benjamin Franklin had said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, we should always be prepared for such situations.
So let’s learn how to prepare for such scenarios to keep your website up and running. In today’s post, we’ve created a list of practical steps for you to get traffic spikes under control. Let’s start.
Before even considering upgrading to the next hosting plan, we recommend that you take inventory of all things that needs to be optimized with your website. Does your website load fast? Can customers order products in their shopping carts with no problem? Is the product image too big to load in mobile?
Listing all these issues will give you an idea on what you need to improve on. Optimizing your website on the application level can be done from your end or from your web developer.
Here are some tips when optimizing your website:
Instead of serving dynamic generated files for your website, consider using a caching system to easily generate static HTML files. When your site features static files visitors, it will reduce the load time for your server--allowing you to accommodate more visitors. You can add “expire” headers on your website which commands browsers not to retrieve these files for a specific amount of time.
The visitor’s proximity to the website’s server may also affect how fast they can access the web page. If you have visitors from different parts of the world, you may want to get a Content Delivery Network.
It’s a group of servers situated from key data centers around the world that show website content quickly by distributing cached files from servers near the visitor.
It helps balance the load and even creates redundancy, so your website will continue to run even when the other server is down. It can also protect your website against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and other forms of cyber attacks with malicious intent, to a certain extent.
While high-resolution photos are great to look at, it can significantly weigh down your site because large images take longer to load than normal ones. Before uploading them, check their size and resize with the help of photo editing tools. Use the right format as much as possible (.png for image and .jpeg for color-rich photos). Remove any redundant metadata when possible.
You can Gzip compression method to compress files before sending them from the server to a browser. Shaving off the file size will considerably reduce the page load time. Here are simple steps on how to enable Gzip compression. But if you find it hard to do by yourself, just contact us so we can help you process it.
Depending on what your website is, you can look at different levels of hosting resources suited for your needs. Newbie bloggers and website owners can start with a Shared Hosting plan if they are expecting a decent amount of traffic.
But after all this and you’re still not sure how much hosting your site might need in the future, you can check our guide here: Get an Estimate: How Much Hosting Bandwidth Do You Need?
For users that require additional website resources, Vodien provides customization to our web hosting plans to better suit client’s needs.
Just be wary of any hosting provider that offers "unlimited" hosting plans because you might actually pay more in the long run. Bandwidth and storage space is not absolute and there are costs involved when customers go beyond their hosting resources.
You may experience traffic spikes on special holiday seasons (New Year and Christmas) and then lean months for the rest of the year. If that’s the case for you, you may want to look into a hosting plan that can help you scale for different levels of traffic at different times.
This can help you scale your cost associated with your website traffic. Make sure to discuss this with your hosting provider and see what options you have in this situation.
If you have done steps 1-3, test it to see if they were implemented well. Google’s Page Speed Insight and Varvy are two of the best benchmarking tools we personally use to test our site’s speed and performance. Once your score is shown, it will give you some tips to better optimize your site.