6 Tips to Prepare for a Traffic Spike - Blog - Sevaa Group
Traffic light in front of light blue line graph.

A big traffic spike can cause your website to fail. An overwhelming number of requests will crash your site if it isn’t equipped to take the pressure. Visitors will notice your website isn’t working and leave, which negatively affects your marketing data, search engine results pages (SERP) ranking, and revenue. Plus, it just looks bad!

Here are 6 tips that we’ve gathered to help you welcome a traffic spike with ease.

1. Ensure that Your Website is Scalable

With a flexible hosting plan your site can easily scale vertically in the case of high traffic. Your website’s bandwidth, memory, and storage space are probably sufficient enough for regular use, but can they withstand a spike? Be sure your host can scale available server resources when needed and return to using a typical amount of resources when traffic goes back to normal.

If possible, base your site on technologies that will allow it to scale horizontally as well. When a traffic spike uses up your initial computing power and hits the ceiling for your resources, additional servers can be added to handle the additional load. This is almost always preferable to vertical scaling if it is available. Your website should take advantage of load balancing software like Nginx and use hosting that provides the architecture to support horizontal scaling.

2. Downsize Your Deliverables

During a traffic spike it’s important to reduce bandwidth usage. This will reduce the strain on your server which means increasing the speed of your website. There are several ways to approach this:

  • Configure your server to compress code using Gzip compression. This will compress code without affecting its performance.
  • Using tools like Google Closure Compiler, JSCompress, or CSSCompressor can remove whitespace and comments and perhaps even retool your code to shrink it. Many of these tools can be run as a part of development builders like Grunt and Webpack.
  • You can also ensure that your website is loading quickly during a spike by reducing the number of HTTP requests. To do this, group all scripts into one file and all CSS files into another.
  • Compress and optimize any images for the web using tools like TinyPNG.

In preparation for a spike, perform a maintenance audit on your website in search of stray code, broken scripts, outdated plugins, and other bits of code that fail to perform.

If you know a spike will occur, consider temporarily disabling comments for a popular piece of content or other non-essential functionality as this can also strain the server.

3. Update Hosting

Most websites start with shared hosting. A shared server means many websites reside on one server together and is usually the most affordable option. That means your website’s performance can be affected by the traffic received by other websites on the same server.

Shared hosting is a great way to get your website up and running, but if you expect traffic spikes or even overall traffic growth, you should eventually make plans to move to a dedicated server where your website has an entire server to itself. Another alternative is a VPS (Virtual Private Server) which may put you on a shared server but dedicates a specific amount of resources to the machine and provides a good cost middle ground between a shared and dedicated server. Thankfully, Sevaa offers all of these hosting plans.

4. Deliver Cached Data When Possible

Caching means retaining and reusing data that has already been processed and delivered, which can be a big help when trying to reduce the load from a traffic spike. There are several places caching can be put in place, from having your site ask your browser to cache a page locally for an extended period to a content management system (CMS) caching built pages to your database caching repeated requests. During a traffic spike, you’ll want caching in place at every level possible.

Reduce the requests between a server and a browser by caching the static elements of a user’s browser, like script and content. Many CMSs have plugins available to aid in caching. For example, if your website is running on WordPress, check out plugins like Cache Enabler or Cachify.

5. Prepare for Becoming a Larger Security Target

With heavy traffic comes the threat of hackers. To protect data and your website’s reputation, maintain security. You can do this by installing SSL, which encrypts communication between server and browser. You should also keep software updated, don’t run multiple websites from one server, audit plugins and extensions, and update the CMS default settings, since most Content Management Software aren’t secure enough.

6. Make Use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

What’s the best way to make sure your server doesn’t collapse under the weight of a traffic spike? Make it so the traffic doesn’t come to your server! A CDN will store copies of your resources among several servers across the country or the world. When a user comes to your site, instead of getting huge resources like your video or images from your server,it can pull from the closest available CDN server to them. This means faster resource access and distributed server load.

Some common JavaScript resources are available for free through services like CDNJS, but for things like images or video, you’ll need to invest in CDNs like those from CloudFlare and Amazon Cloudfront.

Every business wants their website to be successful, and success usually translates into users. In order to attract those users, websites promote a product and/or produce content, throwing out lines until something catches on. Will your business’s website be prepared when users begin to flood in? Ensure that your website can stand up to the high traffic spikes and prepare for success.


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