Traffic Spikes

Traffic spikes …nice problem to have, but best off avoided

Traffic spikes …nice problem to have, but best off avoided

You might not actually know what traffic spikes are, but odds on you will have heard of them without realising. Next time you watch a program on TV and there is a website/company promoted. Try going to their site. There will be a good chance the site is down because they have not taken measures to prevent downtime.

Even Amazon suffers sometimes. Amazon’s performance on Amazon Prime Day this year is a superb example. They were a victim of their own marketing success. Millions of people were trying to access their website at the same time and the system simply couldn’t cope. It lead to a lot of disappointment.

Now, much as we’d all love to have the headache of dealing with oodles of customers, a smaller scale problem can still exist for the minnows swimming around the internet pool. Anything from an overly zealous bulk emailing, to a news article on a trending topic, to a TV appearance can cause a spike in visitor numbers.

But what happens then…?

Basically, your site stops working. The connectivity to the server, the server itself, and very possibly the website application can’t cope with the number of people trying to access web pages at the same time… So the whole thing stops. And that creates problems:

  • You get complaints – lots of them
  • Frustrated customers – who talk
  • You miss sales – and money
  • Your web hosts may complain if it’s a shared server because it’s affecting other customer sites

So… what can you do to prevent traffic spikes happening?

Other than planning your marketing more carefully (flash trending and unexpected TV mentions aside), there are things you can do to mitigate the problems traffic spikes cause. Here are just a few to consider…

Server side caching

Many systems build pages ‘on the fly’. Each time a link is clicked, the website works out what to display at that moment and builds the page. This can make things slow anyway, but when there are several people trying to do the same thing on a site at the same time, a poorly written or configured application will go into melt down. Depending on what software the website is based on, there may be caching plugins that will help mitigate this – ask your web developer to investigate them.

If you have shared hosting, consider upgrading to a dedicated server

This is definitely something to consider if you’re going to be repeating your marketing/TV/whatever more than once. It’s never the cheapest option, but if your campaign is a success that’s not an issue. And losing customers is a far more expensive problem to tackle.

Make sure your website loads quickly

Sounds obvious, but how a website is coded and built makes a difference. Ensure your web developers are experienced and knowledgeable and brief them accordingly. Also, keep the file size of your images down, and don’t overburden the site with hosted video – use YouTube (or such like).

Ensure that the number of concurrent database connections is high

If your website is database driven – WordPress is a great example – every time you have a visitor, that visit makes a call to the database to build the web page with the requested content. If the site can only cope with one connection at a time (an extreme example, to make the point), then it’s going to take forever for even a hundred visitors to do what they want to do. Ask your web developer to investigate…

Warn your web hosts

Obviously, this is a polite thing to do anyway. However, web hosts are the experts when it comes to hosting. And because of that, they’re likely to know what to do to help mitigate the problems caused by a spike in traffic. They may charge a little extra to do this – but it’s worth it!

A final word…

Notwithstanding all the above, however, the main piece of advice we can offer is this – Remember: Forewarned is forearmed. Amazon will have known full well that Prime Day was going to be a biggie. They just didn’t gear up for it technically as well as they should have. Now, much as we’d like to think you’re going to suffer from the same deluge, it’s very possible you won’t. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give consideration to implementing some of the suggestions anyway. And besides… you never know when you might be asked to do that TV interview at the last minute!

Next Steps

Have some idea of what you want or want to start with a completely blank piece of paper we are here to help. Take a look at our portfolio as a starting point to see examples of our past work.
If we are about then you can use the chat console that pops up or get in contact by the vast array of communication platforms.

 

 

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