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20 Tips for Scaling a WordPress Site When Traffic Soars

WordPress developers and business owners hope for their website becoming popular. This could be gradual or sudden, but the fact is that most people aren’t ready for it when it happens. To be prepared for such scenario, your website design must have certain tweaks to prevent it from becoming slow and sluggish as the traffic soars. Another key aspect is the web design you have opted for your website. It should be dynamic and easily adaptable to deploy certain changes when the time comes.

There are abundant options for website design online which are versatile and suitable for handling huge traffic.

1. Scale all the images
Heavy images that are loaded every time a user visits the website, ends-up slowing it down. The best thing is to compress images being used, and this doesn’t mean that you have to remove high-resolution images or huge infographics. Compress the images while retaining most of their quality. This can be done using Photoshop od the Smush plugin by WordPress. The plugin takes care of image resizing and compresses the images for you to reduce the loading time.

2. Run regular Analysis
Make sure you use Google Analytics regularly to gain insight into how the visitors are behaving; this will help you understand the traffic trends and predict future surges.
You should also analyze your website via GTmetrix.com to say a remarkable difference in the performance. The website metrics will stand improved making a significant impact on the website loading time.

3. Make sure your hosting plan has a vertical scaling
For web servers, vertical scaling is when hosting providers offer tiered plans so that customers can upgrade easily as and when the need arises. While you are starting out, shared hosting is great, but as the traffic grows, you need more access to the server and a dedicated server to VPS hosting become essential.

4. Your hosting plan should also have provision for horizontal scaling
Sometimes vertical scaling is not enough to do the job, especially if there are sudden considerable spikes in a day’s time. In such case, horizontal scaling comes to the rescue. Horizontal scaling separates the website into different layers such as database server, a front-end server, image layer and proxy layer.

5. Choose a host which uses SSD Drives
Even though your current hosting plan is great, it can be even better once you switch to a hosting plan that relies on SSD drives. SSDs or Solid State Drives are more durable and reliable than HDD drives, and more importantly, they are faster than HDD.

6. Caching is key
The key to scaling a website to accommodate more traffic is caching. There are numerous WordPress plugins such as WP Super Cache which is excellent for creating an html file for each post and page. These HTML files are served instead of making queries to the database each time.

7. Optimize your database
Although with a caching plugin, database optimization can be covered, there are a few plug-ins which can be installed to maintain and optimize the WordPress database such as WP-DBManager and Yoast Optimize DB.

8. Review the WordPress and other platforms for updates
While it is essential to keep the WordPress software updated, you should also make sure that your other tools and platforms such as Apache, MySQL or Linux are running the latest versions.

9. Keep the content updated and double-check for errors
In the end, your content is what sells the product on the website. Make sure the content is not sloppy and riddled with mistakes. You can use some great tools like Grammarly to double check for errors.

10. Use CDN for websites with heavy traffic
CDN or Content Delivery Network helps prevent the server from being overloaded, and results in the site performing better. It shortens the distance between server and browser as the website files are stored on CDN servers close to you.

11. Go for managed WordPress hosting
Tasks such as scaling resources and managing server configuration might seem overwhelming. Opt for Managed WordPress hosting services which might seem a costlier alternative, but it will help ease the pressure of scaling any WordPress site and also keep an eye on the performance and security.

12. Boost your hosting security
The more traffic your website gets, the more threat against it will increase. Make sure you choose hosts which provide server security, server-side CDN, firewall, and server caching.

13. Install a security plug-in on your website
Once you have amped-up the server security, make sure you take proper security measures for the site as well. Install WordPress security plugins to keep the website secure.

14. Install an optimization and caching plug-in
While caching plugins help reduce the loading time considerably as the traffic soars, optimization will improve this by manifolds. You can install plugins like Hummingbird that covers the tasks and much more.

15. Use backup plug-in
Even though you have many measures in place to optimize the security and performance of your website, it may still crash at some point. Using a backup plugin helps you get it back up quickly until you resolve the issue.

16. Keep the hosting of media to a minimum
It may seem appealing to add and showcase all the media for your visitors on your website from videos to images to keep them engaged. But to maintain ideal website performance keep the media hosting to a minimum and host the non-essential media on platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo.

17. Fix and remove any broken links across the website
Broken links not only ruin the whole visitor experience, but they hurt your SEO as well. Google demotes website rankings due to broken links. As more and more visitors reach your website, make sure there’s no broken link.

18. Use a reliable payment gateway
More visitors means more money, especially in the e-commerce business. A secure and well-tested payment gateway won’t crash even if the traffic surges.

19. Schedule automated website scanning and reporting
As a web developer, you might be responsible for many websites and cannot be in all places at once. This is the reason why automated website scanning and reposting is a must. Doing so will make monitoring security, performance, and SEO easier while keeping you informed of any significant changes in real time.

20. Compress and combine the CSS and JS Files
A significant improvement for your website would be compressing the JS and CSS files. This will result in a decreased overall page size which will in turn help improve the site loading time. Another alternative is to combine the JS and CSS files as the number of the HTTP request to the web server is reduced for a single file.

You can use WordPress plugins such as WP Super Minify or Better WordPress Minify for combining the various CSS, JS and HTML files into a single file.

Blogs, Gifs, Videos, etc. can become viral and drive massive traffic to your website any time. A mention or glowing review by one of the influencers in your niche can also result in massive traffic. As they bring people to your website, you must be prepared with an appealing and user-friendly website design. Smartly designed web design can make or break a business. Consider your site as your storefront or meeting desk where potential customers can be converted to new customers; hence it needs to have a powerful impact on the users. When you select your website design online keep in mind your target audience and the nature of the business, and once you have started applying these tips on a regular basis, there would be no nasty shocks as the traffic rises.