8 Key Essentials for Your High-Traffic Website

High traffic is good for your business — but is your current website ready for it? 

With thousands of website visitors a day, you also get a huge number of simultaneous requests. 

Your website — and its underlying infrastructure — should be able to keep up with this amount of traffic. 

Otherwise, it’ll suffer from slow load times and poor user experience. In the end, you could be looking at lower conversions, SEO scores, and a tainted online reputation. 

Don’t let a poor-performing website get in the way of your business potential. Manage your website traffic well and you’ll reap the hard-earned fruits of your labour. 

How? These eight key factors will help keep you up with the demands of a high-traffic website.

Managing a High-Traffic Website: What You Need to Know

1. Improve user experience

improve_user_experience

The first thing you should consider is the user experience. How are your potential customers experiencing your website? And how does that influence their interactions with your business?

This is a huge topic in itself, but a good place to start is with the load times. If your website loads slowly, you’ll lose visitors even before they see what your business has in store for them.

But how fast is fast enough? Generally speaking, pages should load in less than 3 seconds.

According to Google’s 2018 Mobile Page Speed Study, 53% of visitors leave pages that take longer than this time to load.

This means a loss in conversions for your business and — ultimately — a loss in profits.

2. Limit dynamic content

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Dynamic content uses scripts or applications to display content to the user.

One key advantage is that it personalises the user experience.

But it comes with significant downsides, too.

Installing a lot of dynamic content on your website can significantly reduce page speed, which we’ve already covered above.

Dynamic content is also the first to fail under high-traffic situations.

If your visitors encounter database errors, guess what? You’re going to lose traffic and, as a result, experience a drop in conversions.

Try to use static content wherever possible and keep any dynamic coding to a minimum. When it comes to handling large amounts of traffic, reliability is key.

3. Upgrade your hosting

A graphic showing the difference between VPS hosting and dedicated server hosting

If your web hosting server isn’t capable of handling the volume of traffic, website performance will drop.

Are you using a shared hosting package? If you answered yes, this is the first thing you should address.

Shared plans offer limited bandwidth. For high-traffic websites, this is another significant risk to performance — as you are sharing the resources with other websites. 

Even if this works well at the moment, a spike in another website’s traffic is likely to affect your reliability.

Regularly using more than your allocated bandwidth share can also hit you with penalties.

For high-traffic websites,  you’ll need a virtual private server (VPS) or a dedicated server. Here’s how they differ:

  • A VPS splits a server into several virtual environments, which run independently. This can be a good stepping stone from a shared hosting package. You’ll still be sharing some resources, but with fewer websites and an overall decreased risk.
  • A dedicated server ensures you have an entire server to itself. This is the most expensive but the most reliable — so it can be a good investment in some circumstances.

4. Simplify your site design

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This should be the number one rule for any website, no matter how much traffic it gets: Keep it simple!

Simple websites perform better. They load faster, experience fewer errors, and provide a better user experience.

But don’t just take our word for it. A study by Google found that users perceive complex websites as less appealing. And they make this judgement in less than a second.

Here are a few ways to simplify your design:

  • Clean up your scripts, removing any that aren’t required.
  • Use minimal plugins.
  • Perform a link audit, and fix any broken or outdated links.
  •  Remove distracting advertisements.
  • Keep your pages clutter-free (see Google for a good example of how this works).
  • Place the most important information above the fold.
  • Make it easy for users to navigate your content.

5. Optimise images

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Images and other media are a key feature of your website’s design — but use them wisely.

All websites should routinely optimise images, but it should be your main priority if you’re struggling with your page speed.

Here are some tips:

  • Choose the right image format for your website. 

JPEGs are the most common, due to the balance between quality and file size, but GIF or PNG is usually a better option for logos and simple graphics.

  • Compress images to further reduce the file size.
  • Resize them before you upload.
  • Only use images when necessary — this also helps keep your pages simple.

6. Use content delivery network

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A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers, spread across the world, that delivers content according to the user’s location.

They are ideal for high-traffic websites and come with the following benefits:

  • It reduces the load on your main server, increasing the capacity of your hosting provision.
  • Delivers your content faster.
  • It increases your website’s availability.

7. Compress files

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It’s not just your images that benefit from compression. You can compress a variety of the files on your website to increase page speed. 

There are a few tools to help you do this — Packer and Google Closure Compiler are two of the most popular.

These tools remove redundant data and compress scripts to significantly increase website performance. As we mentioned earlier, faster page speeds result in better user experience and, consequently, more conversions.

8. Leverage Caching

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If a visitor has used your website before, it’s likely they have some of your content stored in their browser.

When you leverage caching, you access this stored information — reducing the number of requests required between your server and their browser. 

There are a few ways to do this, including:

  • Using WordPress plugins (e.g. WP Rocket)
  • Using the expires headers — setting a longer period for static content that does not need regular updates. This lets the browser know when they need to check back for any updates.
  • Using a CDN

Conclusion

Managing a website that receives large amounts of traffic comes with responsibilities. There are many ways to enhance its performance and ensure that traffic converts into profits. So make sure to use these eight key essentials as your starting point.

Meet the demands of your high-traffic website. Check out Vodien’s wide range of web and server hosting solutions