5 ways to prepare your WordPress site for more traffic
There are a lot of articles about driving more traffic to your WordPress site. And given that traffic is to websites what votes are to an election candidate (i.e. the more, the better), that makes a certain amount of sense.
But what about once you’ve reached your goal of driving hundreds, no thousands, no millions of visitors to your site every month? How do you ensure that your site (or your candidate, though we’d best leave that one alone) is up to the task?
That’s what today’s post is about. While WordPress is certainly capable of managing huge amounts of traffic, its developers are the first to admit “there are limitations to what any website platform can do by itself.” Luckily, you can do certain things to ensure your site keeps performing at its best—and we’re going to share five of them.
Update your software
One of the easiest and most effective ways of tackling traffic surges is to make sure your applications are up to date. We don’t just mean your WordPress installation—though that’s important, too—we mean your plugins and theme and anything else you installed six years ago and haven’t touched since. Not only will staying au courant equip your site to handle increased traffic, it will enhance security, eliminate bugs, and give you access to all the latest features. Not a bad deal for a few clicks a couple times a year!
Clean up your database
Most people put off cleaning their database about as long as they procrastinate snaking the shower drain, but that doesn’t make it okay. Stored data from site revisions, drafted posts, pingbacks, and plugins can overload your server and cause it to fail when traffic spikes. To prevent that from happening, weed out unnecessary data from your database and toss it in the trash. Turn off or uninstall any unused plugins or themes, and scrub your wp_postmeta and wp_commentmeta tables of any lingering junk.
Upgrade your hosting package
Shared hosting is great option for rookie bloggers and sites with low traffic, but if you’re starting to see performance lag every time you get more than a handful of visitors at a time, it’s time to trade up. A virtual private server or high-powered dedicated server will guarantee that your site runs faster and better, while also providing services like automatic backups, security features, and technical support. Sound like something that’s worth an extra few bucks a month? We certainly think so.
Get to know your caching options
Caching could be what keeps your site online when traffic takes a sharp turn for the stratosphere. How so? Well, caching plugins like W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache and Varnish Cache create static HTML copies of pages and temporarily store them until they’re needed. That means the next time someone visits your site, they’ll already have the majority of the necessary files stored in a cache and won’t need nearly as much information to load the page. For obvious reasons, this comes in particularly handy when visitor numbers go up (and up, and up!).
Take advantage of service-oriented architecture
If you’re preparing for truly historic traffic levels, you might consider splitting your WordPress application into multiple layers and serving each one independently. This approach is known as service-oriented architecture. While most hosting plans take your site and stick it on a single machine, a service-oriented setup splits it up and assigns it to multiple layers. This means your site can handle more traffic and run faster, while you can more easily identify kinks in the system and iron them out.
An increase in site traffic isn’t something that should scare you. After all, more traffic is good! It means people are interested in what you’re offering, and you’re growing your reach. Take the steps outlined in this post, and you’ll be able to confidently welcome hordes of new visitors without the threat of downtime.
How do you manage traffic on your WordPress site? Share your experiences with us in the comments!