How to prepare your WordPress site for a surge in traffic

Should your website receive a spike in traffic, it’s a positive sign that your content is resonating with your fans and followers. However, depending on your server configuration, you may sometimes find that a sudden increase in traffic causes stability or performance issues.

With a little preparation, you can protect your site from the issues commonly associated with traffic spikes. Let’s walk through the steps.

Web hosting configuration

While some web hosts limit bandwidth, throttle server speeds on busy sites, or cut access altogether once a certain amount of traffic has been reached. However, if you find that your traffic is growing consistently, you may benefit from upgrading to HostPapa’s Business or Business Pro plans, which offer advanced features such as a boost in CPU resources, faster servers, and lower contention rates (fewer accounts per server).

Alternatively, take a look at our VPS hosting plans, which offer a fast and scalable alternative to traditional shared web hosting. Should your content suddenly go viral, additional resources are ready as soon as they’re needed.

Content delivery networks (CDN)

A content delivery network, or CDN, delivers important website content at high speeds and with peak performance. The priority of a CDN is to reduce latency, or in other words, reduce the amount of time it takes to load a website. A CDN helps with the latency caused by physical distance by creating a distributed network across many data centers around the world.

CDN services are available on a subscription basis and can be configured to work with websites reasonably quickly. Some offer configuration plugins for popular platforms such as WordPress, simplifying the setup process.

CloudFlare CDN is available to HostPapa Business and Business Pro plan customers at no charge.

Caching plugins

The fastest and easiest way to optimize the speed of your WordPress site is to implement caching. Caching uses RAM to store frequently accessed pages of your site in a cache memory on your server, shortening the time it takes to access those pages. Features also include compressing HTML, CSS, and Javascript files to accelerate load times.

Find out more about improving website page speed through caching in the HostPapa knowledge base.

Optimize images

One of the best ways to improve website performance is to optimize the images used on your site. You can choose to optimize image size in Photoshop or another image editor before uploading the files to your site or use a specialist application like JPEGmini to automate optimization.

Alternatively, install an application such as Smush Image Compression and Optimization to compress and optimize your images during the upload process. It works in the background, optimizing new and existing images uploaded to your media library compressing file sizes while maintaining image quality.

Stress testing

Once you’ve optimized your site, it’s a great idea to stress test its performance to check how traffic spikes will be handled. Online stress testing tools create artificial traffic spikes and monitor how your site performs under pressure. For more information on stress testing, check out the Tsung load testing tool.

Uptime monitoring

With your site fully optimized, your server should be able to handle traffic spikes with ease. However, if your traffic remains unpredictable, or you’re concerned about your site’s availability, take advantage of an uptime monitoring service. These services regularly check your site is online and will alert you to any access issues.

If you’re using WordPress, you’ll find an uptime monitoring tool available with the accompanying Jetpack plugin. Alternatively, try Pingdom’s free monitoring service, which works with all sites.

Keep your site secure

Alongside server optimization techniques, it’s also very important to keep your site securely protected from unauthorized access and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which can cause significant performance issues.

WordPress users can take advantage of a range of plugins that harden security provide access monitoring and firewall features. Alternatively, HostPapa offers a range of automated malware detection and security services with Protection Power, a website safety service that works with all platforms.

If you notice any problems or if you need any help, please open a new support ticket from your HostPapa Dashboard. More details on how to open a support ticket can be found here.

If you need help with your HostPapa account, please open a support ticket from your dashboard.

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