Things to consider when running a high traffic website

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People expect peak performance from any website they visit, which might be a challenge for those that get thousands of visitors daily. Without the proper resources, configurations, and adequate preparation, maintaining fast loading times can become a significant issue for those running high traffic pages. Webpage performance issues can lead to loss of traffic, revenue, and overall user trust, damaging online businesses even further. But this can be avoided by taking a smart approach when updating your websites and optimizing your Linux or Windows VPS servers that they run on.

Upgrade your web hosting

Most website owners start with what they can afford – shared hosting. While it usually is the best option at the beginning, once you start hitting the big numbers, it simply offers too little and can’t properly accommodate daily high traffic. They usually lack the necessary things for big pages such as bandwidth, server capacity, RAM, and storage.

Not only does shared hosting providers can penalize you for having consistently high traffic which uses up way more of the allotted share of the server, but other users and their traffic loads also affect your website’s load times. That’s why it’s strongly advised to switch to VPS hosting as soon as possible. Your virtual server is separate from other users and you get the amount of resources you need only for yourself with the possibility to upscale on-demand. Of course, these servers need proper initial set up. Those that don’t want to spend too much time doing so usually go for Windows VPS as Linux VPS needs a bit more technical knowledge.

Streamline site design

For website content to load and display properly, every element on it makes an HTTP request between the visitor’s browser and the hosting server. Naturally, because of this those pages that have a massive amount of scripts or other media content are likely to load much slower.

So the next step is to simplify the design of your webpage as much as you can. This might be a challenge for those that implement various dynamic content but there are ways to optimize it. It’s advised to:

  • remove any unnecessary characters by cleaning up scripts;
  • before uploading any media, run it through an image optimizer;
  • for displaying images, use a specific dimension;
  • rather than resizing large images, upload them at their intended size;
  • choose lightweight plugins on CMS whenever possible;
  • avoid using redirects;
  • fix dead or broken links.

Remember that these improvements should be mobile friendly as most internet traffic to websites comes from mobile users.

Optimize content delivery

Another trick you can do is to implement and use a CND on your Linux or Windows VPS server. It’s a collection of servers that are placed in different geographic locations around the world. Usually, content is delivered to visitors from a single main server that your VPS is hosted on, and because of this, the further away a user is, the longer it takes for their browser to load your website.

A Content Delivery Network optimizes content delivery for local visitors by caching static files on multiple servers and delivering them from the server that is geographically closest to each visitor. This way it significantly minimizes lag time and is a useful tool for website owners whose media content attracts a frequent large number of visitors.

Reduce file sizes

Implementing file compression on Linux and Windows VPS servers is a great idea as it cuts down on content delivery times, too. Such useful tools as Gzip, CSS Compressor, Google Closure Compiler, CSSNano, Packer, and other similar software can considerably decrease the file size by removing redundant characters and unnecessary spaces from code. Then they compress the script files, speeding up delivery times.

Use caching

When visitors use your website, their browsers take its components, content, and scripting, and store it in their systems. As this content remains static, it doesn’t need to be repeatedly requested for display. Here, caching becomes convenient as it essentially eliminates the need to make constant requests between browsers and servers. You can cache static content using the same CDN software or such plugins as Cachify or Cache Enabler.

Improve security

Cyber attacks are not only a risk to your websites, but to your Linux and Windows VPS servers, too. Especially malicious ones like DDoS can even take advantage of high traffic to reduce website speed. Hackers can also use cross-site scripting (XSS) to insert scripts into your page and other attackers can exploit it to access all your stored data. As it can cause serious damage, especially to online businesses, it’s recommended to increase your safety measures by installing reliable firewall & antivirus software, constantly updating the systems, using unique passwords, implementing SSL certificates, and using HHTP security headers.

Optimizing your server and website performance for better high traffic handling isn’t a one-time task. Rather, it’s a process that requires constant monitoring, tweaking, and testing, and every small change has an impact. That is why besides the aforementioned steps, you should always track your page speed, too. It’s the best way to check how effective the changes are and keep incoming visitors happy by having a fast loading website.