As your website grows, it becomes harder to maintain a high quality of service using the same amount of resources you’ve employed in the past. You don’t want to wait until you’re losing your audience to get your website back on track. However, you might wonder what steps to take to handle or prepare for any expected growth.
The answer to handling growth is to scale your website. This means you’ll want to consider improving or increasing certain performance-related features, staying on top of your site’s security, and more. This can ensure a better experience for your visitors and lower bounce rates.
In this article, we’ll explain why it’s important to plan ahead for the growth of your WordPress website and offer a collection of tips for handling it. Let’s go!
Why Planning Ahead is Important for Scaling Your Website
Let’s begin with a brief discussion on what we mean by ‘scaling’. As your business grows, your site will likely generate higher amounts of traffic and attract many users and contributors. This can result in extra ‘load’ on your server, and handling that is not as easy as it might seem.
Consider the case of Costco during 2019’s Thanksgiving Day. Their site was down for 16.5 hours on what should have been a busy and profitable day. In total, Costco incurred losses of nearly $11 million. This is one type of scenario you want to avoid by planning ahead.
There are more benefits in planning for growth and sudden traffic spikes, such as winning customers from competitors with less effective sites. You are also better equipped to handle any performance and security-related issues that crop up down the line.
Additionally, one-time traffic surges from viral content will not necessarily bring down your website. Plus, you can continue to offer the same quality of service regardless of how much load is put on your site.
How to Scale Your WordPress Website to Effectively Handle Business Growth (5 Key Tips)
To help you begin planning ahead for the increased performance you’ll need as your site grows, we’ve put together five key tips to get you started. Let’s dive in!
1. Use Performance Optimization and Caching Plugins
It’s important to make sure your website delivers quick loading times to your visitors – even during traffic spikes. One of the best ways you can do that is by minimizing the amount of HTTPS server requests your site makes and optimizing your site files to be ‘lighter’.
There are a few different methods you can use to accomplish this. One of the most popular and effective is to use a caching plugin such as Cache Enabler:
This free plugin creates static HTML copies of your website and stores them on your server. Those static HTML files are then used to display your site to visitors, which results in better performance and reduced loading times.
Another popular and useful method of boosting your site performance is to optimize its files and images using a plugin such as Autoptimize. In addition to automatically minifying scripts and CSS styles, this tool can enable lazy loading for your site images, which helps your pages render faster.
2. Set Up a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Slow loading times can increase your bounce rates by as much as 38 percent. So it’s no wonder that a core concern for website owners is to improve the performance and speed of their sites.
This is especially important because as your website accumulates different files and assets over time, it becomes slower. While caching and optimization plugins can help, another feature that can significantly improve speed – and by extension, User Experience (UX) – for your visitors is a CDN.
This is a service that caches your website’s resources on a network of servers around the world so each server distributes content to the locations nearest to it.
While there are plenty of solutions available, KeyCDN is one of the most popular and dependable choices on the market, with competitive pricing to boot.
3. Upgrade Your Hosting
Another key tip is to carefully consider your choice of hosting provider, as this will largely determine how much you can scale your site. You’ll want to set up your website with a company that can handle traffic spikes and almost any level of growth so you don’t find yourself needing to move between hosts often.
As you can probably imagine, running a large-scale website can make time a scarce commodity. For starters, there will be increasingly more components to attend to. Signing up for managed hosting plans can help you free up time to focus on business-related matters.
4. Tighten the Security of Your Website
As we’ve established, managing a large website can come with problems. Aside from slow performance, another concern is an increased number of security attacks. The greater the visibility your website achieves, the more attractive it becomes to malicious attackers. Leaving yourself open can lead to exposed user credentials or even a hijacked site.
To mitigate the risk of being severely compromised, here are some simple tips to implement:
- Regularly update WordPress core, themes, and plugins.
- Use a dependable security plugin, such as Sucuri or Wordfence.
- Set up a Web Application Firewall (WAF), which can recognize and keep out threats. You might check whether your hosting provider has this in place, or you could invest in a quality CDN offering regular scans and monitoring features.
Note that it might make more sense to opt for a full-featured security solution to protect your site from any form of attack.
5. Conduct Regular Content Audits
A final tip for staying on top of your site’s performance is to conduct regular content audits. This means strategically analyzing existing material to reveal strengths or weaknesses in your content marketing strategy.
Here’s why: over time, you’ll create a lot of different types of content on your website. It’s smart to keep track of what you publish. This ensures you can identify areas where you might be missing valuable opportunities to reach new audiences.
You’ll also find that your existing knowledge base can often be improved or repurposed into other formats. This can make it easier to publish content for your audience consistently as your site continues growing.
If you’re unsure where to start when organizing a content audit, we’re here to help! Torque writer Nick Schaferhöff has recently written a great step-by-step guide to running a content audit, and it’s well-worth your time.
The UX of your website can make or break it. Planning ahead for increased load and resource usage can put you in the right place to effectively tackle any performance or security issues. You’ll have a healthier website and happier visitors.
In this post, we’ve considered five key tips for scaling a WordPress site, including:
- Use performance optimization and caching plugins.
- Set up a CDN.
- Upgrade your hosting.
- Tighten the security of your website.
- Conduct regular content audits.
Do you have any questions about scaling your WordPress website? Let us know in the comments section below!