holiday traffic

Why and How to Prepare Your Website for Holiday Traffic

Would you go into the holiday season without preparing if you ran a physical store?

No, of course you wouldn’t.

It’s just as important to get set for the holidays when you’re selling online.

In November and December 2016, online sales hit over $110 billion.

If you want a share of that cash, then you need to make sure that your website is optimized for the increase in visitors.

Don’t let increased holiday traffic be your downfall.

Why is it so important to prepare for holiday traffic?

A website that isn’t properly prepared for the increase in hits during the holiday season could face all sorts of problems.

You might deal with:

  • Too many visitors causing your site to crash
  • Pages loading slowly and putting customers off
  • Slow checkout processes causing customers to abandon their carts

That’s not what you want during one of the most crucial sales periods, right?

Right. So here’s how to stop it from happening.

Check your current speeds

Before you start making changes or assessing the effects of increased holiday traffic, you’ll want to get an idea of where your site currently stands.

There are a few methods for this:

  • Test the site yourself, and ask yourself if it’s fast enough. Use multiple devices, including PCs, mobile phones, and tablets.
  • Use free site speed testing tools – just Google ‘site speed checker’ and take your pick.
  • Pay for user testing. This is valuable for assessing user experience on your site, as well as loading times. A trained tester will record themselves while browsing your site.
  • Sign up for a service that notifies you when your site is down and gives tips on a resolution.

If any issues come up, take these actions before moving on.

Boost your hosting plan

Most eCommerce stores start off on the most basic hosting plan.

That’s understandable, since it’s the cheapest and might work fine most of the time.

However, as your business grows, and during busy periods, you might find that you need to upgrade.

Check your current usage with your hosting provider, and upgrade to the next level if you’re worried about hitting your limits during the holidays.

This ensures your customers won’t be hit with a pesky ‘site unavailable’ notice at a crucial moment during their purchase.

Update your theme and plugins

If you’re using WordPress, make sure all themes and plugins are 100% updated, and keep checking back regularly for new versions.

Out of date plugins can slow down your site, create errors for visitors, and may pose a security risk, making you vulnerable to hackers.

That’s not what you want during the holidays.

No matter which provider you’re using for your site, it’s crucial to keep everything up to date.

Cache your content

What’s caching, you ask?

Well, in simple terms, it means that when customers browse pages they’ve already visited before, they won’t have to wait as long for content to load.

Cached images will show up immediately, leading to faster speeds overall.

Add caching plugins to your WordPress site and they’ll do all the work for you – all you have to do it sit back and enjoy your speedy site.

This step is really important if you have lots of images per page or use very large images.

The holiday season could be the most profitable period for your online store.

Don’t let a poorly optimized website lose you valuable holiday traffic.

Start preparing today.