At the time of this publication, the big game is exactly 18 days away. Depending on when you’re reading this, you might want to check Wolfram Alpha to see how much time you have before kickoff.
While most people are eagerly anticipating all the football action (and the snacking that comes with it), this is the perfect time for companies investing major dollars into a coveted advertising spot or companies of all sizes planning on leveraging the “Super Bowl effect” to capitalize on their marketing dollars to test and improve their site’s performance. According to an article by Similar Web, 2015 advertisers saw immediate spikes in traffic to their sites ranging from an increase of 1,659% (worldsleadingcruiselines.com) to a relatively paltry 187% (Pepsi). No word on how well those sites responded to the surge in traffic, but it’s safe to say that most sites, in their current state, would not survive that influx without some important optimizations.
If you (or one of your clients) are one of the lucky few that will be showcased on television or are planning a whole football-themed campaign on social to join the #SB51 conversation, here are five things you can do to help.
1. Cozy Up To Your Hosting Provider
While there are some common sense preparations to be ready for the influx of traffic, your hosting company knows their platform and how to optimize it better than anybody else. It’s safe to wager that they helped other customers capitalize on similar high traffic events in the past. If possible, give your hosting company a two-week notice to ensure they have enough time to optimize your site for maximum stability and performance. Taking a proactive approach can even allow you to scale up your bandwidth ahead of schedule, and be 200% ready for the wave of new visitors.
2. Speedy Content Delivery? A Necessity.
Media-rich sites have become the norm, which also means that most sites have become “heavier”. This means that there will be more resources to render and load for visitors on an individual basis. One of the easiest ways to optimize your site’s media is to utilize a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
3. Caching for the Future
No matter which content management system (“CMS”) you use (WordPress, Drupal, or Magento, to name a few), you’ll want to take advantage of a caching service. Every CMS is a double-edged sword. While these systems provide tremendous control for the Webmaster to augment a sites’ text, images and videos, the downside comes in the form of an overloaded server that has to re-build the same page over and over again for each visitor.
Using caching services like Varnish, Squid, or Redis are not only easy to implement, but also provide powerful optimization for CMS and non-CMS sites alike. Our Director of Engineering, Eugene Kovshilovsky, recently wrote about how to best use caching right here on the Media Temple blog.
4. Serious Security
A high profile site is, by definition, a high profile target. There are a number of obvious security precautions that you can take when setting up your hosting environment, including (but not limited to) ensuring all updates and security patches are installed, not permitting root login, and ensuring the right permissions are set in your site’s directory.
Generally speaking, serious security concerns are best left to the professionals. Depending on your hosting configuration, your web host should offer to provide a basic security assessment of your environment and make more advanced recommendations depending on your needs.
5. Load Testing
No matter what steps you take, it all boils down to the final results. Load testing your site before an event is the best way to test the bandwidth and speed of your site under duress. There is a number of free load testing options to test at almost any level. Once load testing is complete, you should share your findings with your stakeholders and then your hosting company. Not only will this uncover any bottlenecks in your application stack, but it will also establish valuable benchmarks for how many visitors your site can realistically service before its stability and performance start to fade.
Questions? Concerns? Let’s Talk!
If you are expecting an increase in traffic for any event (not just the Super Bowl) and are hosting with us, our stellar customer support team can proactively assess the readiness of your site or application, so let’s talk! We are available 24/7 at 1-800-840-8975 or or via chat.