How to Prepare for a Surge in Website Traffic

Don't let a website crash ruin your reputation. Optimize your site before traffic surges hit.
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This story appears in the August 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

So Oprah mentions your product on her final show and just like that, traffic and sales surge on your website. It feels great until … your site crashes.

Every business needs a crash plan. Yet few small and midsize businesses are prepared for the possibility. In a recent survey, Neustar, a web infrastructure company, found that 73 percent of SMB sites wouldn't be able to support a sudden 200 percent increase in traffic.

"When you first build your business, you don't want to spend money, but this is something you need to plan for," says Rick Rumbarger, Neustar's senior director of product management. "The decision not to do it could end up being more expensive.

"It takes more than a day to build your brand," he adds, "but if your site crashes, it could take less than a day to destroy it."

Rumbarger's readiness tips:

Start with a reliable hosting provider. Stick with a top 25 web hosting company if possible.

Determine "time-to-live." The TTL limit determines how long a denial-of-service attack circulates through the servers. If, for example, your TTL is set for one day, you'd better hope your customers are on vacation that day.

Test before going live. This way you'll see if your hosting firm has the right support plan in place.

Monitor customer experience. How is the site loading for visitors during high-traffic times?

Continue to manage the site. Companies like Neustar offer load balancing, monitoring, DNS protection and more.

Edition: September 2017

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