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WordPress Scaling – How to Easily Handle High Traffic?

Published on December 9, 2020 - Content Updated on December 8, 2021

6 Min Read
wordpress scaling

Scaling is an essential requirement for high traffic WordPress sites. You never know when a traffic spike could occur as a result of a marketing campaign or business promotion gone viral.

Once your business starts growing, you need a bigger server with more resources. In this case, you must have an intuitive way to quickly scale up the server size to fulfill operational needs and handle the increased traffic without the 404 and 502 errors.

In this article, I will show you the factors that affect the scaling process of WordPress sites. But first, let’s look at some reasons behind traffic spikes that could potentially bring down the websites.

Scenarios

Traffic spikes can hit a website for a couple of reasons. I am going to briefly describe some popular scenarios. There is a very strong probability that you are encountering one or a combination of these scenarios.

Viral Content

The success of a blog depends upon the traffic it receives, because the number of eyeballs directly translates into paying customers.

If a post on your blog or a video on your channel goes viral, you will suddenly see a lot of traffic on your landing pages. The effect will escalate as more and more visitors share your content, resulting in more traffic.

Your blog or channel can also receive traffic spikes if it gets ranked against a high volume keyword in search engines.

BFCM (Black Friday and Cyber Monday)

During BFCM, almost all ecommerce websites receive more than average visits. You’re running different discounts, deals, and sale promotions on your WooCommerce stores, with a significant increase in new visitors, and orders.

eLearning Website

An eLearning website can experience traffic spikes as visitors come in because of the hype created through YouTube, podcasts, webinars, and word of mouth. In this case, you are dealing with a large number of concurrent users/visitors. Also, since the session time at LMS sites is greater than other websites (such as blogs and ecommerce stores) and requires the processing of a higher volume of data, the server resources get consumed rather quickly.

Ad Campaigns

If you’re running an ad campaign at a popular social media channel (such as Facebook, Reddit, etc), you may experience a spike in traffic. The reason is simple! You are getting clicks or receiving new visitors from that Ad campaign.

Giveaways/Contests

The giveaways/contests help website owners boost subscribers, visitors, conversions, and online presence. If you’re running a giveaway/contest at your site, you will experience a heavy volume of visitors during the duration.

WordPress Scalability Challenges

Right out of the box, WordPress is capable of managing high volumes of traffic, and all you need is simple optimization to handle unexpected traffic spikes. Whether it is a temporary surge or a gradual growth in daily sessions, the success could quickly turn into a failure if the server cannot handle the load and traffic.


The following are some factors that influence the decision of scaling a WordPress site.

Plugins and Themes

Due to unnecessary or poorly coded plugins and themes, you may experience performance and server-failure issues. So the first step in planning the scalability of a WordPress website is to uninstall the unnecessary plugins and use a Fastest WordPress theme instead.

Server Hardware

It is important to know what storage drive architecture your web hosting provider uses. Is it an old-fashioned HDD or a more-modern SSD? Similarly, the available processing cores and RAM are essential factors that should be considered when scaling WordPress websites.

Bot Traffic

Sometimes you receive heavy traffic and junk conversions from an unexpected location. This is a critical issue that wastes server resources. If this is the case with your website, you need to use a security plugin or a bot protection service on your WordPress site.

Scalable WordPress Hosting

This essential factor directly influences the scaling of a WordPress site and you need to make sure that you are choosing the scalable WordPress hosting provider.

You can’t afford any server downtime or slow page loading time as this costs you revenue and affects business growth. Therefore, to keep visitors engaged, you need the scalable WordPress hosting solution that helps you scale WordPress sites at any moment.

wordpress scalable hosting cloudways

Now, the question is this: how to find the right and scalable WordPress hosting? Well, it depends on the features focused on scalability and the ability to handle traffic spikes.

Six Important Features to Look for in the Right and Scalable Hosting

The following features are a must-have in any credible WordPress hosting. These features not only help you scale WordPress sites, but also monitor and handle traffic spikes.

Monitoring Feature

Monitoring server resources is essential as it helps you track server status and health. Experts always recommend choosing a hosting solution that offers monitoring features for both servers and applications. This way, you can check your server’s resources and take immediate significant actions (if something goes wrong).

server monitoring

Application-level monitoring is also vital as it helps you check whether your application is working properly. You can analyze and track the traffic stats, slow pages, DB queries that are taking too long to execute, disk space, and much more.

application monitoring

Vertical Scaling

Many hosting providers offer multiple tiered plans, and each plan offers specific server resources or specs. If you want to upgrade the plan from one (lower) to another (higher) or want to add more compute power (CPU, Memory, and Storage), you can do it via vertical scaling. You need to get a reputable hosting like Cloudways that offers a vertical scaling feature where you can easily scale your plan or server size with a click of a button. This way you can quickly handle and manage millions of traffic numbers.

vertical scaling

Bot Protection

Bot traffic generates a heavy load on your server. An attacker sends bot traffic to any site resulting in server downtime, random error, or high bandwidth consumption. A good hosting solution takes care of your site from all angles and provides you a safe and secure environment. It blocks bot traffic before they harm your site or server resources. So sometimes, even if you aren’t directly scaling your WordPress site, taking care of your site can help you do that.

bot protection

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDN plays a vital role especially when it comes to blogging sites. If your audience comes from all over, CDN saves server resources, because the content is served from the nearest CDN server rather than the original hosting server. This will help you indirectly scale WordPress sites by saving your server resources.

cloudways cdn

Cache

Server and application side caching helps your site to perform faster and consume fewer server resources. The right hosting solution provides both server and application-level caching like Varnish and (for WordPress websites) a cache plugin like Breeze.
Not only this, but it should also offer object caching like Redis.

caches

Database

Each action performed in WordPress is connected directly or indirectly with its database. If you are seeing performance issues then you need database optimization and cleanup to keep it working smoothly. Here’s the detailed DB optimization guide that will help you do that.

database

Final Thoughts!

Scaling WordPress sites and handling the high traffic is an easy job (if you know what to tweak and add to your website). In this article, I discussed different scenarios that could result in traffic spikes and the factors that affect the scaling process. If you find this article useful or would like to add something, please share your feedback.

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Farhan Ayub

Farhan is a community manager at Cloudways. He loves to work with WordPress and has a passion for web development. Mostly, he spends his time interacting with the people in the WordPress community. Apart from his work life, Farhan spends his time gaming and playing sports. Feel free to contact him at [email protected]

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