Many site owners trudge along, trying to drive more of it any way they can. Some days it feels like a never-ending battle. But you go on; crafting great content; knowing every post is a hit and wondering why it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
But, the traffic doesn’t come.
So you work on crafting better headlines that are sure to get clicks, but at first, they don’t.
Until the day one of your headlines catches the attention of someone with a large audience. All of a sudden, a few likes, shares, or +1’s turn into a flood.
You check your stats and see a huge spike in traffic. Your heart skips a beat, you get butterflies in your stomach, and that traffic number just keeps going up! You’ve finally arrived!
As you watch the numbers tick up, you notice your site getting slower and slower… eventually coming to a crawl. Joy turns to panic hoping your site doesn’t crash under the load. As the site slows, so does the traffic. No one sticks around long waiting for a site to load.
You survive (barely), and the next day traffic is still up, but less than yesterday. Determined not to let the opportunity pass you by, you write another post, better than the last, with a killer headline, and push that big beautiful “Publish” button again.
Over the next few days, the dust settles and traffic slips back to where it was before the spike. It’s as if all that traffic never happened.
This story may not seem to have a happy ending but hang tight. It isn’t over yet.
Is Traffic Really That Important?
First, let me poke you in the eye. Traffic isn’t your goal.
It might sound trite, but the right traffic, even at a low volume, will do far more for you than tons of the wrong traffic. That isn’t to say that getting people to your site isn’t important, but it’s only one metric, and not a strong one when viewed alone.
Ok, ok, I get it. We all want to see those numbers go up. Unfortunately, most websites aren’t ready when they do.
The lesson is simple. If you aren’t ready for the right traffic when it comes, you’ll miss the opportunity to push your site to the next plateau, make more sales, sign more people up, or achieve whatever goal you have.
Now that the eye-poking is over, it’s time for a hug.
How To Be Ready For Your Traffic Spike
In order to take advantage of that first traffic spike and push your site to the next level, there are four foundational things you must have in place. Without them, you’re playing Russian Roulette with your site.
Solid Hosting + Caching
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a big name share a link on a social channel or their website and crash the site they linked to because that site was on low-quality hosting.
A great host + caching will get you 90% of the way there when it comes to running a stable site that can handle traffic spikes.
Learn more about choosing the right host for your website.
Imagine getting that traffic spike only to have no idea why, or where the traffic came from, or how to do it again! When that traffic hits, you won’t see it coming and may not even know about it until it’s over.
If you don’t have analytics installed, you’ll miss a golden opportunity to dissect what just happened and use it as ammo to drive more traffic. Installing Google Analytics is quick and easy and it will give you a lot of information about your site and its visitors.
Have A Call To Action
Having a call to action is the cardinal rule for being ready to take advantage of website traffic and was the inspiration for this post.
Second, only to your site crashing, the lack of a call to action is the SINGLE BIGGEST reason most sites get nothing out of a good dose of traffic.
There are few things more frustrating than realizing you got the traffic you were dreaming of and got nothing out of it. Ouch!
Having a call to action means having a specific goal for each post and drive visitors to that goal. For example, if your goal is to get people to sign up for your newsletter, have an inline form (like the one below) encouraging people to sign up.
My goal with this post is to encourage you to put your website on a solid foundation that’s ready for more traffic. I’ve included a sign-up form so I can share more information on how to do that as well as linking out to the resources I recommend.
Sometimes traffic begets traffic, make sure you have social sharing buttons on your site so visitors can follow you and reshare your content, pushing that traffic spike even higher.
In my experience, social icons are at best, supplementary drivers of engagement day-to-day, but there is no reason to make it anything other than dead easy for people to share your content if they want to. And those buttons will play a very important role during your traffic spike in keeping it going.
What To Do Now So You CAN Handle The Traffic First
Check out WPEngine or StudioPress Sites if you’re on WordPress, or find another premium hosting provider. The cost is very reasonable, and is downright dirt-cheap compared to a site that crashes under a load.
If you don’t already have caching set up, do it now, no matter who you host with. For WordPress, install W3-Total-Cache and follow the instructions from WPBeginner for proper configuration. If you’re hosting with WPEngine, skip this, they have a proprietary way of handling caching and installing a caching plugin will cause problems.
Next, install Google Analytics. Most of you will have done this, but if you haven’t, do it now and start gathering data.
Third, make sure your post has a clear goal and associated call to action. Fail on this one and you’ll kick yourself later.
Finally, make sure you have easy-to-find social sharing buttons so that readers can become advocates for you.
Now, go forth and capitalize on all that traffic! I can’t wait to hear your stories when you do.