Almost every WordPress hosting company claims they are scalable, but unfortunately, there is a lot of fine print.

How scalable is WordPress? I hear this question a lot from both aspiring website owners and agency owners alike.

Having had the chance to work with many Shark Tank businesses, as part of a team that handled marketing for Robert Herjavick’s investments. I know how important it is to have a reliable website that can handle mass traffic. I’ve heard stories about how a company’s website crashed during that key moment when the world was checking out their product online!

I get the question at least once a month from business owners asking how they can ensure their website stays up during the “Shark Tank Effect.” Whether they’re on the show, have media and PR events. Or are doing an email blast, they want to make sure their website stays online.

As an agency, these are the moments where you should be the hero! Your client is in a massive worldwide spotlight and success can ensure more business for your agency. When these crucial moments in the spotlight are over, you cannot get them back or get a second chance.

If the company’s website crashes, it will have a major effect on their business. They can say goodbye to all those new customers, revenue, or leads that were generated. Your moment to be the hero has now turned into you being the villain. Because your angry client is looking for someone to blame.

Being featured on Shark Tank will increase your traffic exponentially, rapidly consuming the resources of your web server. The charts below are the usage from a real product featured on Shark Tank on a machine with 128 GB of memory. As you can see, normal usage barely registered and when they were featured on the show it increased to 100% capacity over the course of 3 hours. Then the unthinkable happened, everything crashed!

*These charts have been recreated and cleansed to remove any identifiable data.

Left: Memory usage over the broadcast period. Right: Relative load compared to prior/post days.

Follow these 4 rules to ensure your site remains above water when you experience the “Shark Tank Affect”.

Rule 1: Choose a truly scalable WordPress hosting provider.

Almost every WordPress hosting company claims they are scalable. But unfortunately, there is a lot of fine print. Many hosting companies require you to do time-consuming tasks in order to scale your site, like restarting a server or migrate to a new package. This method of scaling will not cut it when every second counts during a mass traffic event. You need a host that offers seamless auto-scaling and the ability to detect high traffic events before they take your site down.

Helpful tip: Signs that you do not have a scalable hosting provider are terms like “cPanel”, “shared”, or “dedicated hosting”. If you see these terms, they likely are in the old days!

Rule 2: Never have a single point of failure. Single instances of servers equal a single point of failure.

The old way of hosting was a single server or VPS. And everything was running on that one instance including files, databases, and WordPress. To truly have a scalable WordPress host, you need to separate files, WordPress, and the database server and have redundancy across multiple physical servers. This will significantly reduce the single point of failure associated with traditional non-scalable hosting.

Rule 3: Leverage page caching as close to the edge of your network as possible.

Everyone wants to increase their site speed, which means implementing caching is a must. Not only does it affect site speed, it greatly reduces the load on your site. And allows you to serve many more requests per second. Most traditional hosting providers are compatible with a multitude of caching plugins available, but a truly scalable WordPress hosting company will provide caching at the platform level. At Convesio our caching is implemented in our load balancers at the edge of our architecture providing a faster load time than if requests were routed to your running WordPress site.

Tom Fanelli
Over my career, I have worked in both small business and Fortune 500 companies. I have had the honor of being a presenter for organizations like Microsoft, Intuit, Sage Software, RealPage, NARPM, NAA, and the Small Business Administration. Most recently I completed my first ebook, Infographics in Action, which teaches exactly how to create and market with infographics. Currently, I work in San Francisco and reside in the bay area with my wife and four children. Feel free to drop me a line, I would love to hear from you!
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Rule 4: Offload as much media as possible to a Content Delivery Network

Offloading media to a Content Delivery Network(CDN) is a great practice that is both cheap and very helpful. I recommend either Cloudflare (for ease of use) or StackPath (for more technical users). Both Content Delivery Networks allow you to distribute your content globally and serve static resources on distributed servers worldwide. This reduces the load on your site and server, reducing overall page load time by serving assets close to where your end users are.

If you ever get that once-in-a-lifetime moment to be featured on Shark Tank, it's crucial to make sure your website can handle it. Following these steps to find a truly scalable WordPress hosting company will increase the likelihood you have a successful show. Keep in mind, the “Shark Tank Effect” will last beyond the airtime of the show, but the night of the broadcast will likely be the peak.


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