Scalability: What to Do When Your Site Gets Popular

too many requests

You created a website and made all the right marketing moves to promote it.

But now the site has skyrocketed in popularity. People are coming to the site in droves. You’re a bit caught off guard, and you didn’t expect this spike in traffic.

With all the added activity, you start getting complaints that people can’t access pages on your site due to too many requests errors. Or they might experience webpages loading slow. But what does that even mean? Before you can fix the problem, you need to understand the underlying issue.

Getting a lot of visitors to your site is a good thing. It hopefully means more sales. However, don’t become a victim of your success. Let’s look at ways to modify your website when errors start to occur as a result…

What is a ‘Too Many Requests’ Error?

This error will pop up for the user when they try to access the same resources on your site too many times with a certain timespan. This can be the result of a human user making too many actions, or from a bot.

The error can be shown to the user in different forms, including a bandwidth error. Either way, the site recognizes that too much activity is happening within the specified time frame, and essentially boots the user out.

Most websites are on a shared hosting plan, meaning they are at the mercy of the limitations of the web host. That could mean limited traffic and space and traffic that’s included in the plan.

Not addressing this problem can be frustrating to your site’s visitors, causing them to avoid it. However, if your business is scaling, so should your online capacity.

Understanding Rate Limits

The rate limit, which is the number of HTTP requests a site can handle at a time, are in place mostly to prevent against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks can result in your actual users not being able to gain access to your website for long periods.

These requests from the attackers come at a fast rate, and from multiple places, and the rate limit can help shut it down. But these same rate limits might be deterring real people that want to contact you.

You should always have measures in place that can help minimize risks against malware and other cyber attacks. Your site won’t be good for anyone if you lose access to it or data is corrupted or stolen.

Fix Site Plug-In Issues

Some web pages have plug-ins that require your site to communicate with a third-party app. While these plugins can do everything from improving your site’s SEO (to rank better in search engines) to providing added cybersecurity, they may also be causing too many HTTP requests to your site, causing it to crash.

One way to try and get around this is by disabling the plug-ins one at a time to see which one is causing the issue. You can also ensure you only use quality web applications with a good reputation. That includes apps that make transactions more streamlined on your e-commerce site.

However, this is not a permanent solution because if your traffic is steadily increasing, you’ll have to find another fix. You might also lose critical functions on your site by removing apps.

Reduce the Elements of Your Page

Each time a web browser has to load a file for your page, it will make a request to the server. This will increase HTTP requests as well as making your website painfully slow to load.

Having large images that aren’t optimized for web viewing, or too many images on a page can seriously bog down your site. Make sure they are sized smaller for easy web viewing. Also, if your host limits the amount of data you can transfer before charging additional fees, that’s another good reason to compress images.

If you have a lot of unnecessary icons, animations and other elements on your page, consider removing them to see if it makes a difference.

Use a Content Delivery Network

Using a cloud-based delivery system for your images and other data-heavy elements can help reduce the requests to your server. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) can also detect what servers are nearest to the client to reduce loading times.

When your site is getting hits from all over the world, CDNs are a way businesses can address webpages loading slow. A network of other servers is used to deliver the information, rather than putting more load on the main one.

Use Load Balancing

This is the practice of using back-end servers to take some of the workload off your main server. When a visitor comes to your site and starts loading pages, another server will deliver the data.

There are a few ways load balancing can be achieved. For example, it can organize the way requests to a server are organized for better efficiency. It can also identify which servers are currently doing the least work, and send overflow to them. This can increase the number of users on your site at the same time.

Try SSD Storage

When it comes to data storage, you’re probably (or should be) familiar with a hard drive. Solid State Drives, or SSD, don’t have any mechanical parts. That means your data can be retrieved without any waits due to hardware limitations.

This also means that using SSD technology is more reliable, as it’s not susceptible to breaking down like a standard drive. Make sure when you’re choosing a web host that they offer SSD storage as part of the plan.

Get a Dedicated IP Address

In the case of shared hosting, multiple websites can have the same IP address. A dedicated IP means dedicated resources on the host server. That means it’s more likely your website will continue to perform well without slowing down, even when traffic is at its highest.

However, that’s not the only reason you’ll want to consider a dedicated IP. You need one of these to get an SSL certificate, which helps protect the information of your visitors when you’re running an e-commerce site.

If you’re selling something that requires a login to track customers, then you’ll probably need this now or down the road when you scale.

Use Hotlink Protection

Also known as creating zone referrers, this is a protection you can put in place that prevents third-party websites from embedding your site’s assets on their own. This actually drives more traffic on your site.

With this method, you can pick and choose who can link to our assets. This same approach can be used to protect data that you send through a content delivery network.

Switch to a Virtual Private Server

Growth in scale means growth in your website’s needs. When you choose a virtual private server, you’re technically no longer using a shared service. VPS is kind of like having dedicated and shared hosting put together.

VPS means that a single server is divided into several, meaning you could host a number of your websites in one place without an issue. VPN is also easily scalable and provides a way to handle increased traffic without having to switch to in-house servers.

With a shared server, your site will be affected by traffic from other sites with the same host. However, with a VPS your site can handle sudden spikes in traffic, like when you write that killer blog post or launch a new product. Think of it like having a private room at a hotel, rather than everyone sharing space in a common room.

Make the Best First Impression

When you’re selling your products and services online, you’re up against a lot of competition. That’s why it’s crucial that your site visitors don’t get a too many requests error, or have to deal with webpages loading slow.

Reports show that the average web user stays on a page for only 15 seconds or less, so you want to provide an experience that will keep them there. More importantly, you want them to come back.

It doesn’t make sense to create a site that’s beautiful and functional to showcase your products, and then have people shy away because of technical issues. More web traffic is often a sign of success (as long as it’s useful traffic) – don’t be held back by a web host that can’t handle it.

Find the Right Web Host for High Traffic Sites

Depending on your needs, shared hosting may be more than sufficient. However, when you’re looking to grow your web traffic, then you should find a service provider that also offers VPS. You also want one that offers the option of unlimited traffic for a flat fee.

Not all web host companies are designed to cater to high-traffic sites like e-commerce sites. Make sure you’re getting one that will meet your business needs, so your guests don’t get the annoying too many requests message.

Also be sure to choose a company that caters specifically to the area, with a data center in Ireland. To find out more about how we can host your high-traffic website smoothly, contact us today.