Santa’s elves don’t wait until November to start making toys. To make sure your WordPress website is ready for the holiday season, you should start preparing early too.
Ecommerce websites experience higher traffic and sales volumes in the busy shopping season leading up to Christmas. To ensure your success, we put together this holiday survival guide. Instead of advice on how to trim your tree or not dry out your turkey, we’re serving up our best tips to prepare your WordPress site for holiday traffic.
Why Websites Need to Prepare for the Holidays
The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the busiest shopping season of the year. Let’s look at why you want to prepare your WordPress site for the holiday rush.
Holiday ecommerce sales are expected to grow 15.5% year-over-year in 2022. If your site isn’t ready for the holidays, you could miss out on your share of the more than $235 billion in expected 2022 holiday ecommerce transactions. Missing out on that spending would make anyone feel a little bah humbug.
New Customer Growth
Holiday shopping leads to more first-time buyers. Someone puts one of your products on their list, and that introduces the gift buyer to your brand. You’ll experience a higher share of first-time browsers and buyers during the holiday season. And when they see how much the recipient loves the gift, they’ll want one of their own. If you want them to come back and buy again in the new year, you need to make sure your website leaves a good impression.
Stress on Your Site
You wouldn’t run a marathon without training or drive your car cross country without checking the oil and tires. The same is true for your website. An ecommerce website will work two to five times harder during the holiday season. Do the training and maintenance now to make sure it’s ready to handle the workload.
The holidays are a busy time for everyone. Between managing your site and shipping out orders, you’ll barely have time to do your own shopping or send holiday cards. Let’s face it. Odds are that right now is the least busy you’ll be before Christmas. Once the holiday season is in full swing, you won’t have time to do the website prep work, and you’ll have even less time to troubleshoot any problems.
How to Prepare Your WordPress Site for Holiday Traffic
Fortunately, preparing your website for the holidays is considerably easier than finding the perfect gift for your finicky great aunt. If you follow basic WordPress maintenance best practices, or used our 24/7 WordPress hosting support, you’ve probably already completed many of these tasks. Go ahead and make that list and check it twice… just in case.
Step 1: Backup Your Site
As always, back up your site before you complete any updates or maintenance. At Pressable, we take care of the backups for you. Automatic backups are a part of every Pressable plan.
Before the start of the holiday season, check your backup schedule to ensure you’re backing up all your customer and order data regularly. If something happens and your site goes down, you’ll have everything you need stored away and ready to relaunch.
Step 2: Update Everything
Keeping your WordPress system, plugins, and theme updated ensures your site performs at its best. Updating your website’s software also ensures you have all of the latest security patches and enhancements. If you don’t keep your system updated, you could be at a greater risk of being breached.
You’ll ruin customers’ holidays and their goodwill toward your brand if their personal information is compromised on your site. Don’t take that chance.
Step 3: Take Out the Trash
You know all those drafts or trashed but not deleted pages just hanging out in your WordPress database? They’re not great for site performance. Much like how your neighbor keeping their Christmas lights up year-round can drag down the neighborhood, excess clutter in your databases can make your site run slower.
The more you have in your databases, the more difficult it is for your site to find the information needed to render a page correctly. It’s especially true during peak holiday traffic. Your site will execute more queries as more shoppers come to the site. You don’t need to waste time looking through last year’s trash while trying to sell this year’s gifts.
Step 4: Test Your Site’s Performance and Optimize for Speed
Fast sites perform better than slow ones. People might be willing to wait in the freezing cold outside a big-box store for a Black Friday bargain, but they aren’t willing to wait on a slow website. Run speed tests on your site to identify any issues. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a free tool you can use to test your page loading times.
If your pages load too slow, it could mean you’re using too many plugins, or there’s a problem with how your server or CDN is caching your site. For more tips on how to fix a slow website, read our post on tips to speed up a WooCommerce site.
Step 5: Prepare to Scale
Can your site scale to handle a huge influx in traffic? What’s your current hosting plan? Can the host handle the traffic? Pressable scales flawlessly. Our data network and infrastructure were created by the same geniuses behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, and WordPress VIP. We deliver optimal site speeds and 100% uptime no matter how many visitors are on your site at once.
Step 6: Doublecheck Your Security
During the holidays, you want to send out cute cards and not notices that your customers’ data was compromised. Check your WordPress settings and your host’s security settings to ensure that they follow WordPress security best practice so that you have maximum protection.
Here’s what Pressable does to keep your site safe:
- Regularly scans for known threats and WordPress vulnerabilities
- Keeps WordPress core (as well as Automattic plugins like WooCommerce and Jetpack) updated
- Ensures you’re using a current version of PHP
- Backs up your website daily
- Employs a state-of-the-art web application firewall (WAF)
Is a New Web Hosting Service on Your Holiday Wish List?
If you made it through every step on this list and still think your website is too slow or not ready, it could be time to find a new host. The good news is that with Pressable’s managed migration service, you can have your site moved to Pressable’s lightning-fast servers in time for the holiday season. Before you’ve even had a chance to order your first pumpkin spice latte, we can have you up and running. Schedule a demo to learn more about Pressable plans and free migrations.
Jessica serves as the Director of Operations for Pressable and spends her days focused on creating the best managed WordPress hosting experience possible. She's been using WordPress since 2008 and has been serving in WordPress-focused roles since 2010. When she's not working, you can find her spending time with her family, serving in her community, watching hilarious dog videos online, or brewing a pitcher of iced tea.