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Ready For Your 15 Minutes?

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday September 7, 2012 )

Your site is going to be mentioned on a popular TV show – are you ready? Many small business sites won’t handle what comes next.

I received a message from a very excited owner of a small business whose newsletter list I’m subscribed to. His site was going to be mentioned on a popular TV show. I cringed at what I thought would happen as I’ve seen it happen so many times before.

Sure enough, when trying to visit the site after the TV segment was aired, it wouldn’t load as it had been swamped with traffic. For those it was loading for, any purchase they were trying to make would have been an excruciating process as it would have been slow to the point of cart abandonment.

This went on for a couple of hours. Given the short attention span of people these days, I suspect many visitors won’t return – the site will be forgotten. I would hate to think how much this merchant may have missed out on in terms of immediate sales and long term customers.

Many small business sites are set up on shared hosting infrastructure. Depending on the web host’s setup, a single site on that server getting hammered by traffic can slow down performance of every other site on the server as well.

Getting this level of attention is a crisis in the Chinese sense of the word – it presents opportunity, but also danger.

If you find yourself in the position of such coverage and you know the segment won’t be aired for a few days, talk to your web host and explain to them what is going on.

Aside from it being the courteous thing to do, they may be able to assist in ensuring your site stays up. Additionally, a web host that sees a sudden and massive increase in traffic to a site may misread it as been a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack and suspend your account immediately – so it really is wise to give them the heads up.

If you have reached the point in your business where you are getting this level of recognition, it is probably time to reconsider your hosting arrangements anyway. Dump your bargain basement shared hosting account and shift to a dedicated, semi-dedicated (where only a few accounts share the same server instead of dozens or hundreds) account or cloud hosting. Whatever you switch to, ensure it is scalable as site migrations can be a real pain.


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