Shark Tank causes massive peaks in internet traffic: How to fend against crashes and stalling

What you can do to equip your website to handle traffic fluctuation



Many people are familiar with the TV series Shark Tank where young enterprises and start-ups present their new products and attempt to obtain financial investment. If viewers like the product, they can also surf the manufacturer’s website parallel to the show in order to get more in-depth information about the product and where to find it.

However, it's not only a TV show that can cause unexpectedly large numbers of people to rush to an individual website; a recommendation by a well-known influencer or a sudden Internet trend can also greatly increase the popularity of a website from one day to the next. It is particularly annoying if the servers then crash under the burden of large visitor numbers. The promising marketing effect hoped for can then fizzle out. A unique opportunity slips away - perhaps never to return.

But what can you do to prevent such cumbersome incidents and be armed against such an unexpected rush of visitors to your website? Sedo shares their expertise on possible solutions and points out potential causes of traffic peaks.


How traffic peaks occur

To be able to respond to possible inquiry peaks in a forward-looking way, you need to recognize what triggers such effects early on. As a rule, you yourself have the greatest leverage. Predictably, limited editions of your product, a newsletter, discount promotions, the pre-Christmas period or marketing campaigns will bring additional visitors to your domain. TV shows and commercials also bring high streams of visitors directly to your website through the evolving use of a second screen in the form of smartphones and tablets.

Taking appropriate precautions is entirely up to you and these are not always successful. Servers have been pushed to their capacity limits in the past even in experienced large companies and ambitious start-ups. Back to Shark Tank, as mentioned above, the show draws attention to companies and their websites who are showcased on the show, many of which who are not equipped to handle this jump in activity.  Another example of this was XeroShoes’ site crashing when it had its 15 minutes of fame when featured on the show in 2015. Even the website for the iconic Eiffel Tower wasn’t able to keep up when Google’s doodle drove too many users to their site.

Companies need to be cautious with ploys to drive traffic to their sites and the right parameters need to be in place to avoid stalling and crashing. The benefit of increasing momentum to your site can come at a cost of leaving visitors with a negative impression should your website not be properly equipped for the influx of traffic. And any e-commerce site that cannot be reached or is too slow will not generate sales anyway. Every second counts in online business.


Potential customers are put off by long wait times

Studies and surveys have shown that the tolerance threshold of Internet users is low when waiting on websites to load. 65% of visitors leave a domain as soon as the loading times exceed 2.8 seconds leaving products and/or pricing to be ignored. Beyond that is even more detrimental as each additional second of loading time leads to a 10% drop in revenue on average.


Prerequisites for high conversion rates

Your website should meet a number of requirements so as not to scare off spontaneous visitors. One that is especially crucial is short loading times.

Make sure that you do not overload your website with elaborate (and insecure) Flash animations, high-resolution autoplay videos or other gimmicks. This eats up bandwidth and makes loading times longer for users without offering them any significant added value. The overriding goal of every e-commerce offer should be to maximize the conversion rate, i.e. increase the proportion of users that make a purchase when they visit the domain. Too many additional features merely distract users and drive up the waiting time for the loading of the website beyond the most people’s tolerance threshold.

Within the Google Analytics tool you can conduct tests to ascertain the actual speed of your website. The program also provides tips on how to improve loading times and illustrates possible problems.


Other preparatory measures

The biggest problem with high quantities of traffic concerns, as a rule, dynamically generated content. It is best to outsource this to external service providers. This enables you to free up additional resources at the push of a button in the event of high capacity utilization. While you have to rely on continuously high-cost server performance with a classic web hosting service, cloud-based hosting providers offer greater flexibility.

It is also advisable to initially process the shopping cart and checkout locally on the customer’s device. This reduces the necessary communication and flow of data between the client and the server, which provides for additional relief during traffic peaks.

If you expect larger numbers of visitors rushing to your domain on a regular basis, a content delivery network is recommended. Decentralized server networks of this kind can easily cope with up to 600 gigabytes of data streams over a short period.

Page caching can also provide temporary relief for the hosting server. E-commerce sites with a relatively large number of images, logos and other statistical content use this interim storage method to reduce the packet quantity per inquiry answered. A content delivery network is also helpful in this case on account of its caching tools automatically alleviating stress on the server. In addition, the network scales images dynamically for the respective terminal device used, meaning that server capacities remain vacant for faster loading times and other processes.