6 Tips to Prepare Your WordPress Site for Holiday Traffic

The holidays are here and that means it’s time to travel, decorate, and prepare for the holiday traffic—on and offline. This time of year is always great for marketing your services or products because there are countless opportunities to attract new customers and draw new traffic to your site. However, before you start creating your content, you need to prepare your WordPress site for all the site visits coming your way.

Here are our six tips to prepare your site for holiday traffic.

1.) Make sure you have the right hosting plan for your site.

In order for you to leverage the holiday traffic that comes to your site, you need to make sure your site hasn’t outgrown your current hosting plan. If your site has expanded and is accumulating high traffic, you may need to upgrade from a basic shared hosting account to a shared plus plan. Each plan offers great options with different server resources to help your site grow.

Not sure which plan is for you? Let’s break down the Bluehost plans to help you make the best decision before upgrading.

A shared hosting plan is an affordable choice that is often used for small business websites and blogs with a quick, easy setup. A shared hosting environment has multiple websites running on the same server which is managed by a hosting provider, like Bluehost. Users with little-to-no design experience love that a shared hosting plan is user-friendly. If you are looking for a plan with more features, you could consider a higher shared plan.

Within the shared hosting plan, users have the choice to upgrade to a shared plus, shared choice plus, or a shared pro plan. A shared plus plan offers an affordable monthly option for users but provides unlimited websites, bandwidth, email storage, and email accounts. This an ideal plan for a user who is looking to create multiple WordPress sites or wanting to accommodate any sudden or consistent traffic increases to their site.

Another consideration for a hosting plan is the shared choice plus option which combines the affordability of a shared hosting option with even more features to keep your site protected. Upgrading to a choice plan with Bluehost will add marketing offers and site backup which can help protect your site from data loss. Choice plus also offers domain privacy and spam experts that filter your inbox for any viruses, phishing, and email related attacks.

Finally, for those looking to go pro, the shared pro web hosting option includes all the benefits of the choice plus package with fewer accounts per server, more speed, power, and memory to optimize your site.

Now that you’ve gotten an overview of the types of hosting plans Bluehost offers, you can decide if it’s time to upgrade your plan before the holiday traffic hits. As you leverage the new users visiting your site, you want to ensure you are keeping your customer’s information protected by reviewing if your Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is installed and updated.

2.) Keep your customers protected with added security on your site.

Nothing gives a customer the chills like having to worry about their personal information being at risk when making an online purchase. With the influx of holiday traffic heading to your site, you want to make sure your SSL certificate is installed and updated so your customers can shop on your site without fear.  An SSL certificate lets a visitor or customer know that any personal information they submit through your site is protected. This is extremely important for your site to process credit card and personal information safely and securely and make your site Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI) compliant.

Being PCI compliant is essential to help protect your site and the customers who are sharing any credit card information. Whether you are a small or large business, your goal should be to build and maintain a secure network for visitors.

So how do you know if your page uses the SSL certification? Here a few examples of how the SSL certificate appears on your site.

  • If your URL begins with an “https,” this indicates that your site is connected to a secure server. The “s,” at the end of “https,” is a security indicator, so your site is safe for users.
  • Your address bar will have a green background color which indicates a high level of security vetting called Extended Validation. This is a new type of visual SSL certificate that gives users confidence when browsing your site.
  • In the left-hand side of the browser, you will see a tiny padlock appear on your site. Visitors can click on the padlock to read more information about your company and know their personal information is safely protected.
  • At the bottom of a webpage, you will find an SSL image that indicates the certificate. Custom images are not available, but the image could show a padlock, or the words “SSL,” or “Security.”

There are several types of SSL certificates you can add to your site and Bluehost offers a great variety for our customers. Once you’ve updated or installed an SSL certificate, it’s time to test out your WordPress theme to make sure it’s responsive for your growing audience.

3.) Making sure your theme is responsive.

Responsive themes are a must-have for today’s online user who is constantly on-the-go. A responsive theme allows users to access your site from any smartphone, iPad, or more with the same content and design regardless of the screen size. WordPress has thousands of responsive themes to choose from that are labeled as “responsive,” and that include ratings and reviews so you can research if that design is best for your site.

Responsive website designs offer several benefits like being recommended by Google, reducing common mistakes that affect mobile sites, and making it easier for users to share and link to your content. If it’s been awhile since you updated your theme you should test our your current theme on multiple devices and see how if your sites display and features are working well together.

It may be time for an upgrade, and the good news is that WordPress has several options to make your site mobile responsive whether you select a new theme, use a responsive plugin, or manually transform the page. 

4.) Review any excess plugins that could be slowing down your site.

Plugins are some of the best ways to optimize your WordPress site, however, anything in excess can be potentially bad for you. Finding the perfect combination of plugins for your site does take a series of trial and error until you find what works, but having too many plugins could slow down your site. How do you know if you are having any site issues as a result of your plugins? Here are a few examples of how a site is affected by too many plugins:

  • Reliability issues
  • Website Crashes
  • Slow site performance and page speed

The best way to decide which plugins to keep and which may need to go is to review each plugin for your site. When reviewing the plugins here a few questions to consider before uninstalling anything:

  • Do I have multiple plugins installed that serve the same function?
  • Am I still using this plugin?
  • What are the user reviews on this plugin? Are there troubleshooting issues I should be aware of?
  • Are my visitors experiencing any site interruptions or difficulties because of a specific plugin?
  • What is the time stamp on this plugin? How long ago was it updated?

After you review your plugins, take a look back at your site and test out the functions to see what a visitor could be experiencing on your site. Plugins work in tandem with each other to make your site run smoothly, but all it takes is one bad plugin or series of plugins to make your site fizzle out. This is the last thing you want to worry about when the holiday traffic is coming your way.

Deactivating your plugins is a great way to test their functionality before adding it back to your site, it may help identify any troubleshooting issues. As you evaluate the performance of your page you can start reviewing your online store to determine if you need to tweak it for a better user experience.

5.) Create a better navigation experience for users in your online.

You know what online shoppers hate? Stopping before they start because they are too distracted by navigation that confuses them. That jarring experience can often determine whether or not a customer makes a purchase or revisits your site. There are a few ways to help declutter your store so that any user will be able to shop without hunting through unwanted pages and content.

Install and activate the WooCommerce plugin to customize your store.

Create a navigation bar with categories specific to your product or services.

Build essential store pages like shop pages, bargain pages, or product pages.

Configure payment gateways for customers at checkout.

The WooCommerce plugin helps to integrate a fully functioning online store to any WordPress site that you can manage with ease.You can work with any ecommerce theme and customize your site with colors, styles, and layouts that can help strengthen your online presence. Creating a stress-free experience for your users will keep them coming back to your site with the confidence they can shop with ease.

Reviewing your online store will also help determine which products or services you want to curate for possible social media sharing during the holiday season.

6.) Know what you are posting to social and what ads (if any) you’re going to run

Social media is a vital component to marketing your content and bringing visitors to your site, but in order to capitalize on that traffic, you have to develop a social strategy. The holidays are the perfect time to leverage the power of a social platform to promote your content. Planning out your content ahead of time can help increase engagement and allow you to connect with your target audience.

The content you plan to use for the holidays can have a significant effect on the amount of traffic you receive. Maybe you are planning to run a sale on a select number of products or discount your services for the month. You have to be intentional with what you are going to share so you can use your website to connect visitors to your social media and vice versa.

In addition to choosing content that best reflects your company or products on social media platforms, you need to be timely in scheduling your content. Having a timely posting schedule can help build excitement for any upcoming promotions or sales leading up to the holidays.

After you decide what content you will share, you need to decide if you plan to promote that content using social ads. Each platform has its own system for how paid content is created and shared to its social media audience. Ads are great for reaching new customers and driving traffic to your site but do require you to spend a few extra dollars depending on several factors.

Giving your site a holiday tune-up is the perfect way to prepare for holiday traffic that can come your way during the holiday season.

Do you believe your site is ready for the holidays? Let us know below!

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