You want to grow users and scale a website? We work with many developers from around the world for the various tools and technologies we use on our sites. Gezim Hoxha is the creator of ZipRecipes, a WordPress plugin that structures recipe data into database format while adding metadata for search engines and other apps to be able to take advantage of it. Gezim’s customers are food bloggers and site owners and they often have questions for him on how to run and scale a website.
We recorded an hour long conversation on this topic and are adding in this post some key points to consider.
How to scale a website to over a million page views per month:
- Content quality: start with something you know and have practiced before. Focus on your readers and users, helping them achieve what it is they are looking for. In the case of Laylita.com these are food recipes. Recipes include a personal story and intro, a video, several step-by-step photos, and a structured data format for the recipe ingredients and instructions using ZipRecipes.
- Content breadth and depth: a single recipe won’t be enough if you’re looking to scale. You’ll need to add more content, and strike a balance between posting a whole lot of short posts, or crowd-sourcing it, essentially becoming a platform where not just you but other users can create and post content, or add high quality posts yourself at a slower and steady rate.
- Optimizing traffic sources: over time the way people find websites is changing. Search engines have traditionally driven the lion share of incoming visitors through organic search (SEO) or paid search (SEM). Now we live in the era of social media, which is growing and representing a larger source of traffic. Then you have campaigns like emails, push notifications, or other websites linking to your content. Each of these referral sources is its own effort, but they share a lot in common. If users are happy with the content they consume, referral platforms will tend to show more of your stuff.
- Keeping the site fast: doing so is not a one time effort. It is a journey. There is always a new piece of technology that, once you implement it, makes your site faster. Likewise there will be new technologies that once implemented, will make your site slower. A fast site is important for users. If content is too slow they will be frustrated and leave your site. If it’s fast, the opposite. Consider the 3 elements of page speed: 1/ server response time, 2/ DOM loading, where the main content is loaded and the user can start consuming it while other elements are still finishing to load, and 3/ full page load time.
- Keeping the site secure: like speed, security is also a journey. Sites and technology are getting more secure. At the same time threats are evolving and becoming smarter. While no site is 100% hacker proof there are some basic things you can do to make it much less vulnerable from outside attacks.
- Not over-obsessing and moving forward: don’t think too much about how to name your website, your posts, how to write things. All these are important, but to scale you need to strike the balance between thoughtfulness and getting things done fast enough.