Let’s face it; everyone loves a good bargain. That’s why Black Friday is so popular; everyone is ready to look for the biggest and best deals around and that includes their online shopping behaviour.
This can lead to a huge increase in the number of sales on your website, meaning that whilst the individual product prices may be lower, the Average Order Value per customer will increase as they instinctively try to get their hands on multiple deals as quickly as possible. That’s the entire reason why businesses put themselves through the stress of Black Friday.
However, did you know that this stress isn’t just limited to yourselves and your employees? Black Friday can put a huge strain on your website, pushing it to breaking point and beyond. So, we wanted to look at how you can prepare your website for Black Friday in order to avoid being featured on the 2019 lists of Black Friday website crashes.
Black Friday and Website Traffic
The biggest issues that websites have throughout the Black Friday period come from the sheer amount of traffic that pushes its way onto the site. It’s effectively the same problem that brick and mortar stores have when everyone tries to barge through the front doors.
If you’ve ever seen those images and videos of physical stores opening up and a sea of people flood their way in, that is basically what happens to your website.
I’m sure you can imagine the effect that this has on a website. If the website isn’t structurally built for this sort of traffic, it will really struggle! In fact, there have been a number of examples where very large websites have failed at this, being taken offline by the influx of visitors.
Famous Black Friday Website Crashes
Macy’s (2016 and 2017)
Even though Macy’s is across the pond, you have probably heard of them. After all, they have been in business since 1858. In fact, since 2015, they are the largest department store chain within the United States. As such, you would expect that their online presence would be watertight.
However, their website was taken down by the sheer volume of users, two years in a row! In 2016, the site was down for the entirety of Friday morning and most of the afternoon. That outage reportedly cost the company millions of dollars.
Yet, somehow, the outage in 2017 was actually worse. Not only did their website go down once again, but their Mobile App and Credit Card system within stores all also went offline.
Moving over to the UK, 2017 also saw one of the largest video game retailers crumble under the weight of the Black Friday traffic. Considering the fact that GAME is a technology and electronic entertainment retailer, you would expect that they would take the necessary precautions for the rise in traffic.
They didn’t. Instead, there was such a huge level of traffic pouring into the site as soon as the deals went live. This meant that GAME’s website managed to stand its ground for a matter of seconds!
Whilst there is a tonne of other big-name websites that went offline due to Black Friday traffic, the last one we are going to focus on here is possibly one of the biggest; PayPal. Whilst websites like GAME and Macy’s are huge, PayPal is a mammoth! After all, an extremely large amount of people use PayPal to send money, purchase online and manage their money.
However, in 2015, the number of people trying to purchase deals around the internet actually took PayPal offline. It was only a short amount of downtime but it had a large knock-on effect for people across the internet
Black Friday 2018 Stats
£ 1.49 bn
Is Your Web Server Ready For Black Friday?
So, as you can see, even the biggest websites out there can struggle and fall under the influx of Black Friday deal hunters. Therefore, you really need to make sure that you have prepared your website as best as possible.
The first step to this is by looking at your server. If you’re an E-Commerce website, your server takes a far more powerful beating than a lead generation site. As such, if you want to avoid any issues and maximise your web server uptime, you need to make sure that your web server is up to the task.
If you are on a shared server, this could be problematic as other websites hosted on that server may also gain a big spike in traffic. This would affect the server itself, also causing issues for your website. As such, we would recommend that you look at moving to a dedicated server.
Doing this would help you prepare your website for Black Friday by ensuring that there is enough resource behind it to deal with the volume of traffic.
If you’re running a website on a Content Management System, you’re going to want to make sure that your e-Commerce hosting provider is able to give you enough resources as soon as possible. Some Magento hosting companies, for example, offer the ability to temporarily boost your resources – this way, you can protect yourself through Black Friday without the ongoing costs of running a higher-level server.
Planning and Developing A Website For Black Friday
With all of these Black Friday website outages in mind, you are probably wondering just how you can minimise the chance of your own site going down over the spending frenzy.
The first thing you need to look at is how much data your website needs in order to load. As we have already touched on, web servers are the most likely aspect to fail. Therefore, you need to make sure that the server has as little data and as fewer files as possible.
This sort of web development is part of Page Speed Optimisation, which would also help to boost your SEO performance. By carrying out strategic development on the Page Speed aspects of a website, including minimising the size of files, the number of HTTPS requests and more, you will be able to reduce the strain on a web server.
Then, by developing the code of the website in the right way, you can help to ensure that the website doesn’t overload the server as well. If the code for the website is sloppy or mixed between all sorts of themes, templates and random extensions, it will cause the browser to require more work from the server. These sites would certainly not be able to withstand a large influx of Black Friday visitors.
If you want to discuss your website’s setup, coding and development, as well as how to prepare your website for Black Friday, we would be happy to talk through what you need to ensure you don’t suffer from any Black Friday website outages. Feel free to get in touch with us to get the ball rolling!
Hello there. I'm Gareth, the Search Engine Marketing Lead at Brave. With almost a decade of experience in PPC and SEO, I've seen everything from Pandas and Penguins to the horrible time that was Mobilegeddon. As a Google Ads Certified Google Specialist, I have lived through almost every major shift in the industry! And that makes me feel old.