I have worked in huge online stores and online media. Believe me, it's different when you have 5-10 pages on your site, and when you have 100,000, up to or above 1,000,000,000.
Over the years, I have had various interesting events related to website optimization, some of which have proven to be critical. When you think of SEO it does not come to your mind that this may be related to an emergency case. We know that the optimization is a gradual process that requires time, constant efforts and improvement. We know that the results are expected forward in time, not from today to tomorrow.
This is the case when it comes to which position we appear in, how many keywords our site is positioned on, how many pages are indexed, etc.
Optimization has another face, and this is the so-called on-page SEO optimization. It includes everything on the side of your site - hosting, servers, connectivity, program code, project architecture, software, databases. Here is the hard IT work.
I will tell you a story about why it is important to optimize the site well, and to understand the details, and not just to be scanned by robots. Having lists of words, domains and links is something you can get from many places. But this is not SEO optimization. This is the result. But let's get to the story.
A website, which has over 100,000 products in it, is preparing for the most important day of the year - Black Friday. The promotions are ready, the discounts have been updated, the texts are in order. The marketing department and the sales department did a great job. Everything is ready and at 00:00 on the day in question the site starts its promotions. Only 2 minutes later the site is no longer operational and no one can open it. Something more, users who feel they're going to miss out good discounts keep refreshing the site and the pages they've reached, and they only show one unfortunate error message. Sad story. The call came at 2:34 in the morning. I had no idea who was calling and why, but he could be my client in crisis. It turned out, not my client, but yes - he was in crisis.
A little background. We have met with this store before. We knew each other well, but I had never been able to convince them that they needed my services. They used a digital agency and tracked their results - domains, links, keywords, and they showed steady growth. What more could I offer? There was something, but it was not understood by the marketing department because they could not measure it.
Well, at 2:34 they had obviously come to the idea that what they can't measure is now measurable - their site is down, the store isn't selling. They were already measuring. They measured their losses every minute.
Imagine an office, night time, full of people pulled out of their warm beds, coming to extinguish fire on which millions of dollars of loss depend. The scene was similar to the movie "Apollo 13", when the team realized that the spacecraft would not have enough oxygen to get the crew to earth alive. Well, people's lives were not at stake here, but the careers of many people who made or did not make specific decisions were definitely at stake.
You are probably wondering - what the hell is in common between that the site has crashed and optimization of the site? That is exactly what I will explain now.
When a site is optimized, the focus often falls on the already mentioned domains, links and keywords. Because they are easy to generate and easy to measure. But what I like to observe is - can the site carry the load when the traffic comes. At school we had some terrible math tasks, which at the moment seem to me the most important lesson in life. Both for the cash flow of a company and for the functioning of the sites. The tasks were to calculate how long it would take to fill a pool with a specific capacity through N number of pipes, with some pipes filling water in and others pumping water out. I do not hide that it was terribly complicated for a student, but now it saves businesses for millions, with simple calculations.
Here's an example to help you understand the things. You have a site that is uploaded to a hosting or a server. It is connected by cable to some internet connection. The cable and the devices after it have a specific capacity. Think of it as a pipe. Think of the information as water flowing through this pipe. It is already clear to you that when this pipe has to transport specific information from the site to the user, the amount of information depends on the capacity. Or from the width of the pipe. Thus, if 1 million users come at the same time, the pipeline will not be able to deliver the necessary information. And if in the example with the pipe, every user would receive low pressure, when it comes to the Internet, we simply do not have a connection to the site.
Furthermore - there are such limitations in many, many places in the process from writing the site in the browser to loading it. To this add the memory of the hosting/server, add the processors and N number of technical parameters, which also have capacity and above it simply turn off. Now add the program code, which if written well takes up less memory, but if it is not written well, can waste 1 second more when loading the page. Multiply 1 second by 1 million visitors. You have 1 million seconds or 2,777 hours. Thus, if everything is normal after 2777 hours and the last user will be able to load the page. I have never seen such patient users, neither now nor 30 years ago.
But let's simplify things further. Every website has one main goal - to have a large and quality internet traffic. As many users as possible to make reservations, orders, purchases, inquiries or just look at banner ads. On the other hand, sites often turn out to be unprepared for this moment and when their goal is realized, they cannot benefit from it because they are overloaded.
When I tell this story to IT professionals, they imagine how this case would take days to do a full audit of what's wrong and fix it so it doesn't cause any more problems. Let me surprise you - to solve the case with this client I needed less than 2 minutes of work and about 30 minutes to wait for the effect of what was done. The site had not followed several mandatory rules to reduce the load on the site. Subsequently, we worked for a few more months so that next Black Friday, the site could take on not 1 million, but many more orders.
And yet - what was the solution - we reduced the traffic generated by the site. You remember the multiplication above by the seconds. Now do the same but in kilobytes. If a photo is 100 kilobytes, and is loaded by 1 million users… Or simpler than that - we have reduced the amount of water that must pass through the pipe limit. Something that no marketing specialist had thought about, because it is not within his duties and competencies. Yes, we could change the pipe, but that would take time until the Christmas promotions, and instead of the $ 7 million in losses at the moment, it could be over $50.
I always tell my customers - when we do SEO optimization, we should not focus only on some words, links, domains. We need to think about the whole picture so that the site can load quickly, be protected from hackers, maintain a high rating, have quality content and most of all - work flawlessly. Because even the most beautiful site that doesn't make money is completely unnecessary.