When it comes to e-commerce, it’s never too early to start preparing for Q4 of the year. Not only do you need to have enough product in stock to meet demand, but it’s even more critical that your domain can meet large, holiday-driven query surges. This guide will help you develop a DNS readiness plan that can handle the seasonal traffic rush.
Domain Preparedness Growth Trends for the 2021 Holiday Season
While performance is important any time of the year, it is even more so during the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, and Christmas sales drive significantly more traffic to domains. With a pandemic added to the mix, online purchases have escalated even further. Whereas a typical growth rate in online seasonal sales is around 15%, 2020 saw a 32% increase. Another sizable growth spurt is expected during the 2021 holiday season. Trends in online buying habits are likely here to stay. In fact, experts predict that consumer spending in the months of November and December will reach $1 trillion by 2022.
The 2 Most Common Reasons Domains Lose Sales During the Holidays: Slow Load Times and Outages
It’s no secret that slow-loading websites are costly for brands. For instance, just a one-second delay in page load time can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions. Furthermore, 88% of customers say they are unlikely to return to a website after a negative experience. This is an important statistic to keep in mind, as one bad experience can have far-reaching effects—including losing customers for life.
Another reason domains lose out during the holidays is because of outages. Obviously, if your site is down it can’t be reached and no one can make purchases. An outage, however, goes well beyond the scope of lost sales. You also have to factor in outage mitigation, stalled employee productivity, and brand reputation. It’s estimated that IT downtime costs the average business $5,600 per minute, but for large e-commerce sites like Amazon, the cost is far greater—as much as $2 million or higher—and that’s for an outage lasting only 13 minutes.
In 2020, the U.S. online retail market grew by more than 40%, but there are over 3 billion e-commerce sites worldwide. In other words, competition is fierce, and even more so during the holidays. You can’t afford to have any preventable domain-related weaknesses.
8 Most Common Causes For Slow Page Load Times and Outages During the Holidays
Knowing that an increase in site traffic is coming is only half the battle. In order to prevent issues and solve domain pain points, you must first understand what causes the problems in the first place. Below are some of the most common sources that lead to slow-loading websites and outages.
- Overloaded or underperforming servers or networks
- Slow APIs
- Overburdened web hosts
- Poorly optimized websites
- DDoS Attacks
- Domain latency
- Slow DNS service
- DNS and CDN Provider Outages
Your domain is only as strong as the infrastructure or network it runs on. Each of the eight points above plays a part in a website’s overall performance. With careful analysis and the right strategies in place, you can combat these common issues and ensure your domain stays up and running at optimal levels.
Now let’s take a look at some DNS strategies that will help prepare your domain for the onslaught of holiday traffic.
How Fast Premium DNS Sets Domains Apart from its Competitors
This is a no-brainer. Without fast authoritative DNS, you stand to lose more holiday sales than you may think. Speed is a major factor in the online marketplace. When choosing a DNS provider, it’s imperative that you select a premium authoritative provider(s) that operates at consistently fast speeds and has points of presence where your consumers are located.
Overall Performance and Scalability: DNS Provider Infrastructure Can Make or Break a Domain
DNS Made Easy’s infrastructure was built from the ground up and runs on bare metal servers that are strategically positioned within data centers across the globe. With its superior infrastructure, dedication to DNS optimization, and 22 points of presence (PoPs), DNS Made Easy runs at top speeds and has the longest-running uptime history of any DNS provider in the industry.
Designed for ultimate scalability, the DNS Made Easy network can handle massive influxes of traffic—whether it’s from attacks or sudden increases in organic traffic. For example, our network was hit with a 500+ Gbps distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack in September of 2020 but was able to mitigate the attack with no end-user disruptions.
Organic Traffic Surges Can Cause Network Congestion and Outages For Domains Running on Inferior Infrastructure
Attacks aren’t the only thing that can bring websites down. If domains run on a network or server that isn’t built to scale, any unexpected increase in traffic can result in server failure. For instance, web performance software company Yottaa reported as many as 48 major brands, including Petsmart, Adidas, PlayStation, Apple, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Etsy, Fitbit, and Verizon all experienced performance issues—including short bouts of traffic-induced outages—during 2020 Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday sales. Another example of how domains can crash due to organic web traffic is celebrity-inspired trends, such as Meghan Markle’s designer dress choices, which have caused two fashion label sites to go down on two separate occasions. Needless to say, infrastructure is crucial for uptime and stability.
Global Traffic Director: Improved DNS Speed and Accuracy
If you want ultimate speed and accuracy for your query resolutions, DNS Made Easy’s Global Traffic Director (GTD) is the perfect solution. This geo-load balancing service segments DNS traffic into five regions for maximum traffic optimization. Accuracy is improved as GTD automatically corrects resolution errors caused by wrong IP allocation. GTD provides a substantial speed boost in resolution times by answering queries based on the end user’s location. This solution also works well with Failover for added redundancy.
Avoid DNS Outages with Failover
Having an outage is one of the worst and most dreaded occurrences for domains that rely on the internet to conduct business. In order to avoid downtime due to internal servers/networks, DNS Failover is critical. DNS Made Easy’s Failover solution allows organizations to have a pool of IP addresses or hosts that is monitored by health checks every 2-4 minutes from multiple monitoring locations. If your primary resource is down or unhealthy, traffic is redirected to the next healthy resource within the pool. Unlike many other providers, DNS Made Easy checks the health of the alternative resources before automatically rerouting traffic. This helps prevent any unnecessary downtime that can occur if more than one of your servers is experiencing issues.
Prevent Downtime with Secondary DNS
One of the most effective ways to avoid an outage is with Secondary DNS. With this option, your domain will have two providers to handle your web traffic. When using a secondary DNS host, zone files from the primary provider are automatically synced with the secondary server via NOTIFY, IXFER, and AXFR services. If one provider is having technical issues or has an outage, queries for your domain will be retried by the other DNS provider.
This configuration ensures a seamless experience for end users as it prevents disruption in service. Resolvers also tend to favor the fastest authoritative nameserver, or the resource that provides the fastest time to first byte (TTFB). If your secondary provider is faster than the primary, the recursive resolver will likely use the secondary authoritative nameserver to get an answer for its query. This is not only a plus for your domain, but also for your customers as their overall experience will be improved.
Real-time Traffic Anomaly Detection: Machine Learning Algorithms
Fast speeds and the ability to handle large volumes of traffic is just one part of the puzzle. If you aren’t proactively monitoring your web traffic, your domain is still vulnerable to cyber threats. Luckily, there are preventative services available at the DNS level if you choose the right provider. For instance, DNS Made Easy offers a monitoring system that can be used alongside your DNS: Real-time Traffic Anomaly Detection (RTTAD). Using machine-learning AI, RTTAD analyzes your domain’s traffic and instantly alerts IT teams when any unusual activity is detected. This monitoring solution lets teams investigate traffic spikes and anomalies so they can take proactive measures if it’s determined the traffic is malicious.
DNS Web Traffic Monitoring: Query Reports and Statistics
DNS analytics is a powerful, but often overlooked tool in preventing DDoS- and DNS-related attacks. With this solution, you are able to view your historical and real-time domain data, which also helps IT teams pinpoint DNS misconfigurations, identify potential threats against your network, and optimize your domain web traffic.
Quick DNS Checklist for Holiday Traffic Surges
- Review your domain’s redundant DNS strategy to ensure you’re covered at every point of failure.
- DNS Failover
- Secondary DNS
- Implement a DNS monitoring solution to identify suspicious traffic, spot inconsistencies, or misconfigurations
- Real-time Traffic Anomaly Detection (RTTAD)
- Advanced DNS Analytics
- Check all transactional endpoints for vulnerabilities.
- Review your domain’s SSL/TLS certificate for accuracy and expiration date
Tip: Need more advanced services? Our sister company Constellix provides some of the most advanced DNS features available in the industry—including GeoIP filtering, Multi-CDN management, Weighted Round Robin Load Balancing, Advanced Performance Monitoring, and much more.
2021 Holiday Rush: Preparedness Starts With DNS
To ensure your website is ready for the 2021 holiday query surge, you want to have the fastest and most accurate resolution times, as well as redundancy measures in place. A fast DNS provider with a strong infrastructure is a must, and services like Global Traffic Director can boost performance and geo-accuracy even further. Failover and Secondary DNS are effective and cost-efficient ways of ensuring your domain doesn’t suffer from an outage due to an overloaded server/network or from a DNS-related provider outage. For preventive measures, DNS monitoring and advanced analytics is the icing on the cake. Combining the recommended strategies in this guide will give your domain a competitive edge and ensure you don’t miss out on holiday sales due to slow resolution times or an outage due to DNS errors or cyber threats like DDoS attacks.
Want to make sure your domain is prepared for the holidays? Our DNS specialists will provide you with a comprehensive DNS strategy tailored just for your organization.