WordPress Performance Case Study – Scaling Sports News Site to 26k Users with $100k Bonus

Does your site or store crash giving 502, 503 or 504 errors constantly?

Do you wonder what these crashes and errors cost your online business or website?

How about your SEO efforts to increase rankings on Google? Google prioritizes user experience above all else, do you think Google wants to send visitors to a site that only runs about 50% of the time?

This case study focuses on Kurt.

Kurt runs a WordPress site that shows the American Football schedules for the NFL and other leagues. Kurt's site is monetized by Google ads but he kept losing revenue because his site was crashing when around 500-1000 visitors would arrive at the site at the same time.

Kurt also couldn't make edits to update news articles because of the constant crashing so users were going elsewhere for their up-to-date football news fix.

The site already had a custom theme that Kurt had paid good money for so the site was relatively snappy when we browsed around.

Kurt's issues were related to scaling meaning that the site and server was overwhelmed when 1000+ visitors came to get the football schedules at the same time.

Understandably Kurt's site was and still is popular since he writes high-quality content. It is very hard for Google to justify ranking a site well that is unreliable or crashes frequentlythis means SEO efforts are largely going to waste.

It is also very challenging to make money from ads on your site if your site is displaying errors instead like these:

  • 502 Bad Gateway errors
  • 503 Backend fetch failed (Guru meditation)
  • 504 Gateway Timeout
  • 522 Connection Timed out
  • 523 Connection Unreachable
  • 524 A Timeout Occurred errors

Let's see what happens when these crashing errors are resolved and how that impacts the life of your website!

Here is what Kurt and his team had already tried to improve the site performance before they found WP Bullet:

  • WP Rocket and other caching plugins
  • Changing hosting plans
  • Disabling heartbeat
  • Adding a CDN
  • Trying several ‘speed up services'

Despite these valiant efforts, the scaling issues could never be solved by these basic optimizations.

Kurt's site needed in-depth analysis and architectural changes to keep it from crashing. Plugins alone were never going to do the job.

Basically the wrong tools and strategies were being used for the performance problems plaguing this particular site.

It is like traveling to Antarctica and trying to find a beautiful sandy beach—it was never going to happen!

What Kurt needed was a performance strategy to help with the WordPress scaling challenges.

Scaling Optimizations Completed

We did a thorough site audit to identify the major scaling issues by employing New Relic, forensic log analysis and code audits of the theme and plugins.

The performance strategy was to complete the following scaling optimizations for the WordPress Football news site.

  • Thorough site audit
  • Custom theme refactoring
  • Eliminating expensive dynamic requests
  • Changing request types to eliminate crashes when 1000 visitors arrive
  • Hosting reconfiguration and upgrades
  • Infrastructure adjustments to improve scaling
  • Advanced CDN tactics

Let's see what happened after these bespoke WordPress optimizations for Kurt's site.

The different football schedules are released at specific times throughout the year so we knew when traffic was going to be incoming.

Normally Kurt said there was about 1000 people coming to view the new schedules for the NFL.

After our optimizations together there were 4,109 visitors in real-time!

No crashes or errors 😉

In May 2020, Tom Brady announced he was moving on from the New England Patriots. Naturally, this football news site covered the story as this was breaking news!

After the story broke, Kurt told me to check out Google Analytics because he saw 5000 people on the site…

By the time I checked there were 23,384 real time visitors!!! :O


Then I went to check the Google Analytics overview page and it showed 26,780 users – we couldn't help but go WTF!

Our work had clearly paid off and now Kurt no longer worries about his site crashing—what a relief!

Google SEO Benefits after Optimizations

When we compare June 2018-2019 to June 2019-2020, we can see how much better life is for the site and Kurt when it is stable and not crashing.

Overall page views increased 20 million and were up 56% – that is 20,000,000 more page views.

Over 17 million more unique page views which is a 59% increase. When your site is stable and snappy, Google tends to reward you 😉

One of the most popular pages that lists the NFL Playoffs schedule went up from 598,391 to 2,069,166 – almost a 250% jump!

This playoffs schedule page would generate so much traffic the site would crash because so many users were keen to see when their team was playing.

Google AdSense Earnings Increase after Optimizations

Google AdSense earnings generated $100k more revenue compared to the year before!

Let that sink in for a moment.

That is $100,000 extra bonus income dollars for doing the same exact job Kurt was doing last year—that's a helluva raise 😉

Overall AdSense revenue increased 77%.

The number of Adsense impressions increased 60%.

The amount of AdSense Ad Units viewed increased 68%.

Stress is down, technical confidence from his fans is up and ad revenue is increasing – you can't make ad revenue from a site crashing that displays constant error messages.

Fans happily recommend Kurt's site now. Nobody wants to send their friend to a site that will display errors instead of delicious content.

Kurt's success is by far one of our proudest achievements from one of our all-time favorite clients.

Here is the summary of the benefits since optimization:

  • No more stress about site crashing – better sleep and health!
  • Ad revenue increased 77%
  • $100,000 annual bonus raise for the same job
  • More organic traffic from Google
  • More unique visitors from Google

What would you do with $100,000 extra dollars per year? Take some more vacation days? Put the money towards your kids' college fund? Upgrade your home? Payoff debt faster?

If your site is not stable and crashes constantly, you do not have to live like that! You deserve better and so do your visitors.

There is hope and stability in your website's future if you get the right work done.

As you can see from this case study, life can change quite significantly from fixing your WordPress performance issues.

While increased income is always nice, the value of not stressing is huge—constant stress is terrible for your physical and mental health.

If you are experiencing similar issues, please get some help from somebody—life is too short to have a slow, crashing or unusable WordPress site!

Quality of life both yours and your site matters: if you would like to work with us you can reach out here.

Work with Us!

#OptimizewithHeart #TroubleshootwithHeart

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