Website Challenges 2020: Have You Addressed Them Yet?

In our annual survey, we asked our clients what the biggest website challenges they foresaw encountering in 2020 were, wondering what we could do to help you overcome them. Now that the year is almost halfway through, it’s time to revisit what we’ve done so far to address those challenges and share some insights on how we help you tackle them, as well as tip you what to do about them on your own.  

Cybersecurity is The Biggest Challenge

The majority of our respondents (54%) saw keeping their sites secure as the biggest technical challenge in 2020. And we totally agree with you! Cybersecurity is an ongoing process that should be at the top of the mind of any Internet user, professional or otherwise. 

From the perspective of a web hosting company, here at SiteGround, we know that keeping our sites and users safe is a never-ending task. Hackers and all sorts of web criminals are getting smarter by the day and the constant and rapid evolution of technology leaves many doors open for software exploits. Keeping the software on our servers (like Apache, Nginx, PHP, MySQL, etc.) up to date is the first and most basic line of defense, but nearly not enough.

That is why we have a special team of security specialists whose main responsibility is to keep track of security reports and monitor for potential and unannounced yet exploits. Once they get a confirmation for a new vulnerability, they rapidly act to write custom firewall rules that patch it on day zero and protect the websites we host.

Then there’s keeping up with the latest technologies we can integrate. Take the encryption protocols that guarantee a secure connection between your browser and the server delivering the content. We make sure we always have the most recent one available for our clients to use – we were among the first to deploy HTTP/2, QUIC and HTTP/3, and more.  

At the same time, one of the most frequent threats against any website are the DDOS attacks, which are getting more fierce and prolonged as server resources are getting cheaper over time. That is why our system administrators monitor our servers’ health 24/7 and take immediate actions to divert the bad traffic through software and hardware devices. 

Then, there are brute-force attacks, one of the most common ways to hack a website by guessing their login details. We extend our server-level protection with an in-house AI-powered anti-bot software that monitors for malicious traffic and blocks from 500,000 to 2 million brute-force attempts per day. 

All the security work we do as your host should give you peace of mind, but it would work even better if you follow a few security guidelines yourself: 

  • Use complex passwords and do not share them with anyone. It’s recommended to use a preferably meaningless combination of letters and numbers about 8 symbols long to make sure that guessing or brute-forcing your password is extremely hard.
  • Install an SSL certificate. In case of a security breach, the encryption of the connection will keep your data safe (we offer the Let’s Encrypt certificate for free ).
  • Use two-factor authentication to log into your apps and more specifically your SiteGround Client Area. This will make it quite hard for anyone to log in even if they know your username and password. Read here how you can enable the two-factor authentication
  • Make sure you run on the latest stable version of PHP and WordPress or any other CMS you may be using for your site. Many clients postpone PHP updates, and even the more simple WordPress updates, out of fear that they may break their site and they will need to pay a developer to fix it. But believe us, when we say this – it’s a lot more expensive to fix a hacked website than the few broken queries potentially resulting from a version update. Additionally, we offer Managed WordPress auto-updates and a Managed PHP service, enabled by default for all new accounts, and which means that we will automatically upgrade your PHP and WordPress, so you don’t have to. 
  • We recommend installing a malware scanner as well, directly on your site so you can get an alert in case of a breach and act quickly. You can use a plugin, if it’s a WordPress installation, or use an external feature, like the popular anti-malware scanner we offer.

To find more on the best practices on WordPress Security, we highly recommend to check out our ebook 21 Tips to Keep Your WordPress Secure.

Improving Website Speed is The Second Biggest Challenge

Improving website speed is the second biggest challenge for webmasters, coming at 48% of all respondents mentioning it. There are a lot of things that could be done to improve website performance and just like security, it’s a never-ending task. As a website host, we’ve done a lot of things to boost the speed of websites on our servers, but we’ll focus on some of the more recent ones. 

We have been working on a complete WordPress performance solution built in our SG Optimizer plugin. The plugin makes a connection with the host server to allow sites to take advantage of the caching capacity and also integrates a wide array of front-end performance features, which you can read more about here. 

An even bigger step for our performance-boost this year was the migration to Google Cloud infrastructure, which allows us to use their extremely fast network, high redundancy, and powerful N2 CPUs which offer nearly 40% faster performance

Additionally, with the launch of our new Site Tools, we replaced the Static Cache with a new NGINX Direct Delivery. We no longer serve images, CSS, JS files, and other static content from the server memory, but we use NGINX for direct loading of these files from the SSD instead. This improves browser caching for your site and also makes CDN usage easier and more efficient. Most importantly, NGINX Direct Delivery allows more RAM space to be used for dynamic content caching, without compromising on static content loading speed. Read more here.

Since website speed is such a critical factor, there are some additional things you can do yourself in order to improve performance:

  • Use the SG Optimizer plugin and turn the dynamic caching ON. By default all our sites on all plans have the standard cache (Nginx direct delivery) turned on and it helps tremendously to the majority of the sites. But more dynamic sites also need the dynamic caching and even Memcached turned on as well.
  • Turn the SG Optimizer front-end performance features – image compression, using WebP format and lazy loading, minifying CSS and javascript, these may have smaller impact individually, but when added up together, the effect on the page loading speed is spectacular.
  • Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network). CDNs speed up sites immensely by caching up and delivering static content from the closest to the user location, saving precious fractions of time. Keep in mind that a CDN also blocks malicious traffic and even reduces SPAM, so there are other advantages in using one.

If you want to read additional tips on how to speed up your WordPress site, make sure to check the free ebook 21 Expert Tips for an Ultra-Fast WordPress Website eBook

Handling Site Growth is Also In the Top 3 Challenges

About 32% of all our users said that handling the growth of their website was a challenge they expected to experience in 2020. There are two types of traffic that we should consider – expected and unexpected. In the era of Internet virality, you never know when your site will become popular on Reddit or other media and get bombarded with traffic. At the same time, you can reasonably well predict the Black Friday growth and other seasonalities. So here’s how we approach the site growth issue:

Monitor your site’s normal growth

The more your business grows, the more traffic you will get, the more orders will be processed and hence the busier your website will be. There are two indications that your site is growing and you need to evaluate its performance: slow loading of pages and errors on the website (site becomes unavailable occasionally). 

  1. The first thing you should do is try to optimize your site – have a developer review your code, plugins, database queries, and structure and suggest improvements. Starting with simple things like removing old and unused plugins, reducing the number of plugins, activating cache and going into more complex ones like re-writing some of the code, there are a lot of things that can help at this stage, which are also good for the long-term health of your site.
  2. Once you are sure you have optimized everything you could and you still experience issues, consider upgrading your hosting platform. If you started on shared hosting, maybe it’s time to move to a cloud and configure precisely the RAM, CPU, and space that you need.

Be Prepared For the Unexpected

This is trickier as obviously there isn’t much that you can do for things that you don’t expect, but there are 3 things that can help:

  1. Turn caching on – again, caching is awesome not only because it speeds up your site, but also because it saves server resources, especially RAM, by using the NGINX to load files from the SSD directly. Saving resources means that you will be able to process more visitors at the same time.
  2. Activate CDN – acts the same way as caching, because the CDN caches your content and stores it on many servers worldwide, then delivers it from the closest server to your visitor. Thus it does not use server resources to deliver the information and again your site is capable of processing a lot more visits simultaneously.
  3. Activate autoscaling on cloud – the option automatically and instantly increases your cloud’s CPU and/or RAM resources in times of need, preventing downtimes in crucial moments, such as Black Friday or Christmas shopping.

We hope that we have both given you a report on what we, as your website host, do to help you with your top 3 website challenges this year, as well as ideas on what more you can do yourself to tackle them.

Marina Vassilyovska

Content Strategist

Marina is part of SiteGround’s digital marketing team. She loves crafting content and is very passionate about digital strategies and storytelling. She is also a huge WordPress fan and can be often spotted on WordCamps or on local meetups, where she’s always up for a chat on the latest WordPress news!

Development

Comments ( 14 )

Mark

Jun 16, 2020

I had been a big fan and really loved the Siteground support but had been struggling with sitegound performance particularly in regard to googles new speed metrics - CLP and LCP. Despite using a CDN and WP Rocket now, all mobile searches perform poorly in regard to CLP and LCP. I see from running a google search that many people who host on siteground have the same problem. Is there likely to be any fix for this soon?

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Marina Yordanova Siteground Team

Jun 17, 2020

We have not received such reports from our clients. If you suspect any server-side issues, please reach our Support directly, so we can look into the matter. Have you considered using our SG Optimizer for optimizing your site? We have added many new features which help with optimizing Google Fonts, image loading, stop Render-Blocking JavaScripts etc. Take a look here https://www.siteground.com/blog/even-faster-wordpress-sites-with-our-sg-optimizer-plugin/

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Phil Morettini

Jun 18, 2020

I called your support about the same issue, and the guy said it's got nothing to do with SG. He said its up to me to optimize my site. I've already optimized the heck out of it. I'll bet you've receive these reports - ignoring them is another matter.

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Marina Yordanova Siteground Team

Jun 18, 2020

Hello, I see that you had a chat with our team but did not discuss in detail the specific issue you are experiencing. If you have used https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ or a similar test tool, you have probably reviewed the improvement suggestions for your specific case, such as eliminating render-blocking resources, avoiding multiple page redirects etc. These are issues which are best addressed by a website developer. If you should encounter a specific issue and think it could be caused by the server settings, please post a ticket in the Site Slow category with details, so that our specialists could review and help further.

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Fernando Saling

Jun 16, 2020

One of my challenges for 2020 was to find a solution to limit the space of the inodes. I achieved this and still have a better cost benefit, including performance and security.

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Robert

Jun 17, 2020

Unfortunately in this article, there are improvements for WordPress, which is well and good, but none for Magento 2. Do you plan to do some improvements in the future?

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Marina Yordanova Siteground Team

Jun 18, 2020

Many of the improvements are WordPress-related, but others apply for any applications hosted with us, including Magento. The migration to Google Cloud, switching to more powerful N2 CPUs, free CDN with Railgun are only few of the examples that speed up other apps as well. Specifically for Magento you could also check out these articles with optimization tips we've collected: https://www.siteground.com/kb/magento_optimization/ https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/magento/common-issues/#How_to_speed_up_Magento

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Paula

Jun 18, 2020

and optimization improvements for prestashop where do I search?

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Marina Yordanova Siteground Team

Jun 18, 2020

In our tutorials and knowledge base - for example, we have this tutorial with general tips, which are applicable for any application: https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/websiteperformance/general-tips/ And here are more specific tips for Prestashop - https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/prestashop/seo/

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Izzy Goodman

Jun 17, 2020

Siteground articles mostly discuss wordpress and my site is Magento 2, which leaves me a little confused about what I can do. There are at least 2 points in my site BestInkandToner.com where the icon spins for about 8 seconds before continuing. One is after you choose an item and it takes time to bring up the image. The second is when you view the cart and the program calculates tax and shipping. I don't know why there is such a long pause and what can be done to speed it up. Thank you.

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Marina Yordanova Siteground Team

Jun 18, 2020

We also have articles about Magento and its optimization, for example: https://www.siteground.com/kb/magento_optimization/ https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/magento/common-issues/#How_to_speed_up_Magento Be sure to check them out for ideas.

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Gyamfi Bediako

Jun 17, 2020

Enjoyed reading this... I'm new to Siteground, and I'm enjoying working with you guys... I hope things dont change... Thanks for doing whatever your doing right...

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Kenny

Jun 18, 2020

Thanks for this article. What i dont understand is why do i constantly get a very slow time to first byte on webpagetest? This has been happening since moving to cloud ages ago. Which is why i pay high premium (so it would be faster), its still indicating that even when you moved to cloud. i dont understand it?

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Marina Yordanova Siteground Team

Jun 18, 2020

With the migration to Google Cloud and especially with the new Google N2 processors we usually see improvement in the performance. If you are experiencing a slow TTFB, and it hasn't improved during the months after the migration, it's best to look into the possible causes as explained here https://www.siteground.com/blog/understanding-ttfb/ Also, Google's tools such as https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ will provide you with information about the possible reasons for the slowdown for your site specifically - check the Opportunities and Diagnostics sections! For example there might be unused JavaScripts or CSS to be removed from the site, or render-blocking resources to be eliminated. Still, please keep in mind that dynamic sites constantly evolve by adding new queries, new products, clients and orders, and all of that could also be slowing down a site over time.

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