We are truly living in the digital age. Though 2020 will live on in infamy for many years (if not generations) to come, one thing that we can thank it for is the global acceleration of digital adoption. Practically everyone is online now, and this shift in the digital landscape has made businesses’ online presence more important than ever. Today your website is the place customers are not only most likely to find you first but where they will interact with you, your business and brand the most.
Given the high importance of websites to businesses’ reputations, reach, and revenue, ensuring your website is up and running well is essential. It’s what customers expect, and they have no patience for poor user experiences, not when there are thousands of alternatives only a click away. That’s why website monitoring is no longer a plus but a must.
You may be thinking, ok that’s all great, but my web hosting service provider has an uptime guarantee in their service level agreement (SLA), so I’m covered. Not so fast. To explain why an uptime guarantee is a good start but not good enough to meet your website monitoring needs, we must first define website uptime.
Uptime can be summarized as any period during which a website is online, available, and accessible to visitors. Sounds good, so what’s the problem? Well, ironically, this definition means that uptime monitoring cannot account for all forms of downtime. Translation, if you are only monitoring uptime, you will miss more subtle forms of downtime that could cost you money.
Even while your website is online and accessible, some of your subpages could be down. If you’re running a digital marketing campaign, this is especially important to monitor. The risk to your reputation and bottom line increases exponentially if your landing pages go down while running a paid media campaign.
Website defacement is when the images and text on a website are changed inappropriately and without authorization. You can think of it as a virtual graffiti attack. This type of malicious activity may indicate that unauthorized users (yes, hackers) have or are attempting to gain access to sensitive information stored in, or handled by your site. Information like customer data and payment details. Catching such activity early and alerting cybersecurity specialists can limit the damage of a hack.
If your pages are up, but their forms or links aren’t working… those ‘up’ pages are experiencing downtime. In the worst-case scenario, the lead generation form on your digital marketing campaign’s landing page breaks, or the conversion link connecting the landing page to your online store or purchase process. If that goes unnoticed during a campaign… you’ve hurt your brand, wasted budget, and lost money.
Since website uptime and downtime aren’t two sides to the same coin, the key is to be proactive about preventing downtime. By focusing on downtime prevention instead of just uptime, you are likely to catch far more of the issues that can lead to visitor headaches and lower conversions. With this in mind here are a few tips to help you prevent website downtime.
Web hosting providers aren’t all created equally. It is important to compare providers’ SLAs, understand how they are defining uptime, and to consider how much downtime is acceptable for you, before making a decision. (Caveat, in this case, the meaning of downtime is restricted to disruption of server availability and loss of service or process availability, as these are the elements of downtime managed by hosting providers). As a reference point, with a provider offering 99% uptime you can expect an average of 3.65 days of downtime a year (14 minutes on average per day). However, with a provider offering 99.9% uptime, average downtime per year is reduced to 8.76 hours (86 seconds a day).
One option is to use a backup service to produce and store up-to-date and remotely accessible copies of your website. Another option is to schedule your content management system (CMS) to backup your site at regular intervals. If neither of these is an option, install a plugin to automate the process for you.
Monitoring might not prevent downtime, but it will help to minimize it. With people spending more time online than ever, the risk of visitors encountering any downtime issues that might occur on your site is also higher than ever before. Automated website monitoring can help you spot downtime issues as they crop up so you can fix them before visitors have a negative experience. If you need an option suitable for users without any IT expertise, but still capable of targeted monitoring and actionable reporting, PageChecker should be top of your list.
PageChecker checks for all three of the hidden downtime risks explored above, has an average set-up time of three and a half minutes, and starts at only 25 USD a month. Plus, you can explore PageChecker’s feature and capabilities risk-free, no credit card details required, before purchasing a plan. Click here to start your two-week free trial today or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request more information about how PageChecker can support your website monitoring needs.