Website performance plays a major role on how long users stay on your website. A slow website can infuriate your visitors from coming back to it. Many large companies, especially the huge e-commerce sites like Amazon are obsessed with making sure that their websites are available 24/7 and loading quickly. Downtime for a huge website like Amazon is estimated to cost the company $29,000 dollars per minute. In 2007, Amazon’s website went down for 2 hours which was estimated to cost the company $3.48 million dollars. Even If you are not a big company like Amazon, you should consider optimizing your site for better performance and to keep your visitors happy. If your website crashes frequently or takes 10-15+ seconds to load, you should definitely try some of our methods outlined in our website performance articles.
Some early signs that your site might be having downtime are: hijacked pages, pages that don’t load and slow load times. Some causes could be operator error such as deleting files you weren’t supposed to or forgetting to renew your hosting plan/domain name. Another reason could be that your server cannot handle the amount of traffic you’re receiving or that you’ve reached your monthly limit in bandwidth that your web host provider allows. It could also be that a hacker hijacked your pages or has DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacked your website. It can be a headache determining what’s causing your site to crash but remember that whatever it may be, always stay calm, contact your web provider and find solutions to fix and prevent it from happening again.
Downtime can affect your profitability. As discussed earlier with the Amazon example, downtime can cost big companies millions of dollars.
Downtime can affect your customer satisfaction. If your site goes down, the visitor may jump to one of your competitor’s website. They can also lose trust and loyalty in your website if your site goes down frequently.
Downtime can affect your search engine rankings. Believe it or not, if your site goes down frequently for long periods, search engine bots may de-index some of your webpages or your entire site as it detects that it no longer exists or is inaccessible.
Downtime can affect your business. If you’re a website that gets inquiries from investors and advertisers who want to place their ads on your website, they may think twice about doing business with you knowing that your site goes down or performs slowly for them.
First make sure that your site is actually down and that it isn’t your internet connection. Visit other websites to see if they are reachable. Also try visiting your website on other devices or have a friend visit it from their computer. If it is down, one thing you should always do is notify your users that your site is down. You can do it through social media or you can set up a backup webpage that will show a “We’re working on it!” page.
Temporarily direct your domain to that webpage until your actual website is back online. Let them know what is going on and when to expect your website to go back online. It is good courtesy to keep your users in the loop so that they know you care.
If your website involves a database where you store user information, you should backup your website files and database frequently in case your web server has hardware failures that is non-fixable. Depending on how often your website updates and stores new information, you can create automatic backups from monthly, weekly, daily or by the minute. It is very important to make backups of your website and database as sometimes the web hosting provider you’re with may run into natural disasters or may close down your account indefinitely without any notification.
To setup automatic backups you can set up cron jobs or ask your hosting provider. Make sure the files are saved in secondary or even a third source that is managed separately from your hosting provider.
Some down times are related to DNS (Domain Name Server) problems. By investing in a secondary DNS service, you can protect your network and eliminate downtime. Secondary DNS services are a great solution to DNS problems and will not leave a dent in your pocket. Some secondary DNS services sell at $40 per year. You may also be able to find some free secondary DNS solutions on the web.
A free tool you can use that can help you monitor your website when it goes down is Google Analytics. With intelligence alerts, it can send you a text message or e-mail you when your site reaches a threshold. For instance you can set it to notify you when you have 0 real-time visitors on your website or if it drops dramatically. Setup custom alerts to notify you if your website is not receiving visitors.
Google Webmaster Tools allows you to check the indexing status of your website and gives you advice on how to optimize your site for better visibility. GWT is the standard tool to monitor your website’s performance. If you haven’t signed up for it yet, we really recommend this tool for every webmaster who wants to stay on top of things.
To get started with GWT, visit: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools
By using GWT, you can improve your site’s performance by:
• Making sure that Google can access your content.
• Submitting new content for crawling and removing content you don’t want shown in search results.
• Optimizing how your results are shown so that it is more visually appealing to searchers.
• Monitoring your site for malware or spam issues so your website is clean.
Visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/dashboard and click on the Add site now button.
Type in the URL of your website and click continue.
Verify that you own the site by downloading the HTML verification file and uploading it to your root folder. Once you have uploaded the file, click on Verify.
The site dashboard gives you the current status of crawl errors, search queries and sitemaps (if you’ve added any). It will also show you the new messages and critical issues of your website at the top of the page.
Pay attention to the site errors such as DNS, Server connectivity and Robots.txt. Also have a look at the URL Errors you might have under the Crawl Errors section.