Why System Downtime and Slow Speeds Affect SEO

System Downtime

The world today is experiencing an increased demand for immediate gratification. People expect instant access to information, and the reasons aren’t hard to pinpoint.

Ever-increasing Internet speeds are allowing people access to information at an unprecedented rate. In a three year gap between 2011 and 2014, Internet speeds increased by 10Mbps.

To put that in perspective, in 2000 a mere 200kbps met the FCC’s definition of advanced Internet services.

Couple this with the 207 million smartphone users in the US, and it makes sense that attention spans are decreasing.

A study by Microsoft Corp. helps bring to light just how short our attention spans have become. People generally can’t focus for more than eight seconds. That’s a one-second shorter attention span than a goldfish.

This impatience also effects website load times. After all, what’s the point of fast internet access if web pages load slow?

An astounding 47 percent of users expect a web page to load in two seconds or less, and that number will surely rise.

Google long ago took note of this trend and incorporated site speed and system downtime into their algorithm.

Keeping pace in modern SEO means keeping pace with shortening attention spans and user demands for speed.

System Downtime

System downtime is never positive. Yes, site maintenance and other small issues force websites down occasionally, but Google remembers even the smallest amount of system downtime.

Understanding why Google punishes websites for their downtime is the key to minimizing its impact on SEO. We’re broken down Google’s rational into three main categories.

Google Loves Crawling

Google indexes your website with its “spider” tool that “crawls” your web pages. Put another way, Google checks your website for new content and backend updates.

When a website greets Google with an error code, for instance, a 500 internal error or 503 response, the website interprets your system downtime and adjusts your SEO rank accordingly.

In general, the longer your site throws an error code, the more Google will penalize your ranking. However, some error codes hurt more than others.

A Moz study found that the 500 internal server errors occurring intermittently caused keywords to drop out of both the top ten and top 20 rankings. The pages in question also received less “crawls” per day. Fewer crawls mean fewer opportunities for Google to record SEO signals and therefore worse SEO potential.

The 500 internal error was also found to wreak havoc during consistent downtimes. Domains dropped anywhere from 5 to 100 positions for tracked keywords.

The User Knows Best

Google is increasingly focused on providing users with the best experience possible. This has continued with the recent release of Penguin 4.0.

Google interprets that your website isn’t user-friendly if you’re dropping keywords and other backend metrics. Inconvenient website’s earn lower rankings.

Former Google employee, Matt Cutts, elaborated on the impact downtime has on user experience during a Google Q&A session.

Cutts said, “If your host is down for two weeks…there’s a better indicator that your website is actually down, and we don’t want to send users to a website that’s actually down.”

Keeping your website active is crucial to providing a positive user experience and winning Google’s favor.

If your website must go down, make sure to issue a 503 error. The error code tells the Googlebot and users that the downtime is temporary. Warning Google allows them to hold off on reducing your search rank.

Site Speed

Site speed is an almost entirely user-based metric. While Google factors things like keywords and links into relevance and other SEO signals, site speed is only factored into the end user experience.

We’ve already touched on how impatient users are, but that impatience that is critical to understanding site speed. In fact, the site speed metric exists because of user impatience.

The term site speed refers to how quickly a web page loads. Several metrics measure actual loading time:

  • Document complete time measures how fast a web page becomes interactive.
  • Fully rendered refers to when your web page is fully loaded with advertisements and all background elements.
  • Time to First Byte refers to how long your browser takes to receive the first byte of a response from a web server after requesting a URL
  • Page Size is the total amount of bytes that make up your page vs. how long the page takes to fully render

How to Optimize Your Speed

The goal of increasing site speed is tailoring your website to capitalize on each metric. For instance, the page size is an easy metric to optimize for. Decreasing your overall page size will usually decrease your time to full render.

Other metrics are harder to capitalize on. All load time metrics can benefit from a better host, but better hosting costs money. Likewise, optimal HTML structure and web compression are hard to implement for the average user, but both guarantee increased site speed.

Other, easier, methods for increasing site speed are avoiding flash and reducing your image sizes. It’s important to optimize for every metric possible when seconds matter.

Wrapping It All Up

Site speed and system downtime are two important metrics that Google uses to determine SEO rank. Each has an effect at the algorithm level, but it’s important to remember that Google’s focus is ultimately on end user experience.

Anything about your website that hinders user experience is likely to hurt your SEO.

Ask yourself this: are there any elements to your website that you dislike or that make use difficult? Does your website load slowly, is it always going offline?

If your answer is yes Google has already penalized your search ranking. Our product makes sure that website downtime no longer affects your search rank.

We understand that time is of the essence, and provide users with real-time website monitoring and instant alerts to any errors or issues. We also offer a custom API for deep integration into website diagnostic data.

Our companies goal is to keep your customers engaged by keeping your website online.

If you have any further questions about our product, please contact us here. We’re always eager to help new customers.

Top 5 IT Admin Errors that Lead to Network Downtime

downtimeCreating and maintaining a website is crucial for businesses today. And if you don’t want your customers to switch to one of your competitors, you better make sure your online presence is conveniently accessible.

But today it’s no longer enough to just have a website. You must be prepared to manage things like downtime.

Why Downtime Management Is So Important

Downtime refers to periods of time when a system, such as a network, becomes unavailable. This hiccup can have detrimental effects for your business. And it happens probably more than you think.

Businesses deal with unplanned downtime an average of 13 times per year. The average cost of just one hour of downtime for a highly critical application? More than $82K.

But network downtime costs affect more than real dollar amounts. It can also negatively affect a company’s reputation, SEO and SERPs, loss of data, and the customer experience.

All of these, of course, are bad news for a business’s bottom line.

Consider the fact that 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. Now, imagine someone was trying to either conduct further research on one of your products or was going back to your site to make a purchase.

If your site was down and refused to load because of an internal issue, chances are that person would do a Google search for the same type of product and look elsewhere.

After all, convenience and timeliness have everything to do with the customer experience and how customers—both new and existing ones—perceive your brand.

Research shows that companies that prioritize the customer experience earn 60% more profits than their competitors.

In August 2013, the New York Times’ site went down—but only for two hours. Still, one of its top competitors, the Wall Street Journal, took advantage. The Journal temporarily dropped its paywall in an effort to convert Times’ readers.

Additionally, the Times’ stock dropped.

Downtime can happen due to a number of reasons, some of which are within your control.

In fact, human error is the cause of as much as 75% of downtime.

Below, we discuss the top five preventable IT admin errors that can lead to network downtime.

Top 5 IT Admin Errors

1. Failure to backup systems.

This may sound like an amateur move for IT professionals, but it does happen.

In order to salvage intel if a system goes down, a clear backup plan is needed.

Make sure your backup is fully functioning the way it should be for whatever type of infrastructure you have.

Double check that all intended storage devices are included in the backup, and be aware that the backup you’re using is the most current.

Another error that some companies face is cutting corners by not investing in the most current updates or security measures.

These investments will actually benefit you in the long run.

2. Not getting everyone on board with policies and procedures.

Training is a crucial aspect of almost any job, but especially in a position where instrumental data is involved.

In this case, it’s important to make sure there are policies and plans in place for staff to follow consistently.

You want to make sure your IT team is following these procedures across the board. Aside from regular check-ups, make sure there are policies in place—what to do and when to execute on them—when things do go wrong.

This protocol should include a comprehensive checklist and regular testing procedures. Testing is non-negotiable but it’s important to also remember to test partial parts of a whole system.

Partial failures can occur in both the network hardware as well as in electrical switchgear.

What are your recovery options? Do you know how much storage your system can handle? Are you keeping up with updates necessary to speed up any slowdowns? Is your backup equipped with the most current information? And are you documenting the details of each issue?

Is your backup equipped with the most current information? And are you documenting the details of each issue?

These are questions your team should always be asking themselves and know how to answer.

Having post-procedures in place when things slow down or go down is key. It prevents more chaos around an already stressful situation when time is of the essence. It also minimizes downtime.

3. Taking security lightly.

Another cause of downtime is through intentional human error in the form of a cyber attack.

Cyber attacks occur when stored information systems are not fully secure. And they’re quite common.

The number of reported data breaches last year was 781. This number has increased 23% since 2013.

Cyber attacks do more than threaten the loyalty of your customer base and the reputation of your company. It also costs a lot of money in recovery.

The average total cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $6.5 million. And the global cost of cyber attacks in 2019 is projected to be $2.1 trillion.

Make sure your security systems are tight, consistently tested, and updated when necessary.

4. Not investing in redundant parts.

When purchasing parts of a system, such as CPUs, fans, and power supplies, an IT manager may initially choose the cheaper option to save the department money. Cheaper options usually include one set of parts to a system.

However, if downtime should occur, getting those redundant parts for backup errors will cost you time and money. And that’s something you’ll want to avoid for the sake of the company’s reputation as well as your own.

Preparing for an outage means investing in the protection of the parts needed for the system to run, even if that means it’ll cost you more to begin with.

Consider which elements should be redundant—from batteries to Internet providers, and everything in between.

5. Not investing in a real-time service.

It’s nearly impossible and unrealistic to manually check your website every few minutes.

As a business owner, you’ve got a million and one things on your to-do list. Your staff is busy with their respective tasks.

Even your IT team, the people in charge of making sure your systems are secure, has a lot of other responsibilities to manage.

It’s also important to note that your employees aren’t working 24 hours like your website is.

Investing in a service that notifies you in real-time if your site goes down is a big piece of the puzzle to minimize the duration of downtime.

Have questions about how this type of service could help your business, or just want more information? We’ve got you covered here.

Secure Web Hosting for Your Business: What to Watch For

secure web hosting Security. Sounds like a powerful word, doesn’t it?

Truth is, it is powerful.

Think about the difference between the term “web hosting” and the term “secure web hosting.” Sounds like you would consider choosing the second one, right?

Over the years, online security has become vital. Registering a domain name, designing a killer website and being online is no longer enough.

After all, when you create a website, it’s like you put all your information on a cyberspace where hackers can enter and grab all the information they might need. The first thing you want to do is look for a host which provides you with the security needed.

Before we start, let’s take a look at the types of people who might want to break your website’s security protocol:

Identity Thieves

These hackers have one simple goal: Gather essential information about their victims and use them for personal gain.

Either it is your e-mails or your clients’ information, these hackers will definitely benefit from you and move on to their next victim because that’s what they do.

Actual Thieves

Do you know how much money moves via wireless signals, optic fibers, or even cell phones? Literally billions. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but there are people who have the knowledge and the resources to steal parts of these billions.

If you own or run an e-shop, secure web hosting is absolutely essential. Look for web hosts featuring SSL certificate, and secure all the data transmitted to and from your website.

The Tricksters

To be honest, they are the worst. They just hack a website, take it down or even destroy it just for fun. However, even though it is a hobby for them, their work can definitely cause a number of problems to you and your business (loss of revenue, your clients will lose their trust in you etc.)

Are you are an individual trying to secure their essential information or a company monitoring a bunch of websites? The list below will definitely help you with your web server’s security:

Secure Web Hosting Basic Tools

Before you go deeper into the world of secure web hosting, there are three basic tools you have to learn how to use. All three of them will add a basic layer of security to your website and they will help you avoid all the drama hacking comes with:

Anti-Virus Software

Think of the internet as a hospital where 50 percent of the people are affected by a virus and the other 50 percent are visiting. The point is that anything that is online is vulnerable to viruses and your website is not an exception.

Find an open-source cPanel or Plesk anti-virus software and scan all of your directories for suspicious files that could destroy your online presence in a snap. Two of the most popular ones are ClamAV are avast!

Rootkit Scanner

Think of rootkits as small spiders that sneak into your web server. These spiders are so tiny that your anti-virus is not always able to detect them, so you need a rootkit scanner to get rid of them.

Firewall

Sure, it sounds like a really fancy term. You have certainly watched movies about hackers trying to break a company’s firewall and get into the server to steal valuable data. However, the truth is that not all firewalls are equally strong.

Use a basic, free firewall to protect your server and block unauthorized access. It might not be as strong as CIA’s firewall, but it will get some job done.

Whatever you do, when looking for a host you have to make sure they offer you all these three basic applications to optimize and improve your server’s protection. Since they are not so sophisticated or that hard to find, they will most likely be free of charge.

FTP Settings

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. A useful protocol for every time you want to upload new files on your server. Generally speaking, FTP is a secure protocol, but this doesn’t mean that hackers are not able to attack it by modifying your uploaded files.

Talk with your web host provider and ask about SFTP availability. Yes, you guessed it right, that “S” stand for “secure”. This tiny little layer of protection will not be all you are going to need but it will be just another way to help you rest better at night.

After all, secure web hosting involves a number of steps.

Extra FTP tip: We are sure you already have, but we have to mention it. Uncheck that option which says “Allow Anonymous Uploads” and “Allow Anonymous Logins”. This will help you block strangers from uploading files to your web server. You’re welcome!

Updating Your Control Panel

Whatever your web hosting control panel is (Plesk or cPanel) make sure you always update it to the latest version. You see, the latest versions usually fix all the security bugs the previous ones had –and, trust us, you want that fix.

Talk with your host and ask them about your control panel’s updates. Do they automatically do it for you? How does your server’s updating process affect your website? Yes, all you have to do is ask.

Backup Like There is No Tomorrow

You already know how important backups are but, for some reason, we always feel the need to remind it. Because no matter how important backups are, people always tend to forget about them. If you are one of them, have one of your employees do it for you.

Even after you have done your best to protect your website from annoying intruders, unexpected things can always happen when you are at least prepared for them. There is only one solution to this –more common than you think— problem. BACKUPS.

No matter what attack or unlucky incident you may be dealing with, a backup will never disappoint you. It will always be there for you and help you get your website up and running at no time. Eat that, hackers!

Most hosts come with tools to help you manage your backups, but what about theirs? Ask them how often they backup their servers, what procedures they prefer, and where they store the data collected. After all, you have the right to know!

Monitoring your website 24/7 might sound hard and the truth is that it really is. Being on the constant lookout for cyber-attacks; trying to figure out what has gone wrong; searching for that part of your server that needs extra attention. It is a hard word.

If all of the above, sound intimidating, feel free to sign up today and get your own, personalized website report! We’ll be happy to help!

The Dyn DDoS Attack that Broke the Internet: Here’s What Happened

Dyn DDos AttackEven internet giants can’t consider themselves infallible in 2016. This is especially true after the most recent DDOS attack that took down websites like Twitter, Reddit, and Netflix.

Understanding DDOS attacks is helpful to knowing why your favorite websites are down. It’s also helpful when putting plans in place to protect your own website.

SiteUptime provides network performance monitoring services that make sure that your website is accessible from many points of the internet.

You’ll love our affordable service plans. SiteUpTime helps protect your website from hackers looking to steal information or bring your website down with a DDOS attack.

These attacks may seem random and unpredictable at times. There seems to be little anyone can do to prevent the internet from “breaking” during the time when these hackers wreck their havoc.

What a DDOS attack is

“DDOS” stands for Distributed Denial of Service. These attacks happen when a number of hackers and their bots go to a site all at once. This rush overwhelms the servers and causes the service to fail.

During this downtime, there isn’t much web hosts, web developers, and individual users can do to bring the website back to working order. This is evident in the latest DDOS attack on Dyn, a widely used internet performance manager.

These attacks, sometimes coming from the “darknet” can cost just $150 for a week-long DDOS attack. This makes the chances of a DDOS occurring higher since these cheap prices are in the budget for most people with malicious intent.

Interestingly enough, these attacks do not typically occur as an attempt to steal data from websites. But, in some attacks, this information can become compromised.

Instead, DDoS attacks block others from accessing the site and the information they have on it. Favorite videos on Youtube, sending out orders on Etsy or viewing your personal bank account information can all be stopped with an attack.

Ensuring that your website is secure is a first step in ensuring that a DDOS attack doesn’t harm your business.

There are ways to take steps that can help you avoid or prevent a DDoS attack. Try giving your employees additional training in online security and creating detailed online policies and strategies.

Botnets

Botnets are a network of computers that have been infected by malicious viruses that remain hidden on the computer until an event like a DDOS attack occurs.

During this time, the “botmaster” is able to coordinate an attack and collect control of infected computers. Just one botnet could bring down a website.

However, these botnets may work collectively to target larger websites and networks in order to bring down the sites for a longer period of time and over a larger geographical area.

In the case of the Dyn DDoS attack, a collective of hackers and botnets worked together across the globe.

Since they were located in different areas, the botnets completely took out Dyn databases on the east coast of the United States.

This was accomplished by them targeting the Dyn servers that linked back to the East Cost but were located in other countries.

The Dyn DDoS attack

On October 21st, 2016, your access to many favorite websites may have suddenly stopped working.

Some of the websites that were taken offline caused massive problems. Twitter, Reddit, GitHub, Etsy, Imgur, PayPal, Spotify, Yelp, and the PlayStation Network reported problems stemming from the Dyn DDos attack.

Problematically, this attack stopped users from accessing their information and cost these companies hours of business. For internet-based companies, this can be devasting.

SiteUptime aids in internet performance monitoring to find out exactly how much downtime your web site endures.

This information, along with the other data our services gather, can help with your personal understanding of DDos attacks in relation to your business.

As some have noted, DDoS attacks typically target a single website. Usually, this happens when someone or some group has a personal reason to remove that company from full online functionality for an uncertain amount of time.

In the case of the Dyn attack, the unprecedented incident took out a host that allowed multiple large websites to function.

Surprisingly, for this DDoS attack, Network World reported that only 10% of the world’s botnets were involved in the Dyn DDoS attack.

This particular DDoS attack took out websites for the east coast for almost the entire day– beginning at internet “primetime” in the morning and a third wave of the attack occurring just after 4pm est.

What’s happening now

As for Dyn, all of the websites taken down by the October 21st attack have returned to full function. Users can once again enjoy their services and business owners can go back to providing goods and making their living.

However, this massive attack has called for a review of the way websites and servers currently run.

Improving the technology and coding behind websites like Dyn may be able to prevent a future attack, but staying one step ahead of massive networks of hackers is a difficult task.

The remedy to this problem is not very clearly, unfortunately. As with many things coming from the dark side of the internet, finding out motives and solutions will be difficult.

Dyn has produced a piece that outlines the impact, timeline, and possible solutions to remove the possibility of DDoS attacks from happening in the future.

While SiteUptime is absolutely on board with fighting for a solution, it is our biggest priority to keep you up-to-date with the correct information.

We help your business by monitoring the internet performance of your website to provide great service to your customers.

Conclusion:

The DDoS attack on Dyn is a good example of why internet security is an important topic that should be at the forefront of any business owner’s mind. Security is important regardless of whether or not the company is small or large.

SiteUptime provides monitoring locations across the globe to test the functionality of your website from different points on the map.

With multiple locations, SiteUptime checks that problems like DDoS attacks don’t take down your website to different user groups.

Our locations are currently New York City, San Fransisco, Portland, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore. Being across the globe is just another step we take to ensure that your website is monitoring and prepared for problems like DDoS attacks.

Network Performance Monitoring: 4 Reasons Your Site Goes Down

If you have a business, chances are you also have a website that brings in new customers from the web.

Providing network performance monitoring to over 125,000 websites, SiteUptime understands the necessity of having a funetwork performance monitoringnctional website that is reaching customers in order to keep businesses successful.

We know that a site that is up 99% of the time still equates to 7 hours out of every month where customers simply cannot reach your business website. For a new customer, this downtime is disastrous.

SiteUptime provides network performance monitoring services that make sure that your website is accessible throughout time and from multiple points of the internet. With our affordable service plans, you can be assured that your website stays available for your customers.

To best protect your business from the problems associated with websites going down, here are our top 4 reasons for site crashes.

What can network performance monitoring do for you?

Network performance monitoring can best be defined as the process of testing your website from multiple access points and time to check accessibility and the way your site is able to perform under various circumstances

SiteUptime has monitoring locations across the globe to test the network performance of your website from a comprehensive standpoint. Whether you are a web design or hosting company, or an individual website owner, network performance monitoring can help bring in a customer base you may have previously been missing.

With SiteUptime, your website will be monitored from varied geographical locations like New York City, San Fransisco, Portland, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, and Singapore. The scheduled testing that occurs from each of these locations will test the functionality of your website and verify any errors that occur.

Unfortunately, without a network performance monitoring system, it is difficult for website owners to effectively track what is going on.

The data you could be missing without network performance monitoring.

Network performance monitoring not only assists business owners in maintaining their e-consumer base through the knowledge of when their site is down, but it also offers an important mass of data that may otherwise be missed.

Shopping Cart Functionality

As a business that allows for online shopping, knowing if your customers are able to use their shopping carts and purchase their selections without error is integral to ensuring that customers can buy your products.

Uptime

As mentioned earlier, a website that is up 99% of the time is still down seven hours out of the month.

Studies have shown that 78% of customers have left without a sale or purchase due to bad service on a website, so knowing the amount of time that your site is properly working is key to understanding what you’re missing out on.

Website Visitors

Knowing how many people visit your website can also help business owners understand what functionalities can best provide service to their customers.

Similarly, business owners are able to tailor their specific web packages to match the hits they are getting.

Broken Links

Remember that blog you posted in 2012? The internet does, though you may not. That specific blog can still be getting hits in 2016 and onwards if your SEO is still hitting the right marks.

It’s not reasonable for you to have an eye on every single link you’ve ever used to ensure that it is still working, but a network performance monitoring system is able to do so for you.

Page Speed

Knowing how quickly your page loads can help you understand whether or not customers are likely to stick around until your website is fully accessible to them. As we all remember the days of dial-up, slow web access is not something to be desired.

Network performance monitoring enables you to understand why your website is slow and what you can do about it to increase the success of your website and, as a result, your business.

The top 4 reasons your website is down

Server Overload

Once of the top reasons that websites go down is because of a server overload.

This is sometimes seen as a “good problem” to be having, as it means that too many people are trying to access your website at the same time. Though there is room for celebration (you are getting tons of new customers after all), you must ask yourself why you aren’t able to serve all of those customers.

Another common cause of server overloads is because your website is under attack by a hacker or group of hackers. These overloads, called DOS (Denial Of Service), occur when a hacker uses multiple computers that are often infected with viruses to view your website at the same time, causing your website to go down as a result of the overwhelming demand and traffic.

Hacking

In relation to DOS attacks, hackers can cause your website to go down for a multitude of reasons. When your web security is compromised through accidental leaks of information, hackers can take down your website to retrieve your data and create harmful waves felt throughout your business.

Client database information, bank access, and other key components to your business may become compromised without the proper network safety being practiced.

Coding Errors

Another common reason for sites to go down is an error in coding. Though your developers should be working to prevent problems happening within the coding of your websites, errors can and will occur.

When a circumstance is not properly tested and prepared for, it is possible for the “perfect storm” to come together and cause your site to go down if all the right conditions are met that you coding is not ready to handle.

Datacenter Problems

As most websites use data centers to store their information and run their site on the backend, it is not uncommon for these centers to experience errors and downtime of their own. If a natural disaster occurs in the area of your center, this is an unavoidable reason for your website to go down.

In these cases, clear communication is needed to work with the center to get things up and running again.

We’re here to help.

SiteUptime is here to provide you with unbeatable network performance monitoring services for competitive prices.

We are also here to support our customers with educational information that can help with the way you understand how to protect your information online and how to better your website all through our blog content. Our comprehensive FAQ page also holds tons of valuable information for you.

To get started with network performance monitoring on your site, contact us!

Site Monitoring Tools: 4 Big Reasons You Need Them

Branding seems to be the hot new buzzword these days. People talk of crafting and protecting brands, of their customers making a connection with their brand, not just their company.

site monitoring toolsIt’s more than just your product or your information; branding encompasses the look, feel, and experience of a company or person.

Small businesses often have a more intimate relationship with their customers; in these cases, branding is a very big deal!

Your website is a direct 24/7 portal between your customers and audience to you and your brand.

But what happens if there’s an issue with your site and it goes down or pages won’t load? Is your website secure? And, how does it affect your Google rankings?

A website without site monitoring tools makes itself vulnerable to a host of issues that can quickly grow beyond your control.

If you think you can handle it on your own, read on to find out the four biggest issues that threaten you and your brand and what you can do now to protect it.

Time On Your Hands

Time is money – that old adage is truer than ever these days.

If your site has any issues, and it goes down, how quickly do you think you would be made aware of it? How much effort do you think it would take to really get to the root of the problem?

If you’ve got a small company or just run the website yourself, you might be caught unaware by a small problem that grew large while you weren’t looking.

At this point, you’re losing precious time dealing with it.

A site monitoring service nips this issue in the bud. You won’t have to be combing through logs for information or manually compiling data.Your website is a direct 24/7 portal between your customers and audience to you and your brand.

But what happens if there’s an issue with your site and it goes down or pages won’t load? Is your website secure? And how does it affect your Google rankings?

A website without site monitoring tools makes itself vulnerable to a host of issues that can quickly grow beyond your control.

These tools compile your IT info into one place for easy access, improving efficiency in real time.

With your site being monitored twenty-four hours a day, you can spend your valuable time crafting your posts or filling orders instead of keeping one eye open for problems.

Get Notified Before Your Site Suffers

Not only will your IT data be easily accessible in one central location, you will receive proactive notifications when something goes wrong.

Things that would usually go unnoticed are immediately brought to your attention, allowing you to take the steps needed to right your site.

Your website will suffer if your disc space fills up, causing the whole operation to lag or even fail.

If your anti-virus protection is out of date, it could cause a huge issue not only for your customers but for your own computer as well.

Twenty-seven percent of blogs or websites are run on WordPress. If yours is one of them you should know themes need to be updated often to prevent any kind of security risk.

Site monitoring tools are a proactive way to take control of your site and ultimately, the user experience.

The sooner you know there’s an issue, the quicker you can react.

Gain Insight And Understand How To Improve

You might think your website is perfect the way it is.

Of course, that’s how one feels after pouring their time and energy into creating something, especially something as personal as a brand website.

But, is it really all that great?

What if your hi-res images create a long loading time? Or those animations that you thought were eye-catching were actually ignored and just ate up space?

Is your load speed dragging and effectively killing your Google search results?

Yes – your website’s overall health and quality might be affecting your standings in Google rankings. If Google crawls your site and sees it’s down, you drop lower on the list.

Monitoring your site’s performance can really make that much of a difference which is why it’s always good to get another opinion.

With site monitoring tools, you’ll get a look into what works and what doesn’t on your website. Once you can see the bigger picture, you can start making decisions that will improve the overall health of your site.

Getting to know your site, you’ll see if your site isn’t responding the way you want it to, and from there you can get it where you need it to be.

The Worst Crime: Going Offline

What’s worse than having a site that loads slowly? A site that doesn’t load at all.

Going offline is incredibly costly, and not just from a financial perspective.

Imagine how you would feel about a site that suddenly wasn’t available.

Would you trust it with your credit card information? Would you feel that the info in the blog was legitimate?

The damage to your reputation is one of the biggest issues of site downtime.

You’ll lose money, true, but you’ll lose your customers’ trust and that’s almost impossible to get back.

Slow load time, being hijacked by malicious code, and a total site shut down – this is a business’ biggest nightmare.

Up to 40% of visitors to your page will click away from your site if it loads too slowly. Can you take that kind of hit?

All of the above points combine to make sure this never happens to you and your site.

Understanding your site, early detection of any issues, and saving time in dealing with these issues are the ultimate way to preserve your standings and improve user experience.

Site Monitoring Tools Are Vital For Your Website’s Health And Performance

Killing your user experience.

Wiping your website’s views on Google.

Losing customers and money.

Spending time on minor issues that spiraled out of control.

Leaving your site vulnerable to hackers and viruses.

Do you need more reasons to protect your brand?

Keep your peace of mind with a reliable and affordable service like SiteUptime.

SiteUptime has several plans – one of them at zero cost! – that will make sure your site never suffers any of the above pitfalls.

They’re available 24/7 in various locations around the world, ensuring there’s always someone watching out for you.

Their remote locations always verify their findings too so that you’re never sent into panic mode over a false reading.

Try it out and get a look into your website’s performance. A simple tweak might be all it takes to keep your customers happy and ultimately boost your bottom line.

How to Backup Your WordPress Site for a Quick Recovery

Your website is the face of your brand.

It’s the first place most people go when they go when they hear about you, and if the site is down or crashes while they use it, 39% of users will leave and never come back.

backup a wordpress siteAnd if you don’t have a backup to restore everything quickly, you could find yourself having to build it back up from scratch, losing potential customers and profits in the meantime.

This is why it’s so important to learn how to backup a WordPress site. You cannot afford to have your website go down without a plan in place to fix it.

Don’t get caught in the nightmare scenario of losing everything! Follow our helpful guide to learn how to protect your site and your brand when stuff goes down!

Why Sites Go Down

Your hosting provider could go down for a number of reasons, and it happens to everyone once in a while. But if it becomes a common occurrence or if the outage lasts for long stretches of time, then you might want to consider porting your site over to another host.

But before you go moving your site around from host to host, you should understand the potential reasons your site might go down.

You’ve Been Hacked!

Okay, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Hackers sound really scary (and if you’re not protected against them, they are), but almost every popular website gets hacked at one point or another.

Any good hosting provider has a variety of protective measures against hackers and you can sign up for site monitoring to be instantly notified when something is going wrong.

They may be looking for personal, financial, or customer information and cause your site to crash in the process. It often requires a full restore to remove any malicious code, which is a great reason to learn how to backup a WordPress site.

My Plugin Broke Everything

While hackers can occasionally break through your security and bring down your site, the far more common reason your website will go down is because of YOU.

Websites are made up of thousands of individual lines of code that all have to work with each other.

When you install new updates or plugins to your site, you’re introducing or replacing hundreds of lines of code with new information.

Because many of the most helpful plugins are made by a third-party developer, sometimes old plugins don’t work with new WordPress updates, visual plugins conflict with your theme, or multiple plugins clash with each other and your site goes down.

A quick call to customer service will usually resolve the issue pretty quickly, but if you have your WordPress site backed up, then you can take care of it yourself even faster!

How to Backup a WordPress Site

Now that you know how easy it is for your site to go down, you should be prepared for the eventuality that it will happen to you.

But that doesn’t have to be a stressful prospect because learning how to backup a WordPress site is easy and solves the problem instantly!

1. Make Additional Copies of Intellectual Property

A lot of creativity goes into creating a website, and that creativity is valuable. When someone tries to steal your intellectual property and pass it off as their own, you need to have proof that you or your employees are the creators and owners of that content.

If you’ve created blog posts, “about” pages, graphics,  or anything original for your site, you need to have it backed up somewhere offsite and offline. It would even be smart to have multiple copies on different devices in case one of your backups is lost.

2. Take Advantage of Your Web Host Backups

This is one of the easiest steps to take to back up your website. If you have a managed WordPress blog, your web host will often include free backup and recovery that will allow you to restore your site with a single click.

However, your host is not a dedicated recovery service, so you may end up in a situation where they won’t be as responsive as you need them to be or they don’t have a recent backup. Consider as a backup to your backup.

3. Use Dedicated Backup Software

There are also many paid and free plugins available that make it easy to backup a WordPress site.

Some of them even make it easy to download the files directly to your computer so you can restore your site by yourself the moment you know it’s down.

4. Save Your Files Manually

To create a recovery of your website, you need to download your entire WordPress directory using an FTP program like FileZilla or Transmit.

Navigate to the Home directory and locate your WordPress directory, then compress the folder into a .zip file and download it to a hard disk.

Whenever your site goes down, you can upload this backup to the FTP program and restore your site to the state it was in when you saved it.

Come Up With A Disaster Recovery Plan

Now that you have your backup, you need a recovery procedure to put into action the moment your site goes down, so you can keep your downtime to a minimum.

Monitor Your Website 24/7!

Obviously, you can’t constantly refresh your website waiting for it to crash, but you can enroll in a website monitoring service that will watch it for you.

They send you an alert in two minutes or less when your site has gone down, so you can restore it quickly.

Keep Track of Software Logs

Most web hosts will keep audit logs of your website’s operation that you can request to get an idea of how your site is supposed to look when it’s running normally.

When your site disappears, audit logs can also be a good indicator of when and where things went wrong.

Check Your Plugins!

As we mentioned above, plugins are a common culprit in bringing down your website.

If you just added a handful of new plugins or updated WordPress and your site went down, try uninstalling them or restoring your site before you panic.

Learn How Your Backup Software Works

If you want to resolve your issue as fast as possible, then you should know exactly what will happen when your website does disappear and you need to defer to your backup.

If all else fails, call customer service and ask them to explain what steps you need to take to get your backup implemented as fast as possible.

Summary

Your website is potentially the most important interface between your business and your customers. When it’s down, your customers are leaving, and you’re losing money.

Educate yourself on the potential causes of website outages, keep close watch over your site’s operation, and take the steps to restore your website the moment it goes down to keep your business and your clients happy!

E-Commerce Security: Keep Your Website Up this Holiday Season

e-commerce securityFor many companies, the holidays are the busiest time of year. 74% of retailers say that they make 20% of their annual sales each December.

Now, that’s a reason to be merry! But a lack of e-commerce security could put your company at risk.

But, let’s take a step back for a second. Because a lack of e-commerce security could put your company at risk.

While your site may run fine the rest of the year, the increased traffic around the holiday season causes many unprepared retailers to experience crashes. These crashes are caused because too many users are trying to access your database at once. Since it can’t handle all these requests, it crashes.

Any downtime on your website means that customers will go looking elsewhere. They’re busy and trying to get all the gifts they need in time for the holidays. They won’t wait around for your site to come back online. This is why small companies lose more revenue because of IT issues than any other sector.

While essential to be informed if your site goes down, in the best case scenario, it won’t go down at all.

So how do you keep your site from crashing and ensure that even if it does, it gets back up in no time? Read on to find out.

Read on to find out.

Prepare For Increased Traffic Through Scalability

Gone are the days when companies would buy excess server space that would sit unused most of the year, just to be prepared for December spikes.

To avoid this massive expense while still ensuring you’ve got the extra capacity when you need it, look for a web hosting service that provides a flexible, cloud-based plan.

This way, you can increase your plan’s capacity just for when it’s necessary, and go back to regular levels throughout the year. You only have to pay for what you need, but you still get the security of knowing that your website will be prepared for the incoming flood of holiday shoppers.

You only have to pay for what you need, but you still get the security of knowing that your website will be prepared for the incoming flood of holiday shoppers.

Even Traffic Distribution Through a Load Balancer

Related to scalability, load balancing helps spread out the traffic coming to your site across multiple servers, reducing the chance of a crash.

Even if one of the servers fails, your website won’t go down. Instead, your traffic will be distributed across the remaining servers until the crashed one can be repaired. This is a valuable redundancy that decreases the chances of crashing.

In addition to providing e-commerce security and ensuring your website stays up and running throughout high traffic, load balancing also reduces overall latency for site visitors. This is great news for the busy holiday shopping season!

Session Persistence is a Must Have for E-Commerce Security

The only thing you need to worry about is ensuring that your provider for your load balancer ensures session persistence. When a shopper is filling their online cart, the information about their selections is stored in their browser until they move to the purchase page.

If the load balancer changes which server is handling a shopper’s request partway through their purchase, it can lead to errors and failed transactions.

Session persistence means that a user’s entire shopping session is handled by a single server. As long as your load balance provider guarantees session persistence, you won’t have to worry about any purchasing issues. You can rest easy knowing your shoppers’ purchases will remain secure.

Load balancers can be provided by your hosting service provider.

Content Delivery Network

A content delivery network (CDN) can prevent crashing as well as increase your website’s speed. This is highly important considering 51% of online shoppers say that slow speeds are the number one reason they abandon a purchase online.

This option makes use of pulling and caching content from your server and distributing it to secure servers all over the world. When a shopper accesses your site, their computer will pull the information from the server nearest to them. This reduces the overall stress on your server and increases the efficiency of your system.

A content delivery network system shifts the burden of your traffic load from your own server to the CDN’s network.

This is an especially good option if your business plans on selling internationally. Your customers will have a good online experience whether they’re in New York, Paris, or Tokyo.

Use caution with this option. Some content delivery network services don’t manage dynamic content very well. If your website uses a good deal of dynamic content, make sure that your provider will accommodate your website properly; otherwise, your shoppers won’t get the full benefit.

Making Sure Your E-Commerce Security Solution is Working

Once you’ve selected a way to manage spiking traffic around the holiday season, you must monitor your website’s performance to ensure that everything is working as well as you would hope.

This means being constantly vigilant for site outages and crashes. For example, if you scaled up your website plan to account for additional traffic but visitors exceeded your expectations, your website could still go down.

That’s why many companies use a website monitoring service. A monitoring service will let you know the moment your website crashes so you can fix it immediately. Remember, you can lose about 8% of your daily sales for every hour that your website is down. This is even worse if your website goes down during peak shopping hours.

Knowing the moment your website goes down means you can reduce downtime and reduce the amount of lost revenue by getting it up and running again as fast as possible.

You can also use statistics gathering about your uptime and downtime. By getting hard data about your website’s performance, you can improve on your crash-prevention solutions. For example, if you notice your website is still going down at certain times, you can increase your data plan or speak to your hosting service.

By bringing them useful data, you can determine a solution that provides what you actually need, instead of just springing for larger, more expensive plans.

(Gift) Wrapping Up

Now that you know what solutions are out there, you can upgrade your website to avoid any costly outages during the holiday season.

Whether you go with a load balancer, a scaled-up cloud plan, or a content delivery network, always make sure to monitor your website’s performance and watch for outages.

By keeping your website up and running, you will ensure a magical shopping season for you and your customers alike!

Website Down? How to Work Through Planned Site Downtime

website downHere’s the unfortunate reality of running a website:

You will have downtime.

Your website may use the best hosting company and the best-of-breed infrastructure. But, hiccups in server uptime every once in awhile are par for the course. Technical difficulties can force a server to shut down. Or, an update may require taking a website down for a few hours.

Whatever the case, outages can prove bank-breaking. They cost businesses $26.5 billion every year!

Sure, a planned downtime is different from an unplanned outage. With the former, one expects to get back online.

But, be warned:

Even planned downtimes can turn ugly – from dipping rankings, poor customer experience, to a reduction in revenue.

Worry not. In this guide, you’ll learn how to prepare so planned downtimes don’t turn to unplanned disasters.

Taking A Website Down For Maintenance? Here Are 2 Big Mistakes To Avoid

If a downtime is inevitable, be sure to let both website visitors and search engines know that the outage is only temporary. And many get this part wrong.

For example:

A website owner may remove all of the files from the server to give the website’s theme a complete overhaul. This results in a 404 error (“Not Found” error) when people try to access the site. And the error message does little to inform searchers and bots about the actual situation.

Is the site gone for good? Or is the outage temporary? If the latter is true, when will the website get back online?

A 404 error message doesn’t answer any of these questions.

The worst case scenario:

Visitors may assume the website has gone out of business, and they may not access or search for the website again.

Search engines often have the same reaction. Google, Bing, and co. may assume that the site no longer exists and schedule it for deletion in their index.

Other webmasters know enough not to pull out of their server files during planned downtimes. They take the extra step of adding a simple page along with a sentence or two to explain the outage. All of the website’s pages are redirected to the message.

The workaround does the job as far as keeping human visitors in the loop is concerned. Search engines, however, are still miles away from a total understanding of our language. The message won’t make any sense to these bots.

Moreover, search engines may think that the page has replaced the entire website, depending on how the redirection was carried out. A terrible way to lose hard-earned rankings and traffic!

Preparing For A Planned Downtime

Now we know what mistakes to avoid when taking down a website temporarily. The rest of this guide will show you how to prepare along with the right redirection and HTTP status code.

Know Which Channels To Use For Updating Visitors

Are you going to put up a dedicated status page? Will you put it on your blog? Or, should you communicate the issues via social media instead?

The method that makes the most sense is the one that lets you reach the majority of your audience. Of course, you can use multiple channels for sending updates. Nevertheless, having a primary communication medium and redirecting everyone there will keep all parties involved on the same page.

Put Someone In Charge

After identifying the ideal communication platforms, put someone in charge of updating the status of the downtime. Now this depends on a number of factors like the nature of the issue and your website’s audience.

For example:

A tech-savvy customer base may require the expertise of the DevOps team to update everyone and answer technical questions about the issue.

If the site’s customer base isn’t too technical, having someone from the customer service team might be the best bet. A customer service expert’s skill will prove helpful in handling inquiries and keeping customers calm during the downtime.

The Right Redirection And HTTP Status Code

Planned outages not marked as such can have a negative impact on a site’s reputation and rankings. Fortunately, one can better deal with downtimes and preserve their site’s rankings by using the right redirection and HTTP status code.

Let’s have a quick review of the most important codes and their meaning:

  • 200 OK: The standard response for successful requests.
  • 301 Redirect: Tells the search engines that the resource is on a new and permanent location. It passes most link juice from the original website, making it the best redirection method when rebranding a website with a new domain or URL.
  • 302 Found: A 302 redirect means the requested page or website is sitting at a different location for the time being. The search engines recognize this and will prevent passing link juice to the temporary location.
  • 404 Not Found: The page or website isn’t in the requested location, and gives no indication whether the outage is temporary or permanent.
  • 503 Service Unavailable: The server is unavailable temporarily for a number of reasons like overload or maintenance. Search engines recognize the temporary state of affairs and won’t de-index the website.

The first section of the guide taught us that using a 404 error code during planned downtimes is a terrible idea. Instead, you want to use a 503 status code.

Aside from informing search engines of the downtime’s temporary nature, a 503 status code lets website owners provide an estimate as to when the site will return online. This can be done with ease by adding a Retry-After header.

Keep in mind, however, that a 503 status code shouldn’t be on for too long. Doing so may leave Google thinking that the website is gone from the World Wide Web for good.

Planned Downtimes Shouldn’t Lead To Unplanned Disasters

A website may go down not because it’s out of business but for routine maintenance. However, visitors and search engines like Google won’t see the difference unless you tell them. Fail to make the distinction and losing visitors and rankings may follow.

Don’t let planned downtimes lead to unplanned disasters.

In this post, we looked at everything you need to know before taking a website down for maintenance. We identified the biggest mistakes to avoid, the preparatory steps, and the right HTTP status code for planned downtimes.

Keep this guide handy and may your planned downtimes be smooth and hassle-free.

7 Tips to Secure Your WordPress Site from Hackers

WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms around. Over 74.6 million websites rely on WordPress technology, That’s more than Amazon (US), the most popular online retailer in America.

Of course, it’s not hard to see why. WordPress’s customizability, stability, website security, and ease of use is second to none. However, a WordPress site can only do so much to avoid hackers on its own. If the administrator at the helm of a secure website doesn’t know how to keep their site secure, it’s only a matter of time before someone breaks in.

If you want your WordPress site to go from hacker resistant to hacker-proof, there are seven big things that you should be doing.

1. Keep Up With Plugin and Theme Updates

One of the main reasons for WordPress updates is to seal newly discovered security holes in the WordPress software.  So anytime you decide to ignore updates out of laziness or out of the worry that it’ll break your site, you put your site in jeopardy of being cracked.

If you’re worried about your WordPress site crashing or getting lost due to an update error, don’t. WordPress updates go off without a hitch almost all of the time. Even if you encounter an error, you can rollback to a previous version as long as you have a backup. You can make things even easier with a tool like WP-Rollback.

2. Use a 2FA  For Your Logins

A 2FA or Two Factor Identification is an extra layer of security that supplements the typical username and password. You’ve probably already used this on secure banking websites that require an additional pin or ID code in addition to the other credentials.

This extra layer of protection may not be necessary for small sites or normal blog sites, but if you deal in sensitive information like bank cards, you should definitely use a 2FA.

3. Limit Unsuccessful Login Attempts and Remove Login Hints

Internet hackers typically use a hacking technique referred to as “brute force,” wherein an application program constantly inputs different data until it eventually uncovers correct credentials. It can take a while, but a brute force program will eventually find all correct combinations.

This method sounds crude, but it is by far the most effective way to break into unprepared sites. What makes it even more insidious is that these brute force applications are very easy to access and use. A ten-year-old with minimal computer expertise could hypothetically run one of these programs and successfully break into your site.

Luckily, you can make this extremely effective hacking technique completely worthless with two simple changes. First, limit unsuccessful login attempts by using a tool like LoginLockDown. Second, disable login hints that tell the user whether it’s their username or password that’s incorrect. Limiting login attempts could prove to be a mild inconvenience for your users, but you’ll have a much more secure website in the long run.

4. Rename Your Login Page and Remove the Admin Login Link

You can further deter brute force attacks by renaming your login page to something other than www.yourwebsitename.com/wp-login.php. By renaming your login page, you make automated brute force applications work much harder to find it in the first place.

You can also protect your site by using removing the Admin login link from public view, and turning it into a private URL that only your administrators have. All of this is doable with the Lockdown WP-Admin plugin. You can also download a plugin like The Hack Repair Guy’s Admin Login Notifier.

For this to work successfully, you may need to update your internet security policy with your employees and other administrators.

5. Create a 16 Digit Numerical Password With Symbols Like % or $ and No Whole Words For a More Secure Website

It’s tempting to make easily rememberable passwords like the names of people you know or your date of birth, but the easier it is to remember, the easier it is to hack. Instead, use a tool like passwordsgenerator.net to create a password that no human could ever guess. With anti-brute-force application methods in place such as tips 2 and 3, you’ll have a more secure website than the overwhelming majority of WordPress users.

6. Don’t Skimp On Your Hosting Platform

All the complex passwords and security precautions won’t do a bit of good if your host is unreliable. In fact, most hacked WordPress sites were hacked due to a failing on their hosting platform’s part.

Shared hosting is generally affordable and should be just fine for smaller sites. But if your site starts getting large and uses up more server resources than its peers, your shared host may encourage you to upgrade. This may be periodic series of messages if your host is polite, or your site may be dropped without warning if you’re unlucky.

If your site is going to be big, you’re better off going for a more secure WordPress specialized host. Pagely and Siteground are two well-respected WordPress hosts, but you should shop around to find one that directly suits your needs. In addition, you should keep track of your website’s server load and performance to see the degree of web hosting you need (with a tool like SiteUpTime).

7.  Protect Your Own Computer

This goes without saying for most of you, but many others often forget this valuable tip. You need to ensure that your own system is secure. It makes no sense to protect your site from the outside if your own computer is infected with malware, trojans, or other bugs. If you’re getting popup ads, haven’t scanned for malware or adware in the last month, frequently visit unsafe sites or click random ads, or don’t utilize a firewall, you should check your system with multiple trusted virus scanners before doing anything else.

Remember to Always Have Backups!

Nothing is guaranteed. It’s possible that your site could still be hacked even with these security measures in place. Luckily, backups function as your trump card against hackers. If you or one of your administrators notices some malicious activity on your site, take it down and rewind back to a previous version once you’ve determined the cause.

It’s an inconvenience, but a few hours of site downtime is much better than someone stealing customer information from your secure website!

It’s recommended that you keep at least 3 backups of your site in various media including physical ones  just in case your computer is compromised. You can make this process easier by turning on automated WordPress backups, but remember to check often to ensure the application is still working.

Downtime is unacceptable. You should be monitoring yours. Contact us for more on how to keep your website secure.