How to Use Popups to Engage Your Customers and Grow

popup

Gunbroker auctions marketers and e-tailers are sometimes wary in recent years at the very thought of integrating popups into the mix in order to engage customers, but they need not be. There is a lot of opportunities for growth to be had!

Make First Time Visitors Opt-In

As soon as visitors arrive on your page, serve them a pop up asking them to sign up for special offers. After all, 98% of buyers won’t purchase from your site the first time they visit. You have to give them a reason to come back.

If you can get them to say yes the first time, you’re more likely to get them to say yes the next time. However, if you don’t get their information, they may not come back. They may not even remember how they got to your site.

Lead them to the water you want them to drink. Email marketing is still the way to go and once you have their information you can send them valuable information, deals, and updates to engage further.

Pulling The Trigger With Popups

Timing is everything when it comes to popups. If you want to pull it as soon as they arrive, try a time driven popup. You can time it to where it shows up for them after a determined amount of time and adjust as necessary to see what works.

Alternately, you can hit your target with the popup once they make a move, like scrolling down the page 70% of the way or click through a certain number of pages. This is a little sneakier, but it probably doesn’t feel that way to those who are truly interested in purchasing from your website.

The exit intent popup is also a tried and true sales popup — when they’re about to leave, offer them something. They don’t really want to leave, do they?

Ok, maybe they do, but if you give them a reason to come back later, they just might. It’s worth a shot.

Tips For Not Being Spammy With Popups

While you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, you don’t want to misfire too many times and alienate a potential customer. Don’t go overkill with popups that won’t go away after they’re closed out. You probably won’t hear from that person again.

The subtle approach with popups can be the best one because popups in and of themselves are right in front of your audience. Use smaller popups and limit the number of popups that show up to new visitors. You don’t want to come off as desperate.

Entice Shoppers With Free Shipping Popups

47% of shoppers indicated in a recent study that they did not abandon their purchase because of the promise of free shipping. It’s a tried-and-true way to entice shoppers through pop-ups.

Use Popups For Gunbroker Auctions

Increase your gunbroker auctions sales with customizable auction templates and seller tools for an affordable price. Save time, money, and look professional. It’s worth the investment to do things right the first time.

DNS Monitoring: How to Check Your Traffic for Threats

DNS Monitoring

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks.

The Domain Name System (DNS) serves as a website’s identity and is the core component of its security architecture.

Unless your website has the appropriate DNS monitoring in place, there’s no reason why you cannot become a cybercriminal’s next victim.

We are offering informative tips on how to prevent security threats.

Why Do Cyber Criminals Target DNS?

Unfortunately, cybercriminals will target a vulnerable internet service or protocol, including a website’s DNS.

They can then register disposable domain names for a spam campaign or botnet administration.

What’s more, an attacker could use the domains to host malware or phishing downloads.

Malicious queries can also exploit a nameserver or disrupt a name solution.

Sadly, the cyber-attacks can potentially destroy a website’s performance, function, and reputation.

The servers of Dyn are a perfect example.

The company controls some of the internet’s DNS infrastructure. It experienced a cyber attack that brought down much of America and Europe’s internet on October 21st, 2016.

The new Mirai botnet attack has been classed as the largest kind in its history.

A variety of high-profile websites experienced a downtime, such as Twitter, The Guardian, CNN, Netflix, and Reddit.

While it may be a feat to prevent every potential DNS threat affecting a website, it’s essential to take action to avoid falling victim to a cyber attack.

Why DNS Monitoring?

More than a quarter of companies haven’t established responsibility for their DNS security, despite the fact DNS attacks have increased by more than 200%.

To prevent a website from becoming a cyber attack target, you must embark with regular DNS monitoring.

A DNS log monitors every connection your website makes with a visiting device.

To maintain website security, it’s essential to embark with DNS monitoring to inspect the traffic between a device and your local recursive resolver.

The forensic analysis can ensure you:

  • Identify the websites visited by an employer
  • Discover the malware/botnets connected to the C&C servers
  • Detect a DDOS attack
  • Pinpoint the Domain Generation Algorithm (DGA) and malicious domains accessed
  • Identify the dynamic domains accessed

When analyzing the DNS log, it’s essential to verify each domain against the DGA and malicious domain database.

If you’re unsure of where to start with DNS Monitoring, we’re offering six security systems to help you proactively protect your website.

1. Firewalls

Firewalls have the potential to expose DNS threats, so they’re an effective tool for DNS monitoring.

Most firewalls will allow webmasters to define rules to prevent IP spoofing.

For example, you could enter a rule that denies DNS queries from IP addresses outside an allocated number space. This could prevent a nameserver from exploitation in a DDoS attack.

It’s also beneficial to enable DNS traffic inspection for suspicious byte patterns or irregular DNS traffic, so you can take the steps to block a nameserver software exploit attack.

2. Traffic Analyzers

One of the best ways to identify harmful malware traffic is a passive traffic analysis.

A traffic analyzer will allow you to both capture and filter DNS traffic between a device and your local recursive resolver, which you can then save to a PCAP file.

Webmasters must create scripts to search the PCAP file to identify specific suspicious activities.

3. Passive DNS Replication

Passive DNS replication allows a webmaster to use sensors at the local recursive resolvers.

This creates a database containing each DNS transaction, such as the query or response, through a resolver or set of resolvers.

The replication can be instrumental in identifying one or more malware domains, particularly in cases when the malware operates algorithmically generated domain names (AGDA).

4. Intrusion Detection Systems

An effective intrusion detection system allows you to create rules that allow reporting on DNS requests from unauthorized networks.

It is beneficial to compose rules to either count or report:

  • NXDomain responses
  • DNS queries via TCP
  • Responses that contain resource records with short TTLs
  • Unusually large DNS responses
  • DNS queries to non-standard ports
  • plus more

All DNS queries should be carefully reviewed.

The intrusion detection systems can be integrated into firewalls, which will allow you to deny or permit rules for many of the checks listed above.

5. DNS Monitoring with Local Resolver Logs

Your local resolver logs are probably the most obvious and essential way to embark with DNS monitoring.

By enabling resolver logging, you can use a variety of tools to collect DNS server logs whilst exploring known malicious domains, such as OSSEC.

6. A Secure Registrar

Most websites are registered via a registrar company.

Unfortunately, if a cyber-attacker can compromise the account with the registrar, they can gain control over your domain name.

This means they can point the registrar to their chosen server, including their nameservers.

What’s more, they can transfer the domain to either a new owner or an offshore registrar – which means you might be unable to recover the domain.

Many intelligent cyber attackers may target an account’s password, or they may even launch a cyber attack on the registrar’s tech support.

You’ll want to avoid registrar hijacking, so you should select a registrar that provides heightened security precautions.

Look for services like multi-factor authentication.

Suspicious Signs to Analyze

It is important to pay close attention to any potential signs of malicious activity on your network.

We recommend analyzing the composition characteristics and length of DNS responses. This could help to identify malicious intent.

If the response messages are unusually large, this could be an amplification attack.

You should also review the answer or additional sections of the response message, which could be a sign of cache poisoning.

Conclusion

The biggest risk to a website is ignorance, which will not be bliss when you suffer a cyber attack.

There are various forms of DNS monitoring that will allow you to expose threats and keep your website secure.

It is up to a website admin to determine the right strategy to detect suspicious or malicious activity on your network.

While DNS monitoring doesn’t sound like a fun thing to do, it is essential for the security of your website.

Ensure you take the necessary steps to stop a cyber criminal in their tracks.

Our Top Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017

cypersecurity predictions

Cybersecurity is topping news feeds, and for good reason.

Last year was hailed as the year that hackers stole the show, and experts at Kaspersky Labs have said that this year is going to be no exception.

Security specialists at Mcafee are predicting a rise in the number of consumer security breaches, threats to the Internet of Things and cloud-based attacks.

With so many exciting new innovations in technology we are handing over more of our businesses and lives than we may be aware of.

As exciting as new tech is, it also brings the possibility of new and more creative threats.

So what do these new threats look like? What are big companies doing and is there any way for us to protect ourselves?

Let’s take a look at our top cybersecurity predictions for 2017.

Ransomware

A recent rise in ransomware attacks has been damaging hospitals, schools, businesses and law enforcement organizations. Many agree that ransomware is going to peak in 2017, with a 25% growth predicted until a plateau takes place.

Unfortunately, it has also been suggested that the methods being used to gain access to files are diversifying. Ransomware is extremely lucrative for hackers, especially when they target larger organizations.

Defending against it

Businesses are upping the education they give their staff regarding opening email attachments. And They’re creating more sophisticated passwords for work accounts.

Hacking Meets Home Appliances

The Internet of Things is an incredibly exciting innovation, but it also opens up opportunities for hacking to enter the home in ways it hasn’t before.

Until recently, such small devices haven’t warranted cybersecurity software or checks. But a recent DoS attack on a french company was conducted through mobile smart devices, proving that more diligence is needed.

The biggest danger here is not so much monetary, but more about the theft of personal information and private security. These devices are in our homes, privy to our everyday lives, so the risk for infiltration is very real.

Defending against it

People have started calling for more stringent cybersecurity regulations on mobile smart home appliances and a greater consumer awareness of the risks.

Or Predictions

Smart devices will be subject to the gradual introduction of integrated security software. This will help identify any devices that are performing unauthorized actions.

Mobile Security Will Still Be At Risk

Our cybersecurity predictions aren’t limited to large companies.

The humble mobile phone is also at risk, with many experts predicting a rise in mobile malware.

By using downloadable apps, users are putting their personal information at risk. Mcafee Labs detected 9 million malware apps in Apple and Google app stores, affecting 3 million devices over a 6 month period.

Defending against it

The best way to prevent mobile attacks is to avoid opening messages from strange numbers and to turn off MMS auto retrieval wherever possible.

Our Cybersecurity Predictions

Mobile security software will become increasingly important over the next year to maintain personal safety.

Threats to The Cloud

As trust in the cloud increases, more information is migrated, making it an incredibly tempting place for hackers.

Protecting the cloud is difficult due to the vast nature of it.

The first point of call for hackers is simple credentials to gain access to accounts. They’ve also started changing the way they mine the stacks for weak points, no longer just moving up and down them.

Defending Against It

Pay close attention to administration accounts and the activity on them–these are the accounts that hackers are most likely to target with credential theft.

Our Predictions

It’s been suggested that biometrics and behavioral analytics will help protect users in a way that’s even more personal to them.

Machine learning can also be used to prevent cybersecurity attacks to the cloud and will be able to predict attacks before they occur.

Apple and Adobe Weaknesses Will Be Uncovered

Until very recently, Adobe and Apple have enjoyed a relatively high degree of protection, with Microsoft taking the brunt of the infiltrations and security compromisations.

One of the cybersecurity predictions for 2017 is the ease with which malicious online perpetrators will be able to find weaknesses in Apple software.

This is partly down to Microsoft being well practiced at defending against attacks. Their ‘antiquated’ hardware is also less attractive to hackers.

They’re typically drawn to the software and platforms that experience higher engagement and more users because that’s where they stand to gain more.

Defending Against It

This is hard to defend against until you know the nature of the compromisation. Always keep your software updated and stay smart and vigilant when using your tech.

Our Cybersecurity Predictions

Apple and Adobe will up their encryption game and try to plug any holes with regular software updates.

What Do These Cybersecurity Predictions Teach Us?

This list of cybersecurity predictions is just the start of the story when it comes to protecting businesses and software this year.

Here are some simple ways you can protect yourself:

Get Smart

Teaching your team or yourself about security is a good way to make sure you stay ahead of the hackers. The rules and practices are changing all the time, so staying in touch with best practice is key here.

Consider everything: from basic things like choosing a more secure password and installing security on your phone (especially if you access cloud-based services for business, like Dropbox, for example) to sharing documents over unsecured email.

Ask Questions

Is your site hosted on a cloud-based server? Make sure you know about the security benefits offered to you by your hosting service and what they’re doing in the face of new threats.

Have a Plan

In the unfortunate event that your site does get taken down in a DoS attack, having an effective downtime strategy can help repair the damage that a non-functional website causes.

Hopefully, these cybersecurity predictions have given you plenty of warning when it comes to your own site, household technology, and everyday work essentials.

Ensure you have good security software across all your devices and that you’re installing software updates regularly.

Design Ideas to Make and Keep Your Business Relevant

web design ideas

Technology is charging forward at a breakneck pace, and the world can only try to keep up.

This is true in the tech sphere, in terms of social interactions, and, perhaps not as obviously, in the world of design.

Businesses must fight to remain relevant in a social atmosphere that relies heavily on web presence and connectivity.

This is made possible through social media, but should also be a consideration for your website and mobile platforms.

Design options are limitless, and more new and exciting options are popping up all the time.

But how do you know what to use and what to avoid?

Here are four key tips for incorporating a web and mobile design that will be a hit with your client base.

Keep it Simple

This applies to websites, banner ads, and mobile platforms.

Clean, simple lines and an uncluttered landing page are going to engage your audience quickly and keep them on your site longer.

This is not to say that using new, flashy design elements is a bad idea. GIFs, video backgrounds, and fun textures are all great things to consider.

But think of design elements the way you think of salt in the main dish. You need it to enhance the flavor, but too much and the entire meal is ruined.

Pick one key design element, but don’t feel like you need to use every single one you come across.

Don’t Try to Sell Anything

Yes, even if you are actually trying to sell something.

This isn’t to say don’t market your products. Just keep in mind that the modern consumer is wary of the “used car salesman”-type pitch.

This means go back to step one. Keep it simple. Highlight your products without bells and whistles and gimmicks.

When you are designing your marketing materials, it’s probable that you’ll want to create a banner ad. This is a great idea, with tons of applications and outlets for use.

Keep in mind, though, that you are using banner ads and other advertising materials to communicate your message in the quickest, most visually appealing way possible. So avoid clutter!

Focus on Mobile

Mobile has never been as powerful a sales tool as it is today.

Consumers are able to shop online, compare prices, and look for deals, all without ever leaving their couch.

Your mobile presence should not be an afterthought. Take the time to make the experience user-friendly and seamless.

In fact, it isn’t a bad idea to design with mobile in mind from the start, rather than trying to adapt it later.

Your functionality on mobile should be seamless and comparable to your browser or brick-and-mortar experience.

Strive for Authenticity

Modern consumers can sniff out ingenuousness at a hundred paces, and they don’t like feeling like they are being given a canned pitch.

This comes across in the language you use on your site and the voice you use in your content. Consumers want to do business with a person, not a business.

This sounds counter-intuitive, but you’ll find much better results if you make an effort to project your business as its people, rather than its products.

Keeping your business relevant in quickly changing times is a challenge. There is constantly new material to learn and discover.

Remember to keep learning, and constantly be reevaluating your digital game to bring the very best to your consumers.

What You Need to Know about Shared IP Addresses

shared ip address

If you’re serious about web hosting you’ve probably done some research on IP addresses, SEO, and other things pertaining to your website.

During this research it’s likely you’ve found conflicting information on how to maximize your website visibility and performance.

This is normal and expected when you’re dealing with anything online related. The magnitude of the Internet gives users many solutions to the same problem.

One question website owners often bring up is the viability of shared hosting. Is shared hosting safe? Will it effect my SEO? Why is it so much cheaper than a dedicated IP address?

All of those questions are important and easily answered with a little background knowledge on exactly how shared hosting works.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about having a shared IP address.

Shared IP Address – The Basics

Let’s start with the absolute basics. An IP address is the real web address of a website or server.

Domain names like “apple.com” don’t actually tell your browser where to access information. Instead, IP addresses formatted like 222.222.22.2 designate the correct server.

In shared hosting, your website is still assigned an IP address, but that address is also assigned to many other websites hosted on the same server.

This means that the actions of one bad seed can affect things like your SEO and inclusion on email blacklists.

However, because you’re giving up a dedicated IP, you monthly bills are much cheaper with shared hosting.

It forms something of a risk/reward scenario. Are you willing to take the plunge into shared security and reputation? Is the risk reward worth it?

These are all questions that require their own scenario based on your specific needs.

Email

Emails sent from your website, “yourwebsitehere.com,” use your IP address to assign a location to your email.

It works sort of like a return mailing address. Your unique (or shared) IP lets incoming servers know where the message is coming from.

This can cause issues when sharing an IP with other users.

People sometimes abuse emails as marketing technique and send out what is commonly known as “spam.” As we’re sure you’re aware, everyone hates spam.

This includes email hosting companies such as Google. What Google does to avoid spam is blacklist (block) email from known spamming addresses (IPs).

Sometimes this inadvertently causes your emails to get caught in the blacklist. What’s worse, the blacklist is gmail wide; meaning no emails you send to any gmail address get through.

However, this doesn’t mean that all shared IP addresses are bad. Good shared hosts will monitor for email spam and terminate the contract of those responsible.

Website owners can also use a third party mail hosting provider to send email through a dedicated “email IP” address.

Your new dedicated IP is linked only to your reputation and thus isn’t in danger of blacklisting.

Security

Many people worry about security issues when sharing an IP address. While these concerns are valid, they’re probably a little overblown.

Quality web hosts don’t have many security issues. Why? Because most of the Internet utilizes shared IP addresses.

If you’re worried about security, ask your potential host these things.

  • Are users isolated from other users on the server? That is, can anyone access my root files?
  • Is your web structure such that addresses aren’t open to manipulation to access other user’s files?
  • Do you regularly update, monitor, and fix your server when problems arise?
  • How are my usernames and passwords stored on the server?
  • Who’s allowed to access my database or change user permissions?

Any reputable web host will answer these questions without hesitation.

If they pass this little test, you’re no more secure with a dedicated IP address than with their shared IP.

The only people who need a dedicated IP for security purposes are large corporations with valuable data at stake.

If you fall into this category, you can’t take any risk if an unexpected security breach does occur.

It’s smarter to just pay for the dedicated IP address and mitigate any and all security risk that might arise.

Search Engine Optimization

The entire point of maintaining a website is to draw in visitors, views, clicks; whatever you’d like to call the people who view your pages.

You’re probably inclined to believe that SEO is extremely important to businesses large and small, and you’re correct.

Search engine optimization is an enormous market consisting of digital marketers who spend their days dissecting Google’s algorithms and creating relevant content.

Website owners need SEO marketers just as much as the SEO marketers need website owners.

You might wonder, what’s the have to do with my share IP address? Well, there’s a persistent myth that shared IP addresses negatively affect SEO.

We’re here to tell you that myth is entirely false. All other things notwithstanding, dedicated IP address do no more for your SEO than a shared IP.

However, there are some things available only to dedicated IP users that can help your SEO.

For instance, SSL certificates are used to provide security over e-commerce transactions. Google has publicly stated that SSL certificates do increase SEO.

Turns out, these certificates are only available to websites with a dedicated IP address.

Dedicated IP address also help websites load faster. Less server data means an easier time returning browser requests.

This might not seem significant because load times don’t vary too much, but Google also factors web page load speed as an SEO metric.

So while in a vacuum dedicated vs. shared hosting doesn’t affect your SEO, certain elements that go along with these options might.

Looking at all of the factors involved in a dedicated IP address versus a shared IP address, it becomes clear that shared hosting doesn’t have many drawbacks.

If you pick reputable hosting companies there’s no reason shared hosting will cause you any detriment, nor will dedicated hosting bring you any benefits (unless you’re running an e-commerce store).

Ultimately the choice is yours, but feel free to refer back to our recommendation if you can’t decide.

How DoS Protection Can Reduce Website Downtime

DoS and Website Downtime

What do you think is the biggest threat to your business right now?

Some business owners may be worried about their money. They may only trust themselves to handle payroll or bank deposits. A few would never let other employees touch the company card.

Other people may be worried about their own employees. They don’t just hire for culture or talent, they want someone they can trust.

If you’re worried about the safety and stability of your business, you should be looking online. DoS protection has become an essential part of cybersecurity for a lot of businesses. And after you learn about how disruptive DoS attacks can be you’ll understand why it’s a priority.

DoS Danger

When most people think of online security issues data breeches and stolen information usually comes to mind. Your data and other sensitive information are important, but there are more pressing matters at hand.

A denial of service (DoS) attack is exactly what it sounds like. Attackers render websites and other important online resources unavailable to its intended users.

A denial of service attack is relatively simple to execute, you may have even been a part of one without knowing it. It’s simple for hackers to send out emails, messages, or social media posts with embedded links that can overwhelm a server.

A simple DoS attack is troublesome enough, and a DDoS attack can be just as troublesome. When a DDoS attack occurs, a hacker uses your system to attack another computer.

Types of Dos attacks

If you want to have good DoS protection, you need to understand the different kinds of DoS attacks.

  • Volume attacks (connectionless attacks): Also known a “flood”. The main purpose of this DoS attack is to overwhelm the bandwidth of the site and cause congestion by sending as many “people” to it as possible. They’re commonly executed with botnets, computers infected with malicious software and code that’s controlled by the hacker
  • Application layer attacks: Also known as “7 layer attacks”. These attacks target weaknesses in servers and applications. They establish a connection and overwhelm it by taking over transactions and processes. They can be difficult to detect because they don’t require a lot of computers.
  • TCP state exhaustion attack: This kind of attack is unique and focuses on attacking firewalls, web servers, and load balancers. Their goal is to disrupt connections which will overload their finite number of concurrent connections the device can support.

As you can see, a DoS attack is much more complex than a website simply going down. If you’re new to the world of cyber security you may not see why a DoS attack can be so serious.

After you learn about businesses and brands were affected by DoS attacks, you’ll see why you should be concerned.

The hacks heard round the world

Where were you on December 31st, 2015? If you were like many people you were probably celebrating New Year’s Eve, but if you worked in IT for the BBC or Donald Trump you were working overtime.

A group called New World Hacking executed a devastating DoS attack that day. The BBC’s main website and their multimedia tool iPlayer were down for at least three hours.

Trump was only campaigning at the time, but his website was also hit and was inaccessible for hours.

An attack that can cripple one of the biggest media empires in the world and the website of the future President of the United States is no laughing matter.

The same group went on to perform another massive DoS attack. In October 2016 several popular websites like Twitter, GrubHub, and Spotify were crippled by a DoS attack by the same group.

Iconic multinational brands are still vulnerable to DoS attacks in 2017. These attacks cause problems for millions of people, and also embarrassed some brands.

Why you need DoS protection

As you can see, DoS attacks can affect businesses of all sizes and cause a variety of problems. The cost to businesses DoS attacks can cause can be devastating.

Once your website is affected by a DoS attack, you need to employ IT professionals to fix it. You miss out on online sales. You lose a connection to potential customers.

The average business owner simply doesn’t have the time or money to deal with the ramifications of a DoS attack. That’s why the best way to deal with DoS threats is to try to prevent them from happening.

Aside from having a plan to deal with downtime, you need to plan for DoS attacks.

Have a strong ISP

A lot of businesses find that it’s easiest to lean on their internet service providers (ISP) for their initial DoS protection. ISPs have far more bandwidth than a standard enterprise would.

That extra amount of bandwidth could make it difficult to target your site.

Don’t think blocking will fix it

Some amateur IT professionals will try to stop a DoS attack by simply banning offending IP addresses from accessing the targetted site or server.

This method will seem like it’ll work at first, but as the attack goes on it’ll become nearly impossible to keep up with the flood of visitors. The purpose of a DoS attack is to overwhelm servers and the people trying to fix them.

Eventually, you won’t be able to individually block them all.

Once it’s clear that an attack is occurring, your DoS protection resources would be better focused on finding solutions and not blocking individual IP addresses.

Watch out for secondary attacks

Sometimes a DoS attack is just a distraction from something bigger. While your IT team is scrambling to stop the source of the DoS issue, someone could be stealing data or other sensitive information.

It’s tempting to put all of your IT resources on fixing the DoS attack. But you should always have someone checking other things to ensure that there aren’t more problems.

Hackers are always looking for ways to disrupt businesses and websites. Are there other cyber security concerns you have? Let us know so we can help you protect your business.

How to Create a Website Downtime Strategy that Works

Downtime Strategy

We can’t control everything in our lives and that’s a fact. But, as business owners, we’d all like to be able to control when our company is available for customers.

Websites can go down for many different reasons, including planned maintenance or malicious attacks. It can be unavoidable at times– but no matter what, downtime can cost your business money until everything is back online.

So, what can you do? Develop a website downtime strategy to have on the backburner.

SiteUpTime is dedicated to helping businesses understand what goes on when their website goes down and how much time the business is actually functional online.

And with many businesses averaging $1,000 lost per minute of website downtime, having your website go offline throughout the month can really add up.

If you want to learn how to create a website downtime strategy that works to keep your business safe from downtime losses, be sure to keep reading!

Why downtime should be monitored

Downtime strategies are only important if you understand why downtime can be so hazardous to your business!

Here’s a quick breakdown of why this problem should be taken seriously.

Loss of business

This one is pretty clear: if your website isn’t working, customers can’t access it.

Studies have found that people are quick to leave a website if it doesn’t load fast enough. If your site isn’t working at all, potential customers are unlikely to come back and see if it’s working again at a later point.

Remember that time is money and even Amazon feels the blows of downtime– they lost 1.6 billion dollars in sales by being down for one second!

Make sure your service is working for you

If you are working with a company that is hosting your site, you will want to monitor your downtime to make sure that they’re actually working for you.

Meeting your ROI baseline is important and spending money on a network that is leaving you with nine hours of downtime a month doesn’t help.

You will want to know what’s going on so that you can make informed decisions on what direction to take your business and its online presence.

How to come up with a website downtime strategy that works

In the case that something does happen, you’ll want to be prepared and have a good downtime strategy to make the most of the time you have.

SiteUpTime can help you monitor your site to know when you’ll have to spring into action, so consider our competitive prices and contact us if you need more information!

Have valid data backups

When your website is offline, there’s no telling what caused it to go down.

It can be as simple as your service company being down for maintenance or as catastrophic as a complete wipe out of the entire network and data.

That’s why you’ll want to have up-to-date backups of all of your information. This means saving documents and client information and transaction information.

It’s recommended that companies back up their data at least once a week. The goal? You should be backing up your information once a day to prevent data loss or having to deal with piecing together information that’s a week outdated.

Once you do that, you’ll want to make sure your backups are working properly so that they can be accessed later.

It turns out that 48% of companies who have backed up their data experienced a secondary loss because the backup didn’t function properly.

Contact your IT support

If your website is down, make sure that contacting your IT support team is high on your downtime strategy list.

You will want to contact them to alert them that your website is down, if they don’t already know, and put together a plan of how to get it back online.

IT support teams can locate the reason for a website going down and find ways to re-route your network to bring everything back up.

But this won’t be a process that can happen in a few minutes. You’ll want to check in with them regularly until everything is back to normal, but don’t flood them or panic in the meantime.

Review your web monitoring logs

As a part of your downtime strategy, you should be reviewing your web monitoring logs to see if your site being down is part of a larger trend.

Your web monitoring logs could also let you know if your website is more likely to go down from one server than another, depending on the level of detail you get.

Gathering information such as when your website went down can be useful for your IT support team as well. Knowing how long a site has been down can give them an idea of how large the problem is or could be.

So make sure you get to look through this information as soon as possible!

Notify your users

Here’s a major step that’s often overlooked in downtime strategies.

You have to notify your users that your website is down.

Some people may think not acknowledging the site is down is the best plan of action, since maybe some customers won’t notice.

But facing the issue head-on is one way to ensure that customers who did notice are aware of what’s going on.

You may want to send out a tweet or mass-email to your clients letting them know that the problem is being worked on. From there, you can send out updates and a notification once your site is back up.

The benefit? You’ll have customers feeling valued that they’re kept in the loop. And you could avoid a flood of customer service calls full of people demanding to now why they can’t access their account!

Want more information?

If you want to learn more about how having a website downtime strategy can help you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us or check out our other blog posts.

SiteUpTime provides services that check your website from multiple points in the world to make sure people from anywhere can work with your company.

Slow WordPress Site? Here’s How to Speed Things Up

Slow Wordpress Site?

People are all about their self-expression, and that’s why we seek website hosts that let us customize them to our heart’s content.

There really are WordPress plugins for everything these days, meaning you can represent your services in many great ways. That’s why keeps customers coming back and what makes WordPress so popular.

But what happens if you notice you have a slow WordPress site on your hands?

SiteUpTime specializes in monitoring how well websites are working all the time and how stable their connection is.

We know that many people are used to websites loading extremely fast these days. The internet’s technology has improved so much that we can have expectations like that.

But when a website loads slowly, people are likely to click out after just 40 seconds– and that’s being generous. Most leave after just a few seconds of waiting for a site to load.

So if you are dealing with a slow WordPress site, you’ll want to take action fast if you want to preserve your user base!

How to handle your slow WordPress site

If you use the internet pretty frequently, chances are you’ve come across another WordPress site while you’ve browsed!

It turns out that 22% of new domains are linked to WordPress accounts, making it a force to be reckoned with in the digital world.

WordPress can also boast hosting 14% of the world’s most successful sites.

The point? We know that WordPress can host businesses successfully and let you enjoy your custom website without too much legwork.

So here’s what you can do if you notice your slow WordPress site isn’t pulling its weight.

Remove unnecessary plugins

One of the greatest things about WordPress is that it has so many plugins. There are over 47 thousand if you want to get technical.

But they could also be one cause to your website being slow.

Making use of plugins should be something that you do. After all, they’re there to support you but make sure that you aren’t using too many of them at once.

When someone visits your website, their network will have to download everything on that page instantaneously. This means that the more minimalized your site is as far as plugins go, the faster it will load.

So if your website is loading slowly, you’ll want to ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I added a new plugin lately?

If you have, experiment by removing it and seeing if it was the direct cause of your slow WordPress site. This is a quick way of troubleshooting and saving yourself some time.

  • Are there any plugins that I can do without?

Many people use more than one plugin on their site, but you may want to take some time to reflect on each one.

Does each plugin you’re using add to the quality and usage of your website? Do people come to your website and make great use of what you’ve added? If not, you’ll want to remove these plugins.

Trimming down excess plugins can clear up your site and allow it to load at faster speeds once all the bulk is gone!

Reduce image sizes

If your WordPress site has many photos on it, you may want to take a second look at the way you’ve set everything up.

Similarly to plugins, having a bunch of photos on your website could slow loading down.

Do you remember the times of dialup? And how we had to wait for an image to load by watching it come up (usually blurry) piece by piece?

Your WordPress site may not get slow enough to take us back all those years, but loading photos does take a lot of time and power.

Help your site work faster by reducing image sizes when you can or creating a separate page for your images by linking to a gallery with a simple “Click to see more” button.

That way you won’t lose your photos and you can speed up your slow WordPress site all at once.

Enable caching

This may be a slightly more technical tip to speed up a slow WordPress site, but it really works.

To help your load times, you will want to enable caching.

Essentially, caching saves your website as a series of files that are much easier for a user’s network to download. In the future, when that same person opens your website again, the “files” will already be saved and easy to open.

WordPress offers a few options to help you cache and optimize your website, as well as some great instructions to help you through the process.

Take steps to help out your homepage

It seems like minimalism is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Dozens of books and articles have been published about how we should declutter our home and make our lives better. The same goes for our websites and that’s a good thing if you want to speed things up.

If you have a blog, you can speed up your site by only showing small excerpts and linking to the rest of the post with a cut. That way your users can still view everything, just like that photo gallery, without having to load everything all at once.

This can also make your site look more streamlined and approachable once people aren’t greeted with a huge wall of text right off the bat.

You can also remove extra widgets from your landing page by asking yourself if that “visit count” widget is really doing much for you.

Remember, the goal of “minimalism” with your website is to only keep what’s working for you.

Trim down the excess and enjoy faster loading times as a result.

Want to know more?

If you want to learn about other topics that can really help you boost the way your company is online, take a look at the rest of our blog posts!

Our job is may seem simple but it’s essential and that’s why over 125,000 companies choose to work with us!

And if you have any questions, we are always here to help you! Contact us anytime and we’ll get to work changing the amount of time your site spends earning you money online.

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.