No matter what time of day it is, there are always people roving the internet in search of everything from fencing foils to tickets to Fiji to football scores. And for every person surfing the net, there are millions of sites vying for their attention.
So if your site is down when a potential customer navigates to it, chances are they’ll just move on to the next one that offers the same service or products yours does, never to return.
(Cue ominous music)
Luckily, there are businesses that offer website monitoring services that can tell you when your site is down — 24 hours a day, seven days a week — minimizing your down time so you don’t risk losing valuable customers. This means you don’t have to devote your time to the near-impossible task of constantly checking your site’s availability and searching for things like broken links and missing images.
We recently caught up with Kane Bender, president of Internetseer.com, the world’s largest website monitoring service with more than 1.4 million subscribers. The company was founded in 2000 with the goal of offering affordable internet monitoring services to small- and medium-sized businesses (in fact, their basic service is so affordable it’s free!).
Bender, who has expertise in marketing, branding, search engine optimization and social networking strategies, gave us an overview of how website monitoring services work to give you a better understanding of how well your site is monitored:
What does a website monitoring service look for on a website?
Internetseer checks to make sure we can reach the website. Our free service performs a “Head Request” to check the availability of the website — it makes sure it is responding and going to deliver the page. Our advanced service looks for broken links and missing images, checks login processes, checks the DNS (domain name server), looks for page changes, checks load times of content and images and more.
Are all website monitoring services created equal?
Yes and no. First some ping a site, which is very different — it will not tell if your site is available. For the rest of us, the basic service is the same. It is the features and the support that become different. Features include frequency of checks, the number of monitoring agents and the locations where the monitoring agents are located, what data is provided in the alerts, and the depth of the reports … We include a traceroute in the e-mail alerts to help pinpoint the error. We also send text alerts to mobile phones for free. Others may charge.
What should you look for when selecting a service provider?
First you should know what you need. What are you trying to accomplish? Then ask the monitoring company if they can provide a service to meet those needs. We always ask what our prospects are trying to accomplish, then let them know if we are a fit.
Name some common problems that can affect website performance?
Firewalls, multiple page redirects, bad page structure, large images that are driven by multiple databases, to name a few. But all are manageable.
What are common problems that a small business owner might face with their website if they don’t use a monitoring service?
It depends on a multiple of factors. Are they on a shared server or dedicated server? We have several customers for whom we provided a test and they found out that their site was down every Tuesday night and Thursday night for a couple of hours when backups were running. They never knew this until we sent alerts. We also have several customers running cold fusion that need rebooting once a week for some reason. If they were monitoring the site, their investors wouldn’t have been the ones finding the problem. It was happening early in the morning on the East Coast and investors were on the West Coast. If the site goes down over the weekend and you come back to work on Monday, you don’t even know how long it has been on error.
How does not using a service like this impact business?
Simple, if you are an e-commerce site and go down you will lose sales. If you are making a presentation and your site is down, it will be a little embarrassing. We know you don’t watch your site when you sleep, when you are at home or traveling. We watch your site every day every 5, 15, 30 or 60 minutes.
What do website monitoring services do to stay current on new problems?
We get new requests that turn into new services. Checking DNS was new and now transaction monitoring will be launched in about 30 days.
How often do these types of services check the website?
From every minute to every hour. We found that offering 5, 15, 30 and 60 minute monitoring cover most needs.
How do you notify customers about problems?
E-mail, SMS and 24/7 service calls.
How does geography affect website performance?
If your site is far from a pipeline it will be different from one that is right on the pipeline. For performance monitoring, you need to monitor from the same location to be consistent. Moving from a monitoring agent in Germany to New York checking on a site in California will show a difference.
Learn more about business websites on Business.com.