Gone are the days when your business was only accessible between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or maybe a few more hours depending on the company you have. With the internet, your online store is not just your company’s global face. It also tells customers that you are open for business 24/7. This makes it possible to make a sale even while you sleep.
This high level of accessibility has become the norm for loyal and new customers. So much so, that a 5-second delay or downtime can result in a serious loss for your business. Several factors can cause your website to load slowly, resulting in downtime. Website downtime doesn’t affect just your website, it can also ruin your marketing efforts.
Today we’ll look at the ways in which downtime affects your website, common factors that cause downtime and some tips on how to prevent it.
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What is website Downtime?
Downtime refers to the period of time a website is unavailable online or doesn’t function well enough preventing its end users from completing a task. This can result in reduced website traffic, loss of customers and potential customers, revenue loss and much more.
What Causes Website Downtime?
While all website owners dread downtime, it is unfortunately inevitable. It’s your job to ensure you get back online as quickly as possible to limit the effects of downtime. Even the most popular websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also experience downtime, which usually leads to user frustration.
A number of things can cause downtime. However, each situation is different. Here are some common factors that can result in your website going offline.
Here’s the irony. Going viral and driving traffic to your website is an essential part of growing your business. Yet incidentally, a spike in traffic can cause your website to go offline. Whenever one of your favourite social media platforms behave strangely or is inaccessible, it’s highly likely based on a viral post that caused a spike in traffic.
Sometimes the increase in traffic that your website gets isn’t legitimate and is the work of hackers. For example, a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on your website floods it with illegitimate requests making it impossible to respond to actual users. This not only slows down your website significantly but can also cause it to completely crash.
Plugin or Theme-Related Issues
Plugins and themes are third-party add-ons that can help to enhance your website. They are heavily used by WordPress powered websites. However, as much as this is one of the strengths of WordPress, it is also sometimes a weakness.
A single bad update to a plugin can cause serious implications for your WordPress site. The most common issues include the white screen of death and 500 errors.
Your website is stored on a server that you are connected with through your web hosting platform. Your website is impacted by whatever happens on that server, such as viruses. This can significantly affect your website’s uptime.
Persons using shared hosting are most likely to be affected since even a bump in traffic for your neighbours on the server can slow your site down. Invest in a dedicated server to help mitigate against this.
How Is Downtime Bad For Your Website?
Every second you are offline your business suffers. This means that your website is either not accessible or loading slowing. With the new norm being ‘right now’ especially when it comes on to doing business online, just a few seconds delay can result in loss of potential reach, customers and sales.
Below are some of the main ways downtime affects your website and business negatively.
1. Loss of Brand Credibility
Your website is where customers get a first impression of the kind of business you operate and how credible it is. It’s difficult to trust a company with a website that moves at snail pace and constantly crashes. Customers may find it hard to trust a company that can’t even keep its own website online.
2. Increases Bounce Rate and Search Rankings Suffer
Google may limit the number of URLs it crawls from your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to fetch a single URL. Google analytics favours fast websites that are not filled with errors. Also, a slow server response usually results in a higher bounce rate, causing bad user experience. When that happens, site visitors usually leave your website or bounce.
All these factors combined has an effect your SEO ranking. A slow server, extended periods of downtime and a high bounce rate will significantly reduce your SEO ranking. It takes time to rebuild and work your way back into Google’s good graces to recover.
3. Your Profits Will Take a Hit
Regardless of your company’s mission, a core goal is to make a profit. Having an eCommerce site is definitely the route several businesses are going and rightly so. More than 50% of the world’s population is online. However, if your website is constantly down or extremely slow during peak hours, your potential customers will leave even in mid-purchase. Imagine you are running a marketing campaign but when visitors get to your site, it’s slow or completely inaccessible. This will cut into your profits margins significantly.
How to prevent downtime
It’s your responsibility to set the foundation for a strong, fast and efficient website. While you can significantly reduce the occurrence of downtime, there are cases, such as attacks that you won’t have much control over. But, by being vigilant and by implementing tools and software, you will be able to reduce attacks and downtime. Here are some tips:
1. Choose a Reliable Web Hosting Provider
A poor-quality web hosting service can be one of the biggest contributors to downtime. So from the moment you decide to create your website, ensure you choose a reliable and trustworthy web hosting provider.
A good hosting provider will be efficient in dealing with issues having to do with the server. Their technical support team will identify problems a lot faster and offer solutions.
2. Confirm What Is Causing Your Site To Go Offline
The goal is not to go offline, but unfortunately, you have. The next step is to ensure your downtime is extremely short. To do this you first need to know what is causing the problem. Several factors such as hacking, traffic overload or server problems can result in downtime. However, once you have confirmed which of these is the culprit, resolving the problem becomes easier.
3. Uptime Monitoring
Since it’s impossible to physically monitor your website 24/7, implement a website monitoring tool to do so for you. It will help you to track the times your website goes offline and diagnose the cause. This makes it easier for you to not only fix the issues but also put measures in place to reduce its recurrence.
4. Make Regular Backups
While doing everything in your power to prevent downtime, also be prepared for a situation where your website goes offline. Unforeseen issues can arrive at any time and preparation is the only solution. So, ensure that you do regular backups so that you will be able to quickly restore your data and have your site up in no time.
5. Use Social Media To Fill The Gap During Downtime
So you site has gone offline. While you work on getting it up and running, use your social media platforms to save the day. We already know the implications of losing customers, reputation and revenue from being offline. But you can limit that by keeping customers ‘in the know’.
A company’s website forms a critical part of their overall success. As mentioned above you should fix the issues causing downtime speedily. This is to avoid any negative lasting repercussions as it relates to revenue, customer satisfaction, and client loyalty.
Fortunately, there are proven backup tools and services that you can implement to remove some of the issues that result in downtime. These tools also make it easy for you to get your site back online in the shortest possible time.