Understanding and Managing Site Uptime

Today, people spend a substantial part of their day online. They could be doing recreational activities like exchanging instant messages, connecting via social networks or downloading music. They could also be doing purposeful activities like checking their email, shopping, researching online, paying bills, applying for a job or taking online training classes. Having a fast website which is always available is the basic expectation of your website visitors. 

What is Website Uptime?

It is the time a web service or a website is available to the users over a period of time. It is typical to measure this as a percentage. To understand this in simple way, assume a site is down for 1 minute over 100 minutes. Then this website has a site uptime of 99%.  As a Website owner, your goal should be to maintain 100% site uptime. 

How to Know if Your Website is Available?

You cannot check your website every minute to know if it is available or not. You will need a third party website uptime monitoring service to test the availability of your site or applications. As internet enables you to reach to a global audience it is quite possible that your visitors come from different parts of the world. Most of these monitoring services have testing servers worldwide. And you will get to know if your website is available and working in different regions of the world sitting at your office. You will be immediately alerted if your site is unavailable.

Why Site Uptime is Important?

Uptime contributes to a healthy business. Having good web site uptime is important and you should track this metric actively to succeed online.  However, it is not possible to judge the importance of uptime from this simple sentence. You need to know what happens when your site is down to measure the importance of uptime.

Loss of Revenue and Potential Customers

Large online retailers have reported a loss of millions of dollars for latency of their site. Even for average sellers one minute downtime means a loss of thousands of dollars. Even if your e-commerce website goes down due to external circumstances caused by no fault of yours, it still causes loss of many sales transactions.  Apart from the loss of revenue, which is obvious, website downtime can affect in other ways. 

Whether you are a small business owner or a large multinational corporate, if traffic cannot reach your site as it is down they will switch to competitors. It is irritating to see a webpage is not available especially when a user needs to do something important. With so many competitors just a click away, visitors will not hesitate to switch to a different site and perform their task. It is hard to gain those customers back in future.

Loss of Customer Trust and Loyalty

Nothing affects your brand image faster than having a website that is unreachable by the customers. You will not only lose your potential customers but it will affect loyalty of your long term customers as well. If they try to reach your site and often find it unavailable, they may shift to a different website. 

Loss of Search Engine Rankings

Website outages may cost your website its good SEO ranks. Search engines track your site and if it is often down, you will lose search engine ranks. 

Better website uptime helps to avoid these issues and allows the owners to make most from their online businesses.

Managing Site Uptime

However, some downtime is inevitable as in case of downtime caused by website maintenance. In such situations, it is a common practice that the downtime is scheduled during time slots that a website has least traffic. It is quite common for most of the good sites to achieve 99.99% uptime. 

The downtime that may hurt you most is when it occurs during parts of the day when customers tend to do heavy online transactions. It is worse when this happens during peak season. Your goal should be to minimize or eliminate this downtime.