Alertra’s Guide to Handling Website Downtime Due to Site Maintenance

Throughout the pages of this blog we have mentioned that website downtime is inevitable. It’s not a question of “if” – it’s merely a matter of when. Why do we assume your site will go down at one point or another? Because all sites perform website maintenance; or at least they should be. When you perform website maintenance, your site goes down for the duration of the task. The question is, how do you ensure that your website maintenance doesn’t aggravate your customers and damage your business’s reputation? Here is how you need to handle your website downtime when site maintenance occurs if you want your customers (and the search engines) to stay happy.

Step 1: Implement a Custom 503 Error Page

If your customers (and the search engines) arrive at your site and see that the pages are no longer there, they may assume you’ve gone out of business. This can lose you customers as well as your search engine rankings. As we’ve said before, implementing a 503 error page will eliminate this issue. A custom 503 error page lets customers and search engines know that your site is just down temporarily and to check back later.

Step 2: Email Customers before Your Site is Taken Down

Approximately 3 to 4 days before your site is scheduled for maintenance, send out an email to your email list letting your customers know that you have planned maintenance and the site will be going down for a set amount of time on the date you have set. Then send the email out again reminding customers the day before the maintenance is scheduled to occur. Make sure you give customers a timeframe as to how long the site will be down. No one likes a guessing game – especially customers who can take their business elsewhere.

Step 3: Post Your Outage on Facebook

On the day of your outage, put up a Facebook post stating that your site will be going down at a specific time interval on that day. Again, make sure you list the hours that your site will be offline. This way, if anyone didn’t receive the emails you sent, they will be able to go to your Facebook page and see that you are performing maintenance on your site.

Step 4: Tweet Your Downtime Message

Tweet to the Twitter community that your site is down for maintenance and that you will be updating them when the site is back up and running again.

Step 5: Announce Your Site is Back UP and Running

After maintenance has been completed, send another tweet updating followers that your site is back up and running and open for business.

Remember, a little effort on your part can go a long way when it comes to the satisfaction and understanding of your customers!