How Can Website Downtime Impact Your Business and How Can You Stop It?

One might be lulled into a false sense of safety in terms of website downtime when we consider the advances that have been made in technology. The fact of the matter is, however, that protecting your website from downtime is important more now than ever. Yes, technology has indeed advanced and there are now more tools than ever at your disposal that can help mitigate website downtime. The question you must ask is, are you actually utilizing all the tools available to you and do you have a downtime plan in place for your website? This month we will discuss exactly what causes website downtime, how it can impact your business, and what you can do to minimize any downtime that your website may encounter.

What Causes Website Downtime?

Website downtime is almost always caused by one of four factors. Once you understand these four main factors, you can take measures to minimize the website downtime your company has to contend with. These four factors include planned downtime, hardware and/or software malfunctions, malicious attacks, and issues caused by hosting providers (which can be numerous if you aren’t careful). Keeping these issues in mind, you can begin to develop a plan to minimize your website’s downtime or you can improve a plan that is already in place.

Why Is Website Downtime So Dangerous?

Website downtime is synonymous with profit loss. Exactly how much money a business will lose due to a downtime issue will vary from website to website. For example, one minute of website downtime during a 2018 outage at Amazon.com cost the company $1.57 million per minute. On the other hand, a Twitter outage in July of this year cost the company $6,100 per minute. The duration of an outage and the time at which the outage occurs will have a direct impact on how much money is lost due to the downtime. While most sites won’t see a $1.57 million per minute loss like Amazon had to contend with, no company can afford to throw away profits that could easily be saved with proper planning and failsafes in place. One single bout of website downtime can put an otherwise profitable website into the red, making the ability to minimize downtime a literal matter of failure versus success.

It is important to remember that lost profits are not the only thing you must contend with if you do not plan properly for website downtime. Prolonged downtime can result in damages to your site’s SEO efforts. Customer loyalty can also be put at risk. Furthermore, the reputation of your website is put at risk as more and more users take to social media to complain about websites that do not perform up to their expectations. A few instances of downtime that lead to customer frustration can have a drastic snowball effect that leaves your company flailing if you don’t plan properly for such issues.

Choose the Right Hosting Provider

Not all hosting providers are equally competent. There are indeed some very good hosting providers out there. There are also those who aren’t quite so reliable. When looking at a website hosting provider, make sure you do your research before you trust the company with the hosting of your website. Word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews can help you determine which hosting providers can be trusted and which cannot be. Keep in mind that the uptime statistics that these companies use to attract customers aren’t always accurate and can’t be counted on as a sole means of determining the quality of a hosting service. While no provider can offer a guarantee of 100 percent uptime, looking at reviews and social media remarks can help you determine whether a website hosting service is reliable or not.

Make Sure You Have a Plan in Place

It is important to remember that your website’s uptime is not solely the responsibility of your hosting provider. If you want to minimize website downtime you need to take the necessary precautions and measures. The first precaution you need to take is partnering with a quality website monitoring service.  A quality website downtime monitoring service will notify you the moment any website downtime occurs so that you can immediately go to work to fix the issue or put a failsafe plan into place if the issue is with your hosting service. It’s also important to note that quality providers don’t only notify you of a total website failure. A quality website monitoring service will ensure that you are notified of any trends that may indicate your site is going to go down, will notify you of performance issues, and some will even allow you to put failsafes, such as our webhooks, into place.

You also want to make sure you are utilizing a content delivery network (CDN) for your website. A CDN allows you to utilize a number of servers to optimize the content distribution of your site to different geographical locations which then allows your site to distribute traffic evenly. This will significantly reduce the risk that your website could go down due to an unexpected spike in traffic and helps maintain uptime by allowing other servers to take over traffic if one of the servers goes down.

In addition to partnering with a quality website monitoring service and utilizing a CDN, you also need to perform regular backups of your site. By keeping an updated copy of your website at all times, you can quickly restore your site if something does go wrong. This also helps prevent any loss of data, which can be detrimental to a site.

Communication is Key

It is important to remember that you can put each of the above-mentioned failsafes and precautions into play and still encounter unexpected downtime in addition to the planned downtime your site encounters. The key to handling these issues is communication. Utilize social media platforms to communicate any issues regarding both planned and unplanned downtime with your customers. In terms of unplanned downtime, be sure you maintain transparency throughout the incident. Provide updates as to how the issue is being addressed and when the site can be expected to be up and running again. In cases of planned downtime, you will want to post a notice of the planned downtime to the pages of your site days prior to the planned downtime in addition to communicating via social media. The more you communicate with your customer base, the more forgiving they are likely to be when downtime does occur.

Protecting Your Site, Your Reputation, and the Bottom Line

While downtime may not be as prolonged or frequent as it was in the past, no company is out of the woods when it comes to the potential of website downtime and the effects it can have. To ensure the success of your website and to protect your image and retain your customers, be sure to put the above-mentioned measures in place. If you prepare properly, you will be able to handle downtime more effectively and overcome its effects more efficiently.