Finishing the initial version of your site is only the first step on your journey as a website owner. Now that you have a website, tracking its vital statistics is crucial for success.
It’s easy to overlook the trivial things that negatively impact your website’s professionalism, security, Google rankings, and ultimately the revenue you make from it.
Luckily, there are a variety of tools and services that take the grunt work out of managing a website. When you maintain these eight essential elements of any successful website, your site’s odds of being successful will increase tremendously.
If your website is suddenly getting a lot more (or fewer) visitors, then it’s good to know when it started happening and why so that you can either capitalize on its newfound popularity or refresh your SEO strategy. It’s also useful to see which devices your users browse your site with, which sites they came from, and where they’re located.
User analytics packages (e.g., Google Analytics or Cloudflare Web Analytics) allow you to track a variety of statistics about the people who use your website, and what they do on it. Google Analytics can even send you an email alert if certain conditions are met (e.g., a sudden spike in traffic).
If you’re getting a lot of hits to your homepage but only a few purchases, then you can also see how much time users are spending on your site, and how many of them make it to each step in the process of buying something.
Links you make to other sites could suddenly stop working at any time if a website that you linked to is revamped, or a domain is sold to someone else. As bad as 404 errors are for your professionalism, the worst situation is when a website changes hands and redirects to something like a phishing site, or a parked domain full of ads.
To avoid having to manually check every link all the time, Dr. Link Check makes sure that all the links on your entire site (including images and external stylesheets) load correctly, have valid SSL certificates, aren’t on a blacklist of malware and phishing sites, and haven’t been parked.
After crawling every link across your whole website, Dr. Link Check prepares a searchable report and lets you download the data as a CSV file to do your own analytics.
A website can’t be successful if it’s down, so services like Uptime Robot and Pingdom check your website’s status every few minutes to make sure it hasn’t encountered an outage. As soon as it does, these services will alert you via an SMS message, email, or various other contact methods, so you can get it working again as quickly as possible.
Uptime Robot can also check protocols other than HTTP/S and generate status pages. Pingdom includes a full performance monitoring and analytics solution, as well. Each will load your site from multiple locations to determine if an outage is only affecting people in a certain geographical area.
Nothing erodes user trust and confidence quite like a security breach, so it’s of the utmost importance to avoid them entirely. Even if you follow good development practices and keep all your software up to date, it’s still possible to mess up somewhere, leaving an opportunity for a hacker to sabotage your business.
While automated tools aren’t a perfect substitute for a professional security audit, tools including Website Vulnerability Scanner, Mozilla Observatory, and WP-Scan (if you have a WordPress-based site) can help pinpoint configuration errors, XSS and SQL injection bugs, and outdated server software to keep your customers’ data secure.
Whether you simply have a few outdated plugins, or you forgot to sanitize user input in a hardly used form, an automated check can be the quickest way to find security bugs before hackers take advantage of them.
Your site’s place in search results for any given search term is always changing. Therefore, it’s important to be notified if you suddenly slip off the first page of results for a specific query.
SERPWatcher and RankTrackr are services that check your site’s position in search results on a daily basis and send you a message when it suddenly changes. Additionally, both offer dashboards that display all the different keywords that lead to your site, and where your site has ranked for those searches over time.
Many of these services can also track interactions from social media sites and widgets, so you can completely understand how your users find your website.
Forgetting to renew your SSL certificate is just as bad as your site going down unexpectedly, but with the added consequence that many users may lose trust in your site’s security. Worse, not renewing your domain on time could allow someone to buy it and use it for something else entirely.
To avoid potential customers being turned away by “your connection is not secure” errors, set a calendar reminder and use a service like CertsMonitor to make absolutely certain that you renew on time. Many registrars and certificate merchants offer auto-renew, as well, so you can truly “set it and forget it”.
Did you forget to add a title to a page? Did you miss ALT attributes on a few images? No robots.txt? Search engines will drop your page’s position in the rankings if you don’t fix issues like these.
SEOptimer and RavenTools crawl your site and find every instance of SEO mistakes on every page. Implementing the suggestions from either tool can significantly boost your rankings on Google and other engines. Google itself also offers tools to identify issues and assess your site’s speed and mobile compatibility.
The PageRank algorithm deep within the heart of Google ranks sites based on the number and quality of links that point to them. The idea is that high-quality websites will be linked from many other well-ranking sites. When your website is linked from a reputable blog or goes viral on a social media platform, you’ll notice that your site is displayed more prominently in search results.
To get notified whenever you get linked from both good and bad sites, Monitor Backlinks will tell you when new links begin pointing to your site. It can also give insight into which websites would give you the most beneficial backlinks.
It’s easy to forget to monitor some vital sign on your website, leading to a significant loss of business. Therefore, using a service to address each of the areas that need to be monitored will allow you to focus on your business, instead of the boring tasks required to keep your website up and running.
From SEO concerns to security, uptime, and even link rot, you can count on these monitoring services to alert you when something goes wrong.