Your website’s uptime is important to you. You want to enjoy the highest possible revenue, make the most online sales, see the best conversion rates, and increase your visitor metrics. One important element is your website’s uptime. If your website is down, no one can buy from your site, visitors will become frustrated that they can’t access your content, and search engines may downgrade your SEO ranking because of your site’s unreliability. With so much at stake, it’s worth implementing one or all of these best practices for increasing your website uptime.
1. Choose a Reliable Web Host
The first step to a website that’s always up is a good hosting platform. Not all hosts are equal – some have far better uptime records than others. You want a hosting platform with 99.9% uptime, transparent pricing, and the flexibility to scale up as your visitor traffic increases. Cloud hosting is a great choice for most businesses since it enables you to scale up your server size without interrupting your site performance.
When you’re just starting your website, you might go for shared hosting to save costs. This means that your website shares its hosted space with other sites. The costs are far lower, but because you’re sharing hosted space, you might find that other sites cause yours to slow down or crash from time to time. As your site grows, it’s probably a good idea to switch to dedicated hosting for faster load time and less downtime.
2. Reduce Image Sizes
It makes sense that the bigger your website pages and files are, the longer they’ll take to download and display. If they take too long, your web pages could time out and bring down parts of your site. Any step that you can take to make your files smaller is worth taking.
Images are particularly frequent offenders in this issue. Sometimes, you can resize your images to be smaller so that they use less memory, but that’s not always possible. It’s best to use a free tool like the PNG/JPG Compressor to compress your images so that they take up less memory without compromising on image quality or size.
4. Compress Your Website
In addition to compressing your images, you can also compress your website pages themselves. GZIP compression saves bandwidth, reduces loading time, and decreases the risks of web pages crashing because they took too long to load. Each page is compressed before it leaves your server and then decompressed by the visitor’s web browser. If you’re not sure whether or not GZIP compression is enabled on your website, you can verify it with the free GZIP Compression Checker.
5. Make Sure You Have Enough Server Capacity
When you’re just setting up your site, you’ll probably choose to pay only for the server capacity you think you’ll need. It’s normally a truism that there’s no point paying for capacity that you won’t use, but when it comes to your server capacity, it might prove to be a mistake. If your website suddenly becomes popular in a short space of time, your server could be overwhelmed with more visitors than it can cope with. If this happens, first it will load extremely slowly, but then it will fail to connect and crash.
It’s often called the “Reddit Hug of Death” – when something goes viral through Reddit, bringing thousands of visitors to one little-known site that can’t cope with the traffic. To be able to enjoy success, not be brought down by it, you need a server solution that is easily flexible and scalable so that it can automatically respond to greater visitor numbers.
6. Monitor Your Website
No matter which host platform you use or how careful you are, sometimes your website’s going to go down. What matters is how fast you get it up and running again. You want to be the first to know if your site is down, ideally immediately, rather than discovering only when you hear from a crowd of angry visitors. Monitoring your site manually by checking its status every few minutes or even every hour simply isn’t practical, but fortunately, there are many tools that can do the job for you.
Website monitoring tools like the Free Website Monitor app continually track your site’s health and status. They verify that it is responding and can check it for speed and keywords changes to keep you fully informed about your site. You can find both free and paid website monitoring tools, and choose between external testing sites and integrated plugins that are designed for your host platform.
7. Use Web Caching
Web caching is a clever way to increase your website uptime. Generally, when someone visits your site, their browser sends a request to the webpage. Your server then takes the necessary retrieve the page, generate widgets and sidebars, process headers and footers, enable fonts and images, etc. These procedures take time, even though it’s only a few milliseconds for each step, but most of the results are the same every time you visit the same webpage.
When you use website caching, the server is set to remember the final result for each visitor. When that visitor returns to a webpage, the cache serves it up without going through the complex procedures that it used the first time. You can still ensure that updated content is shared by configuring the settings accordingly. In this way, caching makes your website load faster and lowers the chances of downtime.
8. Use a CDN
A CDN – Content Delivery Network – is a way of offloading some of your website content to be stored as cached files on servers that are closer to your visitors. It makes a big difference to your load speed for visitors who are geographically distant from your main servers, since website speed is affected by distance from the server.
By delegating much of your bandwidth capabilities to a CDN, you also free up space for your main servers to carry out important actions like cart checkout. A CDN helps to even out occasional jumps in server demand, saving your website from crashing due to a sudden high demand for sales, or even a bot attack.
9. Improve Security
Although your website can go down through natural causes, such as an image going viral or a problem with your servers, it can also crash for malicious reasons. Hackers, cyberthieves, and bored teens can send all types of attacks against your website to hijack it or bring it down. Improving the security of your website, your servers, and your hosting service is an important step in increasing website uptime during cyber attacks.
Some security measures lie in your hands. All of your passwords should be strong, using a combination of letters, numbers, and alternate characters. You should also change them frequently. If you use a content management system, you should regularly update it to the latest version. All of your plugins, tools, integrations, and apps should be kept up to date since many updates contain patches against recently discovered vulnerabilities. It’s also up to you to check that your web file permissions don’t leave the door open to hackers.
However, other steps need to be taken by your web hosting company. This is why it’s important to choose a hosting platform that has strong security features and is serious about its responsibility to keep your data safe.
10. Improve DNS
A visitor’s first step in accessing your website is the DNS, or Domain Name Server, which is usually packaged together with other hosting services by your hosting company. If your DNS server is down, your entire website is inaccessible.
Look for the option to upgrade your DNS service for automatic failover. This is often called Anycast technology. It means that if your DNS server crashes, your website will automatically be passed on to the next closest server on the network. It won’t be down just because the regular DNS server is unavailable. DNS upgrades cost a little more than regular DNS service, but they do bring an ironclad guarantee that your website will never go offline because of a DNS server failure.
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Following these 10 best practices, using either free tools or paid commercial alternatives, will help increase your website uptime and visitor satisfaction.