Since a website is critical to your organization’s online presence, ensuring it’s accessible and responsive is essential. An unavailable website can severely affect visibility and brand reputation, lose valuable user traffic, and diminish user engagement.
You need to ensure your website is available around the clock and accessible from any device in any region. This requires monitoring your website continually using a robust monitoring tool, since myriad factors can affect your websites’ availability and responsiveness. If users from multiple regions visit your website, you should monitor website availability regionally, since your website can be unavailable in some regions but not in others.
Generally, you can use uptime monitoring tools to automate availability monitoring and alert you as soon as your website goes down or takes too long to respond.
How to Check If a Website Is Down
An uptime monitoring tool—like SolarWinds® Pingdom®—typically allows you to monitor specific URLs of your website. For example, you can monitor your home page at https://www.example.com and relevant subpages that usually drive traffic, like https://example.com/blog. You can set up the monitoring interval to 30 seconds or 60 seconds to test the availability of your website.
An uptime monitoring tool performs these checks using a network of servers located across the globe and sends an alert as soon as an error or downtime occurs. In addition, some uptime monitoring tools double-check the error or unavailability to eliminate false positives.
If you’ve committed to any uptime service-level agreements (SLAs) guaranteeing a specific availability percentage, uptime monitoring can help log the time periods in which your website or application is unavailable. You can then project aggregate uptime percentage for a year or a month and ramp up your efforts to meet service levels.
Moreover, you can publish public status pages to help users understand your website’s historical and current availability. This type of transparency can inspire your users and make them loyal, repetitive visitors.
Root Cause Analysis
Once you’re alerted to your website availability issues, you need additional information related to the issue, so you can assign IT personnel to fix it and make your website available again. Some monitoring tools usually send additional information after they detect availability issues. This information is also known as root cause analysis and can include HTTP status codes, request content, resolving IP tests, DNS errors, and traceroute to help pinpoint the problem and fix it.
Generally, HTTP status codes help understand the specific issues at hand. For example, 404 indicates a particular page isn’t found—it could result from an improperly set up check, redirection failure, or an accidentally deleted page.
Similarly, traceroute offers information about at what point in the network routing the test request failed to reach your website’s server. If it fails closer to your web server, it indicates a possible network issue with network configuration on the server or your hosting service provider. Resolving IP tests can reveal DNS problems related to your DNS host or service provider.
While uptime monitoring is essential to ensure your website is available, it’s not sufficient on its own. Other problems such as a slow loading page or broken navigation flow can also affect your visitor experience and result in a higher bounce rate—a performance indicator that can influence search engine rankings as well.
Some uptime monitoring tools—like Pingdom—also provide capabilities such as page speed, transactional, and real user monitoring to help more comprehensively monitor your website performance along with uptime.
Page speed monitoring assesses the performance of specific webpages and tracks how first- and third-party resources are affecting page load performance. This allows you to optimize your webpages on a more granular level and fix loading lags before they affect a broader user base.
Transaction monitoring helps monitor critical navigational flows on your website, such as sign-ups, order-placing, and payments. This helps fix transactional issues early on to limit the loss of revenue and engagement.
In general, together uptime, page load, and transaction monitoring are known as synthetic monitoring, since they rely on automation and simulation techniques to perform monitoring.
While synthetic monitoring is essential to ensure your website is available and performing as expected, it might not cover all the possible issues related to downtime, page loading, and transactions. For example, a particular subpage may be loading slowly on a specific browser or a device type; or a navigational flow may be breaking on mobile devices. Since your users could use any browser or device platform in any region, synthetic monitoring cannot potentially cover all those hypothetical scenarios.
Generally, real user monitoring tools use a lightweight code snippet embedded across your website to collect visitors’ activity data directly from their browsers in real-time. This gives insights into how real users are interacting with and experiencing your website. Accordingly, it can help find issues synthetic monitoring couldn’t cover, giving you 360-degree performance visibility of your website in the world wide web.
Improving user experience has become quintessential to engage users and convert them into loyal customers. Accordingly, uptime monitoring helps you stay informed about website availability issues and fix them before they cause a poor visitor experience and damage brand reputation. By complementing uptime monitoring with other synthetic and real user monitoring techniques, you can eliminate blind spots in website performance monitoring and deliver engaging visitor experiences.
Pingdom is one of the recommended tools that helps simplify both synthetic and real user monitoring with a single pane of glass view. Sign up for a free trial of SolarWinds Pingdom to evaluate its comprehensive website monitoring capabilities.