John thought things were going fairly well, but what he didn’t know was costing him a substantial sum. He knew sales on his website should be higher, but he blamed that on the economy. Then one day, for no particular reason, he was going through his website and made a discovery that made his heart sink. Let’s take a look at 3 common errors that people encounter on your website and what you should do about it.
The fact is that even companies as large and tech savvy as Google occasionally have problems with their websites. If even Google can’t ensure a glitch free experience, it’s reasonable that your website will encounter its own share of gremlins. This doesn’t mean that you should be OK with problems on your site – those errors could be costing you money. The key is to monitor your website for the three kinds of errors that could cost you big time.
The single most prevalent technical error on the Internet is the 404 error. In non-geek speak that is a broken link – you know the kind where you click a link to go to a page and get an error letting you know that the page can’t be found.
There are two kinds of these broken links that you need to be concerned about. The first is internal broken links. This frequently happens when a website is updated and some pages are removed or are moved to a different place but the links pointing to them aren’t updated. This problem, undiscovered, can cost you big in lost business as people who encounter the error leave your site.
The second kind of broken link is external. This is where other websites have a link to a page on your website that is no longer there. Fortunately there are lots of link checking tools that you can use to discover these problems for you. Links can be fixed by updating the link to point to the correct page location or by creating a 301 (search engine friendly) redirect.
Sometimes the programs and scripts that run on your website break down (500 error). There are a variety of technical reasons why can occur, but suffice it to say that this is an issue that should be watched out for on your website.
There are two ways to watch out for this kind of error. The first is about making it really easy for someone to report the problem that they just encountered. The second is about automated monitoring of your site for this kind problem. This can be setup to give you real-time awareness of problems, or to report on any issues on a scheduled basis.
Sometimes websites become unavailable because the server that they reside on is down. This is much more of an issue for some hosts than others. If this happens to your site a lot, you need to move to a different web host. All web hosts brag about their “up-time” but the devil is in the details. I have yet to see a system that couldn’t fail – even fully redundant ones.
The best way to keep this kind of problem from affecting your site is to make sure that your site is hosted by a great host with terrific technical support. Bad hosts account for about 95% of server down errors. There are lots of up-time-monitoring services that will monitor your website and let you know if your website goes down. This can provide powerful peace of mind and alert you to issues you should be aware of.
Website errors – undetected and unaddressed – cost website owners dearly. Not only can this interfere with your prospective customers, it can interfere with your search engine ranking. This is definitely one of those situations where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
For John, the problem turned out to be broken scripts. Once the scripts were fixed, sales began to pick up. Now that he has a layered monitoring system in place, he can rest easy knowing that his site is up and running smoothly and without error.