Can Your Site Withstand an Internet Outage?

Earlier this month internet users across the United States experienced slow speed internet connections, if they experienced connections at all. One of the nation’s largest internet service providers “experienced a service disruption” that was later attributed to a configuration error. That it wasn’t caused by a security breach is good news, but what follows is some special info for any internet-based business with the need to stay online without disruption.

The Power Behind a Ping

The first valuable piece of information worth knowing is how to ping your network in order to monitor its efficiency. Ping measures how long it takes for data from your network to reach the server and return to your network. A lag is trouble because it indicates that there is some form of disruption.

The causes are varied. A lagging ping could be caused by an external issue from your internet provider or hosting service. In this case it might seem as if there is not much you can do. But external monitoring services provide a serv-3 alert that lets IT know that there is a lag somewhere in the network’s infrastructure, even if that disruption is not affecting your site, yet. Constant monitoring and alert readiness ensures that your IT person is ready to respond to a service disruption before it happens.

Preparing for a Disruption

The major problem that can result from a disruption isn’t simply a loss of current customers on your site, but on a drop in your business’ search engine ranking. Search engine optimization professionals have a way around the issue. They encourage businesses to rely on 500 series error page. Unlike a 404 page that alerts the site visitor of a page being down or missing, 500 series pages inform both users and automated web crawlers that the issue is not with the site but with the server or other infrastructure element. Some companies also use the page to share a coupon code or other incentive to return to the site once it is back up.

Offering customers incentives also adds value to your site when it is down, which means that it is less likely for your site’s standing to drop during that time. This particularly helpful is the outage is long-term. A 500 series page sends a message to web crawlers to try again later. If the next try is successful then your ranking should be unharmed.

Basic ping alerts let you know when your site is down due to an internal issue, but a monitoring system that includes multiple pings can alert you to the specific area of your system that needs attention. This leads to rapid response and better service for your customers. Deep monitoring also lets you know if your site is displaying the right content. 

You will know if your site can withstand an internet outage if your traffic doesn’t dip in the weeks after an outage. Likewise, if your search engine ranking is intact. But why wait?