Owning a website seems like a terrific idea on paper. Produce a bunch of awesome articles that draw in huge crowds, lots of comments and discussion, and of course plenty of ad revenue. The last thing most people consider when thinking up the next great website is the work. Owning a popular website means regular server maintenance, closely monitoring the health and uptime of your web server, and keeping track of the health of your internal and external links. After your website traffic starts to multiply, sometimes those monitoring and maintenance tasks start to consume more time than you ever anticipated.
Once I realized that I needed these tools, the first place I turned to was MUO. At first I thought that maybe using one of the apps that Aibek listed to monitor sites might work. Unfortunately those would only tell me whenever one of my writers had updated the site. I wanted something along the lines of Pingdom, but that particular tool only allows you to monitor one website under the free account.
Eventually, I discovered a couple of tools available from IanNet that did exactly what I was looking for – one that would automatically monitor all of my websites, and another that would monitor the health of all internal and external URL links. Those tools are SiteMonitor and SiteVerify.
The Importance of Monitoring Your Website
The one thing I cannot stress enough when it comes to “optimizing” your website for Google these days is the importance of server health. Carefully optimized keywords and topics are still important, but the site should also be fast-loading, have excellent up-time, and have no broken links.
Using SiteMonitor To Monitor Uptime
The first thing I did when I discovered SiteMonitor was to set it up to run on my personal home web server. This PC, which is always running, is a good starting point to go out and ping my websites at regular intervals every day. When you first run the app, it looks somewhat simple, but the usefulness of the program quickly becomes apparent once you start using it.
The first thing you’ll want to do is start adding the websites to monitor. Just click the blue “Add” button, and a popup window will appear for the details you need to include. The ping actually looks for a segment of text within the HTML response, so you’ll need to view the source code and pick some text that the page always returns. Many people just use the <title> text for this.
The program also includes functionality for a secure connection (https) and TCP. Once you’ve added one or more sites, you can manually run a test using the green “Check Selected” button. Or you can use the “Check All” button next to it to test all of your sites at once.
When you do a manual check, you’ll get a pop-up confirmation that the connection to the web server went through okay.
You’ll also see the page-load time for that URL. Most people typically only use this app to check the main page of their website, but there’s nothing stopping you from entering additional URLs and testing various pages of your site as well.
You may want to keep the standard Google entry as a baseline for your own site. If your page-load time is almost as good or better than Google, you’re probably running a fairly healthy server setup.
Best of all (and this is my favorite feature of this program), you can configure the program to check your website at a set interval, and if there’s a problem you can configure it to email you, or send an SMS.
This is an awesome tool if you really want your website visitors to have the best possible experience, and are really concerned about any downtime at all. This software will let you know instantly so that you can call tech support and get the issue resolved immediately.
Use SiteVerify To Qualify Your Links
As I mentioned earlier, another really important maintenance task when you own a popular website is to always monitor for broken links. Internal page changes can create broken links without knowing it. Also, external sites may disappear off the net, causing broken external links. This is where SiteVerify comes in handy.
All you have to do is type in the URL of your top-level domain, and then click “Start“. The software will start crawling through your website, checking links at whatever depth you defined in the “Traverse” setting. Keep this at “1″ for the fastest check (individual links).
The software will quickly dig out all links throughout your website, and then it will start plugging through the list and validating your links. The test I ran above was for all internal links, but you can check the box for external links – but be warned that the scan will take significantly longer.
Once the scan is done, you can send the final results to a text file by choosing “Export List” from the file menu, and you can also use SiteVerify to create a Sitemap for your website.
Verifying links is an important thing that I would recommend any webmaster should do at least once a month at the very minimum. By monitoring your uptime and your page load speed, as well as maintaining the health and integrity of all of your internal and external links, you’ll ensure that your site is considered by both search engines and your visitors, as one of the best-quality sites on the Internet.
Give these website monitoring tools a try and see if it catches any problems with your website. Do you find them valuable as a website owner? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Image Credit: yasin öztürk