When you think of "monitoring" your website you probably think of uptime, right? That's only part of the monitoring process that you should have in place.
No Set and Forget
Back in the day, you could put up a static HTML website and literally forget about it. There were only a few scripts -- usually to do unnecessary animations or process your contact form. Once and awhile a rare update.
The goal is to have your site, and every page, load in under 3 seconds. If your site is not performing in a way to contribute to your ROI, how do you know without monitoring?
Old code = vulnerabilities. Hackers are always on the prowl for code they can compromise. It is not uncommon for bugs to be discovered only after actual "out in the wild" usage reported by users that then requires an immediate update.
Beyond that, code updates for performance and security concerns happen all the time. Every single WordPress update includes security hardening. By not updating and monitoring your website and server performance, you risk your website being compromised.
When plugins update, settings can change. Or the plugin doesn't update and terminate properly leaving your site in a perpetual maintenance mode. That happened to me today.
After updating anything on your site you want to take the time to do a quite run through on the front-end. This is to make sure that your site is operating properly and displaying as it should. For example, if you update your contact form plugin, go to the front-end of your site and use your contact form to make sure all is well.
If you do a bunch of updates, take the time to run a performance test to see if any of the variables that can have a negative impact have surfaced.
It happens all the time. I have been blindsided by changes in my metrics that, at the time, I did not expect to occur. That is why I run checks on a regular basis to look for any changes that I need to address.
Time for Some Spring Cleaning!
Part of the ongoing monitoring of your site includes monitoring your plugins. Not only that they are tested up to the latest version of WordPress or need to be updated, but if they are even necessary. Besides the basic necessary plugins, I've witnessed many websites where site owners just keep adding plugins on a whim. Before you know it you have plugins that are duplicative and not necessary. And a sludge slow site.
The maximum number of plugins that should be used is up to discussion. It all depends on the combo and quality of the plugins, theme being used, hosting and other variables that when combined determine how your site loads.
On a regular basis check that your plugins are in fact keeping up and being tested with the latest version of WordPress. If they are not -- find an alternative. This approach minimizes the potential for conflicts or problems down the road due to incompatibility.
Checking the Data
You also want to login to Google Console on a regular basis to check for any problems that will affect your rankings. Mark your calendar once a month to take a quick look-see in Google Console to see if there are any warnings. Hop over to analytics to see if there are any traffic issues of concern (dramatic drop-offs for example).
When performance or user issues are detected, Google can and will penalize your site in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Links, Downtime and Monitoring
When your site is down you want to know about that as soon as possible. Uptime monitoring can allow you to work with your hosting or development partners as close to the time of impact as possible to determine what the issue may be.
If you link off-site, those links can change without notice. Internal linking within your site will break when you delete a page or change the URL. Running regular links checks to eliminate the poor experience of broken links should be part of your monitoring duties.
Websites are not infallible. There are endless reasons that could cause your site to go down, be unavailable or not work properly. The last thing you want to happen is to find out from users that your site's been down or producing errors for an extended period of time. The sooner you are aware of any possible problems, the sooner you can address them.
The fact is many hosts are not proactive in this regard. Rare is the host that will send out an email letting you know they are aware of a problem and addressing it. That is where subscribing to services that check these variables regularly for you is worth every penny.
Website Monitoring Wrap-up
- When WordPress, Plugins and Themes require updating -- do it.
- Afterward check your site's features and functionality.
- Review plugin testing compatibility and necessity.
- Run performance tests.
- Check Google Console and Analytics for errors.
- Run link checks for broken and outdated links.
- Rinse and repeat.
This is why you need to monitor your website constantly. Not doing so can and will effect your rankings and more importantly your user's experience.
If you have a WordPress website, these tasks cannot be avoided or ignored. Have an honest conversation with yourself to determine if you are willing to learn how, take the time and then implement of all this yourself.
If you are unable to weed through all the data, reports and services required to handle these tasks yourself, it may be time to subscribe to a service that handles all that for you.
Then, all you have to worry about is running your business!
At your service,