Most website elements, such as scripts, images, and videos, have either direct or indirect impact on web performance. Reduce the number of errors and optimize the underlying elements correctly, and you’ll significantly improve the availability, performance, and profitability of your online operations.
A website error checker is an invaluable tool for helping you get a great understanding of which elements most affect page speed and may create service and revenue-impacting bottlenecks. In fact, the right toolkit is an essential investment for squeezing more performance—and dollars—from the site.
Here’s our selection of typical website errors your site may be experiencing—and which you should be addressing.
1. Website Outages
The number one task of any website error checker is to confirm whether the target site is up and running. The most basic form of availability checking is using a simple ping check to confirm the underlying web server is responding to requests.
Ideally, you need a system that monitors availability 24/7 and sends automatic alerts to the correct person in case of an outage or any other anomaly. The notified person can then trigger the appropriate process to deal with a website emergency.
There are limitations to ping testing, however. A website error checking system will offer a suite of tools to provide additional information as well as ping tests. These extra features will assist with troubleshooting outages, so you can get the site up, running, and performing sooner.
2. Missing Content
Another issue a website checker will highlight is missing content resulting in 404 responses (“page not found”), triggered by users accessing URLs that don’t (or no longer) exist. It’s particularly harmful to the user experience (UX) and hence your brand when links to non-existent pages are put in prominent sections of your website, such as on the home page or in the menu.
404 errors may be the result of migrating a website between domains or CMSs. Using 301 redirects (“moved permanently”) is a proven way to ensure visitors and search engine spiders land on the correct page. Best practice suggests carrying out a full audit of redirected assets before starting a migration, but it’s not unusual for some pages to be missed. A website error checker will help you detect incorrectly configured 301 redirects and allow you to address these issues before UX and conversion rates are affected.
Content may also “go missing” due to regular day-to-day website management, especially when many users get access to the CMS and make changes at the same time. Some examples include changing URLs without adding 301 redirects, changing path to media files, or even as simple as typos in a URL.
A website error checker will alert you to all these instances of missing content, help you analyze page by page, and provide guidance on how to troubleshoot the problem correctly.
3. Oversized Webpages
The surge in popularity of media driven sites like YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest means ever-increasing visitor expectations for a visually rich experience when they visit your site. Video, graphics, and interactive scripts all add to the “size” of each webpage, increasing the time it takes to download and render in the browser. Despite these concerns, webpages are getting larger every year, big and rich isn’t bad, but it does increase the need to monitor!
A proficient website checker will help you analyze the size of each page. A good toolkit will even provide metrics from real users, so you can get a true understanding of the users’ performance experience. By assessing every element on the page, you can identify opportunities to consolidate or delay scripts, shrink media sizes, and reassess the plugins used by your content management system.
4. Transaction Bottlenecks
Today most websites rely on a content management system (CMS) to serve pages to visitors. Text and media files are stored in a database and rendered on-screen by scripts. Similarly, any data passed by the user to your website is also written to the database—such as when they set up a new account.
A website error checker will be able to analyze the performance of these scripts and transactions, helping you understand how long each takes to execute. There’s a good chance these transactions will underperform if you don’t regularly optimize the underlying scripts and queries.
Because it’s measuring the performance of the customer experience, transaction monitoring is a far better indicator of customer experience than simple uptime or availability monitoring.
5. Unacceptable Response Times
Speed is typically the most important factor in website user experience. If your site is too slow to respond or load, you can say goodbye to most new visitors immediately. According to the most recent research from Google, mobile users will leave if a page does not load fully in three seconds.
The ping tests completed by an error checker not only confirm site availability, but also can provide a rudimentary indication about site response times. Ping tests are not definitive; after all, down is down, but up doesn’t mean fast enough (see above). But they do provide early indication of problems requiring further analysis and troubleshooting.
6. CDN Issues
To serve a global audience effectively, you need to make content more readily available to visitors. A content delivery network (CDN) caches static content on servers around the world to reduce the number of roundtrips required to your main web server (our beginner’s guide to CDN has more details). When your CDN is operating correctly, your webpages will load more quickly.
A fully-featured error checker will thus test far more than your main web server. Choosing a website error checker platform that uses a globally distributed network of test servers will allow you to see problems with your CDN services. CDN operators typically have fairly robust measures in place to deal with outages, but it always helps to see if there’s a pattern of errors affecting your site.
With this insight you can work to develop performance boosting workarounds for your international visitors—and make an informed decision about potentially changing your provider where there is a history of under-delivering.
Can You Easily Identify These Errors and Their Causes?
With so many “moving” parts, there’s always potential for outages and under-performance. Identifying outages is relatively straightforward, but the causes less so—particularly if they are intermittent. But if you can’t easily identify these issues, and their root causes, your online operations will suffer.
Your choice of website error checker tool must do more than just provide alerts when the site goes offline. It should also help speed up the troubleshooting and recovery process.
To see what a full website monitoring platform is capable of—and how you will benefit—try a 14-day free trial of SolarWinds® Pingdom®.