Your website's speed is becoming more and more important as the Internet evolves. Search engines are using website response time as part of their search ranking algorithms. They are also including website uptime in their search ranking. This means that, more than ever before, webmasters need to meticulously manage their website's performance.
There are several unique methods to manage and troubleshoot website performance. They are unique and non-intuitive. However, given the correct set of tools, you can very effectively manage your website's performance. One of the biggest problems in managing your website's performance is obtaining objectivity.
To effectively manage website performance, webmasters must maintain objectivity, similar to the customer's experience. In some cases, if a website is co-located at a remote datacenter or at a website hosting provider, webmasters are remote across the Internet to their web server. This provides a fairly objective view of the website. However, even being remote across the Internet sometimes demands a neutral point of view to the website to verify it's performance to the general public. For example if you are for some reason using an air-card, smart phone or are overseas and trying to test your website, you may not get an accurate picture of how your website is performing.
In many cases however, webmasters are within the enterprise along with their web servers. In this scenario, there are a whole host of issues that can cause a website to be visible a webmaster but not be visible to customers. This includes firewall problems, authentication problems, DNS problems and Internet circuit problems, just to mention a few.
The only way to truly verify your website is performing correctly is via a website monitoring company on the Internet. Website monitoring companies provide a neutral point of view of your website. They provide you with accurate, concise information about your website so that you can not only measure website performance to the general public, but also so you can troubleshoot problems. Having a third party's opinion about a problem can also be immensely helpful to quickly resolve technical issues relating to your website. There are several critical aspects of your website's performance that the website monitoring company needs to provide to you.
1) Connection Speed
The first thing it needs to do is be able to measure your connection speed. This is basically a number in milliseconds, or seconds of how fast your website comes up. Optimally, it will break that connection down in to pieces, such as DNS resolution time, TCP connection time (handshake time), HTTP connection time, and HTTP transfer time. Having a breakdown of timings on the different phases of establishing an HTTP connection greatly helps to isolate slowness problems.
2) Website appearance
Websites may not appear the same to a webmaster as they do to a customer. This can be due to authentication and scripting problems. There needs to be some way to verify what your website looks like to everyone else. It is also helpful to be able to see what HTML code looks like to customers, to troubleshoot issues.
It is essential to measure continuity of your website. This means that the website management company will constantly poll your website to ensure it's up. This also means that they will need to graph it's uptime. Webmasters need to know if and when their websites went down. By graphing uptime, you can at a glance, see when there were issues with your website. Also, a nice measurement is webpage size. By graphing webpage size in total bytes, you can easily tell when configurations were made to your home page. A very small webpage size may indicate that users were getting a 404 error, or some other bad HTML return code from the web server without your knowledge. Also, by measuring connection statistics over the short-term and long-term, you can determine trends.
In summary, website performance management is becoming more and more critical. Downtime, slow response time and web server error messages can kill your search engine rankings quickly. Web hosting providers do not always have your best interest in mind, and may have a lot more down time that you realize. Additionally, a website performance management company is an essential website troubleshooting tool. By providing an objective point of view of your website, it can immensely help to troubleshoot problems.