Remember when we published a guide on what to do when your blog goes down? Because we’ve had some hiccups with our very own website (happens to the best of us, it seems), we followed our own advice and did it by the book!
The ‘Don’t panic and stay calm when you’re website is down’ book, that is! 🙂
What we learn from this experience went far beyond our original article. The new things we learnt warrant a follow-up article, as well.
Because sharing knowledge is in the DNA of the most social domain name in the world, let’s get started:
After checking if the website was down just for us or for everybody, we checked both our servers and our software to see what the problem was. At the same time, our social media team communicated with you guys that you might have to wait a bit to get your daily dose of insightful articles, as well as search for your next .Me website.
Oh right, you can do that on the 100s of websites of our partners – and you did! 🙂
1. Did Your Domain Just Expire?
Thankfully, this didn’t and couldn’t happen to us, but it did happen to one of our partners and could happen to you.
Domains, as you know, need to be renewed regularly to function properly. However, due to credit cards not working, emails going into spam filters and just being busy, you might not renew your domain on time. It happened to Microsoft. Even Google (kind of).
Thankfully, there is a grace period where you, as the original owner, have the right to renew your domain. In most cases, you’ll have about 30 days to ‘save’ your domain, after which it goes out to the open market.
If you have a valuable domain name, perhaps an original .Me such as About.Me, invest a bit more and renew it for some years, so you don’t have to worry about it. Paying a hundred bucks to have peace of mind for a decade might be well worth.
Set Up A Website Monitoring Service
Who did you find out that your website is down? Did you see it, or did your colleague? Maybe a customer or partner? Because you don’t want to be the last one to find out, after getting that tweet from your most important customer ‘Is your website down?!’, you need to setup a website monitoring service such as CloudStats.Me or Pingdom. A website monitoring service does exactly what its name suggests. It continually “looks” at your website and server and then notifies you if it goes offline.
Services such as CloudStats.Me are one of your best investments since they usually cost just a few dollars a month, but when the times comes, their fast notification is worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars in lost business.
Why? Two reasons:
The first is that you can react right away when the problem arises. Your domain has expired; your server is down or there’s a problem with the MySQL database! Get on it – just a minutes after it’s happened!
Second of all: You can start communicating and doing everything possible in order not to have frustrated customers. You can tweet or post an update on Facebook to ensure your customers know that you’re doing everything to get back online. If the problem persists, you can even send an email blast to the more concerned users.
3. Creating A ‘Buffer’ Of Content
If you have a blog – and if you follow our advice on the .Me blog, you do – then you regularly prepare content to publish and get some traffic, leads, fame or fortune.
If your website is down, how are you going to publish it?
For one thing, if you use a separate blogging platform such as WordPress.com like some companies and organisations do, your blog might go down with your website! But let’s say it does. There’s no need to panic. Negative thinking about how you’re not publishing anything won’t help you get your website back up, produce great content or help your team or readers – will it?
So look at it in a positive way. It’s like you haven’t yet started your blog and can create content in advance to publish for later – later, in this case, being when your website is back up! Yes, create a buffer of content. Not that Buffer, although we like that social media tool. What I mean is having an even bigger number of articles ready for publishing, which will give you even more flexibility if for example something happens and you can create new content for a week.
This way you always have a backup plan!
If you want to make truly sure you always have a content buffer, definitely create ‘evergreen’ content. Unlike content about a topic that’s hot at the time of writing, ‘evergreen’ content has a longer time span in which it’s interesting and can be published. It’s evergreen.
Think: “The Ultimate Guide to Domain Renewal” instead of a post that explains how a startup got an investment last month or top tech tips for Spring. Don’t get me wrong: Current topics are an excellent way to get people’s attention, but you have to act quickly. Since we can’t publish an article if our website is down, we need to write content that can be published in a week, a month – or more!
The results: A ‘buffer’ of content you can use whenever you need to – a great backup for situations when something unexpected stops the stream of fresh content to your blog!
4 Automate Your Emergency Plan
You might not have noticed, but Zapier recently released their “multi-step zap” feature which lets you create actions in various apps based on an individual trigger, such as YOUR WEBSITE GOING DOWN!
How to set it up? Open a free Zapier account and setup a trigger based on Pingdom or another website monitoring service that will then ‘tell’ other apps to react when your website goes down. You can, for example, automatically send an email to your most important stakeholders, create a draft for a notification in WordPress, tweet to your followers, while sending a message to your team on Slack.
With hundreds of supported services, the actions that can take place after your website goes down is limited only by your wishes!
Hopefully next time when your website goes down, you won’t feel like Tom Hanks in “Groundhog day”, thinking about how you’re once again living through the same old day (of downtime).
You won’t, we know since now you have not one, but two detailed guides on what to do when your website goes down. So dust off that downtime and 404 error codes and bring your website back up!