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Uptime is one of those metrics we all hear about, but do you know how it impacts your digital marketing and brand reputation? The truth is, your uptime and downtime can make a big difference to how your clients and customers perceive you, and in turn, how well your business does.
Keep reading to learn all you need to know about uptime, how it impacts your business, and why downtime hurts your brand (and your profits.)
What Is Uptime in the Digital Realm?
In the digital landscape, uptime refers to the percentage of the total time your website or online service is fully operational and accessible to users. And it’s also the best way to tell how reliable and stable your hosting provider is.
Think of uptime as the pulse that keeps the digital body of your business alive, ensuring that users are able to browse and access every page, product, or service on your website.
What Is the Industry Gold Standard for Uptime?
The gold standard for uptime in the industry is 99.9%. It’s also considered to be the minimum that all web hosting providers should aim for. This means that a premium web hosting company should have less than 0.1% downtime per month.
There are web hosts that aim for even higher availability, such as 99.99% (“four nines”) or 99.999% (“five nines”). The “five nines” standard allows for only about five minutes of downtime per year, which is an ambitious target that premium hosting services strive to meet.
This is often achieved through redundant systems, regular maintenance, quick disaster recovery, and distributed architectures that can handle server or network failures without affecting the availability of the web service. While at first glance 99.9% uptime seems impressive, there may still be short periods of time when your website is down. Choosing a host with this promise may see your business facing 43 minutes of downtime per month.
Over the course of a month 43 minutes doesn’t seem like enough time to have a negative impact on your business. But depending on the hosting service you’re using and their uptime percentages, here’s an example of what you can expect.
- 90% uptime = 36.5 days of downtime per year
- 95% uptime = 18.25 days of downtime per year
- 99% uptime = 3.65 days of downtime per year
- 99.9% uptime = 8.76 hours of downtime per year
- 99.99% uptime = 52.56 minutes of downtime per year
- 99.999% uptime = 5.26 minutes of downtime per year
The Impact of Downtime on Digital Marketing
When it comes to digital marketing, downtime can be a silent saboteur, especially when you start to add up the missed opportunities. Its impacts can range from mild inconvenience to severe financial and reputational damage.
Here are some key reasons why downtime is bad for a business:
Impacted Search Engine Rankings
Search engines, like Google, prioritize user experience and any downtime your website may experience can have a significant impact on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Downtime can result in lower search rankings and reduced visibility to potential visitors, as it can affect the following:
- Crawl Errors
- Decreased Indexation
- Link Erosion
- Site Speed Metrics
- Search Engines’ Trust
While temporary downtime is usually not catastrophic for SEO if resolved quickly, websites that are frequently down are often penalized with lower rankings. If your website experiences persistent downtime, then it may be deemed unreliable.
Lost Traffic and Leads
For every minute your site is not reachable, there’s a loss of traffic, and with it, potential leads. Users will quickly move on to your competitor’s sites, and this has a direct impact on lead generation and sales pipelines.
Poor User Experience
First impressions matter, and uptime is integral to that! If we look at the stats that Google has released, 61% of users are unlikely to return to a site on mobile if they had trouble accessing it, and even worse, 40% visit a competitor’s site instead.
If visitors are met with error pages, or can’t access your pages or products, they’ll become frustrated and leave your site in a few seconds. This diminishes the likelihood of return visits and will affect your search engine rankings as well.
Reduced Conversion Rates
The uptime of your website has a direct impact on your conversion rates. If your website is down, it’s as good as a closed store. Visitors who may be looking for your products or services won’t be able to make purchases, leading to a direct loss in revenue.
By using a reliable web host, you’ll be able to ensure your site is consistently accessible and be able to convert that interest into sales.
Damage to Brand Reputation
Visitors see your website as a reflection of your brand. If your website is frequently experiencing downtime, it’ll lead to reputational damage, which can be far-reaching and challenging to repair.
Unfortunately, visitors often view a brand as unreliable and are less likely to trust it if the brand’s website is down. In most cases, visitors will share their experience with their friends and families, leading to lost customers and decreased brand loyalty.
Reduced ROI on Digital Marketing Campaigns
Every digital marketing campaign uses different marketing strategies, but they almost always direct users back to your website. If you’re running paid campaigns like pay-per-click (PPC) ads, you’ll be losing out on potential revenue, especially if a person clicks on ads that lead to unavailable pages.
For campaigns that rely on driving recipients to landing pages, website downtime can render email marketing efforts ineffective, leading to missed opportunities for engagement. This will greatly reduce the return on investment for these campaigns, as the targeted traffic has nowhere to land.
How You Can Minimize Downtime
While some downtime is inevitable, there are some strategies to minimize its frequency and negative impact.
Choose a Reliable Web Hosting Provider
Do your homework and research different web host providers by reading reviews from other businesses and individuals. This will allow you to choose a web host with a proven track record of strong uptime percentages and customer service.
Monitor Website Performance
Install tools that will help you monitor your website in real-time, as they can alert you to issues before they escalate into significant downtime. Website monitoring tools can also help you keep track of your website’s loading times and response times, which can help you identify areas that need to be improved.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
One of the best things you can do for your website is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). This will allow your website to remain visible to visitors from all around the world and keep your site up through local servers, even if the main server is down.
Develop a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan
Make sure that you have a robust disaster recovery plan in place that you can use as a safety net. Don’t assume that it’ll never happen to you—rather plan for it and hope it never happens, rather than assume and be caught unawares.
Putting a recovery plan into place means you have a process to follow if your website crashes, and you’ll be able to restore it from a backed-up version. The sooner you can get this done, the better for minimizing the impact of downtime on your business and reputation.
Uptime and downtime are much more than just buzzwords. It’s in your business’s best interests to gain some understanding of what exactly they are and how your web hosting plays a role, so you can take every step possible to keep your site available as often as possible.
It might seem like a small thing, but get it right, and our business will flourish. Ignore your downtime and don’t be surprised if you start losing customers and profit. The good news is that it’s in your power to minimize downtime and maximize user experience with just a few small actions, starting with choosing a premium web host.
About the Author
Paul Wheeler runs a web design agency that helps small businesses optimize their websites for business success. He aims to educate business owners on all things website-related, on his own website, Reviews for Website Hosting.