Pingdom Lists Reasons To Monitor Your Website

By Doug Caverly – Fri, 08/06/2010 – 2:27pm.

Uptime/downtime awareness an important asset

Many websites owners more or less assume their sites will always work.  And there’s really no reason for the uninitiated to believe otherwise, since there aren’t any obvious moving parts poised to fail.  But of course, sites can experience problems, and there are many reasons why small business owners should monitor them.

A post on the Royal Pingdom blog actually outlined 20 reasons on Friday.  Now, there is some overlap between them, and we should also note that Pingdom is a provider of uptime monitoring services, so it has a stake in this matter.

Still, the reasons are convincing.  To hit upon a few of them: “The sooner you know about a problem, the sooner you can fix it,” “[i]t’s embarrassing when your users call you to let you know your site is down,” and “[y]our website may work for YOU, but what about the rest of the world.”

The blog post also pointed out, “There is no ‘in the middle of the night’ on the web,” “[i]t doesn’t have to cost anything,” and “[y]ou’ll have proof that you’re doing a good job.”

So small business owners who haven’t already done so should definitely look into uptime monitoring services.  Consider them the online equivalent of traffic reports, where owners stand a chance of clearing wrecks and rerouting motorists, too.

By the way, although we’re not badmouthing rivals, Pingdom doesn’t represent a bad starting point in terms of seeking providers of either free or paid monitoring services.

Get the Most Out of Your Google Places Listing

By Chris Crum – Tue, 04/27/2010 – 9:24am.

Resources for Making Sure Your Listing is Up to Snuff

About a week ago, Google announced that it had changed the name of the Google Local Business Center to Google Places. Along with that, however, they announced a good deal of new features that businesses should be aware of. If you are not, they include: service areas, advertising with tags, business photo shoots, customized QR codes, and more favorite places. You can read about them more here.

How important is Google Places to your strategy? Discuss here.

Don’t stop there though. Google Places may be a vital part of your strategy for getting customers to your location. The company has put together some resources for businesses to learn more about Google Places so they can maximize the benefits.

Google Tag advertising - new feature for Google Places“With a new name comes a fresh support experience,” says Google Places Senior Strategist Brianna Brekke. “The Google Places team wants to make sure that, as a business owner, your experience with Google Places is a good one, so we’ve taken some steps to expand and refine our support offerings.”

There is of course a help center where businesses can learn more about managing their listings and new features, as well as report problems. A newly revamped user guide and support channels are available here. Google has made it more interactive as well, adding a guided tou of the Place Page.

If you have questions or ideas for Google Places, you can check out the Google Moderator page, where you can not only contribute, but vote up the ideas from others that you like. On May 21, Google is actually going to review the top questions and record video responses, which they’ll post in the help center.

Forums have always been great venues for the exchange of ideas and for people to get help with their problems. You can discuss how to improve your Google Places listing and other related issues at the forum they’ve set up. Help here comes from volunteers deemed “top contributors” as well as Google employees.

Finally, Google has webinars you can sign up for where you can educate yourself about your Google Places listing. All of the resources can be found here. You may want to bookmark it.

Local businesses should consider how big a role Google plays in many people’s lives when it comes to finding information, including something as simple as looking up a local business. With mobile usage on the rise, it stands to reason that this will become even more the case.

That’s not to say that you should stop at Google. In fact, I believe search is getting more diversified as a result of mobile. People are looking to more places (via apps) to find the information they’re looking for. Google is still a huge factor, however, and that will remain for the foreseeable future. Android usage is on the rise, and that means a lot of convenient Google Voice searching, and one-button Google searches.

Tech Companies’ Approaches To Site Upkeep Explored

By Doug Caverly – Mon, 04/19/2010 – 3:09pm.

Corporate blogs share useful insights and tricks

When a site like Facebook is slow, or Twitter becomes inaccessible, it’s a memorable and headline-generating event (at least in certain circles).  Given the millions upon millions of visitors these sites see every day, they do pretty well for themselves, though, and it might be possible for small business owners to learn some tricks from them.

Pingdom’s bloggers recently rounded up a large number of technical blogs maintained by big, important companies.  The first three are Twitter’s engineering blog, Facebook’s engineering notes, and Digg’s technology blog.

Next up is Inside Windows Live, Flickr’s developer blog, and Meebo’s developer blog.

Moving on, business owners who maintain their own sites may find it worth their while to check out the Amazon Web Services blog, the Google Code blog, the Google App Engine blog, Yahoo’s developer network blog, and Wikimedia’s techblog.

At least some of the posts on these blogs should provide information that can be applied under other circumstances, and strategies that serve to keep things like Facebook and Twitter running should be enough to make the average small business’s site bulletproof.

If you have any other favorite sources of technical advice, feel free to name them in the comments section.