WordPress is the most popular content management system on the market. And it is certainly one of the most successful software products ever developed. Due to the high distribution of the system, one can already assume that it is very robust. However, failures do occur from time to time and may cause you trouble. Thus there are a few good reasons to monitor your website.
When we talk about failures, issues and problems, there are three main sources: They can be caused on the server, in the application, or in the frotend, i.e. on the website itself. These are therefore three places that we’d advise be monitored continuously.
Monitoring Your Server
The server ensures that the WordPress website is delivered. If it has problems, this will immediately affect the website. This can become noticeable by the longer loading times it causes, but also by complete failures. There can be many causes for this. In most cases, however, the server is overloaded. In the best case, this is because too many users want to see the offered content simultaneously. Often, however, many websites and users share a single server and if one system is under heavy load, the others also feel the effects.
Fortunately, upcoming server failures can often be predicted. Typically, components such as CPU or memory slowly reach their limits. This has the advantage of allowing sysadmins to react in time and failures can be partially avoided, for example by switching to a larger server when the need arises. However, to get into this situation, a clean server monitoring solution with alarms must be in place.
Server monitoring does not have to be expensive, and it usually pays off very quickly. It is essential to monitor all relevant components: CPU, memory, hard disks, network. If possible, critical infrastructural services such as the database or web server should also be monitored.
Monitoring The Application
The second breaking point for WordPress websites is the application itself. By this, we mean WordPress and all the associated plugins. Although WordPress is robust at its core, plugins can be just the opposite due to its high distribution. Not everything found on WordPress.org for your website has been rigorously tested to meet the same quality standards.
Too much use of memory or poorly programmed plugins may cause the system to falter so that they slow it down significantly. Most critically, a newly installed plug-in may paralyze the entire website due to faulty source code or code that is not compatible with your own system, for example if your site has a library missing, or the wrong PHP version is running. In this case, it makes sense to check after each update whether the website is still functioning. This can be done manually. It is important not only to take a closer look at the start page, but also at other page types. With WordPress, these page types are primarily posts, pages, category pages, tag pages and finally search results pages. If all these pages work perfectly, you can assume that nothing critical has been broken by the new plugin.
Even though you can do these checks manually, it is advisable to automate them. WordPress also automates plugin updates to make this step as easy as possible for the user.
So what happens if a plugin performs an update at night and this damages or ‘breaks’ the system? What if your site becomes unavailable for any reason when you are not online? In these cases, we recommend using a “simple” uptime monitoring solution. Uptime monitoring checks the availability of the WordPress site every minute. To make sure you pick up on all potential issues, use this to monitor not only the start page but all other relevant page types.
Again, 360 Monitoring is a highly recommended solution because it monitors up to five subpages for free. Perfect for a WordPress blog or simple website.
Monitoring Your Website
What is unfortunately too often forgotten in monitoring is the website itself. That is, not the substructure (application), but the HTML and everything that happens in the browser; in other words, everything your visitor actually sees. Here, too, many errors can happen that make a WordPress installation unusable for the user.
One classic issue involves SEO problems that prevent Google and other search engines from finding your website or offering, making it hard to attract visitors to the website. Another typical problem is slow websites that can put users off and make them leave the site again. Faulty websites give the user a sense of insecurity, and they might lose trust.
If you are concerned with dedicated SEO advice, tools like cPanel SEO, which continuously checks the website for errors that affect your ranking and inform you in time, are highly recommended. Fortunately, in the case of SEO errors, many of them don’t have an immediate effect, so you don’t have to react within minutes.
With poor speed, the situation is different as users immediately leave the website if they are not satisfied with the performance. Measuring speed is also not trivial. In most cases, uptime monitoring tools already measure the server speed, but this only accounts for a fraction of the speed that the user “feels”. In fact, most (90%) of what happens on modern websites occurs when the browser is rendering the site content. So, to measure the actual speed of your site, you have to test it with a browser using a scripting tool or via a monitoring agent, as it’s not easy to measure performance manually or via ‘fast’ tools.
The good news is that this feature is being worked on by the 360 Monitoring team and will be made available later this year. Watch this space!
Anyone who runs a professional website based on WordPress should monitor it to protect their business from monetary and technical failures. It is important to choose tools that already offer 360-degree tracking and that continuously protect your websites from failures.
Ready to start monitoring? To explore and compare the best monitoring tools on the market, check out our comparison article.