Managing a website is a big job, so I’m always looking for ways to automate some of the routine tasks. Tasks like monitoring traffic and keeping an eye on your competition. Luckily there are services that can do a lot of that for us – and most are free! Here are the 5 I use and highly recommend you check out.
Pingdom.com is a service that measures site uptime. Every minute it will “ping” your site to make sure it is up. If it’s not, it’ll email or text message you to let you know about the downage. I know your site is reachable most of the time you’re on it, but you’d be surprised at how often it is down when you don’t notice it.
By knowing when your site is down, you can do two things. First, you’ll know how good your web host is. If they’re going down several times a month, it’s time to find a new host. A good uptime is 99.9% or better. Anything less than that is unacceptable. Second, you’ll be able to notify those important, ie update your status page, or inform your support team.
Don’t let your customers tell you that your site is down. You should know before anyone else.
Setup your Pingdom alerts now – they offer a free plan for 1 site.
2) Google Alerts
Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a program that was constantly scouring the web searching for new stuff you’re interested in? Well Google’s crawler (aka Googlebot) is always doing just that, you just need to tell it to inform you.
With Google Alerts, you specify a search term you’re interested in, and then Google will email you whenever it finds new results for that query. At a minimum, everyone should have an alert with their company name so they get notified every time someone is talking about you. But if you want to get sneaky, consider setting an alert for your competitors. You’ll know exactly what they’re up to, without looking like a stalker. Now that’s powerful.
Go setup your Google Alerts now – they’re totally free.
3) Google Analytics Traffic Alerts
You have Google Analytics installed on your site, right? Of course you do. Did you know it can alert you whenever a big change happens? For example, you can set it to email you when your unique visitors goes above 1,000 in a day.
I got an alert from this a few weeks ago on one of my niche websites. Turned out it had made the front page of Reddit. I instantly found the post on reddit and was able to comment and answer some questions as the creator. This was awesome because people enjoyed hearing from me, and I think my personal touch made it even more popular. Imagine if I had never know about this until a week later when I casually checked my stats?
Go set up your Google Analytics Alerts now – it’s under the Intelligence Events section.
4) If This Then That (IFTTT)
If This Then That is a web app that allows you to connect multiple services together to make your life easier through automation. You make recipes that are constructed of channels and triggers, and then specify an action when that condition is met.
For example, take the Twitter block and connect it to the Email block, setting a trigger on a specific hashtag, and you’ll get an email every time someone tweets with that topic. Take a look at all the channels available – incredible!
This is another mechanism to be notified whenever someone mentions you, your industry, or your competitors.
Create some IFTTT recipes now – and yes, it’s free too.
5) Brief Metrics
How often do you check your Google Analytics? When you’re first setting up a site, probably every day. But once you get busy and focus on other things, it’s common to not check it in months. That’s a huge mistake. You need to constantly be aware of how much traffic your site is getting, where it’s coming from, and what’s most popular. Google could hit you with an SEO penalty, or a forgotten page could start becoming your most popular – this is important!
That’s why I like Brief Metrics. It forces you to check your analytics by sending you a weekly email summarizing your stats. I know, call me lazy, but I enjoy getting things pushed to me instead of having to go out and pull them.
Brief Metrics is also cool because it’s run by a fellow sidestrapper Andrey Petrov. He’s a real smart, likeable guy, and I’m stoked to be doing an interview with him soon (will be posted in a week!)
Start your Brief Metrics trial now – you get 10 weeks free.
Did I miss any other automatic email reports that are awesome? Let me know what you’re using!