How to keep your e-commerce site running smooth

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If you are like a lot of businesses on the internet; you most likely run multiple e-commerce websites perhaps even on multiple platforms; this can become very tedious, even quite frustrating to maintain on a routine basis. So here’s a quick list to keep in mind.

Sitemaps

Sitemaps are a key component in helping assist search engine robots in their automatic crawls of your website; giving you the ability to simply list out all of your pages and even set priorities and how often these pages are updated.

It is very important to monitor all of your sitemaps; including automatically generated sitemaps for potential issues; such as pages that have moved, no longer exist and for typographical errors too. This will also keep accidental non-production pages from getting indexed.

If you utilize Google Webmasters; it provides very detailed information including 404 errors, sitemap problems, and other errors it may have encountered with in your websites.

Google Products Submission

Hopefully if you sell products on your sites, you are submitting your product feeds to Google Products (Google Merchants), as this increases your potential audience for sale conversions.

As with sitemaps, it is also extremely important that everything is accurate, including but not limited to: Product Name, Brand, SKU, Pricing, Free Shipping Indication and the Product’s Picture.

Having this information be accurate and perhaps even automatically routinely submitted (updated in Google Products); is an excellent way to maintain both your products accuracy in the system and lower your sites bounce rate.

Server Error Logs

This is the most common overlooked item; your website may appear to be functioning properly without any issues; however, it is a very good practice to keep an eye on your systems multiple error logs.

These can include:

  • Web Server (Web Hosting)
  • Programming Language (PHP, ASP, etc)
  • Server (Operating System)
  • Pages not found (Do 404’s Hurt My Site?)

Try to make it part of your monthly, perhaps weekly routine to check these files, as they can be big indicators if something, big or small, is potentially causing an issue, you can also keep an eye on security by monitoring these files too.

Security Practices

When running multiple e-commerce sites, it can be a big hassle to truly stay on top of best practices for keeping your customers information safe guarded; one of the biggest items is not changing your important passwords often.

As noted in A Major Security Risk – Your Password, your password is more often than not, the only thing keeping potential security breaches from taking place, the more often your important account passwords are changed; and the stronger your passwords are, the better.

It is highly recommended to use a service such as LastPass to keep these strong, not usually memorable passwords stored in a secure location that you can access; however keep in mind, to make your LastPass account password something you can memorize; but still be strong too.

Backups

In conclusion, another absolute must have is routine backups of your websites files, including any databases and email accounts. You can never have too many backups and in multiple locations; at the very least you should be making weekly backups of everything.

The reason behind having backups in multiple locations, even on local media; such as unplugged hard drives or even DVDs, is that even big corporations such as Amazon can suffer data loss when unexpected things go wrong; never trust a single backup solution!

It is also important to test your backup system, if something happened to your hosting provider, or a server of yours; would you be ready? Would your backup system work properly? Test a restore!  While testing restoring a partial or full backup; be sure to note important items.

These items should include: That every file was successfully restored, databases restored properly, emails exist, also note how long the restore took; as this is potentially how long your website would be down at the very minimum during such a situation.

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