If you have a complex website, you probably already have had a disruption when an application was upgraded or such.
By complex, I mean your website depends on 3rd party applications to run properly. Many times the 3rd party does not adequately alert you to an upgrade or change. They often roll these things out quietly.
Which means updates that go wrong, can really be expensive if not caught right away. It happens all the time, so what to do?
This has to be done every day. Someone (a real person) has to do it. It cannot be outsourced to a monitoring service. No one can anticipate every possible scenario. This “routine” will detect many things that can go wrong online; whether that is a 3rd party app or a search engine problem (SEO) or your ad campaign. There are so many points of failure, we need a simple way to detect them all.
Now I know you don’t have an extra resources. I assume you do not have a person sitting around with nothing to do. Don’t panic, this is easy to do and integrate into your daily life.
(The person performing this routine must be local if its a local business. But this routine must be performed off-site. You just don’t want to be inside the location, but you also must be inside the local target market.)
Simple Secret Shopping
While having your morning coffee (or while at lunch), pretend you are shopping for your specific product/service, ideally, actual inventory that JUST arrived, and ideally is on the website for no more than a few days. (we need to see if Google is indexing inventory quickly). Also, ideally you should clear your browser cache first!
If your shopping path to that product is NOT PERFECTLY STRAIGHT-FORWARD, take screenshots.
Note: There are 2 possible shopping paths (maps if its a local business and organic search).
If the product is actually visible on the first page, or when you clicked-through on the ORGANIC listing you landed on that product page > PERFECT. Enjoy your coffee.
Things to note to debug and improve:
Did you see your ad? No ad > screenshot (time of day is important for ads)
If your website is not in the top organic/map spots > screenshot (who is the competition)
This routine will sell more – guaranteed, because you will eliminate hours of down-time that otherwise would have gone undetected. It will also help debug/refine your Ad Campaigns (which are often set-it-and-forget-it) and even improve your organic results (more clicks!). When you see competition ahead of you in organic results everyday, you might eventually get irritated enough to act! Do some SEO.