Do you own a web business? What if you are “missing” traffic because your website doesn’t resolve properly for some people around the world? A blank page, slow loading times, not getting emails or similar situations?
Maybe you never thought of visiting your own website, like your customers do? Maybe you should.
Today, I want to point out a few things that every website owner should do.
- Act like a customer and try to “find” your website. This may include visiting a search engine and typing a term that relates to your business (maybe even your business or brand name) and see if you can find your own website/business.
- Direct navigation is when a user types a domain name directly into the address bar of a web browser (the goal for business owners is to have customers do direct navigation). It seems simple but there are several ways someone may type a domain name into a web browser. You should try typing in your domain name at least two different ways: with and without www. on your domain name and make sure your website resolves correctly, each way. You should also do this in different web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari etc.)
- Send yourself an email. One from a PC and one from your mobile phone. Then view that email on your PC and again on mobile.
Did you make any typos on mobile? Did everything work and look okay? Could you find your site in search engines? Did your website resolve correctly? Was the website slow to resolve on web or mobile? Did it look proper on mobile?
These are all things that matter, and you acting and seeing things as a “customer” can help you improve your customer experience and potentially find problems.
Some of the best ways to discover problems is by using your business website like your customers do. This will involve testing and trying to find your site in multiple ways, because your customers use different web browsers & search engines, and will type your domain name differently:
DNS is an acronym for Domain Name System and it’s a complicated routing system that gets a web user and email from point A to point B, really quickly. Since DNS is complicated, there are several points that can cause problems for the person or email trying to get from point A to point B. How can you tell your DNS is working correctly?
The best way is to simulate a “look up” by sending a call to random DNS resolvers around the world. This can be done using a free tool: https://dnschecker.org/
Near the top left, you will want to type in your domain name of your website. Then select the record you want to check. The default record is called "A"
The "A" record should contain your websites IP Address, which tells the DNS system where your website is, to resolve it.
In general, the two main records that will matter the most are:
The A record should contain the IP Address of where your domain name will resolve to. While using the DNS Checker tool, the DNS resolvers around the world will try to connect to that IP address. If they do it properly, you will see a green checkmark. It is okay to see maybe one “fail” but if you see several red checkmarks, something isn’t working properly. You can type www.yourdomain.com and YourDomain.com as each may resolve differently based on how DNS records are set.
The MX record is your email. These should also resolve with a green checkmark like the A records if setup and functioning correctly. Do not type your domain name into the box with www. unless that is how your email works (most won’t be setup that way).
I have found several situations where I would see DNS Resolvers displaying errors on “some” locations. If this happens for you, do not ignore it just because your website may resolve properly for you. It may not for others around the world.
If you do see red checkmarks when using the DNSChecker tool mentioned above, you will have to speak with the service that controls the DNS and troubleshoot.
We all want to get 100% of the email and web traffic that is intended to come to us and it is in your best interest as the website owner to test it in real life and make sure that all systems are functioning properly.
I would suggest doing the search engine, browser checks and DNSChecker monthly. If you do it quarterly, It’s better than not doing it at all.