Still in the Halloween mood, thinking of scary stories and movies, we thought about things, which scare us to death. Apart from fear of failure, ghost stories, sleeping in the dark, and falling off a large cliff, some of us pointed out their online fears.

So, here is a list of the scariest things, which might happen online, and what’s even worse – on our sites.

1. Your site being down:

This could be considered the worst nightmare for people who make their living from their website. Whether, it is a blog, an online shop, or even bigger – online media, we know no site is immune to a major crash. Losses might also turn out quite significant, especially for sites with higher traffic. Examples of such popular sites, which have had a similar scary experience, are the downtime of the New York Times in August this year, and Google being offline for less than 5 minutes.

Reasons: There are so many reasons for your site to be down. The Most common reasons for my site to be down might be connectivity issues, missing content in core files etc. Many times, the issue is more obvious than it seems – external issues with your hosting provider.

What-to-do-now plan: If you have a 24/7 support, try contacting your hosting company. They should be the people to turn to in such cases and the ones to identify the exact causes of the outage. Figure out a way to communicate the issue to your potential visitors – social media has proven quite useful in such instances. Make sure you pause your online ads, so that you do not throw money down the sink by sending potential customers to nowhere.

2. Incredibly slow load time:

If you have an e-commerce site, slow load time might notably affect your online orders. If your site runs 5 seconds slower than the competition, that could mean considerable financial loss, which is directly proportional to the size of your online business. For example, Amazon.com found that with every 100 Ms of load time, there was a 1% decrease in sales.

Reasons: Many reasons for your site to load more slowly are related to the content in it and the execution of the script(s) it uses. The most common reason, put mildly, is that your hosting provider isn’t the best. For a more comprehensive explanation of website slow time, you might want to check: Why my website loads slowly?

What-to-do-now plan: Talk to your hosting provider, who should best know whether the reason is internal (in them) or external (for example, one or more of their internet providers failed delivering proper service). They should be able to give you the best advice on what to do next, and whether there is any need of content optimization. If, in the end of the day, your site continues to be slow, you might try transferring your site some place faster. Some hosting companies do offer transferring your site and database completely free of charge.

3. Being spotted by hackers:

Attacks performed by hackers are random, painful, emotional and quite costly in most occasions. There might have been a security hole on the server your site resides, on the software your site is built on or any other vulnerability in the configuration that the hackers might use to get in. In 99% of the cases, the issue is caused by outdated software (WordPress, Joomla, etc), specifics of which are used by bad-minded ones to break in.

Reasons: Protecting your site from hack attacks may require considerable amount of development work. There are many causes increasing your site’s vulnerability and making it attractive to hack attacks. Some of them include, having an old version of a script (e.g. WordPress, Joomla), not having updated other components of your web site, not having updated templates.

What-to-do-now plan: The best thing to do in this case is protect yourself before you get ‘burned’. Having your site well secured is one of the main factors to consider when choosing your next web hosting provider. Choosing a good provider who knows how to secure their servers professionally is key to having a good night’s sleep for the next few years. Taking the prevention of hack attacks aside, and considering your site did get hacked after all, the best thing to do is get help from your hosting provider and your in-house developer, if you have one. Most important, in fighting random hack atacks is to keep your software always up to date. People developing software are usually one step ahead of the hackers – if they have released a new update for your software, there is no good reason for waiting – go ahead and install it. You should keep an eye regularly on that. Change all your passwords, go offline, so that your customers are not negatively affected by the attack, find a way to communicate the issue to your customers, and pray!

4. Huge bounce rate:

Your site is great, or at least you think so, but at some point of time, you notice a high percentage of your visitors leaving it, as if there is some type of plague inside.

Reasons: There are many reasons for an increase in bounce rate, and most of them have to do with the internal organization of your site –in terms of content and design. If your web design is cluttered, the site is not user-friendly, and the user at a first glance does not perceive your content valuable – they leave. Looking at it in a more abstract way, those reasons are just the same as a person leaving a shop – if the visitor does not feel comfortable skimming through it, and does not find interesting stock – they leave. There might also be some marketing and external reasons, such as irrelevant ads bringing people to your site, wrong keyword selection etc.

What-to-do-now plan: Re-think, re-design, and re-imagine your whole website concept. If the trend is ongoing, that means you should pay considerable attention to how you present yourself in the online world.

5. Software issues:

You have been playing around with the back-end of your site lately, installing plug-ins and themes, there was an update to the script that you wanted to install, and suddenly – bang! You get this internal error and your site refuses to load.

Reasons: Often, if we are not so tech savvy, but still have faith in ourselves, we try dealing with the back-end of our sites, all by ourselves. Sometimes it works, but sometimes, well – it doesn’t. There are a few occasions though, that it might really be a script issue or a combination of poor hosting and script error.

What-to-do-now plan: Communicate the issue with your host. Be as precise as possible, send screenshots of the errors you get, if necessary. Your hosting provider should be professional enough to investigate the issue and help you solve it quickly.  To go safer in the future, ask your hosting provider to create a sandbox copy of your website, so you can experiment changes there. Also – do not ever forget to take backup copies of your website. Your provider surely does, you just have to make sure they are as timely as possible. Having a backup each day is a good practice for your databases, having a backup each week is a good practice for your files. Of course, it all depends on how frequently you change them.

6. Google ban of your site:

Only the thought of Google banning their sites, makes some people recollect the back-in-school days, when the teacher punished them in front of everyone by the black board. Being banned by Google is not such a frequent event, but when it happens, it basically means that your site is out of Google’s index.

Reasons: There are many reasons why Google might decide they don’t like you. This can happen if Google decides that your site does not meet Google’s quality guidelines, or worse, that your site distracts users’ ability to locate relevant information. Speaking more technically, if you have been cloaking, or, in other words, designing your site, so that search engines see one thing and the visitors another, you are risking getting on Google’s nerves. Other reasons for being punished by Google are using keywords irrelevant to your content, duplicating content, or having a robot write your site.

What-to-do-now plan: You might want to create a Google Webmaster account, where there will usually be information about the reasons why your site got banned. Once you register a Google Webmaster account, you may request to be whitelist-ed. Resurrecting your site and bringing it back to Google’s attention is a slow and tedious process. So, good luck with it!

If you have experienced at least two of those issues, it might mean you desperately need a new hosting provider. The tech support in TMDHosting, would make sure you do not have a scary experience. You might want to give us a try and make use of our special SPOOKY code by the 6th of November for a 10% discount of your next hosting plan with TMDHosting.