SpringTrax launched just over a year ago in June of 2013. Over the last year, SpringTrax has helped uncover thousands of 404 errors that companies didn't know existed on their website. Even better, SpringTrax has helped recover the customers those companies were losing because of those not found errors.
In the process of finding and fixing all of those errors, we have collected a lot of data. As we look over all of that data, which numbers matter the most? When you get right down to it, there are really four specific numbers that you need to know about your website's errors.
Knowing these four numbers for your website helps you uncover hidden problems and gauge the importance of the problems. The changes we have made to the core product over the last year have focused on making these numbers more prominent. Because, ultimately, you need to know these numbers to really know how errors affect your website and your business.
Most people have at least a rough sense of how many visitors reach their website in general. That is great. If you run a website, you should know this number.
How many visitors encounter an error when visiting your site? Very few people are even aware that errors might exist on their website. Fewer still are aware how many visitors encounter those errors.
If pressed, many people will say that hardly anybody encounters on their site. More than once, we've heard: "There aren't any errors on my website!"
Unfortunately, almost everybody who has used SpringTrax has found that dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people encounter errors on their website every week. As soon as you realize how many of your visitors might encounter an error, it becomes easier to see the way errors impact your website's performance. It also becomes easier to prioritize the time required to fix those errors.
The number of people who reach an error is important to know. However, the more important number to pay attention to is how many people left your website because of the errors. This number tells you how errors affected your business. In other words, every person who leaves is a potential customer walking out of your online store. How many potential customers walked out of your online store?
Not surprisingly, almost everybody who encounters an error on your website will leave your website. Why wouldn't they leave? Your website returned an error to that visitor and, in doing so, let that visitor down. So, of course the visitor leaves to find another website that doesn't contain errors. Chances are you've done this on plenty of websites you have visited.
This loss of potential customers can mean real money lost. Think of it this way, what is one customer worth to your business? Once you factor in referrals you might have gotten and repeat orders from that customer, the loss of one customer is significant. Can you afford the loss?
Most of the people using SpringTrax have realized they can't afford the loss. You won't know what you are losing unless you track the number of people who reach an error then leave your website.
The next question is what exactly are those errors that people encounter on your website. When it comes to not found errors, most people think--at most--they are going to have one, maybe two errors on their website.
On average, though, people have dozens of errors (or more) that affect their website visitors every day. The larger your website and the older your website, the more errors you are likely to have.
Knowing how many errors are affecting your visitors helps you gauge how big a problem you've got. The more errors people can encounter, the greater the chances that people will encounter an error on your website.
Finally, you need to know how many different sources led people to not found error pages on your website. Other broken link check tools only look at one source that leads people to error pages (errors resulting from broken links contained on your website). That is an important source to look at. But, that particular source only accounts for 15-20% or so of the errors people will encounter.
Where do the rest of the people find errors? The majority of people reach 404 errors after clicking on broken links somewhere other than your website. For instance, visitors might click on an old bookmark that leads them to an error page. Or, visitors might click on a broken links on another website that leads them to an error on your website.
You need to know how many different ways people found errors so that you fully understand how widespread the errors are. Did a dozen other websites send people to errors on your website or did hundreds of other websites send people to errors on your website? The more sources you have leading people to error pages on your website, then there is a greater chance visitors will encounter errors and leave your website because of those errors.