How to Monitor Website Changes?
Website monitoring

How to Monitor Website Changes?

Follow these 3 easy steps to save time by not having to refresh a page continuously and be alerted when a website changes.

Millions of internet users monitor important changes with website change detection tools. Be notified by email for changes in web-pages for free following these 3 easy steps.

Most internet users can remember a time when they hit the F9 button to refreshing a page continuously waiting for a ticket concert to become available, a university grade to be published or going to a website on a daily basis to check whether an out-of-stock item is finally restocked. From checking vacancies in the career pages of your favourite companies, to -ahem- stalking your ex-girlfriend (or kids) social media profiles, website change monitoring has become mainstream with the proliferation of easy to use free services and extensions like Visualping.

Website monitoring is nowadays also extensively used for business applications to keep tabs on your competition, track online reviews, receive information for trading applications, monitor changes in law, be alerted for software updates, news monitoring etc.

No matter the application, website change monitoring can be a valuable tool for anyone. The example below is for someone wanting to track changes in the Google Doodle.

Step 1: Type the URL of the page you want to track

Copy and paste or type the URL of the webpage you want to track into the appropriate field in the home page of Visualping and click Go. image

Step 2: Select the area you are interested in monitoring

Next you need to select the area of interest. This can any part of the page like an out of stock message, a news section or your competitor’s pricing and promotion section. Only the area selected will be the one monitored and the system will ignore any changes outside this selection. If you are interested in monitoring all the page, you can select “All page” in the “Screen” menu of the “Advanced” section or scroll down the area selection until the bottom of the page. image

Step 3: Type your email address

The change notification alerts will be sent to the email address of your choice. If this is the first time you use the system, it will create an account for you. You will need to click on a link sent to your email to verify the address is yours. The system will then ask you for a password in order to create an account and allow you to return at your convenience. image

The crawlers will check the area you selected every day and you will receive an email notification like the below when the system detects a change. The below shows the Google Doodle that appeared on December 9th.

The last step is to select the frequency of checks. This can be every 5 minutes, every hour, every day or every week. The crawlers will check the area you selected at a freqyency of your choice and you will receive an email notification when the system detects a change. The example below shows the Google Doodle that appeared on December 9th when the Google home page logo was replaced. image

When you create an account, you will enter your dashboard that lists all the pages you are tracking. The dashboard will allow you to change any of the settings, like the percentage of change that will trigger an email notification or actions to reduce false alerts for each of pages.

The email notifications will contain two links. The one on the left, “Access site”, will allow you to go directly to the page where the change was detected. The one on the right, “View Changes”, will allow you to access your dashboard and have a closer look at it if the screenshots contained in the email alert are not clear.

The system superposes both, the new and the old image, and allows the user to move the cursor from the left to the right in order to visualize the change better. The changes versus the previous screenshot are highlighted in red in the new screenshot.

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All the pages you are monitoring are listed in the left part of the dashboard. The right panel is divided in two sections. The bottom right section will list all the day and the time when then system has checked the page. The top right section will list all the dates and times when a change was detected as well as the percentage of change detected.

The dashboard will also allow you to change any of the settings, like the percentage of change that will trigger an email notification or actions to reduce false alerts for each of pages after having selected them.

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Optional: Advanced settings

Please refer to the FAQ for more advanced options to monitor pages after filling forms, click on buttons, enter passwords or use proxies to monitor a page from a different country other than the US.

The below is a non-exahustive list of the most popular advanced options. Please bare in mind that these actions can be compiled in the order in which they are set in the system:

  • Click: this option allows to click a button or a link on a page

  • Type: allows to enter a word or a phrase in a field

  • Block: this option blocks an element from appearing in a page and it is useful for preventing dynamic sections of the page such as ads, videos or sliders from loading and creating false alerts.

  • Selection: allows to select an option from a menu

  • Wait: this is a useful option to prevent a page that is slow to load from creating false alerts by triggering a change anytime it is partially loaded.

Enterprise options

There are also enterprise specific tools for business use cases covered in the Visualping for Business section.

Some parameters in the Advanced menu, such as “Text compare” allows, for example, to monitor the changes of text in a page. Unlike “Visual compare”, which analyzes pixels in screenshots, “Text compare” analyzes only the text present on the web page.

This is very useful for lawyers who want to be made aware of changes in laws and regulations when these are posted online and which are several pages long.

This option allows you to receive excerpts of text changes in the email: what has been added will be underlined in green and words that have been removed will be crossed out and underlined in red.

The change comparison system is different from “Visual compare”. Unlike superposed screenshots, the “Text compare” system allows the user to access the entire monitored page. Changes in the text will be underlined the same way as in the email: additions in green and removed and crossed out text will appear in red.

Other advanced options, based on the use of machine Learning are available to businesses in the Visualping for Business option. You can contact a sales representative for more details.

Serge Salager

Serge is a tech entrepreneur having founded two startups and formerly the CEO of publicly traded OneMove Technologies. He worked as a brand manager at Procter & Gamble and as an investor at Nestle’s Venture Fund.

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