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What is Website Change Monitoring Software?

Website Change Monitoring Software Defined

Many internet users are familiar with the frustrations of manually checking an entire webpage for changes, only to find that there were no updates. Thankfully there is a time saving solution that automates this process. Website-change monitoring software, also called Change Detection and Notification (CDN) systems, automatically notifies the user when a change has occurred on the website that is being monitored. These tools use web crawlers to scan a website, periodically, for any changes.

Most web pages on the internet are dynamic and change frequently. “New content gets added to webpages, and existing content gets updated or deleted. Hence, people find it useful to be alert for changes in webpages that contain information that is of value to them. In the current context, keeping track of these webpages and getting alerts about different changes have become significantly challenging. Change Detection and Notification systems were introduced to automate this monitoring process and to notify users when changes occur in webpages.”

One issue with this type of software is receiving a false positive. This can come about because ads or feeds in the monitored web page periodically change. But, of course, most users are interested in changes to the main content, not the advertisements. One solution is creating a benchmark of distinction between two versions of a page and then ignoring changes below a certain threshold. Another possible remedy is to extract certain content from “useless” content using various methods, for example: selecting a sub-tree of the Document Object Model, by using XPath.

Website-change monitoring software can be grouped into two architectural approaches:

Server based: Using the internet, a server checks webpage content, tracks changes then records the data and sends a notification to the user. Regardless of the central computer’s location, this scenario allows users to enter and/or access data from anywhere. This approach is easier for collaboration.

Client based: Not dependent on the internet, a client-based application checks, tracks and logs content data from a local device. These clients share stored data from a local server for one or more users. This approach is usually more affordable.

Reasons to Use Website Change Monitoring Software

There are many reasons why someone would want to monitor website changes. Here at Doakio, we use it extensively to keep our research publications up-to-date. Some other specific reasons include:

  • Improve various automations
  • Reduce link death
  • Discover trends
  • Improve various employment classifications
  • Update documentation
  • To “keep tabs” on competitors
  • Investigation monitoring
  • To check website compliance

A Bit of History

Before the advent of website-change monitoring software, users had to manually check websites by revisiting them periodically. Here are a few notable events:

1996 – NetMind Technologies developed Mind-it (detected changes and sent notifications). 

1999 – ChangeDetection service was created.

2002 – Development of ChangeDetect service.

2003 – Google Alerts service was created.

2007 – Versionista was created; later used by a U.S. presidential campaign.

Most Prominent Features of Website Change Monitoring Software

According to Doakio’s comprehensive research on website-change monitoring tools, we’ve come up with an ordered list of the most common features:

  • Sends Email Notifications – Sends monitored reports through email.
  • Monitoring from Cloud – Monitors web-page content change, over the internet.
  • Preview Page and Select HTML/JavaScript/CSS – Able to preview a page to monitor as well as selecting the page's CSS code.
  • Flexible Scheduling – Ability to schedule monitoring at a convenient time.
  • Element or Area Selection – Ability to monitor just a page area or an element.
  • Highlights Changes – Highlights parts of the web page that have been changed.
  • Change History / Archive – Stores and archives page changes.
  • Monitoring from Local Machine – Monitors web-page content change locally. Not dependent on servers used over the internet.
  • Ignores Page Parts – Ability to ignore parts of pages such as blank spaces, pop-ups, ads, etc.
  • Application Programming Interface – Assists web-page monitoring, to automate the process.
  • Export Monitors – Monitors and their associated profiles can be exported using a common file format.
  • Browser Extension Available – Provides a browser extension that monitors web-page content.
  • Monitors Password Protected Pages – Able to monitor web-pages that have password protection..
  • Sends Push Notifications – Sends monitored reports through push notifications.
  • Removes Ads, etc., That Block Page – Removes pop-ups, ads, or elements that are blocking the page.
  • Cloud Storage – Stores the monitored change result to cloud servers.
  • Mobile App – Provides a mobile application version of the tool.
  • Sends SMS Notifications – Sends monitored reports through SMS or text.

Popular Website Change Monitoring Software

According to our related research on website change monitoring tools, these are the most popular:

  1. Distill.io
  2. Visualping
  3. WebSite-Watcher
  4. OnWebChange
  5. Sken.io
  6. ContentKing
  7. Wachete
  8. ChangeTower
  9. Apify Content Checker
  10. WebChangeMonitor
  11. Deep Dive Duck
  12. Pagecrawl.io
  13. Hexowatch

To find a knowledge-base software tool that fits your needs, simply complete our custom website-change monitoring tools survey that allows you to input your own importance rating for each feature.

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