The end result of any business or monetized website is to make money. To make money, that website needs to attract users who will eventually convert. To increase the chances of conversions, that website needs more traffic. Everything else – SEO, social media, PPC ads, all of it – is about building up that traffic.
There are any number of reasons why your site may not be attracting the traffic it deserves, or at least the traffic you want. Here are 15 of the most prevalent and easiest to fix reasons.
If you don’t care about your topic, it’s going to show in your writing. Everything you post will be superficial, you’ll have nothing of real value to show and your schedule will be listless. It will look like you’re doing it for the potential money, not for the love of the job, and it shows. Users will feel that rote lack of passion and will fail to drum up their own interest. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to start feeling passionate about your niche. The best you can do is outsource your content to someone who is.
One key to a powerful site is a deep focus on a certain subject. Microniche blogs and highly focused stores with only a few products are the way to go if you want to compete against the likes of Amazon or other big chains; stores that have the power to out-do you in selection, shipping and support. A focused niche allows you to dig deep into content, providing value where other sites do not; a niche that’s too broad will leave holes you can’t fill with your content. Either you cover everything superficially, or you ignore parts of your niche in favor of detailed coverage in other areas. Remember, you can always broaden your niche later, if your audience calls for it.
This is a problem a lot of B2B suppliers for relatively boring subjects have. For example, how much interest is there, really, in valves for industrial applications? Sure, a few businesses will likely invest in buying valves, but there isn’t all that much in valve technology to report on daily. Your audience is incredibly small, and it’s not a subject you can drum up interest in from the general consumer. Some topics just naturally suffer from small audiences, and there’s not a lot you can do about it unless you broaden your business.
There are a lot of ways your website design can fall flat. Maybe it’s using frames, animated gifs, tiny text or other trends from a decade ago. Maybe it’s designed in Flash for interactivity at the expense of usability. Maybe it’s filled with clashing, flashing colors and animated text. If users visit your site and find it looks like something that hasn’t changed since 1995, they aren’t going to have a lot of confidence that you know the needs of the modern user.
The field of user experience optimization exists for a reason. You need to make sure users can navigate your site easily. This is why a lot of websites have standard design elements, like a logo in the corner that links to a homepage, a top or side bar navigation, a footer with useful links and other such standard elements. You need to spend time with heatmaps and user tracking software, or else hire a user experience contractor to analyze and optimize your site.
In the current search paradigm, content is king. Google promotes sites that provide value to their users. The best way to provide value is by publishing content. Typical advice holds that you should publish new blog posts at minimum three times per week, and many webmasters advise daily content drops. Unfortunately, none of this takes into consideration the quality if the writing. You can have deep, valuable content, but if your writing sucks, you’re doing yourself no favors. This is why it’s generally beneficial to hire talented writers.
This can happen with PPC, affiliate marketing and other forms of advertising, but it’s most common for social media. For example, if you’re a business selling shoes, you can do pretty well on a fashion-oriented Pinterest or Instagram site. On the other hand, if you’re selling a piece of blogging software, you’re not going to attract the same attention. Finding the right audience is imperative; if you’re advertising to the wrong people, no one is going to convert.
This is a trap that many small businesses with local physical locations fall into. They focus so much of their time on their print/television/radio advertising that they forget about their website. They have one, of course – it’s suicide not to in this modern age. The problem is, they just don’t maintain it. Many small businesses don’t even have a blog. If you’re ignoring your site, all the advertising in the world won’t help you. Users visit and find nothing they want to see.
The other side of the coin exists as well. You can spent all of your time developing your site and writing detailed content, but if you’re not promoting your site, you’re not going to let people know about the value you have. There are good reasons not to advertise, but there are many more good reasons to put yourself out there.
Linking out to other sites does two things for you. First, it gains the attention of the other site. They’ll see a new backlink and they’ll come to check it out, primarily to make sure it’s not something they should disavow. When they see your content is useful, they’re likely to keep your site in mind for future links. Second, it shows your users you’re not writing in a vacuum. Links to other sites as sources prove that you keep the wider industry in mind. Don’t worry about sending traffic from your site away; those users will almost invariably come back.
The point in the previous tip, about gaining the attention of other bloggers? That’s incredibly important. You can gain a lot of benefit from linking to other blogs, but you can take it one step further. Contact those bloggers. Ask about guest posting, either their writers on your site or your writers on theirs. Ask about interviews, to build mutual authority. Cite each other as sources and play off each other’s content. You can share audiences and build traffic both ways.
Building an audience takes time. It might take months to rise beyond fifty monthly visitors. You can run PPC campaigns for a quick infusion, or you can buy temporary traffic, but they’re just that; temporary. Building consistent, ongoing traffic is a time-consuming affair. If you’re expecting to skyrocket in traffic in just a few months, you’re going to be disappointed. The only thing you can do about this, of course, is adjust your expectations.
Are you sure you have no traffic? It’s always possible, albeit unlikely, that something went wrong with your analytics software and it’s just not recording all of your traffic. On the other hand, other issues might be causing users to leave, even if they want to see your content. If your pages don’t load, your links are broken or your formatting sucks, they aren’t going to stick around to experiment. There’s also the chance that you’re accidentally blocking search indexers, keeping your site out of the search results entirely.
If a user visits your site and sees a top bar advertisement, a sidebar advertisement, a footer advertisement, a banner in the middle of your text, a text link to your product page, an end of article call to action and a flashing button on your navigation bar, they’re going to be turned off. Obviously, you’re trying too hard to monetize your site; as far as they’re concerned, you’re treating them as nothing more than a mobile ATM. Cut back on your ads and focus on the content; a single call to action and a visible navigation button should be all you need.
The opposite is also surprisingly common. It’s easy to spend so much time creating content and working on building industry relationships that users forget you’re even selling anything. If you can look at any random page on your site and not see a link to your store, a call to action or some form of advertising, you’re doing it wrong. After all, if a user doesn’t know you’re selling a product, they won’t be interested in buying.
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