10 Reasons Your Site Isn’t Getting Enough Traffic (and How To Fix Each)

  • March 23, 2010 by Corbett Barr
  • 46 Comments

Is your site not getting as much traffic as you had hoped or planned for? You’re not alone. Attracting visitors is easily the least understood aspect of building websites among new site and blog owners.

Here’s a list of 10 common reasons why sites don’t get enough traffic to help you diagnose the problem. One or more of these might apply to your site. If it does, also check out the suggestions below for “how to fix it.”

  1. Reason: you don’t care enough about the topic.

    People talk a lot lately about the importance of passion in being successful, for good reason. If you aren’t passionate about the topic or niche your site is about, there’s a good chance you won’t (or won’t be able to) put in the effort needed to make your site popular. The fact that a need isn’t being addressed in a marketplace is a great start for a business, but caring about the subject is the other half of making it big.

    How to fix it: Can you make yourself care more about the topic somehow? It’s possible. If you can’t do that, consider focusing on a different aspect of the topic, or changing subjects altogether. It’s better to take the hit now than spend a year or more struggling to stay engaged.

  2. Reason: you picked a topic too broad.

    This is a big misunderstanding about building successful websites that I see many budding entrepreneurs struggle with. It may sound counter-intuitive at first, but you’ll actually have an easier time creating a popular site by focusing on a narrower topic (at least at first). That’s because you’ll have less competition, and you’ll make stronger connections with your customers or readers. Later when your site becomes popular, you can expand the topic if it makes sense.

    How to fix it: focus! Don’t start so small that your target audience is 1000 people worldwide, but stay away from master-level topics. This is niche marketing 101. For example, instead of building a site about board games, build one about games parents can play with their kids, or board games for lovers or games for increasing memory. The point is to narrow things down a bit to give your business a chance at reaching potential customers.

  3. Reason: you picked a topic no one else cares about.

    The flip side of choosing a narrow (but interesting) topic is choosing something that nobody gives a crap about. If your topic is boring, even if it’s a necessary one, it will be hard to attract visitors.

    How to fix it: some potentially boring topics can be made interesting just by presenting it with humor or attitude. Other topics might just be doomed to being unpopular no matter what. In that case, you might be better off bailing on it altogether if your goal is to build something popular.

  4. Reason: your design is turning visitors off.

    It is possible to build a popular site with a really awful design, but not easy. If your site is cluttered, ugly, hard on the eyes or just bad, you are probably losing visitors that you shouldn’t be.

    How to fix it: A great design doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Check out design theme sites like ThemeForest for professional site or WordPress designs starting at around $10.

  5. Reason: you haven’t given it enough time.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are popular websites. The notion of an overnight success is usually wrong and harmful to people just starting out. Don’t count on building big traffic to your site in less than 6 months. I heard Darren Rowse of Problogger say in a recent interview that he usually doesn’t see a site take off for 12-18 months.

    How to fix it: if you were hoping to be an overnight success (or to build something big in less than six months), you might want to examine your motives. You could eventually have a success on your hands if you just give it more time.

  6. Reason: your content isn’t useful or interesting.

    To attract visitors to your site, above all else you need to be either useful or interesting. If you’re not one or the other, you don’t stand a chance at building a high-traffic site.

    How to fix it: put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. If you didn’t know the person behind your site, would you visit and stick around? What problem do you solve, and how do you uniquely solve it? If you can’t immediately answer those questions, it’s time to do a little soul-searching.

  7. Reason: you’re relying on the wrong traffic sources.

    Some sites are better suited to certain traffic sources than others. Social media might be right for your site, but advertising might be better for another. The same goes for search traffic, guest posting on blogs, focusing on Digg or StumbleUpon and link bait. What’s right for your site depends on different things, but if what you’re relying on isn’t working, you might want to try another avenue.

    How to fix it: if you’ve been working to get traffic from a particular source for more than a couple of months without results, it’s time to switch it up. Spend a little time research the pros and cons of different traffic sources before you spend time pursuing one. I’ll be writing more on that topic here in the near future.

  8. Reason: you aren’t spending enough effort on the site.

    Building traffic takes effort, there’s no getting around that. If you’re wondering what separates your” ghost town” site from others that attract hundreds or thousands of visitors a day, a big part of it probably just comes down to good old fashioned work.

    How to fix it: how badly do you want that traffic? Since there isn’t any magic (that I know of) that can bring traffic your way for nothing, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves. How much work will be required? That depends on your goal, but keep in mind that successful bloggers often worked at building their blogs nearly full time for a year or two to get the results they were after.

  9. Reason: you focus too much on content and not enough on promotion.

    The biggest misunderstanding about building websites (or businesses for that matter) is that if you build something really great, you will naturally get visitors/customers/readers. There are the rare cases where word-of-mouth is all it takes to make a site popular, but don’t count on it. To guarantee visitors to your site, you need to create great content and actively promote it.

    How to fix it: if you aren’t currently spending any time on promotion, start dedicating 50% of your effort to promoting your site now. Promotional activities include building links to your site, connecting with people on social media, executing advertising campaigns and search engine optimization to name a few.

  10. Reason: you haven’t been reading this blog.

    OK, that one might seem a little self-serving on my part, however there is some truth to it. You don’t necessarily have to read this blog, but to build traffic to your site, you do need to study some traffic-building techniques.

    How to fix it: Pay attention to what other successful people have done to build popular sites. Put some time in your schedule for regular learning in addition to your content and promotion tasks. It will pay off as a multiplier on your efforts.

What do you think? What are some other reasons a site might not get enough traffic? Please share in the comments!

Subscribe to Think Traffic for more tips and strategies to help you build a high-traffic site.

photo by HVargas

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Heather Villa March 23, 2010 at 2:54 am

I think this will fit in one or more of your categories here – SEO and Usability. Both of these are important and getting an analysis from a qualified specialist isn’t all that expensive. Implementing might be another matter, but good SEO and usability helps to increase search ranking and from there – traffic.

Corbett Barr March 23, 2010 at 9:16 am

Hi Heather, thanks for the suggestion. I agree, usability is important for every site, although I tend to consider it along with design. SEO can be an important traffic source, depending on your goals and topic. I recommend that site builders and bloggers get at least a basic understanding of SEO, even though many will decide not to focus on it.

Experimently March 23, 2010 at 5:14 am

I think one of the things bloggers that just started struggle with is finding a good topic to blog about. It’s the impression I get from my own new blog, I had and still have some trouble finding a good topic. It’s really hard to blog about the same topic day in day out, you need some change (at least I need that). You need something original that you can’t really find anywhere else, that will get you readers.

Corbett Barr March 23, 2010 at 9:28 am

Although if a topic is too original, people might not take the time to learn what it’s all about. A new angle on a (somewhat) familiar topic might be a better approach. Or, relating your original topic to something people already know might help.

rayl14 March 23, 2010 at 7:47 am

wow! great stuff corbett. i am very new to this lifestyle design stuff and fell upon this website after going to your freepursuits website. you have really inspired me to get moving in starting my own lifestyle design website and offering similar services like coaching and consulting. i have been doing it for almost 5 years now making six figures doing what i want only 4 days a week and having the rest of the week doing what makes me happy. i never really thought about making a website from it and trying to monetize it, but now i think i will. extra income baby. thanks for the great advice on this post. i will post my website in the next few months so you can check it out

Corbett Barr March 23, 2010 at 9:29 am

Keep us posted!

The Christian Heretic March 23, 2010 at 8:15 am

Numbers 5 and 8 are so true.

When I started my blog a few years back I sometimes only wrote once a month (though in my first month I posted 14 entries – I probably should have spaced those out a little) but I got plenty of traffic. In the last couple years, however, I wrote next to nothing due to burnout at my day job and of course my traffic dropped to almost nothing. A few simple posts this month (and leaving links in some of the communities I’m a part of) and my traffic seems to be (slowly) building again. My goal is to leave the day job behind and become a full-time writer one of these days so I’ll need to keep up the work.

Great new site here, by the way. I’ve been enjoying your Free Pursuits blog for a while, and this is a nice addition to your portfolio.

Corbett Barr March 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

If readers sense that you’ve abandoned a blog, they will usually stop visiting too (unless your content is well indexed by the search engines or so valuable that people constantly refer back to it).

Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you like the new site. It’s been really fun putting it together so far.

Jason March 23, 2010 at 9:15 am

Corbett, I can’t agree more with #1. You need to be passionate about your subject. If you don’t want to talk about your subject 24/7 on your own blog, with others in social media, on other blogs, and forums then your blog is going to dwell in obscurity and your lack of passion will show in your content.

I’m relaunching a project in ~month or two about something I absolutely love. It’s something that I could discuss every day so I know it will be easy to work on it. And if you’re passionate, it’s not really work!

Corbett Barr March 23, 2010 at 9:25 am

Congrats on the new project, Jason. Sometimes it’s best to start clean. Hopefully your passion will give you the results you’re looking for.

Carmen March 23, 2010 at 11:28 am

Hey Corbett,
Nice stuff here. Is this a new site for you? I’m so used to Free Pursuits and didn’t know you had this site as well.

Corbett Barr March 23, 2010 at 11:56 am

Yeah, just launched last week! I know, maintaining two blogs might be crazy, but I just have so much fun with it.

Srinivas Rao March 24, 2010 at 9:19 am

Corbett,

You’ve made alot of excellent points here. The first of “not caring” about your topic is really an important one. I think that you’ll only succeed with it if you enjoy what you are writing about. Basically, you’d have to be interesting in writing about your subject even if nobody was reading your blog, which I know is a bit counter to the point of this post.

On the subject of time, after 8 months I’ve realize that there really is no such thing as overnight success. That’s what most early stage bloggers fail to realize. They don’t see all the work that went into where somebody who has been at for 2 years put in.

Sources of Traffic: I’ve become a huge believe in quality over quantity when it comes to everything in social media (twitter, Facebook, etc etc). I think that stick traffic is really important. I think that when you take care of your existing customers/readers they are more likely to refer new ones.

Also we’ll have to interview you at BlogcastFM because I’m eager to hear your whole story :)

Corbett Barr March 25, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Thanks for the perspective, Srinivas. I agree that people jump into blogging as if it’s going to make them rich in 3 months. That’s just not the case. It is still really worthwhile, but it helps a lot to start with the right expectations.

Jeremy Victor March 24, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Corbett,

To point number 9 – I have a question relative to Blogrolls. What is proper ettiquette, is it inappropriate to ask someone to add your blog to their blogroll (if you have a relationship with them)? I’m not talking about spamming random people, but people who you have met through social media channels.

Corbett Barr March 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Hi Jeremy, I personally never ask someone to add me to a blogroll. It happens naturally if you have a site that is worth linking to.

If you know someone well enough, I suppose you could ask, but it might put the relationship in an awkward position. I have noticed that many people seem to reciprocate blogroll links if your site is of similar quality/size.

Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot March 25, 2010 at 1:53 am

Well, at least there are only 10 reasons. I think it took me a while to discover the best traffic sources – well, any traffic sources at all:) But guest posting seems to work a treat and now I’m exploring social media more thoroughly too:)

Corbett Barr March 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Congrats on finding something that works, Annabel. Let us know if social media works for you as well.

Ed March 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm

great post. i like your writing style. also your points and fixes are perfect for a noob like me.

Corbett Barr March 26, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Thanks, Ed!

Richard Scott | Jewelry Secrets March 28, 2010 at 11:54 am

Great list. I’ll have to work on #10 more now that I’ve started coming here. I think you did a good job with these. Loss of interest is a huge one. A topic always seems interesting until you get it going, then realize that it meant nothing to you and it dwindles away. Passion is the key. Passion and knowledge about a topic. I like the comments as well, good points there.

Corbett Barr March 30, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Hey Richard, glad you’re starting to work on #10. I hope we can help!

Samiullah March 29, 2010 at 9:53 am

What a great article! I am facing the problem expressed in Reason 2. I am confused what to do.

I have started a new site and made a lot of categories and sections in it. Posting Content in all of the sections is difficult and time consuming. But I think a lot of categories and topics bring more traffic to your site because the more keywords you have, the more will be the audience. Is this true??

My site has Money, Webmasters, Computers & Free Stuff sections each with 2 sub-sections. When I started building it, my idea was to only setup the “Money” section and its two sub-sections, but I thought that it will limit my site’s traffic so I added the other sections also. I am very confused what to do. Please give me some sugestions if possible.

Thanks
Khan

Corbett Barr March 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Hi Khan, are you trying to get traffic from search engines? If so, you should focus your site around a central topic. If you have too many different topics, the engines probably won’t know what your site is about, and won’t send you much traffic (unless you cover obscure topics).

Ryan Michael March 29, 2010 at 5:47 pm

As I read through this article, it really dawned on me that most of the items you discussed are geared toward knowing your audience. I’ve read articles that discuss in length the importance of narrowing down a topic so that your audience can pinpoint what you are about, and have expectations of the site for when they return. In conjunction with this, I agree completely with what Srinivas Rao said – you can’t plan on overnight success. Pick something and stick with it, and your audience will build. I’d rather have slow, steady growth than a huge increase followed by a sharp drop off. Thanks for this very useful information!

Corbett Barr March 30, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Cheers, Ryan. You’re right about the importance of knowing your audience (or more importantly making sure your audience knows what your site is all about). Counter-intuitively, narrowing down your topic can help you grow faster at first.

Ricky March 29, 2010 at 10:15 pm

To be frank my first blog failed miserably.Later I realized that I suck at onpage optimization as well as social networking. Sometime people do present good content but due to lack of SEO knowledge and social networking skill they don’t get enough traffic.
Content is always a king but without SEO content can not survive. Thanks for the great write up. Point 9 was my mistake and point 10 has already been solved :)

Corbett Barr March 30, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Hi Ricky! I wouldn’t say that SEO is required to build a popular site. There are plenty of examples of sites that didn’t focus on SEO at all and still attracted big traffic. What I would say is that promotion (whether it be search marketing, social media, advertising, speaking at conferences, etc.) is imperative.

sportingbucks March 30, 2010 at 6:41 am

Its coincident to find this great blog, I figured your tips to raise the traffic and apparently give me some confidence about it. thanks !

mk akan June 16, 2010 at 9:16 am

blog or blog post promotion is a serious matter. most bloggers focus on content only.
it is not wrong but content without promotion will have less exposure.
and unknown great content is not useful or helpful to people.

Alamin July 17, 2010 at 2:16 am

Thanks. Another nice post. Oh i want to add one more point. If your site takes too much time to load. Then people may not visit your site. They don’t care too much your quality flash animation. Oh i didn’t get traffic because i didn’t read your blog. Now i’m reading so hope i’ll get visitor. Lol

Dwight Jefferson October 15, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Point #7 used to be a real hang tooth for me. Thanks for the tips, there’s at least one of these that i can apply right now.

Aurangzaib Qumbrani October 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Great List! Thanks for the help, I just started off with my second blog, A Technology one, and working on the content…

Hope my Traffic gets a rise @ the Google PR Update! :)

Thanks Author!

bissell proheat December 27, 2010 at 1:04 am

i don’t know what was happened. I’d tried everythings to increase traffic to my website. My website also didn’t get indexed by GOOGLE. it’s already one month since i start my 1st website. Maybe i need to use social networking frequently because right now, i never start to use it. or maybe di u have any suggestion to improve what i’m doing.

Baizel Staff January 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Really liked the post. Although it all seems focused on blogs but we totally get the idea. Thanks a lot. Nice blog by the way. Regards!

A troubled teen March 12, 2011 at 7:26 am

Wow wow wow. Thank you so much for this post. One mistake tht I use to do when writing articles for other sites in order to gain traffic was writing a wonderful article… Then telling myself ooo why should I publish this article here ,when i could put it on my own site instead. That selfish of me really hurt my traffic stats .

Urho Oskari - Learning SEO Blog March 22, 2011 at 5:45 am

“Reason: you picked a topic no one else cares about.”

I don’t think there is a such thing. Only wrong places to sell your topic. Try web forums, facebook groups or even newsgroups (yes, people still use them)

Victoria Morgan May 20, 2011 at 6:40 am

Getting Better All The Time! This is such great perspective. To successfully promote a business through social media means walking the finest of fine lines.

Usama June 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Great article initially I was concentrating on 7 topics. I narrowed it down to technology and after reading your article I will narrow it down to a sub niche of technology. Great article!

Article Piggy Bank July 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm

My problem is probably item number four.

My website is UGLY.

I’m working on it though.

It’s gonna take some time but at least it’s a start!

ejita karim hunzai August 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Wow, lots of thanks for this post, I strongly agree with #2. I don’t have website yet but I am much more passionate to develop a website, I will keep your reasons and solutions in my mind during developing my site and you saved my life :) :) :) Thank You

Nick June 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Thanks for the advice! I have been struggling with increasing traffic to my site and I really appreciate the tips.

The Christian Heretic March 23, 2010 at 9:41 am

Very true.

My blog tends to be pretty topical, and generally remains near the top of the results on search engines for certain keyword searches, so some of my pages never stopped getting traffic, but traffic definitely went down when I stopped writing as often. Now that I’m getting back into the swing of things we’ll see how it goes.

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