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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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photo by HVargas