If you’re new here, every month I report on how this site has been building traffic so you can learn from my experience. Well, I dropped the ball last month and didn’t publish a traffic report for the month. This report will be a combination of two monthly reports, covering the period from November 15, 2010 to January 15 2011.
In each monthly report I also like to tackle a topic related to what has happened at this site. This month we’ll be talking about what to do when your site hits a growth plateau.
First, let’s jump right into the report.
This Month’s Traffic Report
Here are the overall visitor numbers for the past two months:
This site received 11,845 visits this month and 11,924 visits last month (vs 15,396 in the month prior to those covered in this report).
Overall traffic dropped two months ago and has stayed at that level for the past two months. The site is in what I would consider a growth plateau.
Here’s how I define a growth plateau: a “peak” traffic month, followed by two or more months with consistently lower traffic. A plateau isn’t the same as traffic recession, which would be two or more months in a row of 20% less traffic month-over-month.
So, if we’ve hit a traffic plateau, is it time to panic? What can we do about it?
Let’s look at some other stats first:
(November 16 to December 15)
- New subscribers: 229 (-46% month-over-month)
- New comments (including my replies): 237 (-39% month-over-month)
- Retweets of new posts: 290 (-8% month-over-month)
(December 16 to January 15)
- New subscribers: 276 (+21% month-over-month)
- New comments (including my replies): 272 (+15% month-over-month)
- Retweets of new posts: 401 (+38% month-over-month)
How to Diagnose and Address a Traffic Plateau
If you’ve experienced a growth plateau at your site, here is how I would analyze things to determine if you should be concerned about the stalled growth:
- First, look back at a graph of a longer time period. Does the general slope seem to be in the right direction? Here is a graph of traffic to this site since it launched last month. Notice that generally things seem to be moving “up and to the right.”
- Next, ask yourself, was there any significant event or seasonality that could explain the drop in traffic? In this case, obviously there were three major holidays during the past two months, Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Christmas and New Year’s. You can see the obvious drop in traffic over the latter two holidays in the graph above.
- Next, look at your subscriber numbers. Did they continue to grow during the plateau months? If new subscribers dropped off significantly, I would be concerned. In this case, subscribers continued to grow at a moderate pace, and we added 505 new subscribers over the two months.
- Next, look at your reader interaction numbers. How many retweets or Facebook “likes” of new posts did you receive? How many new comments? How do those numbers compare with other months? In this site’s case, we had our highest month of retweets ever last month, and comments and Facebook “likes” also continued to be strong.
- Now look at your other vital stats from your analytics package. Did bounce rate, avg. time on site or pages per visit drop significantly? If so, you have reason to be concerned. In our case here, those numbers were all fairly consistent.
Given everything I’ve analyzed for this site’s growth plateau above, should I be concerned? Not at all. I’m definitely taking note of the situation and will watch what happens next month, but I’m not going to do anything drastic here.
I’m especially encouraged by the fact that last week was the biggest traffic week this site has ever seen, thanks to two very popular posts.
Thinking back on the past two months, something else also sticks out in my mind about the content I published here. Because I anticipated that the end of the year would be a slow time, I may have “held back” on publishing really great content until after the holidays. Perhaps next year I should really push hard to put out even better content to make up for the seasonality.
What if your answers to the questions above aren’t so positive? What can you do to get your site back on track?
If your vital signs aren’t looking so strong, you have reason to be concerned. Every site is different, so it’s hard to say exactly what you should do in your situation, but here are some general concepts to understand.
First, think back over the plateau period and try to identify if any of your content quality or marketing practices changed:
- Did you change the way you create content?
- Did you run out of interesting topics to cover?
- Did you change the packaging of your content or use different types?
- Did you change topics, either inadvertently or on purpose?
- Did you change how you promote your site, either spending more time at new places or less time at old places?
Pay close attention to your answers to the above questions. They could hold the answers to your situation.
If your content or marketing hasn’t changed, think next about your site’s foundation and the market you serve:
- Did you change your site’s design, tagline, logo or brand?
- Did you change how you talk about your site (in your about page, etc.)?
- Did something significant about your market change (i.e. your market is moving on after the end of some event, like World Cup, for example)?
- Is it possible you’ve saturated your market and reached nearly everyone you could reach?
Finally, if those questions don’t lead you to the answer, take a look at your traffic sources. Dig in to see where traffic used to be coming from either by type (search, referral, etc.) or by source (specific sites). Which sources are sending less traffic? Is there something you can do to change that?
I hope this helps. If you’re in this situation and have specific questions, feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll answer you directly.
Now, back to the monthly report.
11 total posts were published over the past two months (vs. 6 in the prior month), including 4 guest posts:
- Debate! Should You Allow Comments on Your Blog? Find Out What Two Remarkably Popular Bloggers Think
- Write Epic Shit
- Give More to Get More: Three Simple Ways To Turn Casual Visitors into Raving Customers (guest post by Barron Cuadro)
- Ask the Readers: What Will You Do Differently to Grow Your Online Audience This Year?
- How Tim Ferriss, Jon Morrow, and a Cat Lover Helped Me Become a Better Blogger (guest post by John Anyasor)
- The Difference: Copying Your Mentors vs. Becoming Your Best Self
- How to Join Forces with Other Bloggers and Grow Your Audience Together
- 9 Personal Introductions that Instantly Grab Your Attention (guest post by Vik Tantry)
- 3-Day “Building Online Businesses” Book/Course Sale
- Will Facebook “Like” Buttons Bring More Visitors to Your Site? (Think Traffic Monthly Report #8)
- The Best Sales Pitch Ever
Top Traffic Sources
I’ve been having a blast doing a lot of interviews recently. Thanks to everyone who has invited me to be interviewed for your site. Here are some of the guest spots and interviews I did for other sites over the past two months:
- I did a podcast on lifestyle design and adventure with Tyrone Shum, all the way from Australia.
- Tyler Tervooren interviewed me for his Guerilla Influence Formula course that came out last month.
- Peep Laja interviewed me about traffic building techniques for the Traindom blog.
- Brad Smith interviewed me about more traffic building techniques for the Online Business Zen podcast.
- Niall Doherty interviewed me with Everett Bogue on online entrepreneurship.
Top Search Terms:
- think traffic: 674
- unique selling proposition examples: 401
- unique selling proposition: 235
- thinktraffic: 219
- website traffic: 178
- most popular blog: 127
- most popular blogs: 102
- best sales pitch: 88
- unique selling point examples: 85
- personal introduction: 81
Notice carefully how many of the top referring search keywords here were recently in titles of posts (like unique selling propositions, best sales pitch and personal introduction). Keep that in mind when creating titles for your posts.
Goals for This Month (and This Year)
As I wrote last week, my new goal for this year is to write and publish more epic shit. I think that sums up my goals for this month.
Aside from that, I’m putting the finishing touches on Traffic School, which launches next month.
Questions? Feel free to ask anything.
Once again, if you have any questions about this report or about growing website or blog traffic, ask me anything in the comments below. I’m happy to help! Thanks as always for reading and helping to spread the word.