Why focusing on traffic is hurting your business

Focusing on traffic is a metric that is probably hurting your business.

Online business really isn’t that different to an offline business.

The same rules need to be applied.

I am not talking about affiliate marketing – I am talking about service providers, such as myself, who use their sites to promote themselves.

focusing on traffic hurts your businessRecently some really important questions have been brought to my attention and it’s a really juicy subject. It’s the question of numbers …

“I need to increase my traffic numbers and then my business will take off”

“Once I get to 2,000 subscribers that’s when I’ll really start making money”

“How do I increase my comment numbers so I can make my site a success”

All these statements are focusing on traffic. That delicious thing we are told to believe is the foundation of a successful website.

The numbers sirens

In Greek mythology, sirens would seduce sailors into rocks with their beautiful songs.

Now we have numbers. Yes, the numbers game is really important. The more exposure you get the higher your chance of converting some of that traffic into cold hard cash.

But if your goal is to make an income, does that mean you can’t make money with low traffic numbers?

Before we dive into this you need to be clear on what your goal is.

Why do you have your site?

Why are you doing what you are doing? Keep asking why, never stop.

Increasing traffic is not a goal. It’s a tactic.

If you want to know how to get clear about your goals and uncover your WHY you need to read this.

My case study

You may not know that I have 3 sites. To illustrate my take on traffic numbers I am going to be very transparent and share some numbers with you.

I’m not going to tell you right away which site is which but I want you to read through the important stats below and think which is the most profitable.

spike in traffic to blog
It was a calm Sunday afternoon

Site #1

Average daily traffic: 120 visits (69% new visitors)
Crazy hot spikes in traffic: 3,500 visits/day
Posts: 2 a week including one guest post
Twitter: 500+ followers, 5 tweets a day (most automated)
Facebook: Fan page, 250+ likes, 3-5 updates a week
Age: 18 months old

Time spent per week: 1-3 hrs

Site #2

Average daily traffic: 3 visits (74% new visitors)
Crazy hot spikes in traffic: 15 visits
Posts: Never
No social media presence
Age: 16 months old

Time spent per week: 0 hrs per week

So, which one of these is the most profitable?

You might be surprised when I tell you it’s #2.  Yes, the site that gets a measly 3 hits a day and some days it’s ZERO.

The site that has zero social media activity to it’s name.

So what’s the deal? I strategically market my holiday apartments through 3rd party channels, use my existing personal networks, and in all honestly it sells itself most days.

Let’s look at #1

#1 makes NO money at all.

This site is the truest form of weblogging – it’s a journal. It has some things for sale but I have never ever made a cent out of it.

Well, if you are reading this the chances are you aren’t making money out of your site, or at least not enough.

Spikes in traffic are distracting

It’s true that we love to get recognition as people who blog for business. It feels so good.

We puff up our chests proudly and strut around like a peacock with magnificent tail feathers. Do it, yell “yay me!” but it’s distracting.

Spikes in traffic do the same thing – I know that when I get a huge surge in traffic triggered by being StumbledUpon or by receiving recognition from a big player in my niche I get so excited.

Watching that huge phallus rise spectacularly on the screen of my analytics is exhilarating. Then it crashes just as fast as it went up, the emotions crash too, leaving you cold, questioning, and hungry for that feeling again.

Then you spend hours, days, consumed by thinking of ways how to recreate that delicious spike when in reality it’s out of your control, then you feel like a real d*ck.

Traffic is not everything

Not all traffic is created equal. Remember that. People are wired to seek out delights – delights aren’t always amusing.

We also like to see a bitch-fight or a car cash – yes, people are sick like that. Quite often the biggest posts tend to be those which are either intensely personal, insanely funny, or attacking someone or something.

Before you get all defensive about this – think about the highest traffic posts you have.

What are they about? I know mine are all personal ones. Ones that don’t really lend much to my business, yes, they give another dimension to who I am but they don’t always convert into clients or even subscribers.

Focus on growth you can control

Focusing on the normal days will help you grow your online business.

As I’ve said, the spikes are distracting.  The average days, and making that grow is what will help.

Look at what you’ve done that has had a direct impact on your business and repeat it, just do it louder.

Maybe it’s commenting on certain sites, maybe it’s guest posting, maybe it’s using social media, whatever it is, do it again and again!

Focus on quality not quantity

Ok, this is a bit of the chicken and the egg again. BUT hear me out.

I will be honest and admit that I prefer to get lower traffic on this blog because my subscription rate is considerably higher than any other site I’ve ever had. In addition to this, the subscribers actually reach out and email me directly – the conversations are rich, personal, and mutually beneficial.

Driving traffic to your email capture form is crucial, but you have to have a goal. Then speak to those people directly. Having conversations in the comments is not enough.

Never forget your existing connections

Remember, your site is a tool, one of many. The reason traffic isn’t everything is because, before the crazy world of the internet we did business the old school way. Pen, paper, fax, personal connections etc.

APPLY THE SAME RULES!

Yes, what a crazy idea.

Take some time to reflect on your existing network, people you’ve worked with in the past. Let them know what you are doing. Introduce yourself to people on and offline. HUSTLE!

Tell everyone you meet what you do – tell your friends and family (an often neglected network) and make sure you are promoting yourself where ever you see fit.

Do not confine yourself to your site and social media networks.

If you found this post useful then you’ll LOVE my newsletter … jump on the list on the bright pink form below and you’ll get weekly updates and tips I’m not sharing on my blog.

You know you want it …

32 Responses to Why focusing on traffic is hurting your business

  1. I have to admit since I am new to blogging…I tend to look at my numbers and frown. I mean I get very little traffic (maybe that’s a good thing till my redesign is done) and I am always concerned that no one is listening to what I have to say. But I really value your advice on this point.

    Quality not quantity. I am starting to see the light. Thanks again for the enlightening post!

    • Great Amber! Glad you found it useful – the numbers are distracting and take us away from our goal – I know I’ve tried so hard to recreate something that was in reality out of my control – wasting time and energy.

  2. Last fall I did a small experiment. For 30 days I blogged every, single day, 7 days a week.
    What happened? My traffic rose by 200%, my comment number went up slightly and my Alexa dropped to 50K all these great numbers started looking very sexy.

    So if anyone was to look at it from the outside they would say, it’s the perfect road to take right?

    Not in my book, during that time I got fewer leads. This was the most important number for me.

    Since I blog for dough not for show, I don’t really care about all these other ego-stroking metrics.

  3. Hey Ameena,

    I am commenting after so long! I always read, but somehow I haven’t commented in a long time… lurker 😉

    Well, this has been an eye opener. Just yesterday I was reading Ruth’s blog which talked about money and blogging and now this. In the beginning I did focus on numbers… the more comments I had, the more it would help me. I had that notion, I really don’t know why that made sense then.

    Like, I said somewhere, if your blog is making your business grow and brings in some cash through marketing your business than do the yayyy! A 100 + comments and zero money is definitely not a yay moment especially if you are hoping that that particular blog / site brings in money.

    For example, my personal blog gets average 30 – 40 comments (including replies); fan page is not awesomely huge or anything; but that blog landed me two freelance jobs. Yayy moment!

    But yes, a good comment count and a nice page view at least guarantees that people know your “stuff” to say the least!

    We just need to focus on our ultimate goals. If those goals are being fulfilled then jiggle those feathers! 🙂

    • Yay for the fan page getting you 2 jobs. Yay, shake your tail feathers 🙂

      Comments are always misleading especially if you have a big community. I used to get lots of comments before saying “great post” etc but then I realised it was a game of give to receive. Right now I don’t play that game and don’t worry if no one comments …

      Appreciate your comment and sharing your experience!

  4. Absolutely killer post, Ameena — WAY. TO. GO. 🙂

    I’ll be completely candid here …

    I’m growing really tired of people online (including some alleged experts) touting, “You need more traffic!” “Here’s how to get more traffic!” “An increase in traffic will increase your sales!”

    Not necessarily true. At best, I guess you could say they’re “half” right.

    There’s every conceivable notion an increase in traffic will simply bring you more traffic. And if that traffic isn’t spending any money, all you’re left with is a lot of traffic.

    The only traffic you want traveling down your personal stretch of the internet highway is traffic that’s interested in what you have to offer. Otherwise, consider them tourists.

    I leaned in on every word in your post and here’s my biggest takeaway …

    “I doubled my income target. That’s the only real number which matters for this site.”

    Got the point and love this post — thank you!

    • Thanks Melanie!!!! Tourists! YES! That’s a great way to put it!

      Yes, the numbers game is a challenge but I see too many people getting sidetracked and consumed by the wrong numbers.

      Thank you for your great support!

      • Always a pleasure to support a true professional who genuinely sets out to help her readers. 🙂

        Time for true confessions …

        I rarely, if ever, look at my “numbers”, Ameena. Not because I’m lazy. But because I really don’t care about the stats — I care about conversions.

        I can hear all the diehard statisticians and website analysts GASPING for air! 😉

  5. Ameena,
    My lord you are so right it hurts. Love John’s response “blog for dough not for show”. Once again you lead by example. Thats one thing we can all do better and will likely help us get “the dough”. I for one am glad that you are in my network now and hustle has become my new mantra.

    I have to admit that I study the analytics to much and get those dreaded ups and downs as the needle spikes and drops. For heavens sake, I am not bi-polar so why would I emulate that by riding the emotions of my site analytics. Great lesson. Thanks.

  6. Really love this one. I kinda guessed the first two but didn’t know about the third. And it does make a lot of sense.
    I have thousands of visitors on one of my Adsense sites and I still make more money from my portfolio site that gets 5-20 visitors a day. But it is all about the goal of the site and how you covert the traffic you do get.
    Hope people will read it, get it and stop obsessing about numbers. They only keep you off track!

    • Hey Brankica! Thanks so much for coming in and sharing – I have to admit when I put this post together I thought of what you’d have to say on this matter as an affiliate marketer and niche site guru 🙂
      Great to hear that the numbers are distracting even for traffic junkies 🙂

  7. Hi Ameena

    Thanks for this great article and for being so open about your stats. I am reading up lots about what makes a good blog and also realising that traffic is not the number one indicator.

    As you mention, blogging is just another tool for allowing your potential customers to engage and get to know you. I tend to only post once or twice a week but try to put more time and effort into creating content of interest.

    (I found you via Brankica’s blog and look forward to following your posts!)

    • Hey Aisling! Great to meet you!

      Yeah, there are no real hard and fast rules for blogging frequency – I know Brankica wrote a post about blogging every day and John also did the same daily blogging thing – the results were the same: not really much return on huge effort.

      Keep at it … quality not quantity … 🙂

  8. Hey Ameena!

    I have no idea how I made it here but I’m sure glad I did! I’m supposed to be doing research and totally got stuck over here! So glad to come across your site, you truly are a gem!

    You dropped quite a few golden nuggets in this post ..and a bag of chips 🙂

    My 2 cents on traffic? Well I agree…quality over quantity any day of the week.

    Enjoyed my visit! Thanks!

    -Ro
    Crazy Sexy Branding

  9. Hi Ameena,

    To me, what you said about goal is the most important part of any blog strategy. I’ve been blogging for a while and I’ve had my share of traffic, but I haven’t had any goal behind what I’ve been doing, and I haven’t made any money. Now that I’m starting my first business, this is about to change.

    Your experience is very interesting and a huge lesson for all of us.

    • Hi Jens,

      It’s interesting that without a goal you can still benefit from traffic, comments etc … guess it’s time to make the distinction between “blogging for show, or blogging for dough” as John so eloquently put it!

      Good luck and thanks for passing by!

  10. Ameena,

    You hit on a topic near and dear to my heart especially lately. I’ve experienced all of “metrics-based” success you talked about above and it’s resulted in zero dollars. The problem with traffic spikes ,etc is they do little more than inflate your ego. I’d rather have my bank account inflated.

  11. Hey Ameena,

    Kind of surprised that the site with lowest traffic earned you the most money. Yes, I agree with you. If you are trying to make make or build your business online, focusing on traffic certainly is a bad idea.

    When it comes to my blog, I blog to build a strong community within my blog (So that I can get feedback for my posts – which is basically why I blog).

    Anyways, thanks for the post 🙂

    • Interesting insight Jeevan – I have to disagree to an extent … Community is important but it is also distracting, just like traffic.

      In time, your community will keep coming back, saying how great you are because they like you – the feedback you crave then is actually invalid.

  12. Hey Ameena, Awesome topic! I am supposed to be doing homework and here I am reading your insightful take on the world. Perhaps it is the best compliment to say I cannot get off your site! I laughed out loud at the phallic spike! I so get it… If you are taking reader requests: I would love to hear MORE about how you doubled your target in a short time– How can having a target help us? Thanks and you rock! Robin

    • 🙂 Awesome Robin and THANK YOU!

      Ok – I will get onto the target post. Basically, having a target in mind keeps you on your toes, makes you hustle to make sure you achieve it.
      Not having a target, whether it’s financial or # of clients/products sold, or maybe both, means you are free to coast along without taking the necessary steps to get what you want! Make sense?

      Now go do your homework!

  13. Traffic is nice, but if it doesn’t equals sales for your business than what’s the point. I see allot of people obsess about their traffic and when I read their content it lacks even more. It’s as if their sole focus is on getting followers and they forget to create good content that got them the traffic in the first place.

    You can look at your traffic to see how people found you, but that’s about it for me. You still have allot more work to do.

  14. I learn’t so much from this blog, thanks Ameena. Yes often the old fashioned ways of connecting with people still work amazingly well even in this super social media world we live in.
    Thanks so much Sonya

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