Why do I get no traffic?
Establishing a substantial readership is the dream of most website owners. It’s a way of determining whether you’re on the right track and also a measure of your success. It is therefore surprising to see so many sites making fundamental mistakes that undermine their aim of attracting visitors.
Is your theme unique to your site? If it looks like one of the many thousand WordPress blogs out there, you’re unlikely to stand out from a sea of competitors. Don’t interpret this as a dig at WordPress; my own site darkzero uses it.
Investing in design is essential – whether it’s your own time or hiring a professional. If you take a ‘me too’ approach to design and stick to free or cheap themes, there is the implication that your content is also nothing special.
At the very least you’ll need a logo, even if it’s very basic. But a brand is much more than this! Ask yourself these important questions:
- What does your publication site stand for?
- How do you want it to be perceived?
- Who is your target audience?
- Does your content match your vision for the brand?
You want to make the right first impression on anyone who visits your site.
What do potential readers get from your site that they can’t get elsewhere? This is an essential question to ask yourself. If you’re not doing anything original, there’s no point in spending so much time writing. In order to draw new readers over time you will need to do things like:
- Be first to break a news story (at least occasionally) and be consistently quick
- Have a compelling and original approach that makes you stand out
- Identify a USP that visitors will like or benefit from
Remember: everyone has opinions, but this doesn’t make them interesting!
If you are the first site to publish a story – even just occasionally – other sites will also post the news story and link to you as the source. This sounds obvious, but so many sites just churn out news that has appeared elsewhere hours earlier. It’s essential to add value – otherwise readers are better off subscribing to the sites you are sourcing.
Being first to publish a story really comes down to old-style journalism skills. Seek out and uncover stories as even the smallest of exclusives can drive immense traffic. Spread the word on sites like N4G and you may be surprised how many of the big sites such as Eurogamer, VG24/7 and Kotaku will link to you if you have an exclusive.
If you are getting 100 uniques a day, why plaster ugly ads on your site? You stand to make next to nothing financially and will drive potential returning visitors away. Even at 1,000 uniques a day, I would still question the value of incorporating ads until your traffic is much higher.
The biggest sites are typically funded by advertising – they can’t survive without it – and many subject their visitors to annoying in-your-face banners that detract from the content. This is an opportunity for small sites can gain a significant competitive advantage. By offering visitors an ad-free experience, your pages will be easier on the eye and quicker to load than your competitors.
Don’t fall into the trap of copying other sites – take a step back and evaluate everything. Be different!