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Troubleshoot: high on content, low on traffic

Am I doing something wrong?

1:42 am on Apr 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Disclaimer: I don't expect much traffic for my site, which has only been live and productive for 5 weeks. Still, the numbers seem unbelievably low, and I wanted to know if I'm missing anything from the "what do you do when you launch" checklist.

My site is new (5 weeks), in a very popular genre with high conversions, and I spend a half-day producing 3-5 topical content items each weekday (plus 1-2 on the weekends). Topics often coincide with Google Trends' most popular searches, as well as the genre's bestselling item lists. I use a popular software with turnkey SEO (modified vBulletin CMS), and do a bit of my own tweaking. Because my genre is a hybrid of two overlapping genres, competition is actually pretty weak.

My model is more of the attract-advertisers type, rather than the affiliate-click type, so it's very user-friendly and not spammy-looking at all. I think it's got great, intensively-researched content and a great aesthetic.

Despite all this, my traffic in my first 5 weeks has been abysmal--a lot worse than expected. Excluding traffic I know to be my own or my acquaintances', I am sometimes netting just 0-2 uniques a day. I knew it was going to start slow but 0-2 for a highly prolific site in a highly valuable, minimally-competitive genre seems downright bizarre.

I'm fairly certain this is not an indictment of my business model as I have about 3 years of research going into this, with scores and scores of metrics supporting the plan.

Google Analytics is at least nominally monitoring my site, but I suppose there could be some config problem. In support of that, I know I've had at least ~60 users online simultaneously, but GA counted just 6 uniques that day. I can understand a few bots and crawlers, but 50+? Also, I know Google has almost 80% market share, and Bing/Yahoo about 18% combined, and yet my search engine traffic is about 39% from Google, 60% Bing + Yahoo. Can such an inverse relationship be right?

I have submitted my site to the SEs, I see them crawling my site, and I took all the above steps. Am I missing something, or should I expect 1-2 uniques a day for awhile?
4:11 am on Apr 26, 2011 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Tell us what you're doing to promote the site.

Are you matching the energy you put into content development with energy invested into active promotion?
10:57 am on Apr 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Did you do a check if your site has been indexed and rankend by google? If the pages are not ranked, then you cannot expect too much traffic, even when you have high quality content about current issues.
12:11 pm on Apr 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If you rank much better on Bing than Google then that could easily explain the difference in referrals you are seeing.

On the low traffic question:

* How many inbound links do you have (links to your site from other sites)?
* Are you active on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and others?
* Are you a known expert on the subject?
* Are you doing any offline promotion of the website?
* "highly valuable, minimally-competitive genre" is, in most cases, an oxymoron. You mention that your genre "is a hybrid of two overlapping genres". Depending on the genres that may mean your relevant traffic is the sum of both genres, or it may mean it is only the intersection.

Topics often coincide with Google Trends' most popular searches, as well as the genre's bestselling item lists

...also makes it difficult to believe that this is minimally competitive.
12:22 pm on Apr 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Domain Age is also considered to be a Ranking Factor when it comes to Google. Even if its a fresh and quality content and some-other authority website like CNN.com then CNN data is showcased above your content in Google SERPs.
2:57 pm on Apr 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I’m probably answering all my own questions here, but I suppose that means you guys are asking the right questions… Thanks.


I am doing: SE submissions, organic and other SEO, Twitter updates corresponding to each content update, Facebook updates for the same, minor forum activity with backlinking sigs (I was doing anyway, just added sig in relevant forums), verbal evangelism, etc. Minor stuff, as you can see, but I have several thousand dollars into the site and don’t have the budget to do any paid advertising, really. Don’t want to get too spammy linking the hell out of others’ forums, and I understand link exchanges are a lame thing of the past–plus, I’d like to earn a reputation as a quality content provider, not a desperate black hole of web traffic. I guess I could do a free press release, but other than that, don’t know where to go.


I'm really going to reveal what an amateur I am here, but how do I check this? I have set up Analytics, Webmaster Tools, etc. I can see “Avg. Position” in Webmaster Tools—is that what you’re referring to? However, and again forgive my incompetence, but on WM Tools I’m seeing (a) no sitemap submitted (doh!), (b) 404 status on robots.txt, (c) no Sitelinks, (d) a couple of duplicate metas/titles, and (e) "No data available" for Crawl errors—BUT "no crawl errors", or errors of any other kind.


To answer your questions,

-I have over 11k inbounds from my own site(s), but WM Tools says just 2 from elsewhere… GA recognizes a couple hundred links between my facebook and twitter presences, plus a few (single-digits) from elsewhere
- active on social media? yes, FB & Twitter, updated manically. I have about 10 followers right now between the two, of which about half are probable spam
-am I an authority? No, but that’s what I hope to become
-Offline promotion limited to verbal evangelism; don’t have the budget for paid campaigns
-I don’t mean to say there’s no competition for my genre—just that there’s no DIRECT competitor. The two genres I straddle are both VERY popular, but I am at the intersection. I only made the point about competition to suggest that my low traffic was NOT because I was entering a fiercely competitive genre. I think there’s a lot of room to get good PRs etc. with high quality content, and in a relatively brief time.
7:27 pm on Apr 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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entering in google: site:yoursite.com will reveal all pages of yoursite.com currently in the index. This doesn't mean that you are highly ranked for your keywords but shows you which pages were spidered and made it into the index.

11k inbounds from my own site(s), but WM Tools says just 2 from elsewhere

this seems not to be balanced very well. 11k inbounds for a 5 week old site from a very limited number of sites doesn't look natural. To build knowledge on linkbuilding please go to the Link Development section [webmasterworld.com...] here on Webmaster World. Checkout posts from Wheel,Martinibuster and others - highly recommended.
8:44 pm on Apr 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

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There are Rank Checking tools available (won't mention any brands here), you can see if your site is ranking for its headlines.
If your pages are in the index, but only seen in very low rankings for their target terms, it could be that Google doesn't like your site very much (whether that be because of age, which needs to be 6 months or more to be considered an "old" site, or whether it's because of unnatural linking scenarios, i.e. 11k inbound links over 5 weeks)
If your pages are not in the index, then that is your problem. Submit sitemaps, build links, double check robots.txt and robots meta tags to make sure your not deindexing your own content.