Not Getting Enough Traffic? Here’s Why…

by Corbett Barr · 58 comments

wrench

Social media experts are right. Social media is powerful, and at times, world-changing.

Just look at the recent events in Tunisia and Egypt. Twitter and Facebook have been instrumental in organizing the protests.

But here’s where the so called “experts” steer you wrong:

The Remarkable Power of Social Media

Yes, it’s far easier to spread a message—both political and marketing—around the world. However, that does not mean social media is a miracle cure for every struggling political movement or online business.

Think about it…

Did you receive hundreds of new leads the second you created a Twitter account or Facebook fan page? Did your traffic sky rocket with the addition of those sharing buttons?

Nope. It likely remained the same.

Here’s the secret the experts don’t admit: social media empowers quality content to spread, but if your content sucks, social media won’t do a damn thing other than waste precious time that you can spend on improving your content. Content is king.

How to Use Social Media the Right Way

Unless you’re just starting out, you have already implemented the basic social media enablers, social media accounts and sharing buttons. You’ve also spent time connecting with people and built a modest following.

These are the basics, and if you haven’t already, you should definitely do them.

(Editor’s note: integrating social media buttons is a cinch with Thesis)

So, assuming you’ve done all that, now what?

The real reason you’re failing to attract traffic has nothing to do with misusing the tools. You also likely aren’t missing out on the “real” secret to Twitter marketing success.

What’s the problem then?

Your site isn’t getting traffic because your content isn’t important or useful enough. It’s that simple. You’re not raising the bar, helping people, entertaining them, changing lives, and inspiring your readers to take some form of action. If you were, your audience would grow. Trust me.

Now I’m not saying “if you build it, they will come.” You definitely need to get the word out about your content. However, if you are promoting your content and you’re not building a raving fan-base, it’s probably your content that’s hurting you.

Still not convinced your content might be the problem?

5 Signs Your Content Needs Work

Do any of these signs sound familiar?

  1. You don’t receive email from raving fans telling you how you’ve changed their lives or how much they love your product and want to tell everyone they know about it.
  2. You often find yourself copying what successful people have done instead of developing your own original ideas.
  3. You focus more on the metrics of your business (visitors, subscribers, sales, etc.) than you do on how to create the most mind-blowing products in your field.
  4. If you’re blogging, every time you sit down to write something, you have a hell of a time coming up with ideas for what to write about.
  5. Your entire project or business is based on what you see as a market opportunity, not something you truly, passionately believe in with your whole self.

If you said yes to any of these, your content may be the problem.

Unfortunately, like with social media, there isn’t a silver bullet that instantly improves your content. You must work on your writing skills, develop your own voice, and work extremely hard. Platitudes, I know, but it’s the truth.

The Bottom Line

The next time you believe the hype about social media as a magic fame creator, consider the source. It’s more exciting for experts to pitch the latest “shiny object” as a quick fix for your business. Remember, they’re trying to build an audience and sell products just like you.

So, if you’re not getting enough traffic, take a look at your website. In the end, your product, service, and content will always be the most important part of your website and business.

How is your website doing? Are you getting traffic? Do you think social media is over-hyped? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Photo source: Hvargas

About the Author: Corbett Barr helps people build thriving online audiences which become the foundation of wildly successful businesses at Think Traffic. He also created the Traffic School training course that teaches people how to generate more traffic.

If you enjoyed this article, enter your email below to get free updates!

{ 58 comments }

Himanshu Chanda

I connect to that point very well. I wrote articles, I tweeted and I asked others to tweet it too :P without great luck.

Than one day I decided let them all go to hell. I am a blogger and all I do is first write awesome content. You read it if I write, I dont write because you read it. Somehow from that day before hitting “Publish” I always can easily predict the number of RTs and the kind of traffic the post will drive.

My efforts are still on, I still use the power of social media. But I now understand its means to an end and not an end in itself!

Corbett Barr

That should be our blogger’s credo, Himanshu: “first, write awesome content.” Too many people get caught up worrying about having the right tools and tactics in place before they nail the most important thing.

Thanks for the comment! Keep trying to write your best stuff. People will notice.

Ciao Florentina

Social Media is really over-hyped . Facebook is about nothing but superficial connections while Twitter is more of an ego thing. Instant gratifications: “I have fans now ”
I started my food blog in September without much computer and SEO knowledge, no budget and my traffic has increased by 1000 page views every month. Most of it is direct traffic, then google sends me the next chunk. Almost nothing from FB and i have over 700 fans. I get some traffic from Twitter but compared to the 11,000 following it’s really not much.
In the end I really believe it’s the value you provide, how many people you touch and inspire that will guarantee a healthy steady growth of your blog.

Corbett Barr

It sounds like you’re doing really well already, Ciao. You must have some pretty good content. I would check into your usage of Facebook a little if I were you. With that many fans and visitors you should be able to drive more traffic from Facebook. It depends on how you’re interacting with people at your FB page. Also, try adding the FB “like” buttons to your posts. Those seem to work pretty well for most.

Ciao Florentina

Thank you, I guess when you don’t know anything about tools and tactics you just naturally focus on your Passion.
I never tried the FB ” like ” button but I think I will now. Hope I can learn to monetize the site pretty soon as well so I can put my best into it and live my Passion. Thank you for showing us ” little bloggers ” that it is possible !

Ciao Florentina

Just wanted to say that I listened to you and added the Facebook Like Button to the end of each post about an hour ago. My old post on Chocolate Rum Tea has already gotten 77 Likes. I am shocked ! Thanks so much for the suggestion. Does it matter if the FB button is at the top of the post or at the bottom ?

Rohan

i agree! social media is really over hyped and the old concept of ‘content is king ‘ still holds good! people just cant hide behind their “thousands of followers” , the followers are useless if the person cant create content!

Ciao Florentina

Hey Rohan ! Just saw your blog, I have so much to learn from you, why didn’t you say something before ? :)

Chase

Great stuff! srsly. Gets me a bit fired up… there’s too many people who *just* want to measure—”I want to be like Ferriss and measure everything LOL!”

My take-away: don’t do this ==> You focus more on the metrics of your business (visitors, subscribers, sales, etc.) than you do on how to create the most mind-blowing products in your field.

Corbett Barr

Hey Chase, happy to get you fired up. Hope it helps.

Ahmad Wali

Very nice article and I must admit few points I’ve read looks like I am doing all wrong. One thing that I always wanted to know maybe a tip for new Entrepreneurs that where should we start from and what should we offer? Sometimes content is not itself powerful without any promotion. Maybe a tip how to build a reader or customer base?

Corbett Barr

Hey Ahmad. In my experience, success in business always starts with doing something that will help or entertain your customers in a way that is UNIQUE from everyone else. Just having great content isn’t enough, you’re right. You also have to differentiate your business and answer the question “of all the 1000s of sites I could be visiting right now, why should I visit your site?”

Once you have differentiation and great content/product in place, the next step is getting the word out about what you’re doing. One of the best ways to do that is to involve your readers/customers in helping you get the word out.

wilson usman

Gotta love this guy, he’s speaks the truth. I’ve made a plan that when he writes something I write it down. Always saying it how it is, with no fluffy shit around it.

I did some brainstorming and self-talk over past few months, and I know I was lying to myself. Recently I’ve realized all the crap I was writing. Now I’m focused on only putting out content I won’t regret to look at a year from now.

I just want to be able to say, damn that was a good post! I really put my heart into that. That’s what I was missing last year. It’s all changing now.

Corbett Barr

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Wilson ;) Congrats on turning everything around recently and best of luck!

Vivek Parmar

great post. driving trafffic to your blog is necessary and one must have to work hard on it.
the perfect way to get traffic is to write a unique article and then promote it on social media site + comment on other blogs and a network with people will help you to get enough traffic from others

Sean Cook

Thanks, Corbett,

This was a much-needed kick in the pants. (For me, as well as for many others, I am sure.) I’ve been thinking about how I can improve my content. I’ve had great stuff but have kind of lost some steam lately. I am going to print out your post and put it up where I can see it. And right after this comment, I am heading over to your blog and adding it to my reader.

Sean

Corbett Barr

Hey Sean, most people lose steam from time to time, it’s completely normal. Something that helps me is to keep a running theme going on my sites. Take up a small new cause for a few months and let that be a running thread in your content. It’s much easier to maintain momentum when you don’t have to come up with something new every time you want to produce.

Bonnie Taube

I wish I would have read this article before I met with my Chiropractor last week. My chiropractor is truly the best in the business for upper cervical care and he is ALWAYS busy even though he doesn’t even have a website, let alone use social media. He said something like, “Who really wants to know when Samantha eats a popsicle?” If I had read your article, I would have explained to him that if he uses social media “correctly”, he will have clients lined up outside to see him. Correctly means that he educate his clients and potential clients with mind-blowing products, service, and CONTENT. I’ll have to share this with him next time I see him. Thank you for the great article — Bonnie Taube

Corbett Barr

I love it when I hear that from friends and family. “I just don’t get Twitter. Who wants to know that you’re taking the dog for a walk?” That’s exactly the point. People DON’T want to know that stuff. You have to provide value or else the tool won’t do anything for you.

Lena

Fortunately, I was able to say no to all but one of these items – #3. Even though I have all the other components in my favor, I waste a lot of time analyzing stats and planning when I should just be DOING. Thanks for the reminder kick in the rear I desperately needed!

Lena

LOL I just realized I was the second person who called this a kick in the rear. Guess you really hit a sore spot with some of us.

Corbett Barr

I think a lot of us have been feeling that sore spot lately. We’ve all been sold some empty promises about the magic of social media. It’s time to tell it like it is instead.

Joi @ Self Help Daily

Great points! I saw more success with my sites when I stopped focusing on things I couldn’t TOTALLY control (comments, traffic, followers…) and focused almost exclusively on things I can control (writing, writing, writing…).

As far as social media goes, I love Twitter but (for me anyway) Facebook is almost a waste of time.

Corbett Barr

Fantastic comment, Joi. I also try to focus exclusively on what I can control, instead of what I can’t. That’s a great way to live in general as well, not just for building an online audience.

Raymond Parker

This hit home on a morning when I’ve woken up without having posted my Monday blog, because I couldn’t come up with something I felt stood beside last Monday’s, which was very successful.

We can’t hit a home run with every post, but we should indeed strive to do good work. That means hard work and investment of time.

There are no shortcuts to good writing or building an online social network. Relationships must be built organically (no auto-follow scams! Quality over quantity) and should be backed up with real contacts–local Tweetups are a great way to meet new people, share interests and promote your brand.

Again, there are no shortcuts. Just as one can’t walk into a party and immediately command the room–though some people try :-)–it’s not realistic to expect to be noticed as soon as one establishes a Facebook page with a few “Fans.”

Thanks for this reminder on where the main focus should lie.

Corbett Barr

Great points, Raymond. You summed it up very well.

Just don’t forget one thing. It’s easy to become paralyzed if you’re holding the bar too high for yourself. Relax, always try to be helpful and be your own self and you’ll do just fine.

Michael

Wow! You woke me up with this posting.

I, like many others have commented, have been questioning what I have been doing wrong since my numbers seem to jump then stall, jump then stall and now I know why! I just need to focus on the content, and the rest will come naturally.

It will be so much easier to do the one thing that I enjoy and am passionate about well, then focusing on a million smaller things!

Thanks so much for sharing and all the best!

Michael
CCO OutMaturity.com

Corbett Barr

Awesome Michael. Let us know how the new plan works out. I think you’ll find it a lot easier than the “million little things” approach.

Carl

One thing I noticed is that many of the popular bloggers and social media experts write the same regurgitated content. I believe social media is a mix of say, 10% great content and 90% popularity contest. Don’t believe me? Just start paying attention to the blog posts that get retweeted, most of the time it’s an article about something that’s been written hundreds or thousands of times, like “five things you can do to improve your SEO”, and it was written by someone who hangs at the conferences or worked for a popular SEO company.

Corbett Barr

It’s sad, isn’t it? The worst part is that those types of empty/regurgitated posts actually get retweeted so often. People love the idea of a magic quick fix even though they don’t exist. Over the long run though producing genuine/unique/helpful content always wins. Traffic that comes to you from those typical “top 10″ posts hardly ever sticks around long enough to become a true fan or customer.

David Martinez

OK, I vow to speak closer to my own ‘voice’ and write more quality content. I’ve started to blog again with honestly the hopes of funding my hobbies and nothing more. I’ve always been a fan of quality content, and I plan of producing as much amazing shit as possible this year.

Question,what plugin do you use for the end of the post feature:
“If you enjoyed this article, join 14,578 others and get free email updates!” that looks a like a great way to grow your email list… and what email marketing tool do you use as well?

Thanks in advance for the great article an any input!

David Martinez

Derek Halpern

We do that by custom code. It’s not a plugin.

Hotdogman

I think there is a bit of a social media overload going on. Yeah, it’s nice to get traffic from FB, but when my homepage is loaded with pitches from other marketers, it leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Most people go on FB to connect with friends and family, not to get sold a bill of goods. I think people who overdo the “selling” on FB are going to be in for a rude awakening when people “unfriend” or stop following them. If I have to search through a bunch of marketing messages to get to the photos of my brother’s kids, I will eliminate the spam “friends.” You have to walk a fine line. While I do some posts for my sites on my FB page, I don’t overdo it. FB is way down on the list of referring sites in my analytics and accounts for about 2% of my total traffic, even after months of “marketing” on FB.

As for Twitter, I just can’t get into it.

Darren

I found myself doing the incorrect things in the beginning but started to understand after reading a few Jeffrey Gitomer Books that you have to provide value packed information. Give all the time and give as freely as possible…. Write your way to success! Great post!!! Thank you for writing it.

Continued success,
Darren | LinkCaffeine.com

Andrew Mooers

Found instead on entertaining, trying to be funny just give the guy and gal on the other end of the wire or wireless signal what they need, want. Deliver like you would want if on the other end where they are. If the tables were turned. Blog, video, shoot images and talk to the audience you can see… one by one. Not over their heads or for your own private enjoyment to masses you can not. Get humble, get working, blog often and see you around the social media circuit.

mtn jim @outsourcingcontrol.com

“Your content sucks.” ouch. we didn’t want to hear that…

Thanks for your example of content that doesn’t suck Corbett!

I’m working on a guide to outsourcing your link building. My research keeps leading back to “kick ass content”…you know, the stuff that people will actually link to ‘cuz it’s good!

Mtn Jim

Travis

Great post – even though it depressed the heck out of me…lol. I failed most of the tests.

Your post explains why Twitter and other social media has never worked for me. While I have always created “good” content – it was never anything earth-shattering. In hindsight, I’m not even sure I’d retweet most of my stuff.

I think that’s the question I’m going to ask myself moving forward when I put content together. Would I retweet this if I read it? If the answer is yes, then it passes the test. If not, then I’ll redo it until I would!

Thanks for the inspiration…

Travis

Scott @ Self Improvement Tips

Thanks for the reminder, Corbett. This is yet another recent post I’ve read regarding quality content development and it’s importance. It’s funny … the more I focused on all the mechanics, monetization and “latest and greatest tools”, the more miserable I became. Now that I’ve shifted to a content focus I am enjoying blogging again, since writing and helping people are what I really like to do. I guess if I can get THAT part right (quality, helpful content), the other “perks” will be more apt to follow …

Best,
Scott

Cam Collins

Another great blog post. Thanks @diythemes and @corbettbarr. I completely agree about finding your true voice and reigniting your creative power. This is something I’ve struggled with in my blogs. However @guykawasaki recommended “If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland. Its old school, written in 1938, but so relevant today!

Corbett Barr

Thanks Cam, hadn’t heard of that book. I’ll check it out. Cheers.

Elizabeth Adams

Hello, Corbett …

Speaking just for myself, I use social bookmarking sites extensively for researching what I call “the underbelly of the web” … the “really good stuff” that never seems to turn up on the first page of Google because its authors don’t know the first thing about how to get it there … they just know how to put their whole heart into what they’re doing …

People turn to web-based bookmarking services because their “Favorites” file gets overloaded with bookmarked sites … and because a folder-based system for storing bookmarks is a really dumb idea, anyway, because who’s going to remember which folder they put what in? What you *really* need is the ability to *search* your bookmarks, right? Right!

Enter searchable web-based bookmarking services like Delicious or Diigo as a perfect solution to this problem!

Plus, it comes with an added bonus:

You get to see the sites that *other* people bookmarked so they could find them again when they wanted to tell somebody *else* about them.

The only person who would bookmark an uninteresting site is somebody who’s a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic.

Or a marketer.

Marketers are the only ones who have only their own stuff in their bookmarks!

It’s a dead giveaway!

Everybody else has all sorts juicy goodies in their pile.

Like this: http://t.co/4ocY8kn

Or this: http://goo.gl/EI86m

So the *first* rule to follow, if you’re attempting to use social bookmarking as a way of promoting your wares, is to bookmark *at least* NINE interesting sites of others to every ONE site of your own … to maintain a 1-in-10 bookmarking ratio, in other words …

The *second* rule to follow is to create what Charles Heflin calls “3E” content:

Entertaining
Enlightening
Educational

If you don’t already know how to do this, don’t worry. You can learn. Get a book called “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip & Dan Heath, a couple of Standford grads who figured it out and went on to change the world with their discoveries.

The *third* rule to follow is so simple:

Write the content that you, yourself, would love to read if you came across it, or that you wish you’d had available to you when you needed it.

There’s *lots* of other people out there who will feel the same way about it as you do !!!

And when they read it, they’ll feel a sense of communion with you, because you said so well what they’d been trying to say themselves, but just couldn’t put it into words.

You better believe they’ll bookmark it !!!

And one day somebody like me is going to come along and type your primary keyword into the search box of somebody’s favorite web-based bookmarking site.

Believe me … you want to *be there* when that happens !!!

warmest regards …

Elizabeth

P.S.

Here’s an experiment for you:

Go to Twitter and type your primary keyword into the search box with a # sign in front of it, like this : #keyword

The result will be a stream of tweets representing a conversation about that keyword by people who put the pound sign in front of it in their tweets so the entire conversation can easily be accessed by anybody anywhere in the world.

Study the stream of tweets until one of them resonates with you and makes you feel like you’d like to get to know them. Go to their home page and check out their profile and read some more of their tweets. If you still feel the same, then hit the “Reply” button and introduce yourself.

There’s a piece of advice that sales professionals share with rookies:

“No matter what else you have to do each day, talk to three new people each day about your business, no matter what your business is.”

Another way of finding people is by setting up a Google News Alert for your primary keyword. You will get an email each day of all the blog posts that have been written about it. Pick one to comment on, and initiate a relationship with the blogger. If you’ve got the mental muscle for it, pick three, like the professionals do. They know that, if they talk to three new people a day about their business, by the end of the year, they’ll have talked to over 1000 people, and it’s statistically *impossible* to talk to 1000 people about your business and not have something happen as a result of it.

Remember, each one knows others!

:-)

Terry

I hate you. Only because you are so right on with this post :)

Kidding. Solid advise.

Tracy

Corbett…after reading this article I spent about 3 hours going over your websites and reading your manifesto. I’m sooooo glad to have been introduced to you and looking forward to future stuff from you. Tracy

Corbett Barr

Hey Tracy, thanks for the comment. Glad we could connect. Thanks to Chris and Derek for letting me guest post here at DIYThemes.

Serena

I’m a new blogger. My goal is to discuss uncomfortable things about unemployment and the handmade struggle. I also would like to get some sales of my art work out of it. I don’t get a lot of comments, but according to the stats I do get traffic. I also don’t know what “a lot” of traffic would be! :) So far I’m really enjoying reading your blog! Thanks for the info!

Constantin Gabor

Sicial media is just a fax machine. If the message sucks (content) the of course no one is replying to your fax…

Thanks for this!

Edward Beckett - Florida SEO

Herein Lies the Dragons …

Creating traffic driving copy isn’t too tough when you’re writing about interesting topics …

The real challenge comes when you’re trying to drive traffic to not-so-interesting themes … You can’t expect to generate server-crashing traffic for nod-inducing subjects.

Rich Polanco

Great stuff! Bad content begets fewer and fewer repeat visitors. A snazzy theme and catchy graphics is a great stage for content, but a stage alone does not a rocking concert make when the band playing on it sucks ;-)

B.C. Young

Excellent, excellent, excellent post! This is so true. About a month and a half ago I really started focusing my site. Once I did, the traffic started coming in. The content has to draw your audience. My route has been interaction and entertainment.

D Lee

Content is and always will be “King” … We all get caught up in the “SEO” hype a little too much from time to time but it is so important to remember your content. It is your unique , informative, educational , inspiring and promising content that is why people come to read your blog in the first place!
It is a Key Ingredient to understand this and stick by this (just as you mentioned very well) or else you may find yourself pulling out your hair, piece by piece, wondering why and how your site is failing !
One more note to add:
Titles are just as important as the content itself! If you have great content but a lousy title, many people would skip it all-together !

Kishore Mylavarapu

Content is always the master..

Abhijit

I truly believe in you. I think I have wasted more time reading how to increase traffic than writing good content. The quality matters over quantity everywhere. Thanks for this blog

gazzali

yes i agree content is important for people to come again and again. We have to create good contents, then people will stick to your blog like bees to flowers

carlo coronacion

Good post. I am learning now. I think I have lots of things not for my blog in my blog..

Jonny Rowntree

I think that is where a lot of bloggers go wrong. They don’t know enough about their readers and therefore don’t segment them. If they did this before posting a new article, they would know if it would be successful or not.

Thomas bale

This made a very interesting read and made me open my eyes and realise where I am wasting all my time. I should be writing not reading into how many people are reading my writing.

Thanks for the wake up!!

Jonny Rowntree

I find the list of 5 points to be very specific and I answered yes to 4 out of the 5. However, I don’t find that I get emails from my readers but more comments and lengthy statements about my content through my Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus profiles.

Speaking of traffic, I don’t tend to get a huge amount from social networks but through search engines. With a blog that has less than 40 posts on it, Thesis and myself must be doing something right?

Alastair Bartlett

Hi Corbett,

Must say, everything you say makes perfect sense. This post is a case in point, there aren’t many things I feel compelled to comment on on the web, but yours was one so I can see it works!
Recently, I’ve been working hard on my content and it does bare fruit. It hasn’t on the amount of visitors yet (early days), but I can see my bounce rate dropping quite substantially.
I’ve always wondered why great content is the key though – I mean, how does content affect how many people actually look at it/find it? Is it because more people share it? Or because you keep people on your page for longer? Or because you write more, you add more key words by default?

One question I do have for you and your other readers is, how do you determine what content you feel would be of interest to your readership? I’m in the mobile applications/website industry (competition is fierce!) and there is a plethora of subjects I could write about but because there are so many, I get stuck in information overload and end up not writing about any of them!!
I don’t have a blog, so I don’t have the benefits of a ‘comments’ section, but how do you do it? Do you ask your visitors? Write about something you think will stick? Be interested to hear your thoughts. Hey, thanks again – you’re well and truly bookmarked :-)

Cheers,
Alastair