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What is low web traffic and why is it a problem?

6 min read | Last updated on

Have you spent a lot of time, effort and/or money setting up your website only to be disappointed that you’re not getting the benefits you thought you would? There are a range of reasons why this might be the case but low web traffic is a likely culprit even if it’s only a part of the puzzle.

Web traffic defined

Let’s start with the basics first. Web traffic refers to the number of ‘visits’ to a website, where a visit is a single instance of a user viewing any page on the website. A visit is also sometimes called a ‘session’ and it may refer to a user viewing a website for the first time or a returning user viewing the website for a second or subsequent time.

Low web traffic defined

Now you’ve probably guessed that low web traffic refers to a low number of visits over a given time period. But what you may not realise is that ‘low’ is relative.

You see, the specific threshold value below which traffic becomes ‘low’ varies across industries and for different sized businesses. For instance less than 10 visits per day would be considered very low web traffic for most businesses in most industries but a business that aims to service only 1-2 high-paying clients per year in a very specific niche (such as a book ghostwriter who only writes autobiographies for top celebrities) might consider that level of traffic to be decent.

As another example, less than 50 visits at any given time (during the times your target market could be expected to be online) might be considered low for the average small business that sells fairly low-priced consumer goods. To clarify that last point, if your target market is the world, you should have constant traffic but if your target market lives in only one country and tends not to browse the web at 1 am, then you shouldn’t worry if you have practically zero traffic at 1 am in that timezone.

For this reason, I will define low web traffic as ‘a number of website visits that is below the level required to meet a business’s goals’. So, if you want to generate $400 in sales per day from your website and you know that 10% of website visitors will make a purchase with the average purchase value being $40, then you need 10 people to make a purchase each day and so you need 100 people to visit your website each day. This is, of course, a very simplistic example, but in this example, if you’re getting fewer than 10 people visiting your website each day, then you have low web traffic.

The important takeaway from this is, low web traffic can have a substantial negative impact on your sales (and other business goals). So if your website has low web traffic, keep an eye on my blog for tips on how to fix the issue.

Measuring your web traffic

You can measure your website’s traffic for free using Google Analytics. Here are some instructions for setting up Google Analytics on your website. Google Analytics will let you easily measure the number of website visits (sessions) as well as the number of people who visited your website and the number of people who visited your website for the first time. You can measure these values over various time periods depending on how you want to assess your website’s performance.

Low web traffic: This is a screenshot of a Google Analytics display that shows the number of individual users, number of sessions and the number of new users that visited a low-traffic website over a three month period
Low web traffic: This is a screenshot of a Google Analytics display that shows the number of individual users, number of sessions and the number of new users that visited a low-traffic website over a three month period

It’s often most useful to analyse your web traffic by looking at the number of unique visitors to your website in a month. You can then compare this value across multiple months to see how changes to your website affect your web traffic.

Web traffic thresholds

Now I know you’re really hoping I’ll give you a magic figure that will tell you whether you have low web traffic. Unfortunately, as I’ve said already, it really does depend on your business. Of course, saying ‘it varies’ doesn’t help you a lot if you’re trying to gauge whether your website is underperforming. So, to give you a very rough point of reference, if you’re a sole trader or small business with an average-sized target market, here are some guidelines (where the units are unique monthly visitors):

  • less than 20 = a website where it’s probably just your family and friends who visit
  • less than 100 = very low
  • less than 500 = low
  • less than 2500 = reasonable
  • less than 10 000 = you’ve got potential

Just remember that good and bad threshold values may be different for your business depending on what you sell and your target market.

Low web traffic is only a piece of the puzzle

As I noted in the introduction and demonstrated in one of the examples, low web traffic is only one factor that can cause websites to underperform. For instance, if your website has heaps of people visiting it but hardly anyone buys your product, then you’ll need to find out why not many people are buying. So, to discover why your website isn’t doing as well as you hoped, you’ll also want to look at metrics like:

  • bounce rate
  • session length
  • number of sales (or another metric with a similar purpose if you don’t sell directly from your website – e.g. number of calls from people viewing your website)
  • conversion rate
  • number of newsletter subscribers

If you break these statistics down by page rather than just looking at the data for your whole website, you’ll also be able to determine whether specific pages are performing particularly well or poorly.

I’ll be doing a few follow-up articles that focus on how to diagnose and improve poor website performance issues, including how to boost your web traffic, so if this is something you want to learn more about, you might like to subscribe to my mailing list. Doing so will ensure you’re notified as soon as I publish something new.

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Dr Kelly Wade

Hi! I’m a full-funnel marketing specialist and my mission is to build a better tomorrow by helping organisations that solve crucial problems, efficiently generate sustainable growth with strategic marketing assets that attract, nurture, convert and retain the target market.

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