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The top 12 causes of low web traffic

  • K. M. Wade 
  • 6 min read

In a recent blog post, I talked about what low web traffic is and why it can be bad for your business. Today I’m continuing the topic by detailing 12 top causes of low web traffic.

Most of these causes are either directly or indirectly related to poor search rankings. This is because there are basically two ways people will find your content: either they’ll search for information on a topic and find your page in the search results; or they’ll see your web pages shared on social media or in an email etc. Spoiler – As a result, many of these causes are SEO-related (SEO = search engine optimisation) but they are sufficiently important that I have given them their own sections.

1. Sub-optimal content is one of the leading causes of low web traffic

This might sound obvious, but if your website’s content isn’t really great, readers have plenty of other places to go to find the information they’re looking for. If they can easily find other sources of information that are either more entertaining, easier to read, more relevant to their query/interests/problem or more engaging in any other way, they won’t stick around to read your content. If people aren’t visiting your website or aren’t staying there long, Google and other search engines will view your website as being of poor quality and will display it further down the search rankings. This means fewer people will see it in the first place, so no one will click on it and so it will get further downgraded by search engines. It’s a vicious cycle.

Poor-quality content is one of the leading causes of low web traffic so it’s vital that you get this right.

2. Old information

Search engines like Google will be more likely to show your web pages in search results if the information within them is up to date. How does Google know if your information is current? It looks at it the dates of publication and any updates. If your content is old, Google assumes it isn’t as relevant as web pages with newer content.

Having bad content is a big no-no but it doesn’t matter how good your content is if it’s too old.

3. Poor user experience (UX)

Is your website slow to load? Is it hard to navigate? Is it hard to read? Is it full of popups? Does it make it hard to find contact details for customer support? All these things (and more) lead to a bad user experience. If people don’t like using your website, they’ll go elsewhere and your website will slide down the search rankings.

4. Your website isn’t optimised for mobile devices

At the time of writing, 52.4% of global web traffic comes from mobile devices. If your website doesn’t work well on mobile devices, it will get a low search engine ranking and users won’t visit it (which will make your search engine ranking even worse). Anyone who does end up on your website will leave pretty quickly and won’t come back. This will also negatively affect your search engine ranking.

5. Your website isn’t optimised for search engines

Some of the above points feed into SEO but there are other things you can do to optimise your website for search engines. This includes intelligent keyword optimisation and providing metadata. If your website isn’t SEO-friendly, it will be outperformed by other websites with content of a similar quality or better.

SEO is another of the leading causes of low web traffic so it’s crucial that you invest time and resources or money in getting this right.

6. Poorly constructed URLs

URL design is part of creating an SEO-friendly website. But there are ok URLs that aren’t optimised for search engines and then there are URLs that are really bad. For instance, if there are too many characters in your site URLs or they’re too complicated, it may cause your web pages to load too slowly. This is once again frowned upon by search engines and humans alike. Similarly, if users can’t figure out the purpose of your web pages based on the URLs, they’ll be much less likely to click on them.

7. Broken links

If your website has a bunch of broken links, visitors are likely to go elsewhere and not bother coming back. The Google gods will frown on you too.

8. Lack of data analysis

If you’re not measuring and analysing your site’s performance, you have no real way of knowing what users like and dislike. This means you’re not optimising your content for your target market and you’re missing a huge opportunity to boost your web traffic.

9. You don’t have any or enough backlinks

If popular websites include links to your website in their content, you will get more web traffic. If you don’t have any or enough of these backlinks you’re likely missing out on traffic.

10. You’re targeting keywords that are out of your league

Targeting the right keywords and doing it well can really boost your search engine ranking and by extension your volume of web traffic. On the other hand, if you’re trying to optimise your pages for keywords that you have no hope of dominating, you’re going to have a really tough time breaking into the market and improving your search engine ranking.

11. You’re creating content but not promoting it

A constant stream of fresh, engaging content is pretty much a must these days if you want good web traffic. But it’s not a case of ‘build it and they will come’. You have to let people know about your awesome new content otherwise your competitors who do promote their content are going to be the ones getting all the web traffic.

This is another of the leading causes of low web traffic so I highly recommend taking the time to develop a good content strategy that includes a plan for sharing your content

12. Your headlines aren’t engaging enough

When you scroll through your email inbox, your favourite news feed or a list of search results, what do you click on? I’ll bet it’s content that has interesting subject lines or headlines that grab your attention in some way. Perhaps they’re funny, sound useful or are controversial. Whatever it is about the headlines you like, they encourage you to click on the email or article to find out more. If your headlines aren’t ‘click-worthy’ people won’t visit your website even it shows up in a search listing. They might click on your pages if a friend recommends them but how is that friend going to find them in the first place?

Learn how to solve your low web traffic issues

Now that you know what the top causes of low web traffic are, you can make a start on solving any of these issues when you find them on your website. If you want some expert advice on how to resolve these issues, checkout my articles on the ingredients of great website content and SEO. I’ve also posted an article that details how to overcome each of the 12 causes of low web traffic listed in this post.

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Dr Kelly Wade

Dr Kelly Wade is a marketing strategist and author at K. M. Wade. She performs research and crafts content, copy and strategy to help businesses win more sales and generate sustainable growth. She’s also a scientist, gardening enthusiast and mother of two young children.

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