Where the hell is all the traffic?

demand vs capacityIt is the second biggest question that I am asked on a regular basis. The single biggest question I am asked is, why is my website so damn slow? I am going to talk about both these issues. But I am also going to share some of my own beliefs about building a successful website.

You just don’t care enough

Your business or website is an extension of who you are, any successful website would reflect the beliefs, ideas and interests of those behind it. I have a passion for optimizing websites and thus diywpblog was born.

Websites that are born purely for quick profits are almost always doomed from the moment they were born because like a child without a mother, due care and attention was lacking from the start.

Your website should be like a child, you should nurture it on a regular basis and attend to its needs. If you website isn’t getting enough attention it will simply die off. The web is an enormous place to be, in 2012 figures stood at 634 million indexed websites, this doesn’t include non indexed websites.

As you can see the number is BIG and it keeps growing.

Just to give you an idea let’s go back a few years.

  • 2012 – 634 million
  • 2011 – 555 million
  • 2010 – 255 million
  • 2009 – 234 million
  • 2008 – 196.7 million

So since the economy went downhill, people took to the net as a source of income with 437.3 million new websites indexed.

What this means is that not only is there more content floating around, but there is also more competition kicking around the block and that’s important because that helps people improve there site.

I added these figures because I want you to pay more attention to your websites, instead of thinking, how can I make money online, you should be thinking, how can I provide something useful and interesting to people.

When there is so much competition around, it is important that you take care of your website, again, nurture it, treat it like a child and watch it grow into a fully fledged adult with a clear position in the online market.

To gain that position, you must focus on two key areas.

  • Quality content
  • Efficiency and the speed you deliver that content

This is my underlying philosophy online and today I am sharing it with you.

Quality Content

Quality over Quantity, its been argued over before but I want to share my opinion about this area.

I often get asked,

how many posts should I be writing each week?

The answer depends on the type of site you have.

News and gossip sites

You obviously want to keep up with current events and so there is no real limit to how many posts a week can be published here, because most sites of this nature have many authors, as long as the content is well written and within the theme of your site then there is no issues with numbers here.

Robhasawebsite is a site I built for a client using Thesis 2.0 and continue to help update and manage when Rob needs me to.

His site has an established market presence because he focuses solely on Reality TV, having be a two time contender on Survivor himself. Rob averages around 1 – 3 posts a day depending on the world of reality TV.

Technical sites

So I guess I would fall in to this category, for me I don’t have a posting schedule, I write only when I have something to write about. My blog is there as a reference for myself and as a bonus, you all get to view it too. I keep a notepad with me and jot down potential posts and ideas based on projects that I am working on, questions that people have sent me and things that I refer to on a regular basis such as loading Facebook’s’ JSK asynchronously.

In my field there is potentially 1000s of subjects to write about so choosing what to write about is important for me, I focus mainly on Thesis, wordpress optimization and general advice.

Looking back I have just 80 posts at the time of writing over a period of  12 months, on average that would be 6.6 posts a month.

Personal sites

The posting schedule here can range from once a month to a few posts a month. Let me give you an example of two sites I know that have low posting numbers yet rank very high.

Pearsonified.com – This is the personal website of Chris Pearson, found of DiyThemes and Thesis, with a page rank of 7 and Alexa ranking of 47.8k as of writing your probably wondering why it ranks so high considering he only posts around once every 6 months. I may be wrong here, need to ask him, but looking at the site it averages as such.

The key there is that the content is of such a high quality and relevant from the day it was written to this day. The content focuses on all kinds of areas related to his fields of interest which on the whole is about building better websites by looking at areas that most people don’t consider at all, such as Typography, SEO without the garbage and general insights in to the world of a man with an Ego bigger than the solar system we are in.

His tagline is Best Damn Blog on the Planet, his bio on the sidebar says My non-superhero name is Chris Pearson. I talk big, and I think bigger.

Some people don’t like it, but I guarantee if you pay attention to his writing, presentations and ideas, you will see its all in the name of Cutting the Crap out so you too can build the best damn blog on the planet.

Smartpassiveincome.com – This is the personal blog of Pat Flynn with a page rank of 5 and Alexa ranking of  6.4k as of writing. Pat has possibly the most loyal following I have ever seen and it is a privilege for me to have the chance to work with him. His advice has helped me improve my writing quality and introduced me to some incredible people such as Kim Roach. Pat Posting schedule is about 5-6 per month with regular patterns such as Guest posts by talented people offering free advice to his well known monthly income reports.

Pats success lies within his following whose loyalty is quite simply unprecedented. The reason people follow Pat is because he is just a genuinely nice guy who offers world class advice, helping people to set up there own websites and guiding them to success. Pats beginning on this road began in a similiar fashion to my own, economic crash, loss of work and eventually hit the web doing what he does best which is advising people and helping them to be successful without providing them with substandard information. High quality isn’t the word when it comes to reading Pats blog.

Pat and Chris are in a way polar opposites, there ideas and personalities are very different, there approach is also different, but what makes them successful and similiar is that they both provide Very High Quality Information.

So we have concluded that Quality content is key to building a successful website and harvesting the traffic it deserves but the other key area you should be looking at is the environment in which your site lives.

Servers are there to Serve

Your server is where your site lives, it is it’s home.

Now imagine for a moment, you buy a house, a house has a door right.

How many people can fit through that door at once?

The answer would be, not that many.

The same logic applies to your server, how many people can fit through the door at once? well that depends on the tpye of server you have.

Shared Hosting

Most websites live on what we call shared hosting. This is a great place to start any website as it is cheap and you can be safe in the knowledge that it’s not going to empty your wallet. I would recommend web hosting buzz as a good starting point.

Shared hosting is simply a server, like any other, except the resources are shared amongst god knows how many websites. Each hosting company differs in numbers and some have more than others all bundle together, but hey your only paying a few bucks a month so it’s no biggie right?

Well that would depend on what tpye of site you have, how much traffic do you have, how well you optimize and maintain the site, but there is one fundamental flaw with shared hosting. It is not scalable and the actions of others on the server will directly affect you.

We must also consider that the default settings for a server, grossly under perform, they work, but the configuration could be much, much better.

Who should be using shared hosting?

Anyone that is new to the world of website ownership should start on shared hosting, so that you can learn the skills required to ramp up site, think of it as playground, it’s where you being and it’s where I began.

It is a place where you can work out the direction, foundations and core ideas of what your online presence will be.

Who should not be using shared hosting?

Anyone who has established a presence online, once you have your foot in the door and steady traffic is coming in, it’s time to start considering a move to a VPS server.

You will do untold damage to your business and website if you think you can sit on shared hosting regardless of the amount of traffic you have.

If your site is heavy in terms of PHP processes, image heavy or you have a popular forum. It’s time to move on up.

So why don’t people move?

I ask myself this question everyday, people are furiously opposed to spending more money on a bigger server.

There comes a point for us all where a bigger server is the only option, failing that, you will hit a point of counter productivity, whereby you will start loosing money, customers, clients, visitor and potential followers as a result of failing to recognize the fact that people are impatient and wont stand for long load times.

It is the brutal truth, the net becomes faster and faster and so to do our expectations of how long it should take a site to load, we want it now! not next week.

Money is the sole reason that people refuse to believe that spending more money will bring them better prospects. You have to stop being selfish and think about your users. They are the ones that will bring prospects to your online world, and they will leave very quickly if they are forced to wait for your site to open. You should be firing your High Quality content out as fast as possible within the limits of your budget.

Quick tip!You should always be one step ahead of your users in terms of demand.

How do you know when it is time to move?

When your traffic rises, the demands on the server increase, without the right amount of power behind your site, the waiting times will also increase and so will your bounce rates.

Bounce rates are just one way to see how well your site is doing, because it measures engagement and most importantly it is a measure of how many people back click away from your site. If your bounce rate is high and your site is slow, it is time to move.

Another way to quickly check your site is to use Pingdom. I don’t recommend Pingdom as a tool for measuring the efficiency of your site, but the waterfall presentation provides invaluable information about the resources on your site.

When you test your site the waterfall will produce information related to each resource being loaded on your site, and when you hover over each resource you will see a table like this.

The site name in this example is withheld because I haven’t sought permission, but it is is a good example to use.

pingdom_waterfall
Figure 1 – Displays a Pingdom waterfall report for analysis. Note the wait times of your resources, they are a major indicator of insufficient resources.

The first line is your main domain, in this case of the above example, it is 36.2kb and its taken 5.52s to load. This is just one resource.

Note that the Connect time is fast, receive is ok, but the wait time is very long. This indicates that the server is busy, and thus your request is waiting in line to be processed.

Considering this is just one resources, taking a total of 5.52 seconds, would you wait that long for a site to load? The total load time of this particular site was 8.7 seconds.

Lets compare that to my site and the sites I mentioned above.

Diywpblog.com

diywpblog-pingdom-waterfall
Figure 2: shows a a total 104ms for a complete request, with a wait time of just 51ms.

Robhasawebsite.com

robhasawebsite-pingdom-waterfall
Figure 3: The request was completed in 285ms with a wait time of just 97ms.

Pearsonified.com

pearsonified-pingdom-waterfall
Figure 4: Shows a total time 357ms for a complete request with a total wait time of just 207ms.

Smartpassiveincome.com

smartpassiveincome-pingdom-waterfall
Figure 5: Smartpassiveincome.com initial request took just 380ms to complete with a wait time of 129ms.

Non of the above sites, with the exception of figure 1 are on shared hosting. They are either on a VPS or dedicated server.

If any of the above sites were on shared hosting they would all certainly have lower overall market shares and they certainly would not rank as high as they do, they all began with humble beginnings on shared hosting but they all made that important decision to flow with there users and expand as demand increased.

First Impressions count

Failing to respond to the demand for your site will result in a loss of new users and in turn potential clients. It does not make sense for a business to pay $4 a month to host a website and if you think that you can get away with that, think again.

Your competitors will be lapping up your potential clients and traffic in a heartbeat, your losses are there gain.

The evidence is there, I could continue to provide more and more data but ultimately the choice is yours.

Want to succeed? Respond to the demands or be forever bottleneck by your own will.

The combination of High Quality content and the resources to deliver it effectively and in good time have lead to success and the data proves itself over and over. Yes SEO is important, but you can have the best damn SEO on the planet, but if your contents quality is low and the site take forever to load, nobody will be interested.

It is as simple as that!

Case Studies

About the Author

Matthew Horne

Matthew Horne is an Optimization Specialist whose passion lies in making the web a faster and more efficient place. He has been fighting an uphill battle to change the minds of the masses.

3 comments… add one

  • Patrick Gokey March 31, 2013, 7:59 pm

    Great article, Matt. I think you’ve convinced me to move to a dedicated
    server rather than the shared hosting I’ve been using on Bluehost.

    • Matthew Horne April 1, 2013, 6:37 am

      Thanks Patrick, that’s actually the intention of the post.

  • Shemul September 23, 2013, 9:01 pm

    i am reading this site for 2 hours..I am on VPS server. Its good.

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