Why Am I Not Getting Traffic To My Website? Why Aren't People Buying My Stuff?

The Internet really up-ended marketing truisms of the last half-century, and heralded a buyer-centric economy, driven by social credit. The disconnect between how companies see themselves and their offering, and how customers see them, has never been greater. To make matters worse: marketers enter and enrich themselves offering inappropriate solutions.

There are two ways to do about everything in digital marketing:

  1. A seller-centric way that looks at what it’s getting, that might get a 2% click-through rate (for a keyword that’s an exact match), and
  2. A buyer-centric way, that begins with an objectively awesome product or service offering (ideally unique in some way), provided by founders who look at what they are giving or providing, and not so much what they’re getting

The ways these philosophies can manifest are infinite, but at the core, one group is looking at what they’re getting, and the other is focused on giving and helping. One wants ‘success’ on his or her own terms, and other is other-focused, and humble about objective market feedback. 

One is forever trying to game markets, to fool or outsmart Google or their customers – trying to appear awesome while not doing the thinking and work – and the other is invested in actually being awesome

Consider the objectively unappealing person wondering why they can’t get a date, as opposed to the person accepting ‘the market’ realities of what’s limiting their appeal, and working hard to deliver what more people want. It really breaks out like that – which is why ‘success’ has such wide appeal. It’s really evidence of being able to think intelligently, adaptively.

The former doesn’t want to do the things that wider appeal actually requires. The latter accepts feedback, does the work, and gives to receive.

This is an imperfect metaphor, in that human beings connect in other ways, and love is blind and subjective. But even with the dating market, pretty and successful people have more opportunities to find that fabled true love. Either way, what’s ‘hot’ is determined by the market. It’s determined by the choosers. By the selectors. Not by the person desiring to be chosen. Just as in business. 

The problem is that seller-centric, lazy, rigid ways of running a business and/or marketing still work, sometimes. Call it the ‘infomercial’ or ‘Clickfunnels’ or ‘Banner Ad’ or ‘Retargeting’ phenomenon.

You can jack with markets. You can become the ‘only’. Selling Sno-Cones in the desert. The ineligible guy becoming a Yoga instructor. The nerd becoming fashion photographer. A homely woman moving to Alaska. 

There are ways to ‘hack’ markets, to not change, and get it on your terms. For a time. 

With business, at scale, these lazy and self-centered practices can sometimes can be enough to make a person wealthy. As P.T. Barnum used to say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Every 18 months or so, there’s some newfangled ‘hack’ in marketing; a trend that promises to fix a foundational problem few understand.

It can be ‘influencer’ marketing, or ‘account based marketing’, or ‘marketing automation’. It could be geo-fencing, or in-game advertisements. It could be a better targeting solution: Facebook, collecting almost infinite interest data signals and meaningfully spinning-out audience segments. 

There’s always some new, interruptive platform or advertising practice or technology – Uber drivers with television banners on top of their cars – that offers a trickle of wins, by virtue of being new, even if it’s unwanted by consumers. Then its effects die off and it’s replaced by new technologies

And again, this kind of works. 1.91% of the time for search keywords, and .35% for search display ads (down and up, respectively, from 2% and .2%, and largely depending on the industry and market competition).

Page Rank looks at engagement analytics and – paradoxically – traffic. This means that those who are already loved, get loved more, and become more visible based on extant popularity. 99% of the time, if you have a product and you aren’t getting traffic or sales, it’s because you’re *objectively* not unique and awesome (as judged by the 15,000 Ph.D.’s at Google), but you can change that. Raise your game.

Honey, lately your low self-esteem is just good common sense. ~ Spanglish, Albert Bro

In other words: you’re not getting more traffic because you’re objectively not great

Page Rank looks at engagement analytics and traffic. This means that those who were already loved, get loved more, since they become more visible based on their popularity. 

In other words, at the point Google can help get sales with better Page Rank, you won’t need them.

There is no way to get love from Google (search visibility) without being great and popular. So this begs the question, how do you get traffic/popularity in the first place? 

  • Start at the foundations, and have an amazing product or service offering. Basic, sound, advice, but not everybody does this. They want to save money, and cut corners. Their hours are limited (if they’re a brick-and-mortar business). They don’t make good hires. 
  • Be unique, somehow. This is really going to vary from one service offering and/or vertical to the next, but basic market economics says: the more options people have for what you’re selling, the more you’re going to split the yield (sales). So, if you open a dress shop on a street with dress shops, or if you create a cloud application that’s subtly different from 10 other cloud apps that do essentially the same thing, you’re going to have a hard time – especially as you get started.
  • Share and promote what you do. Also a bit of a no-brainer, but web companies don’t blog. Don’t offer articles or content. They have an informational website with 10 pages, and wonder why they have to pay AdWords to get traffic. The reasons are because a) nobody likes ads (well, 2% click-through on a paid ad with a matching keyword), and b) their site isn’t helpful. As an expert in your line of business, you’re in a unique position to offer content people discover when they’re online – and this is as true of a plant nursery as it is a bicycle shop. 
  • Be weird; speak in your true voice. The Internet amounts to a membrane that separates humans from direct, person-to-person contact – which is how business was conducted from time immemorial. You can build credibility and trust by speaking with your true voice. By picking fights with ‘giants’, defending the ‘little guy’, or by otherwise telling it like it really is. We don’t advise you get political, but sometimes that works. The point is: don’t sound like everybody else. In Private Parts, Howard Stern realizes that he can’t keep chasing low-paying disc jockey gigs around the Eastern Seaboard; he needs to be unique. He needs to not hold back. Not just because the Internet is so depersonalizing, but because you can connect with fans who are all over the world (again for businesses not offering services), your demographic will never be too small. 
  • Have a product and a web presence that help people. It’s a lot easier to offer than it is to ask. Rather than foisting ads on people, offer them help (and no, selling them your product isn’t helping them; it’s interruptive marketing and it works ‘sometimes’). Genuinely aid people. Share your expertise. Give and ask for nothing in return

If your product or service are great and unique – everywhere or just in your regional footprint (things like food or items that can’t be shipped) – and you’re helping people you may not become a millionaire, but you’ll get fans. And human fans are what Google is looking for. 

People get confused, because Google is a tech company that operates ‘in the cloud’. But everything comes back to real-world value provision. We have an article explaining that Google can tell whether people come to your business, or buy from you, after discovering you. They can tell if your site sucks (by bounce, exit rates and other engagement signals) without a Google employee ever laying eyes on it.

It’s difficult to succeed without visibility in Internet search. And that comes from being awesome and/or unique – and preferably both – in reality.