6 Little Talked About (and Possibly Controversial) Reasons Why Your Traffic Conversion Rate Sucks

Want to know the truth?

Most people’s conversion rate sucks.

You’re in good company.

But knowing this doesn’t make your conversion rate any easier to take, does it?

After all, you just can’t understand why people aren’t interested in what you write about or sell. You put a lot of time and effort into creating your blog (I’m including websites here too), writing content, creating videos and offering full-proof products, right?

But no one’s biting.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it? Because you’re doing everything right as far as following what the experts tell you to do…

You’re in social media groups…

Conversing in forums…

Optimising your content…


Sharing links…

But, you’re not getting the subscribers you expected and the results from your affiliate links is disappointing, right?

What’s going wrong?

I get readers and clients asking me to give them answers. Before I do so, I make a point of checking out their blog.

In nearly every case I can see (within a few seconds of arriving on their blog) why their traffic conversion rate sucks…

Here are the main reasons why:

1. Starting A Blog (or Site) To Sell Someone Else’s Products

You will never make money selling guru products. Not by sticking ads or banners on your blog and hoping people click on them.

You may think it’s a good way to monetise your blog but it’s not, whatever the gurus tell you. Some even think it’s a silly strategy.

Don’t agree? Look at your conversion rates.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t sell other people’s products. Affiliate commission for quality products makes up a good part of many influential and popular bloggers income.

What I’m talking about is the fluff that fails to deliver.

But even the quality products that do deliver only sell for their influential, popular bloggers because they already have a pretty good idea that their large audience are likely to want them.

You see, those bloggers have large audiences because they’ve spent time getting to know what those audiences want enough to buy, what their desires are, their hopes and dreams. And building up their trust and influence.

So when an influential, popular blogger lets her large audience know that she has a product that she recommends to them (because she knows from engaging them, getting to know what they want) and…

She’s probably got first hand experience of said product. If not, she probably knows the product’s creator, if virtually via Skype calls, interviews or meeting up at a conference. At least, she’s built up a connection via social media.

Think our example success story is going to get members of her audience clicking her links to find out more…

And probably buy?

You bet she is.

Harsh as it might be, you don’t have influence like this (not yet). You probably don’t have much of an audience either at the moment. Maybe none at all. But you have ads and banners for products that you probably don’t know much about but expect people to click on them and buy.

2. No Clear Message To Make You Stand Out

Almost all the blogs I visit when looking to see why someone is not getting the conversions they want, or expected, suffer from this…

Confusing or conflicting message. Or both.

There’s confusion over what the blog’s about. Confusion over what it does for people, what end result it delivers anyone who subscribes or buys. Conflicting purpose.

None make it clear from the moment I arrive who the blog is aimed at – what audience you want to attract.

There’s little that would interest me enough to keep me coming back if I wasn’t visiting because I had been paid to review the blog and help them solve their conversion problems.

It’s a shame because I’m sure the owners of these confusing blogs have ideas that could make a significant impact for good on an audience. These owners probably work hard on their blogs, probably with little time while working full time jobs and expect better returns for their effort than they’re getting.

Converting traffic starts before you even start your blog…

Traffic conversion starts before you even start your blog. Here’s why: - TweetThis

Because it starts with deciding what your blog is going to do for people.

And it has to be something they want badly enough to spend money on.

3. Your Blog Is Just A Carbon Copy Of What’s Already Out There

Yes, it’s harsh. But true. And I’ve been just as guilty in the past.

I’m not talking about your reason for blogging, your inspiration, your mission. No. That’s not a copy. It’s unique. But it’s uniqueness, the reason it needs to stand out, is getting drowned in content that’s not doing it justice.

And it’s not standing out from the crowd.

Right now, it looks like a 100 other blogs, all writing the same content and all with conversion rates that suck.

Those people you expected and hoped would come and subscribe to your email list and buy your products when you started your blog are already getting what they want elsewhere.

4. You’re Expecting Too Much, Too Soon

You’re not seeing results.

Your blog maybe a few weeks, or a few months, old and nothing’s happening.

You expected people to subscribe and buy but they’re not. Now you feel a failure. Listen up – You are not a failure.

You just need to find out how to turn your blog around and start getting those conversions.

5. Your Site Looks “Spammy”

This is what those flashing, blinking ads turn your blog into.

It’s not your intention. But that’s what might be happening. If you want to build a business online, one that stands out, looking “spammy” is not the way to do it.

Yes, you may not be able to splash out on hiring a professional designer. But you don’t have to.

No, you may not be tech-minded and be able to give your blog a clever-looking design. But you don’t need to.

You can make your blog look good and different with a low-cost (even free) template. It’s not a clever-looking design you need though. Traffic conversion doesn’t happen just because a blog’s design could win awards. Or because it couldn’t.

Check out blogs belonging to influencers blogging about your topic. What kinds of ads do they have on their Home Page. If any? And, if there are any, what impression do they make on you?

Take note of that impression because it’ll give you a marker to measure your own blog’s impression. And how to improve its chances of converting more traffic.

6. You’re Going After The Wrong Traffic

Could it be true?

Yes. It could. And it is.

When people start blogs they do several things wrong. A major one of these mistakes is to go after traffic – any traffic – because they’ve been led to believe traffic is what makes or breaks your blog’s success.

Yes, traffic is important.

But what those experts don’t tell you is that not all traffic is good. For instance, say you get lucky and get tons of traffic from Quora, or Pinterest, or Facebook…


Maybe that traffic keeps coming.

But no one subscribes. No one buys. It happens. A lot. By now, you probably know how often it happens, right?

It leaves you scratching your head, trying to figure out why.

Traffic Conversion Rate: Does yours leave you scratching your head, trying to figure out why? -TweetThis

Well, I’ll tell you why: it’s the wrong kind of traffic.

It’s the wrong kind because they are not interested in buying your (affiliate) products. They’re not interested in signing up to your email list. They just liked that image you share posted alongside that link. Or maybe they liked your headline.

But beyond that. They’re not interested.

Why? Because they’re not your audience.

Put bluntly: because you haven’t taken time to think about WHO you want coming to your blog; who you can best serve because you can give them what they’re looking for, because you haven’t defined who your audience is, you’re getting the wrong people coming to your blog.

In short, all your time and effort you’re putting into making your blog successful is going to waste.

BONUS Reason #7:
Your “Profitable Niche” Isn’t Working

Want to know the problem with going after a niche because some keywords suggest it will be profitable?

It doesn’t work. (Unless you have a track record in making money from “niche sites”.)

For most people, especially, beginner bloggers, or those of us who’ve blogs have failed to convert, this “profitable niche” advice is nothing more than a frustrating route to disappointment and frustration.

In fact, conventional advice about finding a niche is wrong because it makes you focus on what is little more than categories…

Self Improvement. Writing. Healthy Eating. Weight Loss. Parenting. Content Marketing.

These are categories.

They don’t actually mean anything…

Your so-called “profitable niche” isn’t making you money because it’s just a Category. -TweetThis

They don’t give you answers to how to attract an audience that’s going to hang on your every word and spend their hard earned money on you, time and again, as they shout your praises to the world.

Yes, you can niche down to more narrow sub-niches and sub-niches of sub-niches. But you’re still picking categories. Not audiences.

You need to pick an Audience, not a Category because…

“The bottom line is the vast majority of traffic techniques depend on you having an audience.” – Jon Morrow, SmartBlogger.com

For instance, TrafficSmartMarketing.com, this blog you’re reading now, could be said to be in the Blogging niche - or the Internet Marketing niche - or the Business Online niche…

It doesn’t matter. Because the people who come here (who blog in the Writing niche, the Internet Marketing niche, the Self Improvement niche, all different niches), they come here because they want help to get traffic to their blog and I can help them do that.

BONUS Reason #8:
A Higgledy-Piggledy Mash-Up of All (or Several) Of These Reasons

Take a good look at your blog.

A good honest look…

If you’re not getting the conversions then it’s a good bet it’s because one, two, three, or all of these reasons highlighted above are why.

But there’s hope…

How To Get Your Traffic To Convert…

You need to ask yourself these questions:

1. Who do you want coming to your blog (and why?)

What is it that someone coming to your blog is going to get out of it that they can’t get elsewhere?

To answer this you need to know who is most likely to want to come to your blog (get that end result you offer).

2. How will they be closer to their desired outcome as a result of:

Coming to your blog…

Signing up to your email list…

Buying your products?

Up until now, you’ve only been guessing.

Or relying on what keywords suggest. Stop that. Because you need to know what is going to motivate people into coming to your blog again and again.

You need to know what their desires are, what drives them to keep searching…

And what it is they’re searching for.

3. You need to find your audience and make your blog its home

I’ll let you into a secret…

Finding your audience is easier than you think and here’s a technique for making it easier…

Think of your audience as being like you. More precisely, like you were before you had the answers they’re still looking for. Before you discovered the solution that helped you solve that problem, whatever it is, that still keeps them struggling, frustrated and unhappy.

Making your blog into a place where they feel at home is more difficult. But it begins with…

4. Finding out where they already hang out trying to find what you can offer them.

You can find where by thinking of what the problem is you solve and working backwards to what your (potential) audience is probably asking.

Remember what you wanted to know when you were still in their shoes? This will give you clues for where to look for them. http://trafficsmartmarketing.com/how-to-find-where-your-potential-readers-hang-out/

5. Ask yourself WHY someone would want to subscribe

What do you give them in return that they can’t get anywhere else?

Again, you need to know what it is they’re looking for.

6. Ask yourself WHY someone would want to buy from you

Whatever your answer, you need to know that getting people to buy takes effort.

Effort in building up a bond of trust and repeatedly showing them you can give them what they’re looking for.

If you do nothing else from now on, stop wasting time posting links to your content on social media (for now) and spend time answering these 6 questions. And remember, you can hire me to help you. I want to see and hear how your conversion rates are increasing.

If you can’t understand what it is that’s keeping people from taking the actions on your site that you want them to take, no matter how much time and effort you put into writing content, then here’s a pointer - It’s because your blog isn’t getting the right kind of traffic.

To increase your traffic conversion rate you need to focus on the right people who want to know what you can give them.

These are the people who want to know what you know already.

Stop trying to make money online. Because the internet doesn’t work like that any more (if it ever did) and you’ll fail.

Start finding people who want to know what you already


  • Robin Khokhar

    Reply May 9, 2016

    Hi Tom,
    You are right that we must not go for the exact type of blog already there, but many people make this mistakes and secondly you have written an excellent post.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Tom

      Reply May 9, 2016

      Thanks Robin. Good to see you here again.

  • Kim Willis

    Reply May 10, 2016

    Hi Tom

    What a great post you’ve got here


    You’ve highlighted the problem then offered a conceptual solution. People could learn a lot if they dissect the structure of this post.

    In the world of selling, the sales makers (ie the people who make the big bucks) do the same thing. They don’t immediately talk about their oh so wonderful product. In fact, the product (ie the specific solution) comes last. Rather they focus on uncovering problems and offering conceptual solutions first. BTW, this approach is quite different when compared to the poor old Order Takers, who have no clue about effective selling techniques.

    So that’s my first point - if people want to improve their conversions, they should structure their posts like you do.

    A few more:

    1. Sell Someone Else’s Products. People are deluding themselves if they think they can sell products from their blog and make money. They may make a few dollars here and there, but until they build a large following, it’s not going to happen.

    2. Carbon Copy Blog. You’re right - too many blogs have a sameness about them. They’re undifferentiated, for sure

    3. Site Looks Spammy. Why do people plaster banner ads all of their sites? It looks bad, sends the wrong message to visitors. Other than that, because they have little or no traffic, it’s a pointless exercise.

    Conversion is a big topic, but you have covered many of the key issues that bloggers need to embrace

    Lots to think about here, Tom

    Thanks so much


    • Tom

      Reply May 10, 2016

      Hi Kim,

      Many thanks. I appreciate your thoughts on this post’s structure. And yes, this is how to go about content marketing.

      If you want to sell though your blog then you have to create customers and your content is the way to do this.

      Your added points are spot on. Especially your point abot banner ads. An popular blogger told me that the more ads your blog has, the less likely influencers will want to link to it.

      However, I think many beginners are persuaded that ads are the way to make money. But it’s not. Not even if your blog gets several million visitors. And anyway, it’s not a viable business model.

      Great to have your thoughts, Kim. Thanks.

      - Tom

  • Peter Beckenham

    Reply May 12, 2016

    HI Tom,

    What a fabulous post.

    Some points you made hit me right between the eyes because even though I was aware of them you have made me think again if there is not more I can do re the “message” my blog gives to my visitors.

    I make sure I do not sell anything on my blog but rather create my “home online” as a welcome mat where folks will hopefully enjoy the content I provide in my own particular conversational way and think about joining my community.

    However, my target audience only represents about 45% of the traffic to my place at the moment so I need to do a lot more work on this bit.

    Perhaps as a relatively new blogger I am putting too high an expectation on both the number of blog visitors and conversions I am getting re joining my community.

    Tom there are so many excellent ideas and solutions you have provided here and with your blessings I am going to provide a link to your post to my lists as what you are providing here is essential reading for beginner and struggling bloggers (my target audioence).

    Best wishes from the remote Thai village blogger


    • Tom

      Reply May 12, 2016

      Hi Peter,

      Great to see you here again, thanks.

      Your experience of getting traffic that doesn’t match your target audience is a common one. It stems from going after traffic over reaching your target audience.

      It proves not all traffic is good traffic. Not when it comes to converting it into readers, subscribers and buyers.

      You make another good point about assuming the more traffic you get means you’ll get more conversions. Often the reality is that the more traffic you get, the fewer conversions you get.

      Sounds odd, doesn’t it? But it’s a result not many traffic experts tell you (or know about). Truth is, you don’t need to get a lot of traffic to increase conversions. You just need to be totally focused on getting the right kind of traffic.

      Yes, please do share a link to this post to your list. I’m honoured you think your readers would find it useful. Many thanks. Let me know if there’s anything else you think I could do to help your readers succeed.

      - Tom

  • Timothy Gagnon

    Reply May 12, 2016

    Cool article, I felt like most of the websites I made in the past were just carbon copies of what’s out there (and sometimes I feel that about my own website too) so I’m trying to spice things up with my stories and unique observations.

    I think if you take the time to share some personal info from your life in your blog-posts you’ll have more success, like travel stories, and what not. Well, cool article. I’ll definitely come back for more!

    • Tom

      Reply May 12, 2016

      Hi Timothy,

      Welcome. Sounds like you’re onto a good strategy with the adding your stories and unique observations. This is what sets popular blogs apart from the rest. You’re right about that. It also helps to also find out who’s most likely to be your audience and write about the topics they want to know.

      Great to hear you want to come back here and thanks for taking time to add your thoughts.

      - Tom

  • Donna Merrill

    Reply May 12, 2016

    Hi Tom,

    You hit a home run here! When I first started blogging, I made the mistake of not knowing marketing and leading in with some else’s product. It felt like someone put a bag on my head and I had to feel my way around for a while. Huge mistake, but at least I learned from it.

    If I knew then what I know now, I could have saved a few years. But on the positive side, it helped me get the help I needed.

    Having a “carbon copy” blog. My goodness I see them and have to shake my head. There is no room for branding purposes…for our unique message of who we are and what we do.

    The biggie: Traffic and conversion! That’s what it’s about. I do get the traffic…at least 30 people per day, but truth be known, I’m working on conversion at this writing. There is always room for changes.

    Thanks so much for this. Now I have to go to my blog and give it a check up.


    • Tom

      Reply May 13, 2016

      Hi Donna,

      Great to have you back here again adding your thoughts. You’re right, there’s too many “carbon copies” unfortunately. Though I don’t blame the people with them because they’re just following advice, allbeit bad advice.

      Just yesterday, I heard from someone who bought into a big guru’s “training” course that was turned out to be little more that a membership site. This person was very demoralised when they found me.

      Conversion though is the biggie. It comes down to:

      1. knowing who you want coming to your blog.

      2. knowing what inspires them to come (what are they really looking for)?

      That’s what’s getting my conversion rates rising.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. A popular blogger like you sharing your conversion story is going to really help readers.

      - Tom

  • Sherman Smith

    Reply May 13, 2016

    Hey Tom,

    Great job on this blog.

    I never really thought about confusing your target audience with categories. This makes a lot of sense and we all have to be careful when it comes down to this.

    Also having a clear message is vital. I use to get emails and messages from different people asking me what exactly I did. I thought I defined it, but apparently I didn’t at that time LOL.. But I have wisened up.

    Thanks for sharing Tom! Have a great weekend!

    • Tom

      Reply May 14, 2016

      Hi Sherman,

      Thanks for stopping by again to add your thoughts, it’s always good to see you.

      Absolutely, getting clear about what it is you do is not always as easy as it seems. Especially for your audience. That’s why a lot of bloggers (even those getting lots of traffic) don’t see the conversions they want or expect - no one’s really sure what it is you do.

      Your audience has to be clear on what it is you do - and why it’s important to them. If they don’t know what it is you do, they won’t engage or subscribe or buy.

      That’s why you need to know who you want coming to your blog (who you want in your audience) - and why. Then you need to make it clear to them the moment they land on your blog. Taglines help a lot with this. Also offering answers or solutions to their problems as soon as they land, e.g. with a Welcome (Home) Page.

      - Tom
      PS., Looking forward to your ideas for a guest post for TSM

  • Akaahan

    Reply May 14, 2016

    Hi Tom,

    You’ve got the most important points covered…however, I wish to add one: LYING TO SELL A PRODUCT!

    Readers today aren’t dumb - neither are they stupid…accordingly, the probability of checking other reviews or what others are saying before trusting you with their money is high.

    Accordingly, it is a brilliant idea to focus on great products that are proven…why promote trash and then, lie to cover up?

    This is my first time here but I’m already impressed. You write awesomely and in a supremely clear and beautiful manner.

    Enjoy the day!

    Akaahan Terungwa

    • Tom

      Reply May 16, 2016

      Hi Akaahan,

      Yes, that’s not a good way to conduct a business, online or offline. And yes, readers aren’t dumb but often look to “experts” because they want to learn how to succeed.

      Good to hear you liked this post. Hope you found it useful too.

      - Tom

  • Joy Healey

    Reply May 16, 2016

    Hi Tom. I have been guilty of all those sins at various times in my blogging career and completely agree with what you say.

    Trying to find the right audience for my blog has been a constant battle with myself because I didn’t have good focus.

    I still have a way to go but think I have eliminatedone the worst of the sins and working on the rest.

    Thanks for a great article.

    Joy Blogging after Dark

    • Tom

      Reply May 16, 2016

      Hi Joy,

      Yes, having good focus on who you want coming to your blog and why they would want to come is key to success.
      It’s one of the most important aspects of getting conversions so it needs time to work on.

      You’ll find you’ll get an even clearer focus (once you’ve done that initial work) on who your best audience is because they’ll tell you.

      They’ll tell you by the questions they email you or the comments they leave on your posts.

      For instance, I discovered my audience - people frustrated with lack of traffic and traffic advice that was lame and didn’t work in practice - but they’re telling me that the big problems they really want help with are lack of conversions (turning visitors into subscribers and customers) and problems finding a niche that’s right for them.

      So, I attract people to my blog by giving strategies to take the frustration out of getting traffic, then offer them strategies for conversion success and finding their niche.

      If I hadn’t taken time to find my audience, I’d probably still be trying to flog my copywriting course, instead of getting such valuable insights into what my audience is willing to buy.

      Thanks for joining in this conversation, Joy. Let me know if you’d like some ideas on getting more focused on the right audience for you. I’ll be happy to help.

      - Tom

  • Andrew M. Warner

    Reply June 5, 2016

    Hey Tom,

    Really great post here. Just a few points I want to make.

    Point #2 is really key. If you don’t have a clear message, you’re not going to reach the people you want to reach. And it ties in to your point #3 perfectly. Everybody is just copying everybody else.

    There’s no way you’ll succeed if you just copy something someone else is doing. I’ve been guilty of doing this with previous sites — and my main site.

    You have to carve your own path and do things differently. Look at every successful blogger — that’s what they did.

    Really great and truthful post here, Tom.

    - Andrew

    • Tom

      Reply June 5, 2016

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks, glad you found it resonates with you. Absolutely right, being just like everyone else is no way to succeed. It’s all about being different by finding people underserved.

      Your blog is a good example of carving out your own path and one way you do so for me is that you write content that answers your audience’s questions and help them move forward.

      Thanks for your contribution here, Andrew.

      - Tom

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