10 Blog Traffic and Revenue Disasters (and How to Tackle Them)

Blog Traffic and Revenue DisastersA tweet came into my TweetDeck a few days ago. Obviously, having read my web pages, someone thought I was making the process of building and growing a blog unbelievably simple.

I didn’t understand if he meant it in a good way or not, but…

Did I? I mean, if you read any of my article, I always try my best to balance between possibilities and realities. For instance, you will never hear me say that blogging is easy.

I’d always make it clear that it is the publishing process that has been made easy by blog software. I don’t live in a bubble, and any blogger who reads this blog shouldn’t either.

So that tweet inspired me to write another post. This time it is about blog traffic and revenue disasters. I have several “disasters” series waiting on the line. Not sure yet, but at least there will be at least two more articles.

The intention of this post is not to discourage you. It is more about introducing you to the obstacles that you may or may not face in this blogging business. As with anything, you will find challenges but if you are serious, any of these shouldn’t bother you a bit.

For whichever challenge that you may have in the future, you will find a solution if you seek it.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

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1. Search Rankings Slip

Search engine rankings fluctuate for several reasons, especially if your blog is new. Let’s be specific and talk about Google. It has multiple data centers and as updates to the database happen, you may see different results based on the data center that serves you the search data.

In other occasions, rankings may actually slip though. It may have something to do with you or not. Google rewards authority web sites and pages with higher rankings, so if other bloggers have more links and authority, they may replace your position.

Another reason for this is because of penalty, i.e. linking to bad hosts, severe duplicate content issues, etc.

Action plan: When this happens to you, you need to nail down the exact reason why this occurs. Once you gain clarity, you can work upon and improve it. Of course, having basic knowledge about SEO will help in any case. For other more complex issues, you may have to consult an expert though.

Forums and other discussion platforms are valuable resources in this situation. But don’t take advice for granted, as not all people who give advice really know what they are talking about, especially in a public forums.

Additionally you want to develop a strategy so you don’t rely solely on search engines for all your traffic. Integrate several blog promotion strategies into the mix.

2. Rush of Social News Sites

Probably this is more suitable for my other article about technical disasters but the more I think about it, I believe it has two aspects. Whether your blog will survive spikes of traffic or not depends on your business decision.

It may not be avoidable to start with cheap hosting but in the long run as your blog grows, you need to plan ahead.

Some people report that their cheap host is able to handle it, but the chance is pretty slim. They depend on the fact that no one in the same server box also has traffic that’s higher than usual.

Action plan: This disaster may not happen to you, but finding a good home for your business is a serious business. Shop around. If you insist, find a reputable hosting that doesn’t disable your account without prior notification if this actually happens.

Due diligence is key.

3. Advertisers Stop Buying Ads

Advertisers come and go. Most bloggers never anticipate this. As the result, a lot of negative feelings may kick in at the same time.

But if you think about it from the business standpoint, advertisers may stop buying ads from you because of one or more reasons:

  • They may switch their focus to other products.
  • They may have all the business they can possibly handle at the moment.
  • They may have discovered a better strategy than advertising.
  • Or, let’s face it. Your blog may not convert well for them.
  • And possibly other reasons as well.

Action plan: Solicit feedback. If they need a better pricing, consider it if you so desperately want their business. Remember that you have the option to seek for another advertiser too.

Content quality is a factor for conversion. Perhaps it is time to bring it up a notch. But it may not be the reason at all. Sometimes the product is simply not appropriate.

Put it simply, find out the culprit and fix it if you can. Move on if there’s nothing you can do about it. Rather than grieving over it, realize that it is a business decision. You always have another opportunity — a better one even — in the future.

4. Ad Network Terminates Your Account

This is similar to above, but not entirely the same. An advertising network is the middleman between you and advertisers. It maintains inventories, serves relevant ads, takes payments, provides customer support, etc., on your behalf. Later it will share earned revenue with you.

For newbie bloggers, sometimes this is the only source of revenue for their blog, because it is the easiest to start with. Getting an account terminated may sound like the end of the world.

Action plan: Ad networks have terms and conditions every publisher must abide by. Work with your ad network if you feel you never do anything against the network’s terms of service. If the problem is pertinent to repeat clicks on your ads from the same host, and they suspect those clicks are from you, use the server logs to find patterns.

If nothing else works, don’t give up though. You can always sell and manage ad space yourself. All you need is a good script and PayPal account. It is also the right time to consider adding other revenue sources to your blogging business.

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5. PageRank Goes South

It happened in the past on my sites. It was like dark clouds hovering over my head. I am still in amazement how PageRank (PR) has a strong impact of any webmaster’s mood.

Certainly Google is doing a great job at branding PageRank.

Nowadays, PR is nothing more than a way to measure authority relative to other pages in the same topic — or more specifically, keyword. For some site owners, it means nothing at all. Although higher PR value doesn’t always mean higher search ranking, at least it gives us something to measure against.

Many people believe that Google maintains different PR value than what is displayed in the toolbar. That and a few other reasons cause the discrepancy in PR and rankings.

Action plan: Shinking PageRank may not have an impact to search engine referral traffic. However, if this happens to you, the only thing you could do is to create more valuable content and get more inbound links.

You can also increase the chance this will never happen to you by planning your blog’s backlink strategy and diligently put it into action. There’s no guarantee though because there are a lot of ways to get it wrong.

The best practice is to avoid cheesy techniques. This will be good for you in the long run.

6. Traffic Plummets Because of Inactivity

Blogging is an on-going activity. There is no end to this. As long as you are still in business, you can and will use it to reach out to your audience. For many companies, a blog is the fastest way to announce something.

If you’ve ever stopped blogging for some time, you will notice that traffic suddenly plummets. This is expected because with new content your existing subscribers have a reason to come back.

Search engines also are more likely to reward blogs with high frequency of updates. Without new content, you will not rank for wider varieties of long tail keywords.

Action plan: This one is easy. Slowly get back to your posting schedule again. Most of your subscribers will still be there, especially if you announced temporary hiatus on your blog before you leave.

I’ve seen many blogs have significant increase in traffic, even more than before the hiatus, after a while.

Next time, you can anticipate it by asking for contributions from your readers. Perhaps prepare a few posts yourself before taking vacation — or whatever reason you leave.

7. Brand in Jeopardy

A few reasons why you start a blog is to have a tool to communicate to your audience, give credit when credit is due and right a wrong. Notice that all of these involve interaction with your prospects, customers and everybody else.

As your business grows, some people will badmouth about you, your product or service. This is not avoidable. You can’t satisfy everyone, but you can turn around and create a better experience if you participate and respond in constructive criticisms.

If you fail to take care of this, it may backfire and put your brand at stake. This happens to big companies. And it may happen to everyone.

Action plan: Develop radars. Monitor what people are talking about you and your brand in the blogosphere and news sites. Respond if necessary.

While bad public relation may bring you loads of traffic, it can be bad for your business for the long term if your reputation is not pristine.

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8. Cost of Pay Per Click Ads Goes to the Roof

Bloggers who also tap into other sources of revenue besides ads often use pay per click in addition to organic search to cover areas or keywords they haven’t yet been ranking well.

AdWords as of now is still the most popular pay per click advertising. But it’s not without challenges to get good result from it. If you advertise with Google, chances are you hear about the term Google Slap in the past.

A few times since 2006, a click that might cost a few cents suddenly went to the roof. Advertisers had to pay five to ten dollars per click overnight.

Action plan: No matter which traffic strategy you engage in, you need to stay on the edge. If it’s PPC, you need to keep your quality score high. Test and track everything. Based on the feedback from the scientifically proven data, optimize your site.

Understand that Google wants to create a good experience for its users so they come back repeatedly, bringing Google more business. If you are able to give what the users want, you will be rewarded with lower cost per click.

9. Affiliates Switch to Another Product

Imagine an affiliate sending you 5-10 new sales every day. All of sudden she’s gone promoting your competitor’s products. Sounds like a disaster in anyone’s book.

Although you have to share revenue with your affiliates, it is still one of the most inexpensive, effective, yet powerful marketing strategies. If your affiliate program pays people only when they generate sales, you don’t have any cost at all except when you setup the program.

It’s like hiring a team of sales people but without any kind of contract. This is why it also has a risk for product owner.

Action plan: If your affiliates jump ship, the first thing you should do is to get in touch with them. Find out the reason why they decide to abandon your product for someone else. Perhaps it is because the commission is more lucrative over there.

Or maybe it is the lack of quality. I know, you hate this, but you’d better know it than not.

Know that affiliates are your partners. They deserve attention. You may or may not be able to pull them back, but if you haven’t yet, you should develop a strategy to foster relationships with your affiliates.

It can only be good to your bottom line.

10. High Bounce Rate

With your consistent effort to spread the word, people will come to your blog. If you track your blog pages with web analytics tool such as Google Analytics, you may be surprised to find that the overall bounce rate for your site is extremely high.

“What is bounce rate?” I hear you ask.

In a nutshell, web site bounce rate is a term used in web site traffic analysis to represent the average percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather continue on to the other pages within the same site.

To say it another way, bounce rate is the rate of single page access or entries.

It depends on your industry, the nature of your content and other factors, but if your bounce rate is constantly at 70 percent or more, you need to do something with it.

Action plan: You are throwing your traffic away if you have high bounce rate. The topic about site and page optimization can span a whole book, and it can be hard to nail down the culprits immediately.

However, you can begin looking around for common problems and fix them. Do it atomically, one thing at a time, and track closely so you know whether you improve it or otherwise. Some potential places to look at are site design, load time, message to visitors match and pulling power of the headline.

Conclusions

Every time you hear someone says that building an online business is easy, you should run, not walk, in the opposite direction. As with any business, web publishing with a blog is not without its obstacles.

However, with the benefits of owning a web business and being in business that you enjoy mean that all the barriers are easier to overcome. In fact, you may feel challenged to grow your mind, both from personal and professional perspective just because you have fun doing it.

Traffic plummets, revenue diminishes. Those are facts that happen in life. If you anticipate them and take the necessary countermeasures, you will be ready. With preparations, many entrepreneurs see their businesses thrive even during downtimes. You can too if you take action.

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