One of the difficulties in running a website is hitting what I refer to as the “saturation point” of its traffic. The saturation point, as I define it, is the stage where traffic has plateaued and shows no signs of growth — despite your efforts.
If you believe your site is at saturation point already then you may need to make a decision:
- Devote more resources to marketing, in pursuit of increased traffic.
- Aim to maintain current levels of performance, and shift focus onto new objectives or projects.
Identifying Traffic Saturation
You cannot say for certain when your traffic is at saturation point. Your traffic might get better or worse.
Here’s how I go about identifying the saturation point of my own sites.
Website Traffic Patterns
Traffic growth varies from site to site, and depends on a number of key factors. For instance:
- The quality (and SEO-friendliness) of your content
- The size of the industry, and
- How your content or product compares to the competition.
Most of my sites have followed a similar trend: steady traffic growth, followed by a steady stream of it.
When you launch a new website you’ll usually struggle to compete with already-popular sites. That’s completely normal. In fact, Google is known to favour established domains in their search rankings.
Over time, with sustained new content — as well as various other marketing efforts — you will inevitably see some growth in your traffic (although it’s not guaranteed).
Your site may hit a point where the average traffic you’ve observed over a long period of time (e.g. a year) remains steady — despite various marketing efforts. At this point you might conclude that you’re at saturation point… at least for now. Here’s an example:
If your site is performing well in Google page rankings for the most relevant keyword searches, then you’re probably already one of the most successful sites in your niche.
But if you’re ranking well, yet you still feel unsatisfied with the amount of traffic referred from search engines then ask yourself this: exactly how big is the niche I’m in?
If your niche is highly specialised, you might not ever receive enormous volumes of search engine traffic — even if you’re on page 1 for all the right keywords. Truth is, achieving a top page ranking for rarely-searched keywords is pretty straightforward. But ultimately if nobody searches them, it’ll have no impact on your traffic.
I recommend using Google Trends to compare the popularity of different searches; it really helps to gain some perspective on your niche.
The best advice I can give to small niches with consistently low organic traffic is to explore other, more popular keywords which relate to your product or service. Home in on those in the content you produce. Broaden your site up a little (but not too much). Explore different avenues.
So, In General, You’re At Saturation Point If You’ve…
- Exhausted all relevant marketing and SEO strategies
- Produced engaging content and/or provide a great product
- Broadened your niche, in pursuit of more customers
- Received steady traffic over a long period of time, with little variance in performance.
But I’ll admit, I’ve got it totally wrong in the past…
I’ve assumed that one website couldn’t possibly grow any further — only to double, triple and then quadruple it’s traffic later on (Punter2Pro). On the other hand, I anticipated a vast increase in traffic to my aviation site (Fly-GA)… which has yet to come.
On both occasions I felt that the “Google Gods” decided the fate of my website. I was doing my part with the SEO and marketing, so the volume of organic traffic was somewhat out of my control.
So what can you do when there’s no signs of traffic growth? Must you rely on Google to feed you more?
How To Drive More Traffic When Google Isn’t Feeding You Enough
At times it feels like Google is a giant tap. It can drip — or completely flood — your site with traffic.
The good news is, you can always drive more traffic to your site and increase your page hits through other means. Provided you carefully estimate the costs, you might reap the rewards.
Here’s what I suggest:
1. Increase Advertising Spend
Many businesses increase their advertising spend to raise additional awareness, and keep their name out there. They reach out to new audiences — even generations — in the process.
Take Coca-Cola as an example. They always run their famous Christmas campaigns, yet everyone old enough to watch TV already recognises the brand immediately. So why do they do it, and how is it effective?
- Is it a gentle reminder to choose their soft drinks over Pepsi during the festive period?
- Or is aimed at making Coca-Cola synonymous with Christmas in the minds of Children?
Perhaps both. And in addition, the Coca-Cola Christmas campaign is timed to perfection — targeted at people consuming copious amounts of unhealthy food. Drinking liquidated sugar is neither here nor there. The adverts do wonders for the brand and its publicity.
I think the overall message here is targeting.
2. Increase Outreach
Contact sites with an audience that might be interested in what you offer.
A site owner may allow you to pay for advertising space, or grant you the opportunity to guest post on their site. Your aim is to engage with an existing audience and increase exposure to your own website or business.
Obtaining a “high authority” link at the same time is also great. Google will value your site higher, and often rank it better, because of its association to a reliable source. So focus on your “way in” to one of those sites.
Many websites succeed because of offline networking and creating new opportunities.
3. Produce More Content
Sustained content reminds search engines that you’re still there. New content helps to re-engage your current audience, and connects you to first-time visitors. That’s good news for your traffic.
Also consider distributing new and old content on entirely different channels — such as YouTube. It’s not just about Google SEO or Social media campaigns. Spreading a wide net helps to reach as many people as possible.
What ways can you diversify your business? Think about what products, services — even content — you might add to your repertoire in order to reach more people, and drive new traffic to your website.
I’ve had to diversify several times. I once diversified my sports blog from purely horse racing content into the larger market of football. It was a simple, but highly effective strategy which tripled my traffic at a point where my daily visits had stagnated.
But I hit another saturation point. And to make that next leap I decided to start writing about online business. Thus I opted to develop a new, independent site rather than ‘water-down’ my sports-focused content on that blog. That’s how I arrived here, at Niche Carve!
You may need to realign your content or products several times, like I have.
When To Settle Instead Of Driving More Traffic
Whilst the suggestion of “settling” on current levels of traffic might sound unambitious, there are cases where it might be the smartest option. Hear me out on this one.
1. Increased Advertising Spend Isn’t Viable
Let’s suppose you’ve applied as many organic SEO strategies as possible, and decide to drive more traffic to your website through paid advertising. You’ll need to take a close look at the numbers: is it viable?
If you calculate that your sales conversion rates — both short and long-term — can’t justify the advertising spend, or that your margins simply aren’t big enough to cover the expense… then it isn’t worth doing. Selling low ticket items, such as mobile phone cases, carry this predicament.
So whilst increased advertising spend makes it more likely for you to generate sales, it won’t always work for your business.
2. Everyone Already Knows About Your Product
This leads on from the previous point. Is advertising desirable if your product is already very popular, or a market leader?
Perhaps it is. For example, you might want to:
- Re-assert yourself in the market to fend off new competitors.
- Advertise a new update to your product.
- Reach out to new generations.
Yet in many cases it’s not desirable to advertise to people that already own your product, or are aware of it. Essentially, your own popularity can make it difficult to achieve the next “big leap” in traffic.
Suppose you set up PPC advertising on Google keyword searches but found your organic results showing up on the same page as the adverts you’ve paid for. In this case the advertising spend is ineffective: you’re advertising where you’re showing for free. You’re a victim of your own SEO success!
So if you’re already well positioned to find new customers, you might want to focus on customer retention, or explore new products and niches.
3. Better Opportunities Elsewhere
If it takes increasingly more effort and ingenuity to drive traffic past your “saturation point”, then your time, energy and other resources could be better spent on tasks with a greater return. Other areas of the business, or new projects, for example.
I find that as a writer and affiliate marketer I need to be increasingly innovative and original to achieve a long-term upturn in traffic. So when I’m out of fresh ideas, I’ll make it a priority to seek “low hanging fruit” elsewhere; doing whatever I feel is most productive.
Ideally I could fully maximise all projects so that it need not be a choice of prioritising one thing over the other. But if you’re like me, you’ll need to manage what resources you have.
Final Thoughts On Traffic Saturation
No niche will continue to grow exponentially, forever. So once you’ve explored all marketing avenues for your product/service, ask yourself:
- What more can I do to improve traffic?
- How much more traffic can I realistically drive from this niche?
- Is it cost-effective to devote additional time, effort or spend on marketing, or am I better off focusing my efforts elsewhere?
Remember that you can’t be entirely sure how Google will rank your website in the future. You might get back-links from very credible sources, and your rankings shoot up. You could go viral on social media. Or, on the other hand you could drop off the face of the earth…
Make the most of SEO opportunities. Hedge your bets by diversifying your content and exploring new marketing channels. And all the while, prey that the “Google Gods” turn on that big old tap for you.