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The Web's Biggest Secret: Traffic Does NOT Necessarily Equal Money!

Even if you’ve never established a web site before, you have probably been inundated with the mantra “traffic equals money.” What this basically says is “as long as people come to your site, you will make money.” This is about as nice to hear as “if you build it they will come.” Unfortunately, there is something everyone should know: it’s wrong.

These days, thousands of buildings, parks and other brick-and-mortar venues are having to close up shop because they made the mistake of believing that their only real task was bringing in people. Likewise, tens of thousands of sites are falling off the edge of the world [wide web] because they are not bringing in money, no matter how many visitors are coming. 

How can this be? Well, not only is “traffic equals money” an incorrect premise, it also puts misleading ideas into a person’s head that could cost a lot of time, money and heartache in the end. First, this is basically a claim that success online is simply a numbers game – that if you just get enough visitors you are bound to make millions. Second, it implies that site traffic is the absolute most important factor in making money online.

All you have to do is dig a bit deeper to find tons of sites which get hundreds of thousands of visitors a month and make little to no money. In that same research time, however, you can find many “golden” sites that are making big money with just a few hundred visitors each month. If traffic equaled money, this phenomenon would not be possible -- would it? So what gives?

Let’s first lay down that myth that Internet success is a numbers game. When you think of something as a numbers game, all you think about is the numbers. Your thought process may go something like this: “Let’s see, if the site gets 10,000 visitors this month, most likely at least 5% will click on an ad. Maybe 1% will actually buy something. That’s 100 sales at an average of X dollars. So the total profit should be X times 100.”

The trouble with this thought process is that no one wants to be treated as a number. People come to your sites, not visitors. The numbers on your analytics screen represent human beings (mostly). The minute you begin to think in terms of numbers and averages, you begin to stray away from the actual intent of your website and go down the wrong path. This thought process shows even in the most minute areas of your website, and visitors can pick up on it even subconsciously.

Next, let’s just simply say that traffic is not the most important factor in making money online. It is also common for a person to believe that content is actually key, but this is only partially true. Most tactics employed in content today, however, are geared towards the search engines for the sole purpose of driving traffic. Instead, it is important to know that the most important factor in online success is people.

Instead of worrying about traffic, site owners need to start thinking about the ways to improve the experience each person has when he or she comes to their sites. Today Web 2.0 and social media prevail, giving your “traffic” a strong voice. Show them you are listening by getting involved in online communities, asking questions and offering advice. Learn ways you can incorporate visitor feedback into your site and you will be king.

Of course it is easy to get lost in thinking about numbers and dollar signs, but doing business on the web is not so different from business 100 years ago. The customer or prospect still wants to be heard, and the company that shows they are listening will quickly be their favorite.

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