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Is Your Traffic Dropping This Week?

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Empty streets

The following was initially published in the Fat Stacks newsletter on March 13, 2020.

It’s been a big, busy day for me.

I just finished swapping out a theme on a site. I was going to use staging like normal folks, but said screw it. Couldn’t be bothered setting it up. I’m horrendously impatient.

My site was a mess for 30 minutes. I’m talking meatball surgery. 500+ people who visited during that time will never return.

I got it looking presentable pretty fast. The remaining 4.5 hours were spent tweaking the details that visitors don’t notice anyway.

I switched themes because I’m testing infinite scroll which required a new theme. Most people in the know told me not to do it. I’m doing it anyway because I have a hunch it’ll improve revenue.

One time I listened to some folks who said using AdSense was the worst thing you could use to monetize a blog. Turns out that’s only the case for some sites. Go figure.

Sadly my hunches are not always correct, but many are. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll update you of course.

The wrench in the process is what’s happening globally. Traffic and revenue is bad so it’ll be difficult to determine the effect of infinite scroll.

Yeah, I’m talking COVID-19 which is seriously impacting lives and the economy big time… including niche sites.

I’ll restrict my comments about COVID-19 to how it’s impacting our biz. There are far worse repercussions so we’re pretty fortunate in the big scheme of things.

Traffic is down for me and many…

First observation – traffic is down 5% to 20% for many publishers I know. Several folks in the Fat Stacks forum are reporting losses in that range. My losses were 5+% yesterday and probably more today.

Other colleagues I spoke with report the same.

I tell you this so that you don’t think your site is penalized or that only you have problems. Misery loves company. Seriously, for me its helpful to know that drops are widespread rather than just me.

Second observation is that ad revenue per 1,000 visitors is dropping as well. The global economy is in a tailspin. I do not understand every facet of what’s going on, but the ripple effect is huge.

That means advertising budgets are shrinking as I write. Lower ad spending means lower revenue for us.

Again, it’s not just your site but pretty much across the board.

If you aren’t suffering losses, consider yourself fortunate. You probably had the foresight to publish a ton of articles about COVID-19.

Speaking of articles on it…

A very smart colleague of mine did a terrific write up about COVID-19 and its impact on our industry. Read it at Yeys.com (a very, very good site BTW).

What’s up with my trying infinite scroll?

For years I’ve had a hunch that infinite scroll made sense for one of my sites. I never pulled the trigger because “people in the know” told me it’s not good.

However, I believe that it’s very good in SOME niches, one of which is mine. I may be wrong and I’ll know very soon, but that’s my hunch.

The most telling fact is that some mega sites with tens of millions of monthly visitors use infinite scroll. It’s not an accident. They tested it. It works for them. Likewise, many equally large sites don’t use infinite scroll. They surely tested it as well.

Publishing sites is not a one-size-fits-all. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. But, it’s worth trying because you never know.

Most people told me infinite scroll earns less. They might be right. If so, it’ll have cost me a new theme and 5 hours of my time.

Personally, I prefer sites with infinite scroll as long as the contact link is in the top menu. The footer is useless because it’s like chasing a rainbow.

If it’s a site I enjoy, I just keep on scrolling until I get to where I left off on my previous visit.

But I know many folks loathe infinite scroll. It’s one of those love/hate things.

I just hope more people love it than hate it. Or at the very least the lovers earn me enough in revenue to make up for the haters.

Jon

P.S. Avoid freaking out about volatility because we’re all in for some traffic and revenue turbulence. If that’s the worse that happens, I’ll consider myself very fortunate.


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