Web site infant mortality

If you look around you find plenty of promising-looking websites that have obviously closed down within a few months of their inception. Why is the failure rate so high?

So you have an idea for a web site. You set one up and write some things that you think are attractive. This sort of stuff is surely something people will beat a path to your door for - it's so much better than any mouse trap.



The first week goes by and you don't see any visitors. Checking that the site is still working, you can't be sure that the visitor statistics simply aren't being generated. After all it's your pride and joy and you have given it a lot of effort. Slowly it dawns on you that they aren't coming. Here you are all ready for a party and the guests … well there just aren't any.

So your next idea is to market the site. You think hard about signing up to some pay-per-click advertising but the cost per click is so high that even if it worked you could only afford to get the traffic stats up by perhaps 20 visitors per month. But you reason that 20 visitors per month is better than no visitors per month and perhaps your fame will spread by word of mouth….

What you haven't taken into account is that of the 20 people who actually visited your site 10 of them immediately discovered that they were in the wrong place and bounced back to the search engine, five were impressed but immediately forgot about your site the instant they navigated away, four thought it was good but forgot to bookmark it and one actually bookmarked it but then forgot about it. Viral publicity has a low infection rate unless you really really work at it. For a small startup, or for any site not actually selling a product, click-per-view is almost never economical.

So your next thought is social marketing. You join some social book marking sites and start to post the occasional link - no more than one every few days. Compared to the excesses you are seeing others get up to its mild. To your utter joy it works - you finally get some traffic. What isn't clear to you just yet is that most of them are just calling to see what your site is about - most social bookmarking sites don’t really allow you to specify an in-depth description so a quick visit is the only way to discover what is there.

What is even more amazing is that you find that it all suddenly stops being effective and you are almost back to where you were. The reason it stopped being effective is that, without your knowledge, you have been banned from all of the social bookmarking sites because you have tripped their aggressive Baysian spam filters. The Baysian spam filter compares what you post to an average user and spots that you are posting too much from one particular site and are posting more than you are reading. You are an evil spammer and so are banned without trial or jury. In fact you are convicted without even being told you are accused - Kafka would love this part of the story.

You can't understand why you aren't getting any search traffic directed to your site. You did the research and your site is unique and deserves to be listed early in the results of various searches - but it's not even listed on the fifth or tenth page! What are the search engines up to. OK the site may not have page rank but when you compare it to the rubbish that is being returned you wonder why. The reason of course is that your site is new and so search engines don't trust it. If you wait a few months then the story would be very different.

Now you are getting desperate, you have some traffic but the advertising on your site isn't generating any sort of revenue stream. So you up the level of advertising and drive away the few visitors who really love your site.

Such is the act of a desperate man and such are the reasons that many good web sites fail before they have been in existence long enough to gather the traffic they most likely deserve.


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Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 February 2010 )