A Look at Common Sources of Traffic Leaks

Stephen Yagielowicz

When looking at the number of people visiting your website, it’s important to realize that not all of them are making it through your website and taking the desired actions — simply because they are leaking out of your site’s seams.

The following is a look at some of the more common sources of website traffic leaks (as well as some unexpected sources) along with some tips on how to fix them.

Keep your site fresh in their minds and these visitors may well return — plugging the leak through which they escaped.

Understanding the problem of traffic leaks means understanding the ideal navigation path that you wish visitors to your website to take and realizing that the more choices that you give to someone, the harder it is to get them to choose the option you want them to.

For example, do you want visitors to first click an enter link and then a join link? Anything that takes away from that path is taking a prospect one step further from a sale.

For site owners, traffic leaks take away potential sales, but may have other benefits, such as garnering new visitors in exchange. For affiliates, however, traffic leaks on their sponsor’s sites only serve to siphon sales with no benefit in exchange, making an analysis of the sponsor’s site imperative before sending hard-earned traffic the program, because what’s good for the goose may not always be good for the gander.

One example of a traffic leak that may be viewed differently by program owners and their affiliates is a telephone number. While this is not a concern for many adult content sites offering digital downloads (except perhaps when a phone charge is used for billing), tangible goods sites, such as those offering discs and novelties, may see extensive use of a toll-free number — without having to pay an affiliate for the referral…

Beyond phone numbers and snail mail, other surprises may be lurking for visitors.

One hidden source of traffic leaks could be forgotten or malformed redirects within a website’s .htaccess file or through a script. For example, some sponsors promote mobile redirect scripts that may be over-enthusiastic — redirecting the growing number of tablet users to the sponsor, skewing your stats and costing you virtual “desktop mode” visitors.

Country and language based redirects also play a role, since these tools send traffic to the specified location often before any analytics scripts come into play, so it’s important that you understand under what circumstances your site’s visitors are being redirected —and to where they are being redirected to.

It is the “where” in the above equation that makes all of the difference.

Some traffic leaks require a balancing act between their potential to bring traffic as well as their potential to lose it. For example, many sites include social media icons that are intended to encourage Likes, pluses, tweets and more — but they do so at the risk of sending visitors off to these notoriously addictive portals — something to consider when wondering just how many adult website visitors will actually share links to their favorite porn sites with their broader social circles, which could include family and coworkers.

One common traffic leak requires a balancing act between its potential to bring traffic and revenues, as well as its potential to lose visitors, sales and even much of your content — the “webmasters” or “affiliates wanted” link.

The line between affiliate and customer is often a very blurry one, with savvy surfers signing up to your program in order to glom its promotional content in one big bundle — and even using their status as a basis for requesting a free membership.

Other potential traffic leaks that can fall under the category of “distractions” include housekeeping items such as privacy and refund policies, terms and conditions statements, and links to other necessary legal documents and policy statements.

Be sure to include a “back” and/or “home” link on these pages so that visitors won’t have trouble getting back to the parts of your site you want them on.

Another hidden traffic leak that you may not have considered occurs after a visitor finishes viewing a specific piece of content, for example an article, image or video clip.

Here the leak is caused because the website visitor doesn’t know what to do next and will thus exit the site, or click blindly within it.

For some, by far the worst source of traffic leaks are reciprocal links on a homepage, since the visitor has a good chance of simply leaving your site for greener pastures, which is an especially problematic concern for affiliates, who receive no benefit for this traffic. Although the site owner should receive fresh visitors from this linking partner in return, just as with the social media icons, careful study of your analytics will reveal if the leak (and link) is a worthwhile exchange.

And then there’s those moments when your cup runneth over; when so many visitors arrive at your site at the same time that its infrastructure crumbles under the load, spilling traffic out over the top, only to be greeted by error pages and a non-loading website.

This situation arises when your site receives an unexpected surge in traffic, such as when a popular mainstream media source mentions your URL, or a high volume site lists a gallery or submitted video clip.

When you can plan these events, such as a scheduled ad buy or content placement, then arrangements can be made with your webhosting provider to accommodate the expected influx of visitors.

Finally, consider that email, newsletters and other followon communications can be used as a sponge to soak up traffic that leaks from your site, simply because they were done for the day. Keep your site fresh in their minds and these visitors may well return — plugging the leak through which they escaped.


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