Everybody Starts at Zero

What’s new? If it’s a blog, Twitter account, e-commerce site, or some other online space, then you may be wondering when — or if — the crowds will show up.

One of the problems with predictions is that few people will willingly share their numbers with you. The common belief is that most websites in the world have fewer than three visitors a day, but think of all the other common beliefs there are out there, and you’ll know that common beliefs aren’t worth much.

When I started out as an in-house SEO, I made enormous efforts to find out how many web visitors other businesses like us had to their websites and no one would tell me. As I continued to work with lots of clients, I got more data — but of course I can’t share that with you. We set up our lab site, FreshPlans, so that we’d have some numbers we could share while also providing a worthwhile community service.

FreshPlans had very little traffic its first month. The second month the traffic tripled. The third month it tripled again. The fourth month it tripled again and we began to feel worried, because I can tell you for sure that this is not typical. What good is a lab site with exceptional results?

Here’s what good it is: FreshPlans, which grew 3000% in its first year, and the sites that have three visitors a day for decades all started at zero. So will you. What happens next depends on a lot of factors, but steady and rather slow growth is what you should expect.

If you’re selling something, then you can figure that there are two groups of people who will be interesting to you:

  1. All the people in the world who are ready to buy your product right now.
  2. All the people in the world who have visited your website.

Venn diagram

Imagine all the members of the first group in the left hand circle. All the members of the second group should go in the right-hand circle. Once you have some people in the central portion, you’ll have sales. Not until.

Clearly, if you have three visitors a day, and there are at any given moment only 123 people in the world who want to buy your stuff right now, it will take longer than if you have three thousand visitors a day and the average American buys your product twice a week.

This is why we work on both traffic and conversion for our clients’ websites. Nonetheless, they all start at zero.






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