The 15 Deadliest Web Traffic Killers in 2011

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Hey you. Yes… you! I just finished visiting your website and I’ve got to say it was one of the most painful experiences I’ve gone through in quite some time.

Even for an expert in all things, I had a hard time navigating it.  It’s painfully difficult.

I was searching for some information there. It was nearly impossible and every minute that I wasted made it more and more painful to continue.  Finally I broke.

“Excuse me.  I’ll be right back.”  I pushed my chair away from my desk and stepped over toward the door.

Immediately I began bashing my head into the door frame until my face was bruised, bloody and swollen.  After several minutes of mercilessly smashing my face into the door, I finally reached the point where the pain in my face was more than the pain of navigating your site.  I returned to the desk and tried to continue my quest.

The 15 Deadliest Web Traffic Killers in 2011

Visiting some sites is simply more painful than getting a root canal with a plastic spoon.

Is your site like that? Seriously, is it?

If you’re wondering why nobody visits your site then maybe it’s because it’s so painful for people to visit it that they would rather play leap frog with a unicorn.  The male readers understand what I’m talking about on that last one.

Don’t get your feelings hurt thinking about this.  We all have to learn and grow.  That’s part of life.  In fact, that’s why Site Sketch 101 exists… to help you transform your site into something beautiful.

So study, work hard, and get better.

The 15 Deadliest Web Traffic Killers in 2011

Here’s a few things I noticed at your site that really made my eyes bleed.

  1. You don’t post enough: One of the fastest ways to get even your regulars to start abandoning you and your site is to simply stop posting.
  2. Your titles bore us to tears: All I can say on this one is to read this article, 15 Tips to Awesome, Eye-Jerking Post Titles.
  3. You punch people in the face with ads: We all understand the desire to profit from your online ventures but there’s a tasteful way to make it happen.
  4. Your site is ugly: First impressions are lasting impressions and your lasting impression is disgust.
  5. You ignore your readers: If folks leave you a comment, it’s always a great idea to try to respond as much as you are able.
  6. You write like a 2nd grader: Spend some time each day learning how to improve your mastery of the English language.
  7. You’re all over the place: It’s okay to mix in a little variety, but a new design every week and random content will chase people away.
  8. You write the same thing everyone else writes: If people can get the same information somewhere else, why should they visit your site?
  9. Your content doesn’t live up to the headlines: You write a headline that offer 15 tips and then you only provide 9.

This is just a quick list.  But hopefully you get the point.  If you’re here at Site Sketch 101, then I hope that it’s to find out how to fix up your website or blog. I’ve laid out in cold, hardcore, brutal honesty the way to take your site to the next level.

Group Discussion:

What other things can you think of that have made website painful to navigate?  Is there a pet peeve that bugs you?

Don’t hold back.  I want to hear what you have to say.  This is your chance to rant and rave.  I want your feedback.  Let’s go.

Special Note: Today’s post was inspired by a suggestion from Robin Dickinson. If you have an idea for a Power 15 topic, please shoot me a tweet and tell me.


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  1. February 15, 2011

    Ryan Critchett said:

    Mr Cardot! Coming through with another positively damaging post. I actually have seen people’s content not live up to their headlines! Did they forget?

    Like that post you retweeted the other day about “what makes me unsubscribe” said, activity is king! Great list to add to the 15. This is the Emperor of traffic killers

    • February 15, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      So I take it that you liked point number 9 alright, huh?


      • February 15, 2011

        Ryan Critchett said:

        Yea! 😉 Another website killer I’ve seen all too often with super reputable websites is punching people in the face with ads! That’s huge man.. turns me off completely.

        Another one that urks me a bit is too many call to actions and the feeling like I’m being trafficked to an Opt-in, and not appreciated like a visitor.

        • February 15, 2011

          Nicholas Cardot said:

          That ad one is a difficult one to balance. I activated ads at the top of my articles for one day last week and made $10 that day. That could be an extra $300 per month here at Site Sketch 101. That’s good money. However, I’m still convinced that there are much better ways to make money without having to destroy the user experience.

  2. February 15, 2011

    Thomas said:

    Nice post Nicholas and nice way to prove your point with advice number 9 😉 I am sure that there are a lot more ways to kill traffic to a blog.

    • February 15, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Thanks, Thomas. I appreciate it and I hope that you weren’t too disappointed with not having all 15.


  3. February 15, 2011

    Rahul said:

    Website fonts plays and imp role in building or destructing site reputation.
    Another point is that people don’t want to read long post with long paragraphs.
    They like more of bullet list or number list which you have used here or on most of the posts.

  4. February 15, 2011

    Lisa said:

    Hi Nicolas:

    I have to say that pop ups set to every millisecond until I enter my coveted email drive me to the brink of the cliff. Ahhhh, I feel better now.
    I agree with all of your points on this one. Ads blasting everywhere kills me too. I don;t mind a few ads here and there. Another thing, I do not like when I cant differentiate between actual links to continue learning or paid contextual links. Drives me batty…apparently everything drives me batty!! 🙂
    Off to read the headlines post!

    • February 15, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      It’s true, Lisa. I used one for a while and the opt in rate was amazing. Some folks complain, but the ones that don’t complain make it worth so much money.

      How do you strike up a good balance between making some money to provide a better life for your family and ridding a random person of the annoyance of seeing a pop up?

      • February 15, 2011

        Lisa said:

        I completely understand and agree with your point Nicholas. I think the balance here is to make sure the pop up is timed correctly. Maybe even after commenting or give the visitor a few seconds to adjust to the material and then pop!. I have visited many sites that do time it well. 🙂

      • March 23, 2011

        Blake Waddill said:

        I think the balance is how much it affects the user experience. Having adds all over the place can bog down a site or make finding the real content challenging. That’s when you know you’ve failed.

        I think the popup is totally reasonable as long as you delay it some and don’t spam it every single visit. It takes a lot of hard work to think of and write valuable content. Running a popular website is hard work; the least people coming to read your FREE content can do is put up with a silly popup once in a while.

  5. February 15, 2011

    Roberto @ Psychbits said:

    Great intro!

    For me the thing that turn me away from blogs are pop ups.

    I understand you are trying to sell something, but I don’t remind me everyone two seconds.

  6. February 16, 2011

    Dave said:

    You know What I can’t stand? It is reading posts that are condesending to the reader. I hope you do not take this the wrong way, but your writing style is arrogant and this could turn people off and drive them away from your site.

    • February 16, 2011

      Ryan Critchett said:

      We respect your opinion, but if you know Nick, he’s not that way. You just may be taking it that way. You said it yourself, you can’t stand it! That lies in your mind.

      I’m ok with it! He has great points and some bloggers need to hear that stuff! I know I did at a certain point in my uprise as a blogger!

    • February 16, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I can only smile and chuckle at your response.

      I’m sorry that I didn’t make it more obvious that the tone in this article was supposed to be funny. Apparently I failed on that note, but I’m alright with that.


      • February 17, 2011

        Sampath Amitash said:

        No not you.. Dave failed to catch your true tone. 🙂

      • February 17, 2011

        Davina K. Brewer said:

        Nicholas, The funny tone didn’t fail with me but Dave makes a good point: You write in a tone or style that readers, esp. new ones, don’t get your humor or “in-jokes.” And I have read condescending posts, but that’s the more academic, “how many SAT words can I cram in to make a 80-word post fill a page” nonsense. FWIW.

  7. February 16, 2011

    Brankica said:

    Before you bleed out to death please tell me you were not talking about me?!

    I agree with all the said above and I am expecting the other 6 tips. Oh, did you just do that????


    • February 17, 2011

      Sampath Amitash said:

      As I started to read, I too got the feeling “How did Nick get to know about my blog (Blogging)” LOL 🙂

  8. February 16, 2011

    Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing said:

    By “respond as much as you are able” do you mean more content comments or comment as quickly as possible?

  9. February 16, 2011

    Ana @ Blog Traffic Generation said:

    You are such a cheater, Nick – but since your face is way too swollen from all the beating you just took, I’ll be merciful. 🙂

    15 things, huh?

    Let’s see what I can come up with any as my perfect glass of wine is settling in my stomach and my brain…

    Too much effort to read the comments below :), so forgive me if I repeat something.

    10. You get smacked by PopUp Domination before any appropriate courtship time.

    11. You make me look and look and look for a way to share your post: Tweet Button, Facebook – anything!

    12. You display your Feedburner counter that shows that you have 15 subscribers.

    13. You display your FB fan page that proudly displays all your 15 fans.

    14. You immediately hit me with 5 (!) ways to subscribe to your list – just got back from a site that did that.

    15. You make me guess what your site is about – no clue in domain name, header, tagline – nothing. Well, I won’t wonder for long – I am outa here!

    I can go on, but you know… more posts to read… more vibrant comments to share…


  10. February 16, 2011

    anthonynlee said:

    This one punched me in the face…with awesomeness (I really need to learn a new adjective).
    Seriously though, design and format of my content has been a beast I struggle with since I started this journey not too long ago (now, one and a half months since launch of both blogs).
    I learn a lot from this site.
    Thank you.

  11. February 17, 2011

    Brittany Rubinstein said:

    #3 and #4 will do it for me. Working hard to prevent committing those on my own site :O

  12. February 17, 2011

    Andy @ FirstFound said:

    The Ads tip should be stapled to people’s foreheads.

    If I have one more massive popup ad appearing, asking me to buy a sodding ebook, before I get near any content…

    I won’t be held responsible for my actions.

    • February 17, 2011

      Lauryn said:

      LOL! I am completely not in love with the pop-up ads either…. especially not on “IM” sites.

  13. February 17, 2011

    Davina K. Brewer said:

    Nicholas, Love the Dilbert! I have written a few of these as little rants: wishing death up horrible e-crap popup ads, I titled a post “your website is ugly and your SEO sucks” and just did a post on commenting. And #9? Bwah! Reminds me of the old joke: “There are 2 secrets to success. #1. Never tell everything you know.” FWIW.

  14. February 17, 2011

    Lauryn said:

    I detest poor PLR and poorly spun content. I understand and like well-written PLR as filler content, but I almost always personalize it and use it to generate new ideas.

    I have a serious issue with “I just downloaded this 5 cent PLR and stuffed it with a few copy and pasted sentences and stolen from Ezine” content that makes little to no sense.

  15. February 17, 2011

    ah hong said:

    Couldn’t agree more, pop up ads drive me crazy and I will tend to leave the site more. I love Dilbert, ouch.

  16. February 20, 2011

    manonthelam said:

    I like the cut of your jib NZC…esp. the promise of 15, but the delivery of 9 gag. You’re gooood…

  17. February 21, 2011

  18. February 21, 2011

    Greg said:

    I think another thing which puts people off is not having a regular cycle of posts. Something which im starting to explore now where you have certain types of posts on certain days.

    It makes current readers know what to expect in some ways rather than have them guess what you’re going to post.

    Would you say it’s important to have a rhythm when blogging if you’re not well established? 🙂

  19. February 24, 2011

    Braden Talbot said:

    Your post made me laugh and was more relevant than most other “X Number of Things to Do” posts.

    I now deem you subscribe-worthy.

  20. February 25, 2011

    Laura Click said:

    I think this is great, Nicholas! As one of my friends recently put it, there are definitely ugly babies in the world, but we all think our own babies are beautiful. The same goes for websites and blogs.

    I’m happy to add to the list.

    10. Your site is difficult to navigate. Sometimes, the navigation is TOO creative or veers to far off of what people expect and you can’t find the information you’re looking for. If I can’t find it in a few seconds, I move on.

    11. Dead links. Please, don’t send me to places that don’t exist. Check your links, people.

    12. You have too much clutter. I hate when there are so many widgets, boxes, pop-ups and other things demanding your attention. It gives the reader ADD. White space is your friend and it helps you readers focus on the content.

    13. You misspell words. This goes along with second grade writing in #6. But, if your site is rife with errors, I’m moving on.

    Now, we just need two more to get you to that 15 you promised! 😉

  21. February 27, 2011

    dspickett said:

    Great article Nicholas, I’ve been trying hard to get my design as good as it can be as you say.

    I’d also add annoying pop-ups that stop you reading the content that you’ve clicked for in first place!

  22. February 27, 2011

    mark said:

    Hey Nick,

    This is an important list.

    Regarding number 5, one thing that I have noticed recently is that there are a few people who do respond, but don’t seem to have read the comment.

    Worse, they just say something like “thanks for the comment”. It is kind of funny, but not really good for building relationships.

    Pop up ads are also a tad annoying, though, they have been really effective when I have tried them. I have been wishing for the developers to implement something with a cookie so that people visiting more than once every couple of days don’t get it. Maybe they have already taken care of that, but it was that way last time I checked.

    BTW, all nine of these are definitely the fifteen traffic killers of 2011. Hilarious. 🙂

    Have a good day!

  23. March 1, 2011

    Alexandra said:

    Wow, firstly AWESOME site, and secondly, GREAT article! I was laughing my head off for a short period of time! Keep it up!

  24. March 2, 2011

    Kazia said:

    This is such a great post. Great information and great insights. Now if we could get everyone with a website to read your list, the internet would be a much better place.

  25. March 5, 2011

    Nasif said:

    This is very common nowadays “You write the same thing everyone else writes”

    Wondering what will happen after five years. Every blog will be exact replica of each other !

  26. March 6, 2011

    Leopard Cower said:

    One way we’ve seen more web traffic is that by reading other blogs that interest you and posting thoughtful comments means you interact with like minded individuals. Visitors like these are invaluable and help build community of visitors who have a shared passion and interest with you.

    Your site has been a source of inspiration and it’s great reading your posts. Particularly liked this post as your advice is simple enough for anyone follow but powerful enough to make a big difference.

  27. March 9, 2011

    Shree said:

    All the points are surely web traffic killers but point number 3 is the most annoying one.

  28. March 19, 2011

    ruzanne said:

    Ouch. Ouch, that hurt! Aw. Are you just…awwww! Guilty on a few counts, yes. But will be a proud “student” of sorts to the awesome ideas here. Esp. now that I did find this site. Great things going in here, really. Congrats to the real peeps who are frank and fun enough to share. 🙂

  29. March 29, 2011

    Debbie Young said:

    My pet website peeves are:
    1) Too much visually chaotic crap on the site like flashing buttons and motion
    2) Black backgrounds
    3) Music that jolts me out of my skin, especially Pachelbel’s Canon…
    4) Long meandering posts
    5) artsy, unreadable type faces

  30. May 20, 2011

    Reatha said:

    Noise. Noise will kill it for me every time. If I open a page and music starts or someone starts talking to me I kill the page immediately.

  31. May 28, 2011

    Steven Dale said:


    I agree with almost everything you say. However, its interesting to note that your own site seems IMHO to be somewhat top-heavy with ads. The Elegant Themes ad appears twice on your page consistently. A bit of overkill IMHO. Of the 4 ads on the page 2 are ET. Just an observation.

    BTW I use ET WP themes myself so this is not targeted at them.

    Thanks for a great blog BTW.


  32. June 24, 2011

    Kevin Brown said:

    Nice post. I’m a graphic designer and am just now getting into wordpress to help drive new people to my online store via interesting and useful content.

    I hate flashing buttons or ads.
    I don’t like pop-ups.
    I don’t like sound that auto starts… even for a bands blog, a large audio player on the front page is great, having it autoplay is irritating.
    I don’t mind black backgrounds.
    I’m not a fan of blogs that are ‘out of the box’ as in, wordpress was installed and they started posting.

  33. September 24, 2011

    Sanni said:

    Hi, do you think my design is good ?

  34. September 29, 2011

    Ava Jae said:

    My biggest peeves often have to do with design like light text on dark backgrounds and auto-playing music or videos (that one is HUGE). Really long paragraphs is also a pretty big issue for me. If the writing looks like a brick on the page, I don’t really have much desire to read it.

  35. October 7, 2011

    Mark said:

    Once again Nick, you’re right on the money. I launched my own blog last week and I’m trying to do things right. Thanks.

  36. October 19, 2011

    James Hussey said:

    Nicholas…you’re killing me with your clever ending there. I scrolled down before reading the punchline.

    Excellent ideas, now stop picking on me. 🙂

  37. October 27, 2011

    Akash Kumar said:

    Haha, I guess many of times #6 suits for me.