One beautiful day, I sent out an article to be published on a given website. I got a no. A fairly common thing. Not all posts find their home at first try, so I just decided to broaden my research and look for other sites that could be a good host for that article.
I found one and submitted it.
How surprised I was when the editor got back to me and told me that the article didn’t pass Copyscape (the plagiarism checker). What it basically meant was that someone else had previously published the article.
After connecting the dots quickly, I found that the article was indeed published by the first person I sent it to. They published it on a different site, with no attribution.
Contacting them didn’t produce much of an effect. So I’ve decided to give it a rest and share the article with you here instead. Fighting those kinds of people is never a productive habit. If you can afford it, leave such things behind you and move on with your projects (a general advice).
However, the road to success can be long and difficult, and at some point, we can stumble upon some disturbing signs that we might not be going in the best of directions. I’ve had a number of sites failing in the past, so I know what I’m talking about.
But you know what, I don’t mind. Failure is just a step towards success.
So what to do and what are the indicators of our website going south? Here’s my list and some advice on how to deal with them:
Every website (this also goes for business sites) should publish content as regularly as possible. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re publishing twice a day or once a week as long as you stick to your schedule.
Of course, you can change things up a bit over time, but don’t do it for no apparent reason every two months or so.
For example, publishing 4 posts one week, then nothing for the next month, and then switching back to 4 a week is NEVER a good idea. Your readers won’t be able to follow your blog because they won’t know what to expect.
In essence, predictability is nothing negative when it comes to publishing schedules.
If you’re doing something good, chances are that other people will want to reach out to you and either congratulate you, or propose some form of a joint project that can present a completely new opportunity on its own. I, for example, was surprised when I was offered a paid freelance writing deal just because someone enjoyed my style of writing.
More than that, you will probably also start receiving some hate mail. I’m not saying that hate mail is something I enjoy seeing in my inbox, but it’s surely an indication that your content touches people personally, which, in essence, is a good thing.
Anyway, if there are no emails or other messages in your inbox at all, then there’s a lot of room for improvement.
A website exists as long as it’s alive, so to speak. A website lives when people read its content and interact with it in one way or the other.
This all depends on your niche, style of writing, and other things, but there should always be some form of reader activity. Some topics attract a lot of comments naturally. Others are more social-media-friendly (a lot of re-tweets). Others are more prone to bringing you a lot of direct emails (sometimes angry ones, like I said). No matter what it is, there has to be something.
If there’s no user activity at all, you’re probably in trouble.
You really don’t have to be a designer to be able to tell whether a site is of good quality or not… However, when it comes to our own websites, we tend to NOT notice bad things about them, and we do it on purpose.
The best way of protecting ourselves against such problems is to start with a quality premium WordPress theme in the first place. Yes, you do have to spend some money if you want a quality design. Thankfully, spending it on a premium theme by ThemeFuse or Studio Press is a lot better investment than hiring a designer directly.
The truth is that visitors will evaluate your site just by looking at the design. If the design doesn’t seem professional, they will reach a conclusion that you’re not professional either.
In all seriousness, SEO indeed is the most powerful method of promotion online, especially if you’re working on making your business profitable directly because of its presence on the web. That being said, SEO doesn’t always work, and sometimes it can even hurt your site altogether.
Most problems happen when we try to do many things at the same time and make it our effort to test every new technique out there. The thing with new SEO techniques is that Google always needs a while to decide whether something is “cool” or “not cool at all.” Therefore, whenever you try something new, and then Google decides that the technique is not in tune with their guidelines, you’re cooked.
If you don’t want to lose your search engine presence, always make sure to focus on well-tested SEO techniques.
This is probably the simplest indicator of them all and it somewhat connects with the previous point. Google’s goal is to promote quality sites that are valuable to their readers, and to bury the weak sites at the same time.
If your site is not quality enough, Google won’t give it a good spot in the rankings, which will have a huge impact on the traffic.
If you’re not receiving the traffic you think you should be receiving (check via Google Analytics, or better yet, Clicky) it’s probably a good time to take care of some SEO and also to step up your game when it comes to publishing quality articles.
I know that business plans are not fun. To be honest, I hate working on anything that resembles a business plan in any shape or form. But sometimes there’s just no escape…
Generally, I advise you to treat business plans as guidance for yourself, rather then for some third-party entity that might be interested in your business. Your business plan must make your goal clear to YOU. That’s the only rule.
But what does it have to do with your website, right? Well, if you don’t have a thought through business plan then your website likely doesn’t have any action or promotion plan either. In short, your business plan is what is going to guide your actions regarding your website.
Once you have the plan ready, you can, for example, tell whether paid advertising is a good method of promotion for your site or not, and make many other similar decisions. Crafting a business plan is hard…but it pays off.
That’s it for my list of these 7 deadly indicators, but I just have one last question: What are you doing to keep your site on the quality side of the web and make your business profitable?