First Impressions on Websites Can Be Misleading

One thing that makes online marketing particularly complex (and interesting) is the fact that you can never be sure about what’s going on behind the scenes of a certain website. That is, you can’t know how many visitors the site has, how much it makes per month and so on. In fact sometimes the first impression you’ll get can be quite misleading, and here are some examples:
Number of Comments
Until a couple of years ago the average number of comments a blog would get per post was a good indicator of its traffic. Today, however, I don’t think this rule holds true. For instance, the number of comments on DBT declined over the past couple of years, but the traffic and earnings increased steadily, and I see this same pattern on many other blogs.
Design Quality
Most people tend to think that websites with awesome designs must also have a huge amount of traffic, but this is not always the case. I have seen plenty of ugly websites that have really high traffic (for instance, The Best Page In the Universe), and shiny websites that no one visits. The latter is more common, as there are many people who know how to design well (or has money to pay for it) and believe that the design alone will bring the traffic, which is far from the truth.
Content Freshness
Same story with the freshness of the content. A site that has been updated 20 times over the past month must be booming, while one that was last updated in 2005 must be dead, right? Again, not always the case. There’s a thing called evergreen content, and if a certain site has plenty of it and a lot of authority it will keep receiving traffic from Google even if the last time it was updated was ages ago.
No Ads
What if you don’t see banner ads around, does it mean the site is not being monetized? Not at all, as webmasters and online marketers are pretty clever in the ways they monetize their properties. Just think about affiliate links, pop-unders, exit ads and so on.
Bottom Line: Understanding what’s going on with a website is not a trivial matter, so be careful with your evaluations, whether you are using them to purchase websites, to find partners, to find places to advertise your products or merely to study the tactics of your competitors.


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