Traffic is meaningless; action is everything.

Unless you plan to make a lot of money selling ads on your site, traffic is a false measurement of success. The only people you want to spend your resources trying to attract are those who are going to positively impact your business in some way, and there is a tried and true way of doing this. Only when your site starts generating many high-quality form conversions does it truly begin working for you. At that point, it transforms from a brochure into a real marketing tool.

Attracting the right people to your site is primarily a combined function of your persona development, content strategy, and the way you optimize your site for search engines. If your prospects are not showing up to your site, the quality of the site is irrelevant because no one is listening. Obviously, some prospects, clients, and potential employees who already know about you will find your site one way or another. The main opportunity your site needs to exploit is that of attracting the unaware. Your site needs to be proficient at attracting those who need your expertise but are either unaware you exist or not currently considering you. Preaching to the choir will not hurt, but it also will not affect your business to any measurable degree. That being said, if you create a site that fulfills the goals described in this book, it will surely be a valuable resource for all of your site visitors, regardless of their familiarity with your firm.

The next few blog posts, which cover SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and persona development, are more technical and implementation oriented than the other sections of the book which I’ll be covering through this blog. Even though these topics are not particularly strategically engaging, it is important to start with them because the first role of the marketing website is to attract the right audience, and that is done specifically through identifying personas and properly optimizing content for those personas and search engines.

This post is an excerpt from my book, “A Website That Works.”

  • http://Website Susan Bodiker

    I am reviving my creative services agency after too many years working for others (long story) and in the process am re-doing my site and developing all the new “new biz” strategies necessary for success. Your book could not have appeared at a better time. Like Mao’s little red book, I carry this little blue book everywhere. It’s just brilliant. Beautifully designed and full of common sense. The fact that my copy arrived unexpectedly autographed is a delightful plus. When the new site is up and running, I’ll send you the link. Thank you so much for these insights.

  • http://Website Ellen

    Nice introduction and excerpt–the strategy is sensible and often skipped, so good to see its importance explained. :-)

    Before purchasing, I’d like to read more. A table of contents, the first chapter or a list of those 9 magic steps–something get me jazzed and eager for more. I’m sure you’ve already considered this and decided against it. Wondering what your thinking was.

  • http://Website Ellen

    Just noticing that you’ll be revealing more in future blogs, so my comment above is irrelevant.

  • Mark O’Brien


    Thanks so much for sharing this. As the author, I couldn’t ask for a better reward than the experience you’ve had with my book. I wish you all the best with the next version of your agency!


    Much of what you mentioned can be found on the details page for the book on our site:

    Thanks for the comments!

  • Chuck Green

    Thus far I’m loving this book Mark.

    One small point of clarification: I’m not sure I totally agree with the idea that “traffic is meaningless.”

    In some level mere numbers of readers and comments is an indication of how credible (or incredible) the information being offered is. Even though most of the readers may not buy a product or service, their numbers and participation signal that the author has something to say that might be of interest.

  • Mark O’Brien

    Hi Chuck,

    Thanks for taking the time to check out the book and comment here.

    The title of the post, “Traffic is Meaningless, Action is Everything,” is intentionally on the inflammatory/hyperbolic side. I feel that the way many SEO/SEM professionals validate their services is so far off base that I needed to use a strong spice to recalibrate things.

    I actually do care about traffic. I look at our unique visitor count in Google Analytics every day. I don’t see that traffic as a measurement of success in and of itself, but rather a means to an end since I assume that we’ll receive more conversions as our traffic increases.

    When it comes to measuring how the site is actually working, though, I feel that starting with conversions and working backwards to find the source of that traffic will lead to better decisions than starting with traffic.

    I would also say that posting a comment on a site certainly qualifies as “action,” since it demonstrates a measurable level of engagement with the content and with the firm the site is representing.

    Thanks again for your thoughts here,

  • John Hannah

    I agree with the gist of the post as well as the follow on comments. After going through a few of your other posts here, I’m interested in the book. Any chance it’s available for Kindle?


By Mark O’Brien

I spend my days working with the Newfangled team and our clients to continually discover new ways of creating web platforms that are guaranteed to have a significant and finitely measurable impact on their business. My first job …

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