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October, 2006:

The Paradox of Quality Site Visitors

Last month I met with a friend who complained to me that his website — a high quality hobbyist community site — received X page views per day, but was turning over less than X / 2 dollars per year in revenue. Doing the math, that turns out to under .15 cents per page view.

Exacerbating this, he then cited a conversation he’d had with a domain squatter (domain troll), who also was receiving X page views per day on a network of typo domains and similar. That domain squatter was making more like X * 5 dollars annually — more than ten times as much money as my friend with the valuable, sticky community!

The paradox, it seems is this: in a pay-per-click driven world, site visitors who want to stay on your site — due to it having the once-much-lauded quality of “stickiness” — are worth much less than those who want to flee your site because it’s clearly not valuable, and hence will click through to somewhere else.