Why some websites get more traffic and some don't—the 1% rule.

Over time, those that are slightly better end up with the majority of the rewards. Those that are slightly worse end up with next to nothing.

James Clear

It turns out that being just a little better than the competition gives you a huge advantage. The first person to realize this, or at least prove it with math, was Vilfredo Pareto in the 1800s. He noticed that when individual pea plants had a slight advantage, more light, more space, more something, they produced significantly more pea pods than those with fewer resources. He then looked for other places the same correlation could be found. Turns out it was everywhere, from land ownership, to wealth, to success in sports. Just a tiny advantage can set you apart from the vast majority of your competition. These slight advantages add up and deliver more opportunities in other areas, so the advantage continues to widen. This became known as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule. Today the margins are controlled by algorithms and according to marketing expert James Clear it’s down to the 1% rule.

The difference between these options can be razor thin, but the winners enjoy massively outsized rewards.

James Clear

When we first began getting data from our test sites we saw massive increases in sales and traffic, I’m talking triple digits, but when we went back and analyzed the data (View the analysis here), the key metrics gains were more modest. 25% increases in time on site, 33% increase in items viewed, 10% increase in return visitors, 37% increase in items viewed on return visits; all amazing stats, but not any one thing that would explain a 400% increases in sales in the first year and over 900% during the Covid lockdown. But when you look at these smaller gains through the lens of the 1% rule, you see that the massive gains in sales are caused by a series of smaller advantages. You wouldn’t need a 25% increase in time on site to get Google to increase your page rank and send you more traffic, just a tiny advantage would do the trick. Google wants their customers, the people using the Google search engine, to be happy with their search results so customers don’t switch to another search engine. Google is going to reward sites that have a little extra something special with more traffic because it’s in their best interest to do so.

If you’ve already done the heavy lifting of finding great product, creating a great site, and optimizing it for SEO, increasing sales is going to come down to the small advantages that propel you into the 1%. If you’re on the Shopify platform, we can give you that extra push now. If you’re on another platform, or stick built, give us a call. We’d be happy to take a look and see if we can help. If you’re not ready to try new technology, go back to basics. Getting a slight advantage on your completion will get you outsized rewards.