Wednesday, January 28, 2009
What is the Point of Traffic Exchanges?
If you have a blog or a website then you will know that actually getting people to visit can be a constant obsession. After all if no-one visits, then what's the point? This is particularly the case when your site is new when it can be quite frustrating after your hard work in putting together your blog/website only to find that hardly anyone ever visits! So when traffic exchanges promise to provide you with a flood of targeted traffic to your site it can be tempting to believe that they will solve your traffic issues for you.
What is a Traffic Exchange?
Traffic exchanges come in various forms, some come in the form of a banner exchange, i.e. you display a banner for someone else's site on the proviso that another site participating in the program displays yours. Most traffic exchanges, however, depend on a model of accumulating credits or rating through you visiting other sites participating in the program.
And therein lies the problem - all people participating in the program have their own site to promote, so that when they visit their site, they will do so primarily with the intention to gain credits so that their site can gain greater exposure rather than actually spend much time looking at your site.
Entrecard is a traffic exchange exclusively for blogs. Some committed Entrecarders might not be too keen on referring to it as a traffic exchange, but that essentially is what it is. How it works is that once you have registered with Entrecard you place a widget on the sidebar of your blog where other Entrecard bloggers can "buy" an ad from you with credits. Likewise you can buy an ad for your blog on other blogs. You earn credits when someone buys an ad from you (their ad will be on your widget for 24 hours) or through visiting another Entrecard blog and "dropping" on it (i.e. clicking on their Entrecard widget.
I have participated in Entrecard for a little while now and it has generated some traffic for me, although it has to be said, the bounce rate from Entrecard generated visits is very high. I personally find it useful for finding other blogs related to mine which I have learned from.
Link Referral is another traffic exchange, but this caters for all websites, including referral pages, Squidoo lenses, HubPages, etc. The premise with Link Referral is that the higher your site's ranking the more likely other people will find your site and pay it is visit. You earn ranking by visiting other sites registered with Link Referral (up to 30 per day), reviewing them (up to 5 per day) and favouring them (1 per day). The review feature does at least mean that people stay long enough at your site to write a reasonably sensible review. The problem I find with this though is that you can't really expect to receive constructive criticism as it would appear that most people only feel inclined to write positive reviews, presumably because they believe that a negative review would only result in a negative review being left on their site in return. This might be good for the ego, but it does not provide an accurate indication of the quality of the site. There are some pretty poor sites on Link Referral that still receive positive reviews.
Again, Link Referral has provided me with some traffic during those periods when I have been active with it, but the bounce rate is very high.
Is it Worth Participating in Traffic Exchanges?
The answer to that question depends on what you are looking for. Traffic exchanges will provide you with quantity, but not quality of traffic. So you are unlikely to gain any visitors that generate any money, if that is what you are looking for. Personally, I think that they are worth participating in to some extent, provided you are realistic about what they will provide you with. I think they are useful in giving your traffic a bit of kick start and help to get your website or blog noticed, but they are certainly not a substitute for good quality content and patient link building so that people will ultimately find you through search engines. This, unfortunately, takes time and patience.