Close
Close

Traffic Generation Programs

I am regularly asked by readers for my opinion on one variety or another of ‘traffic generation’ programs.

These programs come in all shapes and sizes – some are paid services whereby you pay money in return for a certain amount of impressions, others are traffic exchange programs where you agree to surf a certain number of pages in return for a corresponding number of impressions or where you agree to run certain ads in return for traffic (I’m sure there are many other variations also).

I’m always hesitant to make sweeping statements about a whole range of different services and am sure there is a real spectrum of these traffic programs out there but my main advice to readers asking about them is to be very careful – for a number of reasons.

Traffic Generation Programs Put Ad Revenue at Risk
The main reason to avoid (or at least be careful) about signing up for traffic generation programs is if you are wanting to monetize your blog with advertising. Most Ad networks these days have some sort of clause in their terms of service where they talk about excluding certain types of traffic. They quite often put it in terms of ‘paid to surf’ or programs where readers come to your site with some sort of incentive to surf there (either them getting traffic in return, getting paid, getting a voucher etc).

I know of some bloggers who have been banned from being Chitika as a result of these programs and have heard of AdSense banning people also. The reason that they do not allow such traffic is simply that they need to give their advertisers quality traffic and in general these types of traffic programs only send traffic that surfs quickly in and then leaves as soon as they can to go to the next site. When advertisers are paying for ads by the impression this means they are paying for ads that will rarely be converted.

If you do decide to enter into one of these programs and you run ads on your blog you can always ask an Ad network like AdSense for clarification of whether it’s within their guidelines. I heard an interview with an AdSense team worker recently who said that they prefer publishers to email them for such clarification before they sign up and that they can sometimes give guidelines as to whether the source of traffic is OK or not.

Traffic Generation Programs – Empty Traffic?
I guess my other reason for avoiding traffic generation programs is more that they personally leave me feeling empty. Now that might sound a little more dramatic than it should but let me explain.

I write blogs for two main reasons:

1. I enjoy writing about topics that interest me, especially when I’m helping people improve an area of their lives. This fits in with my philosophy of life (that’s a whole other post… or blog even).

2. I blog for money – it’s become my job, some might even call it a business.

Traffic generation programs don’t really make sense to me on either of these two motivations for blogging.

Firstly – my goal in blogging is to draw people to helpful information that will in some way (big or small) enhance their lives (by helping them find information, by teaching them something, by entertaining them etc). As a result I ideally want the people that come to my blogs to have a felt need for one of these things. Traffic generation programs do send traffic – but the motivation of the people surfing by is rarely that they are in search of what I have to offer – as a result it’s not really the kind of traffic I want.

Secondly – it doesn’t really make sense on a business side of things either. For starters it could see me banned from the main sources of income that I have, but secondly while it might make my traffic stats look healthy it’s not really a sustainable kind of traffic and isn’t one that is likely to convert well in terms of income. I guess the other aspect of this is that there is generally some ‘cost’ involved in the traffic whether it be me paying for the impressions or whether it be by me agreeing to some action myself which costs me time (that I could be putting into some other aspect of my blogs).

Of course other bloggers have different motivations for blogging which they’ll need to filter traffic generations through.

A Case for Traffic Generation Programs?
Let me finish by saying that I do know some bloggers who swear by traffic generation programs. One that comes to mind that many bloggers love is ‘Blog Explosion’ that has been very popular.

Bloggers who argue the case for Blog Explosion write that it’s a great way to kick start a blog as it sends a lot of traffic to them and that a certain percentage of those who visit the site will stick around because they find something that is useful.

I do understand this motivation and argument and won’t condemn anyone for going down this route. I also do not know whether Blog Explosion is something that can get you in trouble with Ad Networks – but I would advise caution and a more holistic traffic generation strategy (ie don’t just rely upon any one source of traffic but work on other ways of attracting people to your blog including (to name a few):

  • Search Engine Traffic
  • Traffic from Advertising
  • Organic Traffic
  • Referred Traffic from other blogs
  • World of Mouth Traffic

I’d be interested to hear others experiences of traffic generation programs. I’m more than willing to be corrected if people have found them to be worthwhile or convert well with your goals – tell us your story with them.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Problogger.net runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

Check out the incredible features and the selection of designs. It's that simple - start using Genesis now!

Comments

  1. Jill says:

    What about using them in the very early days, before introducing ads, if you’re not running ads from day one.

    Let’s say you used one of these programmes for a couple of weeks, retained a handful of those early readers, then weaned your blog off the programme as you began to introduce ads?

    Could that help plant some early seeds for eventual exponential growth? (I’m thinking along the lines of when I was nine years old and I would save about $1 a week at the bank… it was teeny, but it did eventually grow into something beautiful.)

    That’s the one very narrow space I can see traffic generators occupying.

  2. Great points as always Darren. I’ve seen way too many posts and forum threads dealing with bad experiences for me to try out one of these “magic” programs. Like you said, there might be some out there that work, but there is a HUGE risk in getting “unnatural” traffic.

    It all comes down to whether or not a few extra visitors are worth the risk of being banned from ad programs and search engines. With that being said, the infamous Mook Jon guy from Sitepoint fame is actually doing a study using all sorts of traffic sources. Though he hasn’t posted any results yet, you can check out the progress at his blog http://www.aojon.com/category/traffic/ or on the Sitepoint forums http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=384371.

    Maybe he’ll come up with something that actually works.

  3. Enrique says:

    I used to use systems like Blog Explosion to generate traffic (this was before I knew I could make money from said traffic ;) ) and it did work out tremendously for me. When I was actively involved with BE I would get 100-200 visitors per week, 3-4 of which would either bookmark me or leave a comment, so I was happy.

    I stopped using BE because of the possible monetization conflict but also because eventually incoming links and search engine results were generating more traffic than exchange programs and it was no longer worth the effort.

  4. Zsolt says:

    Hello Darren,

    Yes, I totally agree with you. Traffic from these networks is – as you said – empty, to say the least. I once had an adventure with I need hits (I won’t promote their link) which worked well on the technical side, but my site’s logs showed that no one on they sent was interested in the site I was promoting.

    Of course they are honest, because they don’t even promise, anyone would be…

    regards
    Zsolt

  5. Kenny Allman says:

    Well in my early days of bumbling around looking for traffic (of any kind) I tested many different traffic sources. I don’t actually mention the real stinkers in my writings anymore, but there are many.

    Watch out for the companies that claim to give you 1000, 10,000, 10,000, uniques for a small flat fee. Usually it won’t work. If you can choose keywords that relatively not competitive, you can maybe net a few bucks, but if you try highly competitive keywords you won’t see much action on your site.

    Another problem is if you are using Adsense for your revenue. Back in the day when I was testing all the “crap traffic”, I received a polite email from the Adsense team, questioning the quality of my traffic source.

    I got rid of the particular “crap traffic” source, let Adsense know, and I was back in their good books.

    There are only two PPC networks I trust right now. Adwords and Overture – and I also trust that even with those networks I have to know what I’m doing when I setup a campaign or I’ll lose money….pronto.

  6. redjade says:

    thank you (again) for an thought provoking piece.

    one question: what is ‘Organic Traffic’?

  7. Dave Dash says:

    Hey Darren. I’ve dabbled with BlogExplosion and the other “clones.” First of all, if you have no traffic they are pretty neat. But they do get very old in a hurry. Eventually your traffic changes won’t be significant enough to justfiy surfing that much.

    At this point I get about 100 visits a day. That’s a bit more than I was ever getting with BlogExplosion. It’s not even all that much. I needed to surf almost 100-200 sites to get the same ammount of traffic. Each site requires you to be on the page for 30 seconds, which means you’re easily spending 100 minutes, or two hours surfing.

    I work a full time job (from home, but it still is 8 hours of my day) and I couldn’t justify spending this time surfing around after a few weeks, because the traffic explosion wasn’t significant anymore. I felt that was time taking away from my real life, writing for my blog, and coding for my web sites.

    A lot of the sites I saw were across the board from being interesting reads, to being quite out of my tastes. I also figured, if I just wait 30 seconds just for the page to pass, I bet others are doing the same thing. So I’m getting 100 people who probably aren’t even that interested. You can narrow by topic, but my understanding is most people didn’t.

    I’ve been privileged to post my content (even older content) around the web and get it picked up by other sites and that’s worth a lot more than arbitrary visitors.

    If time is money, let’s say my time is $25 USD/hr, that’s $50/day for 100 hits, I’m much better off spending that money on targetted advertising (but I don’t).

  8. Dave Dash says:

    redjade, Oragnic traffic is from search engines and people linking to you without you initiating anything (e.g. you’re not paying for those links).

  9. Chris says:

    Organic traffic is always nice because people finding a blog through a search engine or linking always seem to check things out in a blog more than people stopping by via Blog Explosion or some other traffic service.

    People who find something they like will usually look at a couple of posts — rather than bailing out at the end of the obligatory 30 seconds they need to get a surfing credit.

    When I used to use a blog traffic service, I found my pageviews equalled my unique visitors. There wasn’t much variation.

    When I started getting organic traffic, I found that people looked at four or five posts. Pageviews increased as well because people were looking beyond the homepage.

    If you write about the right topics and have a passion about your subjects, people will come to your blog.

  10. Hsien Lei says:

    I have to admit that BlogExplosion and BlogClicker have done all right by me. Enough people from these traffic exchange programs leave me genuine comments and I’ve made friends and readers out of several. Overall, it’s worth it if you’ve got the time to go clicking yourself!

  11. Anne says:

    Hi Darren! I have tried these traffic exchanges at one point, but decided to scrap it after realizing that I have to spend atleast one to two hours surfing other blogs to get traffic back…just not sustainable for me!

  12. Helen says:

    I would feel slightly dishonest using traffic generation programs since I would be taking money for impressions generated by mostly disinterested visitors. So I steer clear of those. I don’t get much traffic yet, but I much prefer “organic traffic”. Then I can feel good about taking advertisers’ money.

    By the way, isn’t it “Word of Mouth Traffic” that was meant instead of “World of Mouth Traffic” ? Sorry to nitpick.

  13. Blogophilia says:

    The traffic exchange and “paid to surf” programs are not the kind of traffic you can afford to have. As Dave Dash points out, he was a link-clicking monkey 2 hours a day. That time is better spent on creating better content.

    I want real visitors, not link-clicking monkeys. If they are ohnly intereste in getting clicks to their site, I don’t want them!

  14. christian says:

    Well every traffic program gave me a couple thousand vistors to start out with except none came back but I didn’t try any of the sites mentioned ill try them and well. These sites may give u a few readers and couple thousand veiws. http://www.126hits.com or http://www.216hits.com and http://www.trafficzap.com.( You just sign up and get the extra visitors that i said no work at all oh yeah another site that gave me 4000 page veiws was http://www.traffic-cc.com).

  15. Lenny says:

    Does anyone know for sure if Blog Explosion is against adsense rules? I found that it is a good way to find sites and since my blog is very new maybe it will expose somebody new.

  16. harry says:

    Just write good articles and submit them to the best 50 sites, syndication will then multiply them to hundreds of PR4+ sites.

    The mistake most people make, is that any articles submitted is always mediocre in content information. Spend a month doing some cutting edge research, compile your report and submit. Instead of gaining a few extra site visits a day, you will get hundreds of extra traffic each day from one quality article.

    Go for quality not quantity!

  17. prasanga says:

    thanks for the info Darren, great post. I just red a thread at ewealth that these traffic programs can get you lot of traffic. Now I know what the risks are, thanks again .

  18. blake says:

    I have used both EC and blog explosion to try and generate traffic to my blogs. They did help me get some initial traffic and some “surfers” did leave comments and actually read my posts, but like you said the majority of traffic is drop and go or click and go. If I had spent half the time wasted on traffic exchanges on writing post and making my blog better I probably would have more visitors now, or at least more of the kind I want. I noticed you used EC for a little while, was it the inspiration behind this post? Out of curiosity, If you had to use a traffic program which one would you use? As always great post and one I needed to read to shake my addiction to traffic programs.

  19. blake says:

    Wow I only saw June 6th when leaving my above comment, I completely ignored the year. That answers part of my question concerning your use of EC, thanks anyways.

  20. I was considering one of these services, but I think your column and comments have persuaded me its a no go… thanks
    Andy

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Edit: There’s a ridiculously excellently-timed post (published today) on traffic generation programs like BlogExplosion and why you shouldn’t use them over at ProBlogger. +Del.icio.us +Furl It +Spurl +Tag!RawSugar +My Web [...]