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.