Do Free Traffic Exchange Websites Actually Work?

Published by
James Parsons
on October 04, 2014
Posted in Traffic Generation

A traffic exchange is one of those ideas that sounds good on paper, but in reality, with the greed of the Internet and the rules set by Google, it sounds like it might get you in trouble.  So what is a traffic exchange, how should it work, does it work and can you get away with using it?

What is a Traffic Exchange?

A traffic exchange is a website that creates a network of websites and funnels traffic around them.  Essentially, it works like this:

  • A user signs up for a traffic exchange.
  • That user can browse traffic exchange network sites and earn credits in their account.
  • The credits they earn can either be redeemed for cash, or they can be spend on a site of their own.
  • Credits spent on a site – or credits purchased and used on a site – put that site in rotation for the traffic exchange.
  • The site then pulls in hits from traffic exchange users, up until it runs out of credits.

What-is-a-Traffic-ExchangeIn concept this is a great idea.  Users gather together a network of sites they’re all interest in, and they funnel views around.  They mutually promote each other, they view the sites in the network, and everyone wins.  The exchange itself adds the view credits system in place to help regulate the whole thing.  It’s much like the seed/leech percentage in torrent trackers; by requiring earned credits to gain views, it prevents people from coming in to promote their site and leech off the time and attention of the exchange users.

The problem with traffic exchanges is the regulation.  By allowing users to rack up credits – and money in some cases – in exchange for views, the site opens the door to users who will use traffic creating robots and software to earn credits.  These views, from robots, don’t do much for the visited sites.  It increments a hit counter, but that’s about it.

If you want further proof, you can always look at the sort of sites that promote link exchanges and claim they work.  You’ll never see an article promoting a traffic exchange on Moz or SEO Roundtable, and with good reason.

Are Traffic Exchanges Black Hat?

Are-Traffic-Exchanges-Black-Hat

From one perspective, a traffic exchange seems perfectly legitimate.  After all, the idea is about bringing users in to view your site, using a mutually beneficial network to help everyone get ahead.  It’s just another means of advertising, and it’s generally a cheap method.

On the other hand, it seems like a traffic exchange is a black hat technique simply because it’s an artificial method for boosting traffic in an inorganic way.  Google loves organic traffic, and it even loves paid traffic when that traffic is purchased through normal channels, like AdSense.  It’s less thrilled about buying traffic from clickfarms or through a traffic exchange.

There’s nothing in Google’s rules that labels a traffic exchange as a black hat technique.  On the other hand, there’s nothing in Google’s algorithm that allows a traffic exchange to work.

All About the Interest

The reason traffic exchanges don’t work – or if they do work, they work at extremely low volumes – is because of the quality of the traffic.  Consider breaking up traffic into quality groups.

  • Fake traffic.  This is traffic that comes from robots, software that sits on a site and refreshes it occasionally.  Traffic exchanges are riddled with these users, because the occasional refresh on a network of sites is where the money can be earned.  At a rate of a handful of pennies per thousand views, it requires a bank of robots working full-time to make any visible money off a traffic exchange.

reason-traffic-exchanges-dont-work

 

  • Clickfarm or out of target traffic.  These are users who have nothing to do with, and don’t care about, they site.  If you’re a store that sells ballet shoes, you’re not going to benefit if 10,000 lumberjacks come across your site.  Sure, maybe one of those woodsmen has a daughter in ballet, but for the most part it’s not a useful demographic to target.
  • Vaguely interested traffic.  These are the users who are slightly interested in your product or your information, but are unlikely to convert for one reason or another.  They may own a similar product already.  They may be forced to wait before they make an investment.  In any case, it’s valuable to attract these users, but they have a low conversion rate.
  • Highly interested traffic.  These are the best users to attract, because they’re interested and ready to buy.  You’ll pretty much never see these users browsing a traffic exchange.  They have much better things to do with their time, and they aren’t going to be wasting that time trying to make money through a traffic exchange network at a rate of pennies per hour.

See the problem?  The types of people who browse traffic exchanges are not the types of people who are likely to be interested in your blog or your product.  They’re in it to promote their own sites, or they’re in it to make money; the fact that they have to visit your site for 20 second at a time is incidental.

When Traffic Exchanges Work

All of that said, there are a few narrow niches where traffic exchanges do actually work.  Unfortunately, these tend to be low quality niches to begin with.  When you’re running a site dedicated to making money online, writing about using a traffic exchange may convert a few people to using it, which earns you affiliate fees.  In a sense, using the traffic exchange is then its own reward.  You can also potentially earn more by using affiliate ads on your promoted site, though if too much of the traffic is robotic, you can be booted from the affiliate program.

In any case, if you insist on using a traffic exchange, you can take advantage of the short attention span of the typical user.  They don’t want to be on the site for long, because time is credits.  Make your landing page a splash page with a high pressure sales technique and you might actually earn a conversion before you give up.

Written by James Parsons

James Parsons

James is a content marketing and SEO professional who enjoys the challenge of driving sales through blogging while creating awesome and useful content.

Join the Discussion

  • Johnny Marsh

    Thanks for sharing it.

  • Sumaiya Afroz

    Traffic exchange will make your exchange in another way. Traffic exchange help to boost your traffic rank, that is the passive income for you. You must have good ranking in traffic before you get approved for advertising or earn from advertising those pay for views.

  • David Walter

    To whoever who is looking for superb grade free traffic, You may want to take a look at HitLeap, it provides one of the best traffic

  • I haven’t read a post on traffic exchanges like this in a while. As a Traffic exchange owner. I am not taking this post as a dig. I see this as the common perception from people in the Online marketing Niche. Thank you for sharing – now i also have a couple things to work on to make traffic exchanges work for more people.

  • Bill Thomas

    The problem with traffic exchanges is the same problem with safe lists, marketers marketing to other marketers!. Forget the BS credits for surfing, people want to sell their product or service when they put their links on traffic exchanges. One big problem, the only people viewing their links are sellers not buyers. Traffic exchanges are 100% BUNK and a complete waste of time, effort and money.

  • Most traffic exchanges are really only good at advertising offers rather than websites. Splash pages or lead pages seem to work best if they are relevant to the target audience of the traffic exchange. So marketing tools, webmaster tools, make money online, etc. are usually good niches if the traffic exchange is catering to that niche. Sending traffic to an actual content website (or even the home page of a product or service website) is usually a waste of credits. The only traffic exchange that I know that works with real content is StumbleUpon, but that is because it regulates content in such a way that good content gets voted up, and bad content gets voted down. If you add a crappy webpage to StumbleUpon, very few people will ever see it. Plus they downplay the fact that you can buy traffic on StumbleUpon by not linking to the advertising tools page from the main website. It’s not your typical traffic exchange (and probably would hate it if you called it one). So it really comes down to the mechanics of the exchange and the niche. That will determine what can be promoted successfully on it.

  • Traffic exchanges can work. Before my blogs/sites started having success through organic means, I used traffic exchanges to build a list using a simple optin page. After about a year working within a group of exchanges that list is used in my offers today. There are some very dedicated members in these exchanges that can become loyal customers and followers. I am not very active using them today but I feel they more than likely have the same result