February 28, 2021

Traffic Exchanges and Why They Suck

The theory of traffic exchanges may be good but…

The theory is that you look at sites in exchange for other people looking at your site. You feel that your site is so great and compelling the people will just be drawn right in, right? They may even tweet about it, link to it, mention it to their friends, etc.

Well, signing up for a traffic exchange does mean that you may get more traffic, but that does not mean that any of it will actually “stick” much less translate into sales. After all, traffic exchanges make no such guarantees, and they certainly don’t claim you will make any money from your new-found traffic.

The large and busy sites don’t have much of a reason to join traffic exchanges. Only newbies and small businesses do. Any advertising you display on your site will likely be seen only by those who are on a small budget with a low-budget site. In other words, the viewers of your ads won’t have a lot of disposable income.

The way traffic exchanges generally work is on the credit system: you earn credits by looking at other people’s sites in order to get viewers to your site. Only the quota is not one to one—you usually have to look at two or three sites in order to get one visitor to yours.

Most traffic exchanges are set up on an automatic timer that requires visitors to stay for a certain amount of time — but not too long; usually less than a minute—in order to get their quota. The perusal your site gets in that amount of time is very slight.

It gets worse. Most traffic exchange users are encouraged—not by the traffic exchange itself but by those who recommend the use of the exchanges—to open up several browser windows at the same time, each with a different traffic exchange loaded, and to run them all simultaneously. This means that any one site receives even less attention than it would otherwise. In fact, the primary attention may be devoted to checking the timers on each site and clicking the “next” button rather than actually viewing any of the pages.

The very nature of traffic exchanges encourages participants to try to “game” the system. In fact, so many exchanges could be opened at the same time that each browser window would only be large enough to show the timer and the next button!

Is this all starting to sound rather futile to you?

Think of your own reasons for joining a traffic exchange. Is it to seek out fascinating new websites and buy stuff? Or is it simply to get more traffic to your own site?

People join such exchanges because it is free and they don’t have to spend a lot of time looking at anyone else’s site In order to get traffic to their own. But if the incentive is to “game” the system, then only honest (or naïve) users are penalized, because they will look at other people’s sites while everyone else ignores theirs. Yet if everyone cheats the system, then the whole purpose of the exchanges is defeated. Even Google and Alexa are likely not fooled, since so little time is actually spent on each site.

Naturally, participants are going to try to look at as many sites as possible in order to get their own visitor counts up. The incentive to visit as many sites as possible, along with the short amount of time they are required to stay at each site means it is pretty unlikely that any site will catch their interest.

If you want to get untargeted traffic that doesn’t actually look at your page for no real reason in particular, than the traffic exchanges are great. Otherwise, they just suck.

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