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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Blog Promotion: Do Traffic Exchanges Work?

If you're reading this, chances are you've come from one of two sources: you have found this site through a Google search or, more likely, you're here from one of the traffic exchanges I participate in. Between them, Blogazoo, Blog Explosion, and BlogClicker are responsible for about 30% of the traffic I receive here every day. The rest comes from Google and other search engines and from links from other blogs.

Blog traffic exchange sites work on the principle of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." Once you sign up, you earn credits by surfing other people's blogs, which the traffic exchange site serves up on a scheduled rotation. Your banked credits enable your site to be inserted into the rotation, usually on a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio. Others will view it because they have to (there's usually a mandatory minimum amount of time one must spend at a blog to gain credits). You can also buy credits if time is at a premium, which is what I have chosen to do. Either way, the result is guaranteed traffic.

But is it quality traffic? Debate rages online as to whether these sites are really useful in terms of building a long-term loyal reader base for your blog. I see this myself in my own stats. People deposited here by one of the exchanges spend barely 5 seconds scanning this blog, then they are off to earn the next credit. There's a chance these visitors may find something useful, but it's minimal since they've been directed here entirely at random.

Compare that scenario to someone who has found this page through a search engine query. Their need at that moment is highly specific, and the search engine directs them to a page containing the keywords they queried. It is likely they will find what they're looking for, if not from the information in the post concerned, then by following links to other posts or sites. My stats confirm this behavior. These visitors stay longer, explore the blog more thoroughly, and are more likely to become regulars.

So, are the traffic exchanges a waste of time? I don't think so. I have seen a handful of people originating from these sites stop by to post comments. A few have become regular visitors (maybe that's you?). Any traffic is better than no traffic, and repeat exposure builds familiarity and confidence. In fact, advertising research shows that repeated exposure to ads enhances credibility and aids brand awareness, message recall, brand opinion, and purchase intent. I remember learning, in a marketing course a million years ago, that it takes 5 to 9 ad impressions before the average consumer responds to an advertisement's call to action. Does the same apply to blogs? I think so. Each time you see this blog appear in an exchange rotation, your sense of recognition grows. The posts will vary. Maybe eventually you'll encounter one that's relevant to your interests. Ultimately, it's all about content.

If you wish to try out blog traffic exchanges, there are lots to choose among. Here is a short list to get you started:

No endorsement implied, other than for the first three listed, all of which have produced good results for me (in terms of raw traffic).

Some of the most common complaints about exchanges include poor rotation, too many low quality blogs, and the risk of viruses or trojans.

If you have had experiences with any of the sites listed here, please drop a comment on me. Rants and raves equally welcome.

26 comments:

John said...

I will note that BlogAdvance gives bonus credits just for logging in. Sometimes it's only 1, but other times it can be up to 10. I am not sure how much the exchange traffic helps long-term, but I do some anyway just in case a few will become regulars readers or even linkers.

Pam said...

That's interesting. Blog Explosion and Blog Clicker also offer bonus credits for surfing. BE claims you can win up to 100 credits by logging in and surfing people's blogs.

Rangga said...

I also considering such tools since ny blog is new and very low traffic. Thanks for your recommendation

ozymandiaz said...

I use BE, and albeit a lot if hits I get are just people doing as I do and hitting to get hits, I have acquired several regulars out of the process, either by them finding me or me finding them and commenting and returning comments and so on.

SB said...

I just found you -- because you visited one of my blogs (Blogging Blog.)

I added you to that blogroll, and to my own Bloglines. Nice work, here!

MrAl said...

It's kinda of cheesy because you are not getting REAL visitors who are interested in seeing your stuff. Instead, you get those guys who read 3 lines before the timer is up and they are on the next blog.

Personally, I have seen perhaps, 3 or 4 frequent readers dropping by because of these services. However, it feels like you are just getting cheap visitors instead of those that matter; the ones that should be dropping in to read your stuff.

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

I agree with your analysis.

I actually prefer visitors who are not fellow members of our BE. Because, most fellow members only visit you as you visit them and in most cases, they are doing so for selfish reasons too.

I sometimes visit blogs to know what is going on in America, Europe or Asia. Because, blogs often tell us more than we can read from the newspapers or watch on the CNN and other TV Channels.
I love personal testimonies of the facts of life.

Blog Traffic exchanges have also brought me some favours from kind members. Such as the members who designed three of my blogs gratis.

God bless.

Lyndon said...

While I found you through a google search, I've never come across your blog on Blog Explosion.

I think you make some very interesting points in your post.

While I have a few regulars from blog traffic exchange sites, I find the majority of my regular readers, have come from me leaving comments on other peoples sites.

Dara said...

For the record, I was referred here from BlogExplosion.

Both BlogExplosion and BlogAdvance have worked well for me. BlogAdvance is a 1:1 ratio, and BlogExplosion is 2:1, but the traffic from BlogExplosion is somewhat more predictable.

She Weevil said...

Hi Pam I'm here from Blogexplosion which I don't use that much anymore for the very reasons you cite. Some of my oldest readers found me through blogexplosion but many as you say have ended up there via links on other blogs/blogrolls etc.

So I would agree; they do build traffic but the traffic is often low quality.

m@hu_D said...

I've done quite a bit of surfing using Blog Explosion this past week, and Ive posted on a couple of blogs, and bookmarked one or two as well.

I've had just over 100 visits through BE, and one comment so far.

I'm not sure if I'll keep using Blog Explosion. It's not the best way to gain readers, but like, you said, the more times someone comes accross your blog the greater the impression that is left on the mind, and if you regularly update, and stuff, there will surely be others out there who will post.

I wouldn't do it if I had no intention of finding interesting blogs to read, and I guess many others are the same.

:)

Ned Porting said...

I agree that traffic exchange rarely provides "real" visitors.

Every once in a while, I see in my stats that someone who surfed through to my blog via BE has stayed to read several posts. But that's like only 1% to 2% of the total.

I think you either have to present an eye-catching and original design to lure such visitors, or have a really intriguing title to your latest post.

Michael said...

I use blogExplosion but probably not for the same reasons most people do. I am a reader. I am a lurker. BlogExplosion lets me surf new blogs of people who are interested in people reading their stuff.

The next button in blogger simply results in a lot of garbage.

Take Care
Michael

Giordano said...

blogazoo is so badly designed that its impossible to navigate. Avoid.

I like this blog, but I wont be visiting often... long delays, which usually means logging/counting sites are wasting my time
[eg www.labelr.com made me wait]

Pam said...

Thanks for the feedback, Giordano. Sorry you found the site slow loading, though I suspect it was one of the web badge sites, not Labelr. These issues are intermittent, and can occur with any blog.

Donald Douglas said...

Hi:

I've noticed a number of bloggers have written posts about the traffic exchanges. Your post on the topic pulled me in for a few minutes to provide some comments (I'm visiting via Blogazoo). I think you are right, that it's hard to build repeat, high-quality traffic, and I would stress even more that good, quality content is key to bringing in a few regulars over time. I think that's a good marketing hypothesis (and a nice hunch, generally) as well, but it's hard to be sure if it's true without some kind of evidence. Thank goodness for all these blog exchanges, in any case. I use them a lot and have a lot of fun, and I know that what I have to say will at least be seen, and perhaps read by a few interested readers. BTW, I'm pondering writing up my own post on the topic, and I'll give you the heads up when I do.

Thanks.

Pam said...

Thanks for stopping by, Donald. I am encouraged by the response I have seen so far to this post that the exchanges aren't a total waste of time. If they attract even one regular reader (and you're here because of one of them), I'd say they've proven their value.

danette said...

Hah - I'm a bit late for this conversation, but hey - I googled it :D
I totally agree with you on the fact that when people actually search for a certain something, and your blog contains it, chances are they're going to spend more time on your blog than some random person who's trying to get together some credits. I must say that I have used BlogAdvance, BlogExplosion, and BlogMad... Between those three my absolute outstanding favourite is BlogMad. I get about 80% of my blog's traffic from there, plus they have a whole load of different ways to make credits. There are games where you can win (or lose) credits, you can surf, you can have banners on your blog, and yes, you can even get bonus credits (My highest was a 100 and something I think?) I've made some great friends there, coz they have a shoutbox where all the BM users chat. You can also view the blogs by category, which is great if you're specifically interesting in something like say photography. When surfing through people's profiles, you also get credits for that? Pretty neat hey?
Then while surfing, you can vote for the blog (either thumbs up / thumbs down). If you really hate to blog, you can block it, and if you really love it, you can add it to your delicious page. BM has also just started their own RSS reader which is pretty cool!
I would really suggest that you try out BlogMad! ;)
Happy surfing,
Greetings from a chilly South Africa,
danette.

Pam said...

Thanks for sharing Danette. Better late than never :-)

Jx said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jx said...

Looks like I might be one of the ones that goes against the grain. I found your site at random through Blogexplosion and have since spent about 45mins here reading your informative posts. Ironically, my initial aim was to scan blogs and try and earn some points of my own as my blog is new and so I only get hits from mates at the moment! Thanks again

Pam said...

Hey Jx, however you found me, glad you did! Stop back again.

Sherry said...

Pam,
I'm not sure how I found your site but glad I did. I'm looking to link other articles about blog promotion on my Traffic Builder blog and this is perfect.

Thanks for sharing your wealth of information.

Pam said...

No problem Sherry. Thanks for the feedback!

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zephyr said...

thank you for the links. i'm going to try it now and see if these will work on my blog.