I got a question about traffic generation and link exchanges this past week:
I’ve a new site and getting traffic seems to be a challenge.
I have been thinking of link exchanges. I’m hearing different things about them. Do they work?
In my opinion many marketers are overly obsessed with traffic.
Traffic won’t solve your worries if your site has a ‘leaky’ design (with multiple exit links for visitors), doesn’t have effective channels for monetization or list building, or doesn’t have sticky content to get visitors to keep coming back. For the purposes of discussion, I’ll assume that you got those areas covered, or are working on them.
Besides raw traffic quantity (number of visitors), you need to monitor and closely refine your traffic quality (how relevant your visitors are). There’s no point to get everyone and his mother over to your site if they don’t fit your site’s demographic.
That’s where alliances are handy.
A link exchange is where two websites or blogs have a link to the other site listed somewhere. The idea is that visitors from one site will flow through to the other.
If you partner with a relevant site and cross refer traffic to each other, you’d both benefit from the exchange.
But here’s where it breaks down.
Are you doing a link exchange for a boost in your Google PageRank or for traffic?
If you’re doing the link exchange for PageRank, do note that most link exchange partners will list your link on a ‘Links’ page. And PageRank is page specific. So even if their domain has a PageRank of 6, the “Links.html” page you’re linked from might have a PR0 or PR1. If you’re linking to them from a PR5 or PR6 page on your site, you’re getting the short end of the stick…
Even if their “links” page has a high PR value, if you see 100 other links on that page, how’s anyone supposed to find your site in that mess and come to your site?
If you’re doing the link exchange for traffic, take a look at their site metrics.
Flawed though the Alexa page count might be, if your Alexa ranking is 100,000 and theirs is 6,093,384, there’s an unequal exchange in the link exchange.
I’ve done a number of link exchanges, but they’ve been with close friends or strategic business partners. Even if their stats aren’t as strong now, I’m in it for the long haul.
For example, this is an excerpt from my awstats analytics screen:
As a contributor to the MyBlogLog blog, I get a fair amount of reciprocal traffic and a number of blog readers come to the blog based on entries appearing in their feed reader (bloglines, google reader). And flow through traffic from my buddies Amit Mehta (SuperAffiliateMindset) and Eli (BlueHatSEO)
Eli gets consistent traffic from the blackhat/bluehat SEO crowd and has had a burst of traffic after making it to the top 50 listing of bloggers:
Besides awstats which should come with your web hosting account, another useful tracking tool is the MyBlogLog Pro Stats:
Again a fair amount of traffic from my listing in Mark’s (45n5.com) top 100 blogs.
And some of the other traffic from Ruck’s CashTactics.net came solely from blog commenting.
The other point is that getting your content syndicated on sites like WebProNews, MyBlogLog, BumpZee, IM Newswatch can bring you floods of traffic if you’re not particularly motivated to mail 100 sites trying to do a link exchange.
Content contribution to generate traffic has a couple of points going for it:
- It’s interactive and you’re ‘talking’ to the website/blog owner
- It’s fun
- People who like your content and make the effort to come over, prequalify themselves – they’re more likely to like what you have to say
If you’re determined to do the link exchange thang, check out Derek Beau’s link exchange writeup.
The bottomline for me: I’d stay away from link exchanges with people you hardly know. You’d probably do better with PPC traffic. If it’s a friend or associate, I’m more inclined to consider them more seriously, even then I probably do about 1 out of every 20-30 proposals I get.
While you might be suffering initially from a traffic slump, I’d suggest that building your brand with a long term focus will help you build a solid online business.