Friday, July 14, 2006

Blog Earthquake! Create a Traffic Temblor that Rocks Your Sitemeter to its Foundations

I'm taking a vacation with my family next week and won't be blogging for a few days. So I thought this might be a good time for me to put up a post I've been meaning to write on my experience using some of the blog and traffic exchange programs. I first got the idea for this after visiting Viki Babbles' page and her post on the superiority of Blog Mad over Blog Soldiers. Viki argued that she was receiving more high-quality hits from Blog Mad -- readers who were more likely to linger around her blog for awhile and drop comments. At first I agreed. But they made some changes over at Blog Soldiers (going to 100 percent auto-assignment) that really sped-up the traffic flow, and the program started working much better. Since then, I've been experimenting with a few of the different blog exchanges, and after reading this post from Regina Avalos' blog, I starting surfing a number of traffic exchanges over on the Internet marketing side as well.

Let me first discuss the blog exchanges I like. Then I'll discuss a number of the business traffic exchange programs that have worked well for me. Finally, I'll lay out a little critique of traffic promotion sites and provide some additional suggestions for building traffic at your site.

Blog Exchanges:

Blog Soldiers is probably my favorite blog exchange. Since they moved to 100 percent auto-assigning, websites rotate fairly rapidly through the program. Most important, though, is that I get more high-quality visitors from Blog Soldiers than from any other site, measured by the amount of time they stay on my blog, and by the number individual posts that they visit. It's also easy to win credits by surfing at Blog Soldiers. The program has surfer-rankings, such as "newbie," "blogger," and "aggregator," and you'll be credited 250 hits after you've won all the letters for each rank (which becomes progressively harder as one moves up). I've accumulated a load of credits, which is nice because I can release those for generating traffic when I can't surf.

My next favorite is Blog Mad. The program has a cool professionalism to it, there's a 1:1 surf ratio, and you can win generous random credits fairly often. A lot of younger, politically-liberal bloggers surf Blog Mad, so it's got a hip feel to it. Blog Mad surfers are really interested in building credits to get their sites seen, so visitor quality at my page hasn't been as consistently high as those from Blog Soldiers.

Blog Explosion is the granddaddy of all the blog exchange programs. It's not my favorite, although it is probably my "home-base" blog exchange, in that it's got a steady rotation that guarantees 15-25 hits daily, and it's got a number of fun games (try Blog Rocket) and contests that make the program much more than a traffic generator.

I also surf Blogazoo quite a bit as well. Traffic moves through the program consistently, and I've been able to build and hold some credits in reserve, although winning credits is much easier over at Blog Soldiers.
There's a few more blog exchanges out there, but I've had less success using them.

Business Traffic Exchanges:

I've had very good results from surfing a number of the web-marketing traffic exchanges. There are literally dozens upon dozens of these programs out there, and the quality across the wide number of exchanges varies considerably. Yet I've generated consistenty high-quality traffic on a number of these sites, and I recommend trying some of them enthusiastically. The criteria for a good traffic exchange is primarily ease-of-use (simple sign-up and site-approval, easy log-in and navigation, etc.), the speed of site's rotation (how quickly hits are credited to your page), and the program's system for winning free credits. Here's a few of my favorites:

Traffic Roundup and Canadian Clicks: Traffic Roundup was one of the first business exchanges I tried. It's a very professional program, with a fast rotation, and a cool "Cattle Roundup" game for winning credits. Traffic Roundup also places your blog in a special rotation category, for example, news or marketing. I tried Canadian Clicks more recently, but it quickly emerged as one of my favorite programs. Surfers at Canadian Clicks are more laid back for some reason, and I routinely get visitors from the program that stay 15, 20, 45 minutes or more (one Canadian Clicks visitor stayed on my page for hours, reading 24 different blog posts).

Deep Sea Hits and Hit Safari: These two programs are "sibling sites," with common administration and cross-promotion. They both work very well, are easy to use, and have provided very high-quality traffic to my page. Lately though, Hit Safari has had some problems with pop-up downloaders, hijackers, and Trojans (which is common with a number of these exchanges, so be sure your antivirus and antispam programs are up and running).

Clicks Matrix and StartXchange: I've just joined both of these programs in the last few days, though I've been very pleased with this pair's quality. Clicks Matrix uses the same template as Blog Explosion, and has a 30-second timer as well. The program's got a very professional feel to it, with great site navigation, etc., as well as a fast rotation for your blog. StartXchange also feels very professional, and just works well in terms of ease-of-use and the webpage rotation. (StartXchange also had an instant approval process -- I was receiving traffic to my blog in just a couple minutes.)

Vinterchange and WebBizSolutions: Vinterchange works very well. It's got one of the most professional navigation pages out there and a neat credit assignment setup -- and you can win lots of credits with the program's "Vinterchallenge" quiz game. WebBizSolutions is just different: It uses a "craps" game to win credits, and I've had a lot of high-quality visits from its quick rotation cycle.

Fast Freeway and Raging Bull: These are two more programs I surf regularly. They both have a quick rotation, as well as quick log-in and simple site-navigation.
Surf exchanges aren't for everybody. Think about the target market for your blog, and the time and commitment you have towards building your page's popularity. (If you're game, though, check out www.Traffic-Edge.com, a web portal with site rankings and links to most of the best manual traffic exchanges.)

Caveats and Suggestions:

One thing I've learned is not to expect to build a bunch of repeat visitors who log-on to Burkean Reflections first thing when they wake up. Note that not everybody's going to have traffic like Powerline's (check their Sitemeter for some humility). Look at the traffic exchanges as increasing your exposure on the web. Most visitors will stay for awhile and move on -- and that's fine. Having just a few people a day stay on my page and read for a half-hour or so, and perhaps drop a comment, is rewarding.

There's some downside of course, and some commentators have agued that exchanges don't really work much at all:
Unfortunately, blog traffic exchanges really don’t produce a great deal of value for users. There are two reasons why blog traffic exchanges don’t really work. First, the traffic sent to your blog is basically untargeted. Let’s say you have a blog about being a work at home mother and the challenges you face. The traffic exchange will send you everyone from the army corporal operating a military blog to an angst-ridden teen who has her own gothic poetry blog. These visitors have no real interest in your topic and won’t add to the community there - or the blog’s potential profit. Untargeted traffic is simply not worth much in most cases. Second, most of the traffic sent to your blog will be more focused on waiting for the mandatory time to elapse than they are in what you have written. The users of blog exchange programs, after all, are other bloggers seeking traffic. They are participating because they want to send people to their blogs - not because they have a burning interest in what others are writing. Of course, there are exceptions to that rule, but overall the prevalent motivation is getting more traffic, not finding new blogs to read regularly. If you doubt this, try a blog traffic exchange program for yourself and observe your own behavior and instincts while “surfing for credits.” You may start with the best of intentions, but after seeing a few blogs on topics that aren’t really interesting, you will find your eye wandering to the timer. You will be ready to move on to the next blog at the first available opportunity. Keep track of how many blogs you see that really met a need for you. Observe how many other blogs you have decided to visit again some day. After only a few hours of participation, you will soon realize that you are being exposed to a lot of blogs that offer little for you and that you are probably finding yourself wishing you could cruise through more blogs faster. You will find that your motivation for doing this is decidedly selfish - you want people to visit your blog. Just remember, that is what everyone else participating is feeling, too. Blog traffic exchanges won’t get truly targeted traffic to your blog. They also won’t bring active community participants or regular readers.
I think that analysis is a little pessimistic. Pam Blackstone, over at Random Bytes, argues that blog exchanges work on marketing principles, facilitating name recognition and familiarity. Moreover, surf exchanges aren't the be-all-end-all to site promotion. Try to post a good, high-quality entry every day. Excellent content pulls in readers, and over time they'll come back on their own for more. Also, when surfing, leave comments like crazy at blogs you like, or those with a similar focus to your own -- you'll be likely to build a network of like-minders bloggers that way, and people will be linking to your page in no time. See this Blogger article on building traffic for more information.

Well, I hope this post is informative and helpful. Good luck and happy surfing!

28 comments:

Yvonne said...

Great post! I love Blogmad myself, but Blog Soldiers is also good. I kept on hearing great things about Blog Advance and Blog Explosion, but from BA I get hardly any clicks at all, and from BE I get TOO MANY clicks, and they don't stick around for long!

Have fun on your trip! :D

Donald Douglas said...

Hi Yvonne:

I'm glad you liked the post. Thanks for visiting and come back again.

Take it easy

carrie said...

i'd never heard of blog soldiers. thanks for the tip

Donald Douglas said...

Hi Carrie:

I'm glad this post was helpful! Give Blog Soldiers a go -- the program works for me quite well.

Take it easy.

GollyGumDrops said...

I'll give Soldiers a go, thanks for a comprehensive post.

Donald Douglas said...

Hi Golly Gum Drops:

Okay, give 'em a go, and thanks for the good words. Stop back by at Burkean Reflections sometime and let me know how you like it!

Take it easy.

Neurotic Mom said...

I'm trying out autosurf monster. I posted the link on my site.

Donald Douglas said...

Hi Neurotic:

Okay, I'll check it out. Thanks for the visit.

Take it easy.

Neurotic Mom said...

Blogmad stop LOL

Donald Douglas said...

Neurotic:

Please elaborate on that one. I'll talk to you soon, in any case.

Take it easy.

Nancyrowina said...

I made a post about blog soldiers as there were so few blogs in rotation it was depressing. I got a comment from someone saying that it had burned up thousands of credits over night. I have to agree when you do win the big credits they burn up really fast and your sites don't recieve that many hits, I know I have detailed stats.

I still use blog soldiers but lots of people have left because of this.

Donald Douglas said...

Hi Nancyrowina:

Thanks for the feedback.

I imagine that the same surfers see my page again and again at Blog Soldiers, as that's what happens when I'm surfing, and I see others' pages repeatedly (which wastes credits). I'd mention two points that might mitigate that situation a little. One, the bonus hits stay on reserve in your account (under Blog Soldiers current setup), so you can release them a little at a time. Second, as I mentioned in my post, the visitors to my page from Blog Soldiers stay longer than those from Blog Mad or Blog Explosion (there seems to be a large international membership, which might explain some of that).

I've had good luck so far with the program, in any case.

Take it easy.

Neurotic Mom said...

LOL not sure which one you want me to elaborate on...i'm assuming the Blogmad stop.....i was surfing blogmad and got your page haha

Donald Douglas said...

Hi Neurotic!

That's it! I didn't get your meaning at first, but I'm clear now. Glad to hear you're surfing and that my page is rotating. I hope you're getting a lot of quality visits!

I'll talk to you soon.

The Wager Witch said...

I think this is an excellent post.

I've surfed in and out through the exchanges.

One thing I've found - is that you get what you give.

I realize not everyone is into what I'm into on my blog - but I totally dig reading other blogs - and meeting new folks. So for me, the traffic exchanges have been great!

I always like to learn new things - see other opinions - read new ideas, etc.

But not everyone knows about the exchanges. Another really neat way to read new blogs on blogspot is to hit NEXT BLOG.

But like I said - it's what you give in order to get back. I don't think you should expect quality traffic, if you don't give quality traffic.

I get tired of the MLM and the PTP but Every once in awhile I find something worthwhile and I stop and comment.

Hey - Have a splendid day!

Wager Witch - http://wagerwitch.blogspot.com
Free No deposit casino bonus offers, repeat deposit deals, Savvy gambling advice, Casino Promotions and more gambling dollars for your deposits!

Donald Douglas said...

Hi Wager!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You're right on about getting what you give. That's why I always try to comment a bit on some of the pages I visit. I'm still new on some of the lingo, though -- so if you could define "MLM" and "PTP" that would be a great help

Viki said...

Thanks for the mention! You've done a very nice and thorough write up about the traffic exchanges here. I may have to give Blog Soldiers another go. Currently, I am only using BlogMad and BlogAdvance, when I have any time to surf at all.

prying1 said...

Great post DD - I hadn't heard of blog soldiers so I'll give them a try -

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks Paul!

Donald Douglas said...

Viki:

You're welcome. I'll look forward to seeing you on Blog Soldiers. Plase stop by again and leave a comment.

Take it easy.

Adam said...

I couldn't agree more with what the Wager Witch has said, you get what you give. If we all just clicked we'd only end up with "traffic" and no "readership", I mean why bother writing posts if all we want is clicks. I've got better things to do with my time than just clicking and watching some counter count down until I can give it another click! I'm fairly new to blog exchanges and haven't earned many credits as I thoroughly enjoy the reading. Through this I've found some great blogs to read and just keep learning something different. In What fascinates me in particular, is the variety of interests that we all have and what motivates people to spend the time that they obviously do in blogging.

Meatball One said...

Your best post yet, imho. Finally a reliance on empirical data and a thorough-enuff researching of a topic. Ya see, you got it in ya to be solid.

I employed the use of 5 or so of these traffic drivers up until a few months ago. I surfed their pages each day using tabbed browsing (a FireFox utility)to accumulate enough points to always keep my accounts above zero. I also employed the autoassign functionality whenever offered.

After a 2 month run with the annoying distraction of surfing for referral points, I stopped using their services. My hope was to gauge how much of the traffic generated by these sites would stick once they stopped pointing traffic my way.

Unfortunately, the effect was minimal at best. This may say more about the quality of my crappy little blog than the value of these services.

If I am to judge from my own behaviour when using these services, I must admit that I only pasued to view a dozen or so of the thousands of blogs they directed me to as I clicked about to generate traffic points.

As well, I found that I often forgot to click when the minimum stay countdown ran down to zero. Sometimes I could be so distracted by more interesting tasks that my multi-tasking blog-traffic generating surfing suffered. This behaviour de lapsus on my part came to form the basis of my explanation of the phenomena whereby traffic driver visitors could be found to linger at SMC for oddly long lengths of time...a behaviour that did not fit with visitors behaviour from non-driver days.

What has really spiked my traffic at times and left a residual effect of increased steady state traffic is specific postings I have made at SMC and cooments I have left at other blogs with large traffic volumes.

Then of course I recommend getting on the blogrolls of other bloggers.

These two factors have turned out to be what works best for me. Sure I miss the crazily inflated volume of visitors from my traffic driver days. But I've come to the conclusion that are as useless in generating sticky exposure as Wonder Bread is in building good character and happy bowels.

Again, great post.

Donald Douglas said...

Hi Adam:

Thank you for commenting. I agree -- we should all be commenting on each others' blogs, and building a community. I do think the exchanges can increase your exposure, so don't give up on them -- you might find some shared interestes though surfing, and you'll be able to build up a network from there.

Take it easy and good luck.

Donald Douglas said...

Meatball:

Yeah, I'm solid alright -- as you can see from all of my regular Burkean posts! I wouldn't blow off the surf exhanges just yet. How did you come to find my site in the first place!

Take it easy, and don't forget to correct that link to Burkean Reflections on your page!

Meatball One said...

Good question. I'm trying to remember and can't quite come up with the answer now but I know it's buried eep in one of my atrophied recesses. I'll get back to you on that - but for the time being, I do know that it wan't through a traffic driver.

The link...LOL. Yes, I still have to get back to you on that one, and so with a question I promised to formulate for you. It's still on my pertinent things-to-do list but the list has been quite long fr the pat 8 weeks. But again, the task has not been out of mind. Later, gater!

Donald Douglas said...

Okay, Meatball -- get back to me about that crazy link!

The Wager Witch said...

MLM - Multi level marketing - sometimes referred to as a pyramid scheme.

It means basically you get money if you get people to join under you - who pay money and will get money if they get people to join under them and so on and so on.

PTP - Pay to Particpate - PTC - Pay to Click

PTR - Pay to read (you pay - they send, you get paid)

Autoclicks - etc aren't exactly worth it in my books.

Something like that - there are a whole lot of variations on all of those themes.

For me - I'm an avid reader... I just enjoy browsing and I enjoy participating and hope that others enjoy doing the same. It saddens me to see that I've gotten 10000 clicks - but only one or two comments.

While I realize not everyone is into gambling or gaming - at the same time - they could just say - Hi - stopped by - like your site... etc. Or something to let me know they actually looked.

But - at the same token some folks don't know that comments are wanted.

Some think that just "VIEWS" are important.

But for a lot of us bloggers - whatever our interests are (and mine ARE varied - LOL! I'm not JUST a gambling nut... I do like lots of things... that's just my way of giving out some good deals to those out there who do gamble - ) anyway - for a lot of us bloggers - the views aren't as important as the COMMUNICATION.

Which is why we write in the first place - whatever it is that we write about.

Whether it is a get rich scheme or not - I spend my time reading it, thinking about it - and if possible I generally comment when I see new information that interests me - or that I want to take part in.

For example - I like reading your blog. It's usually opinionated, interesting and funny. It's about politics which I don't know a WHOLE lot about - but I enjoy getting informed by clicking through here. Sometimes, I'll comment - but most of the time I'll just read the newest post and think about it...

And I don't want to look too much like an idiot commenting on something I don't know much about. Now ask me about free bonuses - LMAO - and I can tell you about a whole bunch of 'em. But ask me which country is angry at the other because someone decided that red was the "out" color for the week and I might cross my eyes at you and twirl my hair. LOL!

Which - is why I read your blog when I stop by. LOL!

Oh - and yes - I do find that readers tend to click more - from commentaries - when there is something that interests them.

Maybe we should build a FORUM EXCHANGE?

LOL!


So I hope that answered your question - hope you have a great day!

Wager Witch - http://wagerwitch.blogspot.com
Free no deposit no purchase necessary casino bonus offers, repeat deposit deals, online casino promotions, savvy gambling advice for both the new and the seasoned gambler!

Donald Douglas said...

Hi Wager:

Thanks for filling me in with the lingo. I'm glad you enjoy reading my site. Have you thought about starting another blog for general rants and commentary?

Take it easy.