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 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.There's a few more blog exchanges out there, but I've had less success using them.
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.
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).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.)
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.
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!