Should You Buy Web Site Traffic?

Jumping on the blog band wagon now, as millions of Internet users are still just now learning the value of Internet marketing, is a wise business decision. But many over-zealous bloggers go to extremes to be seen and heard. And so they purchase Web site traffic.

Lo-and-behold, their site meters light up like Wall Street ticker tapes. And bloggers check their site stats as often as day-traders check the Dow. It’s the same hype that addicts gamblers and alcoholics to their little vices, the more they indulge, the more they want. But don’t let the numbers fool you. Purchasing traffic has its plusses and minuses.

Driving traffic to your site is a must and there are legitimate and targeted ways of doing so. And if you keep in mind that a professional blog presence is an ideal way to market, brand, and position long-term business relationships, then you must consider paid-for traffic as a means that can work against your marketing ends as much as it can work for you.

Advertising Profits
Monetizing a site is often an important goal for bloggers. The truth is, you can make money with advertising links and online stores. In some cases, you can make an excellent income from a well-designed online presence. There are bloggers generating substantial profits with Google’s Adsense and other advertising companies.

Many bloggers rely on Adsense as a second income stream for their efforts. This is a totally viable option. But what differentiates a second-income trickle from an income stream comes down to two things: 1) Substantial content and site depth; 2) Legitimate, well-targeted visitors.

A site that links a hundred pages deep with substantial, relevant content for its viewers will work best. On a site like this, advertising revenue can become the main profit center. For every page view and for every click-through generated by an ad on your site, money is deposited into your account. So, a site that’s 90 to 100 pages of original content with strategically placed ads will make the usual start-up blog and four to five page Web site look like a field mouse in Eagle’s claws – dead meat.

Since much of your online success is, in fact, a numbers game, Web site traffic that flows like the Niagara falls can be Internet gold. So many Web masters and bloggers will purchase traffic by the thousands. Going rates start at about $2.00 for every thousand visitors and can cost as much as $4.00 per thousand. If this sounds like a lot, it really isn’t. Ten-thousand unique visitors can be delivered to your Web site at the rate of about 500 visitors per day (depending on your campaign) for about $20.00. Seem reasonable? It really can be. But the number one draw-back to purchased traffic is click fraud.

Do you care? You better care if your intention is to build trustworthy relationships with customers and clients. And you could be banned from advertising programs if you are caught generating what amounts to three-day-old-chopped-liver for leads. Savvy?
Attempting to find out what is and what isn’t considered legitimate traffic is as productive at times as asking who dunnit in the state penitentiary. It really depends on who you’re asking.

What Traffic Providers Say
A popular Web site traffic provider had this to say in reply to an inquiry about whether their traffic complies with Google’s terms of service. They said, “I couldn’t be sure about Google’s TOS, but I couldn’t imagine that common forms of advertising would violate their terms. After all, isn’t that the point… get people to your site to create clicks? Anyway, if you would like to be sure, you should probably email them. However, I can tell you that we have other clients that use Adsense on pages they send traffic to.” This answer has more red flags than China. And Google just forked out 90 million in click-fraud damages.

Asking Google for help was equally vague, ambiguous, and almost relevant. Google replied:

We understand that you would like to have more traffic visiting your site. However, we do not endorse or encourage the use of any traffic exchange or purchased traffic programs for this purpose. Also, since [. . .] isn’t affiliated with Google, I can’t offer you any specific information about their program or systems.

We recommend that you exercise caution when using traffic exchange programs to ensure that you do not violate the AdSense Terms and Conditions and that you do not artificially inflate your pageviews or clicks. Please note that AdSense participants are solely responsible for verifying that any tools or software used in conjunction with AdSense do not violate the AdSense Terms and Conditions.

To protect your interests as well as those of our advertisers, Google monitors clicks and impressions on Google ads to prevent any abuse of the AdSense program. Google’s proprietary technology analyzes all ad clicks and impressions for any activity intended to artificially drive up an advertiser’s costs or a publisher’s earnings.

This reply highlights the important take-aways from Google’s terms and conditions. Unfortunately, it leaves a specific question about a specific, but herein unnamed traffic provider, unanswered. And Google introduces another traffic device in its answer. They mention “traffic exchange” programs. Traffic exchange programs rely on user reciprocity. They’re different than purchased traffic programs. If you visit my site, I’ll visit yours is the basic tenet of traffic exchanges.

Google hasn’t evaded the question altogether, after all they do say that they do not encourage purchased or exchanged traffic. But they do say that they protect bloggers by monitoring advertising clicks and impressions to prevent any abuse.

The Pros and Cons
Here’s the rub. Purchased traffic will generate traffic and ad revenue for your site. And Google, in its digitized god-like wisdom, will protect you from click-fraud by monitoring things for you with software. The next question is whether your site can convert a large enough percentage of these visitors into authentic click-throughs. Authentic is the key.

If you’re paying one or two hundred dollars for visitors and only converting a fraction of that into ad revenue, it may not be worth it. Of course, whether it’s worth it or not depends on other things your Web site offers. If this traffic is signing up for newsletters, products, and services, then it might be worth it to purchase the traffic.

You basically want to avoid click-fraud and ill-targeted traffic. Generally though, if your site has a lot to offer, paid for traffic can convert into a regular readership. But relying on search engines, optimized Web content, word-of-mouth, linking to other sites and networking is the number one tried-and-proven way to generate the best traffic of all.

And no amount of traffic can replace a boring Web site. The best way to build reputable traffic is to build an original Web site over time. It will take a long time to get enough content to build a top ranking Web site that people can spend hours at if they want to. That’s why jumping on the blog band wagon now is a practical business solution. As you build your blog day-by-day, week-by-week, you’re preparing the fodder for a virtual traffic explosion.

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