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What Not To Do
(June 11, 2001)

It has been suggested that the use of click exchange networks is an effective method of generating cheap, fast website traffic. However, a number of factors indicate that the traffic generated through this method is of a lesser quality than that generated through more traditional (albeit more costly) means.

A click-exchange site operates in a rather simple fashion. Upon creating an account, the user is able to surf the sites of other members (via an online search engine, portal, or browser plug-in), earning a credit for each site at which they spend more than thirty seconds. In this case, each credit is good for one thirty-second visit to your site by another member.

By their logic, you're earning 120 visitors to your site per hour. One author even advocates signing up for multiple networks at a time, enabling the user to earn even more visitors ("Open up four browser windows and log into each network and begin surfing. While one counter is counting down, switch to a different window and start the counter there. By the time you get all for started, you first one will be nearly finished"... "In this way you'll be able to capture 400-500 visitors to your site in an hour!").

With this kind of abuse going on, the question arises: What kind of visitor are you really getting?

The odds are pretty good that the other members of the click-exchange network are about as interested in seeing your site as you are in seeing theirs. Rather than a useful destination or answer to a question, your site becomes another obstacle to the visitor. Also, consider that the visitor is probably working on developing his own business (and therefore not looking for a job) or being paid to perform menial tasks like developing traffic through click-exchange networks (and therefore a gainfully-employed drudge of questionable competence and motivation, and not nearly an ideal potential candidate).

The only possible way that this method of traffic development could produce a paying customer would be if the registered business owner/website traffic developer were willing to shuck out the dough to a job board or recruiter in order to find a drudge of questionable competence and motivation to perform the menial task of surfing the sites listed on the click-exchange.

All in all, the amount of time required to develop and maintain a flow of visitors to your site through a click-exchange network is money better spent on real marketing efforts. Visitors are one thing - but paying customers are entirely different.

- Greg Pryor

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