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Tips for buying web site visitor traffic

With increasing competition for visitors in organic (free) search engine listings, there's other options available for increasing traffic immediately to your web site aside from direct buys of links and banners from other sites . In this article we'll look at a few of the more popular options.

Expired domain traffic redirects

This option allows you to buy traffic redirects from defunct sites, or from domain names allowed to lapse in registration for sites that previously had traffic which are snapped up by redirection companies.

In some cases, the domain names will be fairly generic terms - words that web surfers may type into their browser address bar in the hope that they will find something of relevance. They may also be "typos"; for example, buytrafic instead of buytraffic, or names belonging to sites that still have search engine rankings or traffic being directed by links from other sites.

While each name may only get a few dozen or hundred visitors a day, traffic redirect companies buy thousands of such domain names, allowing them to redirect millions of visits to their customers each month. 

Buying traffic redirects - tips

Unless the domain names that traffic is redirected from are specific to your line of business, the visitors sent will probably be low quality (visitors not interested in your product) and serve only to drain your wallet. 

Buying this sort of traffic may appear to be successful as your site will gain thousands of visitors, but unless the product you are offering has broad appeal, the traffic simply won't convert into sales.

When selecting a company to buy this sort of traffic from, it's important to choose a services that offers truly targeted traffic - a selection of categories from which you can select a sector relevant to your own products and services. It's also important to be able to choose the countries you'll receive traffic from. For instance, if you have a product that you only sell within the USA, then traffic from China will be of little use to you. Some companies offer even better targeting through "dayparting". Dayparting is where you can choose what time of the day that traffic is sent to your site. 

The great thing about web site traffic redirect services is that you can have traffic sent to your site pretty much immediately, thousands of visitors, at very economical prices - and if your site is well laid out and compelling, you can generate substantial revenue from this source; whether as a merchant or affiliate.

It's also important to use a reputable service. All sorts of trickery can be used to inflate traffic numbers and in the past, the way that some services have worked have negatively impacted on search rankings. A more recent development is where companies who offered 100% expired domain traffic in the past are now offering a mix - expired domains and popunders; but they don't make this really clear on their sites and old customer reviews tend to make it look like they are still offering 100% expired domain redirects.

Traffic redirects and affiliate programs

If you're looking to market another merchant's products via traffic redirects; i.e. through an affiliate program, it's very important to check the terms and conditions of the program before buying the traffic as some programs specifically ban this sort of traffic source given the quality of the visitors and load it can place on their servers - particularly if a stack of their affiliates are doing it. 

If an affiliate program specifically prohibits this kind of traffic generation, what you can do is to direct the traffic you buy to a landing page promoting the offer on your own site; and the visitors can click through from there to the merchant's site.

Also bear in mind as regardless of how good the traffic redirect service is, the quality of the traffic won't be as good as traffic generated through product reviews etc. - so you're better off using a traffic redirect service only with high converting or high commission programs.

Site exit traffic

In this strategy, you pay to redirect traffic to you when a visitor leaves a site in their network. This usually occurs with a pop-up window which displays a page on your site. Is it effective? I guess the best way to answer this is with another question.

How do you feel when you leave a site and 20 pop-up windows litter your screen? 

That's exactly what many of these services do.

While utilizing this strategy may increase page views according to your server logs, I don't think that you'll make many friends or encourage sales because of the annoyance factor - unless the exits are occurring on very relevant sites and only one window is being generated by the referring site. 

Pay per click search engines

Still one of the best  ways of buying web site traffic is utilizing pay-per-click options offered by many major search engines. It can be very expensive; so you will need to do your math first in order to justify it.

Most of these search engines require you to bid on key words or phrases that users type in. In most cases, the highest bid gets the highest ranking on the search results and the advertiser pays the amount bid every time someone clicks on their link. In this option, you will want to be listed in the first page of results in order to be noticed. 

Some advertisers go overboard in their bidding. As an example, a search I carried out a while ago on the the term "computer"; the PPC service showed that the no.1 advertiser had bid US$10 for the privilege. Coupled with the fact that not everyone who clicks on the link will purchase, it can become an extraordinarily expensive marketing exercise.

New to Pay Per Click advertising? 

Read our free beginners guide to PPC. Includes listings of companies offering free click credits!

If you do intend to utilize a pay-per-click option for buying traffic, you'll first need to work out your current visitors/sales ratio. If on average one out of one hundred visitors to your site makes a purchase then bidding 5 cents for a position on a paid search engine placement will cost you an estimated $5.00 per sale. If your profit margin is $10 per sale, then it's viable. If it's $4, then it's very risky. These figures are only a "guesstimate", but you get the idea.

You will find it more beneficial to bid on words and phrases that are not so popular. In comparison to the example mentioned previously, a search on "computer parts" showed that the top bidder only pays US$.36 for each click; a difference of over $9.60 on the term "computer". Using this strategy will cut down the costs of each visitor that you acquire, and allow for some more refined targeting. Remember, customers who know what they want to purchase will be more specific in their search criteria.

Which PPC engine should I try?

There are hundreds of Pay Per Click search engines out there and if you're new to PPC, I suggest trying a company that offers free credits to help you get started. It will allow you to do a bit of experimentation without burning through too much cash. Check out my beginners guide to Pay Per Click which also includes listings of companies that provide free PPC credits.

For the web masters who offer a great deal of free content, as we do, a paid search engine placement is usually not an option. In fact, any cost involved with advertising will probably turn out to be a loss, especially if you rely on advertising on your site as your major source of income. If you are in this position, there are a number of other articles on our site that can assist you in generating visitors, without the expense.

Learn more about PPC advertising

PPC - A beginners guide 
PPC advertising - minimizing the cost
PPC fraud - detection and prevention strategies

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
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