There are many very effective ways to advertise your business online and equally, there are some highly dubious methods too! While I usually prefer to focus on positive subjects for my articles, the merry-go-round of the traffic exchange “industry” is something I feel I have a duty to warn you of. If you’re new to marketing your business online then you’ve been doing some searches here and there, trying to find ways of “getting out there”. You’ve discovered that there’s a million and one different websites making fantastic claims and promising the earth! Whilst most traffic exchanges don’t claim to be able to make you a millionaire, they do claim to be able to send you untold numbers of “hot prospects”. This is what I have a problem with – the quality of the traffic is almost always very poor. No doubt you’ve discovered a few of these traffic exchanges yourself. Why don’t they work? The giveaway is in the name but first a little history will help you understand the context in which traffic exchanges have come to exist. Back in the primordial days of the internet, at least as long ago as 2001, the first traffic exchange was born. It was a beautiful concept and it worked very well. Users signed up and agreed to view or “surf” other members’ pages. As the user surfed, so credits built up which were used to display the users site across the network. Because this concept was new, it worked fantastically well. It was a great way to get traffic to your new site. Then, inevitably, the business model was copied. The traffic exchange “industry” was now upon us. There seemed to be a new exchange being released every week. Different exchanges had different surf/display ratios. All the same people joined all the same exchanges. Let’s jump right back into the present. With a little research, it won’t take you long to find out that these days it’s the search engines driving more than 80% of the traffic on the internet. The only people using traffic exchanges are new webmasters and people trying to find a free way of promoting their website. Look at this user base for a minute. No-one is interested in what you have to sell. All they care about (just like you) is getting traffic to their own website. People who still insist on using the exchanges have devised ways of surfing more than 15 exchanges simultaneously, never spending more than a second or two on one site. This all adds up to nobody really seeing your page and equates to a very poor return on your investment – that investment being time, your most precious commodity. Traffic exchanges began when SEO was a term that had not even been coined. With the rise and rise of Google, the other engines playing catch-up and many smaller niche directories now appearing on the scene, the overriding focus in this day and age is search engine optimisation or SEO. When you see the awesome power of a top listing in Google, the traffic exchange “industry” becomes a complete farce. Then the final nail in the coffin. The robots! Since a traffic exchange relies on a piece of software to distribute the traffic around the network, there is always going to be the potential to design a piece of software that can cheat the system. These “bots” are available to buy if you look around. Enough robots can effectively make a traffic exchange completely useless and they regularly do. No matter how much “cheat protection” the exchange owner implements, some savvy coder will always find a way around it. It’s quite probable that the only winners in the traffic exchange game are the people running the robots – they get tons of free traffic! A clever exchange owner can also carve a living out it, if they try really hard. So I have some very good reasons to warn you against using the traffic exchange and first hand experience of this industry too (I experimented with the exchanges for way too long). If you’re new to this internet marketing thing then please take my advice – don’t waste your time. Concentrate on search engine optimisation. Concentrate on giving something of value away for nothing if you can. This has the effect of getting other people to link to your site since you are providing a resource. Links into your site raise your popularity. In my book I show you some great software programs available which will help you build a web property that is really worth something. That’s where the fun begins. In my opinion you must forget about traffic exchanges. Stop click – click – clicking and start – link – link – linking. To your success! Riley.