Free Traffic – What It Is and What It Is Not

Free Traffic – Is It for You?

I’ve written several posts about getting Website traffic based on content and search engine optimization alone.  It’s my preferred method, as I’m in control of most aspects of it.  I create content on topics that I think people will want to read.  I use SEO to ensure that the search engines know what the site is about.  People do searches and if they see my site listed, they click on the link and I get free traffic.  If they decide to link to my blog post from their own blog or from Facebook or some other site, I get links and then more free traffic.  It’s a system that works for me, and I stand by it.

free trafficNot everyone is enamored by free traffic, though.  That may sound kind of strange, after all, who wouldn’t want free traffic?   There are such people, believe it or not, and they do have some valid points.  I was on a marketing forum earlier today and someone had posted a topic entitled “Free Traffic is Time Consuming.”  They’re right; it is time consuming, and that’s why you need to evaluate whether free traffic is what you should be pursuing, first and foremost.

Is Free Traffic Overrated?

In his forum rant, this guy basically had this to say:

Everyone spouts free traffic like it’s some godsend that will transform your business with little to no work.

It’s not. It is very time-consuming and soul-draining.

I value my time, and I don’t like spending the majority of it trying to drive traffic to my sites. I am a business owner, not an employee. I’d rather pay money to have someone else drive traffic for me so I can enjoy my life, and my American TV dramas.

He does have a point, and it’s one that everyone who is trying to make money online needs to understand.  Everything in life is a series of tradeoffs.  You don’t ever get something for nothing, and that includes free traffic.

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I promote free traffic methods for a couple of reasons.  First of all, because I’ve never personally had a lot of luck with paid traffic.  Pay per click advertising is very competitive.  The rules imposed by Google (and, to a lesser extent, Bing) are pretty strict.  If you’re working in the make money online niche, the advertising is quite expensive.  The learning curve is huge, and mistakes can cost you a lot of money in a matter of hours.  You can literally lose hundreds of dollars in a day with a poorly optimized ad campaign.

free trafficAnd the cost per click can be expensive.  Buying traffic for a site such as this one wouldn’t make sense unless I could get traffic for pennies per click.  The problem is that in the make money online niche, the clicks tend to cost dollars.  In fact, Google’s Keyword Planner took is suggesting a bid of $2.23 per click for the phrase “make money online.”  That’s a lot of money; I’d have to pay $223 for every 100 visitors to my site.  If I wasn’t earning more than that, per visitor, buying traffic would be a money losing proposition.

There are other ways to get paid traffic that cost less, but they’re also likely to draw traffic of lower quality than you’d get from free traffic.  Pay per view, or PPV traffic, is a system where you get visitors by buying popup ads that appear when they search for particular terms.  PPV has its own problems, is also very competitive, and PPV tends to bring in lower-quality visitors since the ads only appear to people who have elected to download free games and applications on the Web.  That means that you’re primarily targeting people who are looking for free things, but you’re paying for them.

search engine optimizationIn the case of this particular site, I choose to go with free traffic.  I can find a lot of topics to write about.  Due to a lousy data entry job I had a number of years ago, I type about 90 words per minute, so I can knock out a blog post like this one in about 20 minutes or so.  Plus, I’m targeting this site towards people who are mostly beginners in the affiliate marketing niche, who have beginner skills and little money.  For such a group, free traffic is a better approach.  If you’re new to trying to make money online, you likely don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising.  You certainly don’t have a lot of money to spend trying to optimize a PPC advertising campaign at $2.23 per click.  Because of this, I’m not going to devote much time to PPC advertising on this site; I’d rather concentrate my efforts on generating, and showing you how to draw, free traffic.

Now, with all of that out of the way, I have to concede that the forum rant above does have a valid point.  There is no such thing as “free traffic.”  Free traffic does come at a cost, and that cost, to some people, is dear.  That cost is time.  Drawing free traffic requires that you invest the time involved in creating the content and the time involved in waiting for that content to start drawing visitors.  I get a fair amount of visitors to this site on a daily basis, but it’s taken several months of creating multiple blog posts per day, each of which has more than a thousand words.  It’s taken a lot of work to get here, and the site is becoming huge, and will, in time, become a lot larger.

On the other hand, if you just have some product you want to sell, you could put together a Website for it in an afternoon, start a PPC campaign for it the next day, and start drawing paid traffic to the site immediately.  If you have a well-optimized PPC campaign or if you’re in a marketing niche that’s not overly competitive, then you’ll likely start making money right away.   Paid traffic is for now; free traffic is for later.

Free Traffic Summary

Before you start building your site, you need to ask yourself this question:  “What do I have more of?  Time?  Or money?”  That, really, is what’s going to help you decide how you should best go about promoting your site.  If you have lots of free time and little money, free traffic is the way to go.  Create your content, wait for the search engines to find it, and wait for the free traffic.  The beauty of this is that you’ll likely get free traffic from that content for years.  If you’re impatient and have the cash, by all means – buy advertising.  It produces virtually instant results.  Free traffic is great if you’re patient or on a budget.  But it’s not for everyone.

Choose what works best for you.

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