Buying Cheap Traffic – An Experiment

By | January 6, 2015

Almost every new site I create gets no traffic. That is frustrating, disappointing, and not good business, and I am not sure exactly what to do about it. In the olden days, it used to be if you built a good site, people would find it. Google would send it lots of traffic, other sites would link to it; it was one big traffic party. I never advertised, I never did link trades, I did hardly any SEO, and no social promotion.

Things have changed and I am lost in a sea littered with my own dead sites. I have tried using Facebook and Twitter, but for me that has never resulted in extra visitors (yes, yes, I know everybody else in the world seems to just magically click the share button and the world comes running to their door). I have tried advertising (like on Adsense), but I never once have made more money than I spent. I have tried buying links on sites, but Google now frowns on that plus I am not sure that was ever worth it anyhow. I have paid people do white hat SEO (Google likes this), black hat SEO (Google does not like this), but none of it worked. The few sites I have right now that are listed #1 in Google are all sites where I used a top secret patent pending “No SEO” method, which I developed myself after years of careful data analysis, lab testing, common core number crunching, and quantum crypto drone surveillance. I don’t want to give away all the details, but it is basically where I create a good site, do no SEO work at all for it, and Google shows me some much needed love.

But, the vast majority of the time my sites live in cyber wasteland, dying a slow death like a controversial movie that will never be seen, a great painting hidden in an attic, or a moving poem kept locked in a diary but never shared. My sites want to break free. They want to be seen and heard. They yearn to be liked, to be commented on, to be shared. Yet day after day I sit idly by and do nothing. I am the problem, and I am the solution.

So, last week I got off my ass to do something about it. I designed what I call “The Great Traffic Experiment of 2015”. The subject of my experiment is my recently launched site at GameReviews.com, which so far just gets around 20 visitors per day. I have done nothing to promote it. My hypothesis is that if I buy traffic for the site, Google will somehow see lots of people are going to it (Google knows all, sees all), and rank it higher. I also thought maybe some of the people going to the site would keep coming back even after I stopped advertising. To keep things as scientific as possible, I determined that the best course of action would be to buy traffic from one source at a time, and after the traffic buy from each source was completed, I would see if was getting more traffic than before I started advertising. That way I could determine how good that source of traffic was. If I did not get any repeat traffic from it, it was not worth buying.

That all sounds good, but I am an impatient type of guy, so I threw that protocol out the window, typed “cheap traffic” into Google, and within minutes bought visitors from 5 different sources of cheap traffic all at once:
Gamesbannernet.com
Easyvisitors.com
Maxvisits.com
Cpmoz.com
Hitscheap.com

Some of the traffic was from video game sites, but most was not. Some was in the form of popunders, some was 404 error page redirect traffic, and the rest came from unknown sources. Most was from the USA though. The cost was ranged from $1 – $10 per 1000 visitors, but mostly around $1 for 1000 visitors (this experiment is all about cheap, low quality traffic).

My Google Analytics reports for GameReviews.com shows useful stats for each traffic source, such as how many pages each visitor went to (if they only go to the main page of the site and not any subpages, they probably are not that interested), how long they stayed on the site (if they leave the site quickly, they are not too interested), and the bounce rate (how many people left the site right away without really looking at it at all). This let me compare to see which sources gave me the best traffic. The only problem is that many of these cheap traffic sources send the traffic in frames or other ways that could distort the stats. For example, when my site opens as a popunder ad, I assume that makes it look like the user stayed on the site a long time but it may just be they never just bothered to close the popunder window and never even looked at my site.

One result is that as I expected, the cheap traffic is not nearly as valuable as people who go to my site directly (like by typing GameReviews.com into their browser or from searching in Google). Those high quality users look at around 2.2 pages each and stay on the site for 2.5 minutes. The cheap traffic usually stayed on the site less than 10 seconds and visited less than 1.3 pages per session. The video game site traffic from Gamesbannernet.com did better than all the other cheap traffic but cost 5-10 times more, so I am not sure of that was worth it or not.

All that really matters though is how much traffic I keep getting after all the traffic is done. Overall I spent around $100 for approximately 25,000 visitors, and it did not seem to lead to any significant repeat traffic. I still just get the 20 visitors a day, like I was before. But, it has only been a few days since I stopped buying traffic. The benefits can’t just be measured in repeat traffic though. There may be webmasters who came to my sites and will then link to me because they like my site. And, next time Google updates its algorithm it might rank me higher from all of this. I won’t know any of that for a few months, but if anything exciting happens, I will post an update about it on my blog.

UPDATE – 02/24/15: All of the cheap traffic I purchased 6 weeks ago did not result in any lasting traffic. As soon as my ads stopped, the traffic stopped, and it did not help me at all with the search engines.

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37 thoughts on “Buying Cheap Traffic – An Experiment

  1. Charlie

    Hi Eric,

    I can see a few reasons why Google wouldn’t want to send much traffic to your site.

    1) No original content. All you do is link out to reviews on other websites, correct?

    2) The design sucks. Your logo is just the domain spelt out in white letters. There almost is no design to speak of. It looks like an RSS feed.

    3) Your site adds no value. You can aggregate and that’s fine, but you need to do more with it.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      Yes, I just link to other sites. Soon I will have my own reviews also though.

  2. Anticareer.com

    Cheap traffic is worthless.

    1. Google will not see these people visiting your site. How can they?

    2. Backlinks are still the most valuable SEO resource, on page SEO is second, and social signals are third.

    3. Most cheap traffic never converts because it is not real traffic. It is either bot traffic, or people will iframe your site (along with 1,000 other sites) into a 1×1 pixel for each site, put it all on one webpage, and then drive visitors to that webpage. That will load all 1,000 sites in each’s 1×1 pixels thereby giving your site “one visitor” though they visitor will never see your site or even know they visited it.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      I am not sure if Google know how many people visit my site. Alexa.com tracks it, and Google may be influenced by Alexa.com rankings, or at least the same factors as those.
      Yes, backlinks are key.
      Google Analytics did track most of the traffic to my site as “real” traffic, and much of the time people loaded more than 1 page, so bots would not do that (unless they are programmed very smartly).

  3. Lyle

    Just keep doing what works, your domain business, why do you keep pulling your hair out with small time development?

    You need a cutting edge platform, that engages gamers to get their attention, you need to live, breathe, sleep gaming like other sites do. A ton of work, solid domain, but the visitors want high value content, that is very laborious to provide. Otherwise they bounce quick,

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      I have had mixed results with domaining over the past few years. I have not lost money on domains I bought, but most did not make money (when I sold them) either .

  4. Nuno

    Eric, that kind of track would never help your website with Google… in fact it could only hurt. They are bound not to use their analytics info but if they did they would hate those bounce rates.
    I hold, for many years, the top seo score at one of the biggest worldwide certification companies… and I was a beta-tester for Google, I do know about this

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      Yes, I agree about the bounce rates, but the test was only for a few days so hopefully that won’t matter. Either way I get no traffic from Google right now, so it can’t get much worse.
      Yes, I know they don’t actually directly use Google Analytics info for their rankings, but they do use some of the same metrics (like bounce rate, time on site, etc.) in their rankings.
      I did not expect this experiment to help any, but I figured for $100 it was worth it to get it out my system.

  5. Nuno

    They highly use bounce rates after the person clicks on their search engine listings. If the person goes back to search shortly after visiting the website, Google will frown upon that.
    I don’t think you were penalized by the experiment. On the other hand, if you had AdSense on such website… there would be problems. They don’t even like meme traffic from FB.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      Yes, very true. I made sure to not have any ads on the site.

  6. 2015

    Hi Eric,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. My take is that Google knows so much (via analytics, third party tracking, etc.) so they’ll see those IP’s and know they are fake/paid for, thus negating them. You need to rely on good original content for solid indexing.

    A piece of advice for such a quality domain name: get an attractive/powerful theme for a mere $50 !
    Woothemes.com
    Elegantthemes.com
    Themeforest.net *

    See the example of “game reviews” wordpress themes for sale on Themeforest – they could be perfect and turnkey for you, with rating features, photo galleries, etc.:

    http://themeforest.net/item/black-aperture-game-review-theme-for-wordpress/43052

    That’s just one example, there are so many on Themeforest and elsewhere!

    Best of luck

  7. Joshua Davis

    I have to agree with the above comments.

    1. The site design is not up to par.
    There are many paid and free WordPress / Joomla / Magento / HTML themes that are amazing out of the box. The level of design expected has increased over the years as themes are easier to create. To even be considered a real site you have to now meet this minimum expectation that it will look and work great on all devices.

    Check this themes out. Simple Google Search. Fully featured theme for $58
    http://themeforest.net/item/gameleon-wordpress-magazine-arcade-theme/3271091?ref=joshuardavis

    Yes, that’s a referral link. I took the time to find the theme for you and write this detailed response so I feel I’m providing value to you and readers. Remove it if you like. It costs the same with or without my referral link.

    2. There is no value for users to stay.
    It lacks original content, a unique service, a community. Traffic will drop off as soon as it comes because the users are not engaged. At the very least there needs to be a stay updated link or share buttons. There is no way it can grow or be shared on social media if there are no buttons letting users do it.

    3. The site is not what users expect.
    When I click on the domain GameReviews.com I expect an authority website that has all the bells and whistles. Big high resolution images, clean design, an active community of game reviewers and articles from well known sources. Big brand category names like playstation, xbox, nintendo, etc. And most importantly a very large section with video games rated with a 1-5 star system that can be searched through by genre.

    4. Developing this site to what it needs to be will cost money.
    You’ll need authority writers that are gamers themselves to write reviews then share it with their already big following on twitter, facebook, etc. It’s a win / win. You give them a place to post articles and gain followers and you get followers from them. Get several writers going and you combine the amount of times your site is shared. You’ll have to pay them a good chunk of money to write reviews. Then you get a system in place for engaging users. Email newsletter of reviews, upcoming game events, discussion boards, etc. You have to know gamers and what they’re interested in. Remember you’re creating actual value. Only once you’re site has gained a following do you spend money on marketing. If you do it before then it’s just a waste as users come and leave your site. Then you market it like crazy. Get a good logo and tag line. Make it catchy and easy to remember. Put it everywhere on all your social media accounts, advertise it where gamers hang out on already popular discussion boards and gaming websites, go to gaming events, have a tradeshow booth, sponsor events, etc. Get a PR person if you need to. This isn’t cheap but hopefully there is a revenue model in place at this point.

    Good luck.
    I’m available if you want my help 🙂

    Look at http://www.twitch.tv/.
    It’s an excellent example of a site knowing it’s audience. Clean crisp design with high resolution graphics and big easy to see call to actions: Play Games. Follow us on Social Media. Get an Account. All that right on the homepage. They don’t beat around the bush. Gamers care about graphics. If they go to a site with poor graphics they will leave right away.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      The site uses a large amount of custom programmed php/mysql so it is hard to integrate with a template type site design. But, I will make it look nicer soon. First I am working on a new version of the site which will be more of a games database, with reviews for each game and other info. This should do better in Google.

      1. Joshua Davis

        If you find the right developer they can easily add custom scripts to WordPress. There are also many plugin-ins available that do the same thing. Just saying it would be easier to scale and also when the time comes to have someone else manage the website, a novice could do it. Also having a site built on WordPress or similar CMS increases it’s value if you were to sell the site. However I think right now most of the value resides in the domain name.

        1. Eric Borgos Post author

          I do have a custom made CMS in php/mysql so it is very easy to manage the site. I have used WordPress for 20+ sites, and it is great for many types of sites, but there is no way it would work well for the type of site I am making. I need too many customizations. If I were posting reviews directly on my site, WordPress would be a good fit.

    2. Eric Borgos Post author

      Keep in mind that many of the people reading my blog today are coming from Domaining.com, which is a site just like GameReviews.com where it has no original content, it just aggregates content. Like how Domaining.com is leading news site in the domain industry, GameReviews.com is by far the largest aggregator in the video game reviews business. Maybe there is no need for a game review aggregator site, but that is what I will soon find out.

      Yes, my site design could be better, I am just holding off on doing a new design until I finish version 2.0 of the site, since the next version will need a different layout because it will be more of a games database.

  8. Nuno

    Don’t forget Google Chrome… Things have changed a lot, a pretty template and some articles aren’t enough for such competitive niche.

    1. Joshua Davis

      Yes, it would have to be more than a pretty template. It would have to have articles or content that keeps users engaged and therefore low bounce rates.

      1. Eric Borgos Post author

        Having a standard game reviews site, where I have a staff of writers write reviews, is very costly and is a big gamble to see if it would make money or not. It is very hard to compete with all the big sites that already do this. That is why I chose to make a different type of site. Yes, the problem with an aggregator site like mine is that it does not keep users engaged on my domain for long.

        1. Joshua Davis

          Totally agree. It is a difficult and there’s lots of competition in this space. Maybe you just need a little twist to make it more engaging.

          1. Eric Borgos Post author

            This was just version 1.0. It is not the final version. It will be better soon. I just wanted to at least get something up and running.

  9. Nuno

    Sorry, I meant Google Chrome tracking bounce rates and other things. I wasn’t clear as we were now talking about content and design.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      I would rather have a site that sucks up and running now and getting traffic and getting listed in the search engines, than wait a few more months until I have a better version.

  10. Tobias

    It never even occured to me to use cheap traffic for long term results 🙂

    Quick traffic = quick value. You have to try to convert these visitors immediately. For example, you could try to convert them to a mailing list with a popup, to FB page likes, or to FB custom audiences.

    But as others have said, all of these really cheap traffic sources are bots, popunders, or other stuff that is near impossible to convert to anything.

    You may want to try other medium-cheap sources that fit your site… stumbleupon paid discovery, fb remarketing or meme traffic, adult traffic…

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      I have tried stumbleupon paid discovery for GameReviews.com and most of my sites, and it is a good source, but they have a 10 cent per click minimum which is way too high for my sites. On a site like GameReviews.com I make less than 1 cent per visitor.

      I have tried adult traffic in the past for some sites, but never on a new site (with no traffic) like this where I can really see how good the results are, so I will give that a try.
      I have not tried FB or meme traffic, but I will look into that. Let me know if you have any good sources for either of those.

      1. Tobias

        Unfortunately, for sites that you monetize with AdSense I neither have found a better traffic source than organic search. For every paid traffic, I had to try to increase the visitor value, and that had mixed results as well.

        With FB retargeting and funny/meme posts I was able to get clicks from FB ads for 1-2 cents or even less. I missed how you monetize this site, though – if it’s AdSense the cheap FB traffic may not be worth much as Google discounts up to 50% of it in my experience.

        1. Eric Borgos Post author

          I don’t have any ads on the site right now, because I did not want to get in trouble for the cheap/fake traffic, but soon I will put Adsense on the site.

  11. Peter A

    Hey Eric,

    Have you tried Yahoo Stream Ads yet? It’s Yahoo’s own ‘AdWords style’ self-serve system for buying ads within the entire Yahoo network..

    I’m paying around 5 cents a click right now and seeing some positive results.. Their min spend per day is $5, and I’m receiving around 90-100 visits a day from that source..

    They also allow you to upload images to correspond to your text link ad.. Give it a shot..

    https://admanager.yahoo.com/

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      No, I have not tried it. I make less than 1 cent per visitor to GameReviews.com (once I put ads on the site), so in general paying 5 cents would not be worth it, but I will give it try just to see if I get some repeat traffic from it. I will also try it for my CheapFlowers.com site. Thanks.

      1. Peter A

        Hey Eric,

        I dug up an old email from Yahoo that had a coupon.. see if this works:

        $25 of free clicks
        Get started today and enter promo code WELCOME when you sign up.

        1. Eric Borgos Post author

          Great, thanks. I will signup today.

        2. Eric Borgos Post author

          I signed up and the $25 promo code worked!

  12. Webs Review

    Thanks for the insight. From $100, did you get any revenue ?

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      I did not have any ads on the site, so there was no revenue. Buying that cheap traffic would have got me banned from many ad networks, so that is why I kept the site so it has no ads.

  13. Arie

    Tell me which keyword you want to rank in first page of google, I will check and try to get it ranked within 10 days without any link building. If not rank, you don’t have to pay anything. If it ranks, just pay $135/month.

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