A Traffic Exchange is a web promotional/advertising method wherein webmasters, site owners, or site promoters views each others' websites (view exchange).
This method dates back to the beginning of the web and were primarily used by organizations to share sites between employees. During those times, viewers would rate pages in a similar fashion to the now popular social bookmarking phenomenon. When interesting websites were hard to find, a traffic exchange for an organization new to the web proved an invaluable tool.
Circa 1994 traffic exchanges moved from corporate intranets to the web. In an effort to build communities, the concept of rating pages was replaced with rewarding members for viewing.
It was 1996 before traffic exchanges began to charge for traffic and around this time the concept changed from a tool for locating interesting sites to a commercial one. This change in direction resulted in increased popularity at the expense of the content, which is now almost exclusively commerce.
In a traffic exchange system, there is a website that receives website submissions from webmasters that join traffic exchange networks. The person who submitted the website then has to browse other members' sites on the exchange program to earn credits, which enable their sites to be viewed by other members through the surf system. This increases the number of visitors to all the sites involved.
Exchanges enforce a certain credit ratio, which illustrates the amount of websites the surfer must view in order to receive one hit through the program for their promoted website. Many sites offer the ability to upgrade one's membership level for a more equal credit ratio.
As the viewers are all website owners or affiliates, it is possible that some might find certain member sites interesting and thus make note of them on their own sites, sending more traffic their way. Most traffic programs also impose a time limit when members are browsing, ranging from 10 seconds to 60 seconds. Some incorporate the use of captcha to ensure user interaction.
Almost all traffic exchange programs are free, although many of them offer special features to paid members and offer credits for purchase. Almost all traffic exchange programs encourage users to build their own referral networks, which in turn increases the referrers' amount of credits.
The traffic generated in a traffic exchange can be leveraged by using a downline builder to assist the user in building a referral network in the many different traffic exchanges.
In practice, traffic exchanges programs are generally used by small business owners or marketers who either want free advertising or use the exchange programs for low-budget advertisement campaigns.
In a Traffic Exchange, there are two type of method, Auto and Manual Surf. In an 'autosurf' method, human intervention is not required to rotate the sites in the browser. It is used primarily to inflate the total number of site hits. This method is rather controversial as it may skew the results of website popularity. In a Manual Surf, on the other hand, human intervention is required. This method attempts to ensure that a website is really viewed or navigated.
One of the main reasons why people join in a Traffic Exchange program is because of the theory that is based on Search Engine ranking. People believed that more visits tend to increase a site's ranking, but it is now thought that such techniques are outdated and no longer influence SEO and SERP ranking. A factor which may negatively influence the ranking is the Bounce Rate. If a website or blog has a high bounce rate, then it will be considered that people are not interested in the content.
Traffic Exchanges are prohibited by some advertising programs such as Google Adsense. This is due to the fact that traffic exchanges usually generates impressions that is considered not of quality. This could, in contrast, result to advertiser loses.
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