Buying website traffic: Visitors for sale, but what’s the point?

There seems to be an ever increasing number of websites and freelance contractors out there who promise to deliver an impressive number of visitors to your site, often at absolute bargain prices.

As many people find SEO confusing or overwhelming, they often jump at the opportunity to buy these 'visitors'. We’ve even seen some websites offering lots of 10,000 visitors for under $10! It’s easy to see how some business owners would see this as a good opportunity. Even ones who dabble in analytics and have an interest and some basic knowledge on digital marketing could quite easily be fooled into signing up for such a deal. A business owner may look at their website analytics and figure out that from every 100 visitors to their site they make one sale, so 10,000 visitors should equal roughly 100 sales right? Surely! Unfortunately, this is not the case, and to explain why not, we’ll discuss the two possible scenarios for where this traffic will come from.

Scenario 1 The first is bots, clever programs designed to almost emulate human behaviour by browsing the web, following links, even filling out forms etc. Bots have a lot of useful purposes on the internet, especially when used by search engines etc. but the reality is that there are just as many bots out there (in fact probably MANY more) that have been designed for sinister uses as there are good ones. One common example of an unethical use of bots includes scanning the web to collect email addresses or personal data people have carelessly left online, so it can be later used by spammers and scammers. Bots are the most likely method by which these thousands of ‘visitors’ will be recorded on your website, and considering they aren’t real people, is there much point?

Scenario 2 The second, and less likely, possible scenario by which these sites can provide you with thousands of visitors, is if in fact they do use real people. People who get paid to click. Although these are real people and not computer programs, they’ll be acting in a similar fashion, clicking on links and visiting pages simply to register visits with your reporting tools, and it’s quite unlikely that they will stop and actually purchase something from your site or sign up for anything etc. Considering how cheaply you can buy ‘visits’ to your site though (as cheap as $1.00 per thousand visits), chances are these probably won’t be real people. If you are absolutely determined to buy traffic to your website, there are real options out there, but it will usually come at a premium cost.

Various methods by which visitors can be directed to your site include mailouts to large databases, or being shared on high profile social media accounts. One way to know that this will in fact be real people is that it’s very unlikely you’ll be given a guarantee on how many actual visitors you will get. As there is no way to know for certain how real people will behave, it is virtually impossible to guarantee a specific number of visitors. Alarm bells should sound whenever being giving such a guarantee. What you should do, is ask for some reports from the supplier, showing statistics on click through rates etc. for past websites they have promoted, and then think about how likely it is that you’ll actually gain new customers from this, and finally if it’s worth the cost.

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