What Is a Traffic Exchange?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

A traffic exchange is a type of website that is set up to aid the owners of websites in promoting any online pages or sites under their control. Using the time-honored concept of the barter, a traffic exchange makes it possible for participants at the site to share links to the sites of other participants, in exchange for those other site participants doing likewise. The end result is that each site participating in the traffic exchange is likely to reach a larger number of interested web surfers, which in turn increases the chances of gaining sales and increasing business volume.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

A basic traffic exchange functions by allowing members of the site to post links to other web sites, splash pages, and even articles that have to do with the member’s sites in some manner. In return for being able to post those links, the member must browse a certain number of links posted by other exchange members.

For example, the rules of the traffic exchange may require that in order to be allowed to post one link, the member must click on and visit at least five links already posted by other members. More robust sites allow members to choose links to visit based on either the most recently posted links or by selecting links based on category or interest.

The general idea behind the traffic exchange is that each member not only has the ability to publicize his or her own sites and pages, but also is granted the possibility of coming across sites featuring goods or services that may be of interest. When and as this occurs, the member can bookmark sites that are of particular interest for future use, possibly even placing an order. Those saved links may also be shared with others who are not members of the traffic exchange, further increasing traffic to the sites and opening the door for more sales.

Over the years, greater security measures have been implemented on traffic exchange sites, typically to reduce the incidence of the use of software to post links and to get around the requirement to visit a minimum number of member sites in order to be able to post a link. This often includes requiring that the visit to the clicked site last for a minimum amount of time, and also using security measures that require entering a series of characters into a field or accurately matching a set of images in order to get credit for the click. These efforts help to reduce the incidence of computer-generated traffic that effectively skews the results obtained from participating in a traffic exchange, and makes it easier to ascertain if this link sharing approach is in fact worth the time and effort it takes to engage in this type of marketing activity.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Vincenzo -- I don't think there is anything wrong with joining traffic exchanges to create a little interest in your site, but I would not rely on one too much. There is some benefit to using those, but you want as much organic traffic as you can get.

Here's the problem. You won't get that organic traffic unless search engines detect there's enough traffic heading to your site to rank it higher in searches. A click exchange, used conservatively, can help you get more traffic.

Again, just don't go overboard with one or rely on it as your sole source of traffic and you should be OK.


Be very, very careful about using those things. If your goal is to get more visibility and a higher page rank leading to better positioning in search engines, a traffic exchange could be a very bad idea. That is because there are some search engine algorithms that effectively frown on such "bought" traffic and might actually penalize a Website with too much of it.

Besides, which would you rather have? People who look at your site for a few seconds to fulfill the requirements of a traffic exchange network or consumers who come to your site naturally because they are interested in your content?

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