Free Traffic Versus Paid Traffic. The Smackdown

In this episode, we directly pit free traffic methods up against paid traffic. I outline several different free traffic methods and how they work, then we compare up against how things work when you use paid traffic.

Episode #88 | Episode Date: June 10, 2015

Paid traffic. Those two words usually scare the crap out of bloggers because… well… it costs money. However, it is really important that we understand the real differences between free traffic and paid traffic.

In this episode, we directly pit free traffic methods up against paid traffic. I outline several different free traffic methods and how they work, then we compare up against how things work when you use paid traffic.

If you really want to get more traffic to your blog and grow your online business, this will be a VERY important episode for you.

So, welcome back to Coffee Break Blogging! And today we are going to get deeper into the topic of Traffic.

Specifically what we are going to talk about today is free traffic versus paid traffic. And we are going to do a comparison between the two. We are going to call it the “smackdown”. Because here is the thing, there are definitely differences between the ways the two types of traffic work. And it is not just because one costs money. So we really do need to look into what is involved with free traffic versus paid traffic. And also, I want to make the point to you that free traffic really isn’t free. Okay? Most people don’t even consider paid traffic because they just think “Well, that costs money; I therefore do not want to do it!” So they immediately go to the “free” traffic but I want you to understand that it isn’t free. And not only that, your results are far from guaranteed.

So let’s go and get started…

Free Traffic – The Method


First one would be the obvious, and that is simple SEO. If you want to call it simple, that is. So this involves writing a boatload of contents so that right there is time consuming. Definitely an important thing to write content but if you are writing it because you are trying to appease Google, that is a whole different consideration; a whole different thing to worry about than if you are writing it for your subscribers  and where you are having a conversation with your subscribers and you are helping them with your content. If you are writing it because Google likes certain things; that is a problem.

It actually detracts from the quality of the content on your site. The other thing is that if you have any experience doing this, you’d realize what a moving target Google can be. It could be really difficult, really frustrating to try to rank your content inside of Google because SEO rules are always changing, people don’t even know what the heck they are half the time and it is just a very frustrating thing. So if you are depending on writing lots of content and getting ranked in Google to get your traffic, you are going to have an uphill climb on your hands.

Guest Posting

Now, guest posting is popular with bloggers as a traffic generation method. And it basically means you are going to write really awesome content and you are going to go and you are going to publish it someplace else; not your own blog, you are going to put it on somebody else’s blog, preferably a blog that has a fair amount of traffic on its own so therefore you can get some of that traffic and bring it over to you by putting backlinks inside of your guest post.

Now here is the thing… Guest posting does work as a strategy. It is just that it also can be an uphill fight. And not only that, it just isn’t as effective today as it used to be. Let’s just put it this way… A lot of guest posts are crumbing in terms of quality. So that is one thing. So a lot of blogs have to shut down from taking guest posts. They just won’t do it. They say guest posts are not as good as what I can do and they are just not going to do it. Other blog owners; they are not just that clued in with how guest posting works so therefore they don’t take them either and they are like, “No, I don’t want to do that.” So you, as a person who wants to promote your own blog can run up into a headwind with blogs that just don’t want to post your stuff. They just don’t want to do it.

Or the ones that do often have incredibly high standards in terms of content quality; which is good, actually. That is a great thing but it makes it tougher on you to get through. Not only that, at the end of the day, the amount of traffic that a guest post can bring you varies all over the place and in most cases it isn’t that high. There are cases where if you put the exact right piece of content, really, really killer stuff in front of the perfect audience; in a really large audience, you can get a fair amount of traffic from a guest post. It will be the gift that keeps of giving. If it ranks well, you can get traffic for the long term. But most guest post will not work out that well, okay? Again, a lot of labor involved with doing this and the results are not guaranteed.


Another traffic generation which is “free” is trying to get influencers to link to you. Now here is the thing, if you go out on social media or other blog owners and you try to get other people to link to you it could be a tough thing, most of the time they are not going to do it on their site.

In some cases they will, but that’s funny, there are people out there who have templates and emails like swipe file emails on how to get through to influencers, it’s like all this guessing game on how to get to these inbox and it is just a funny game, it really is. You know at the end of the day, I am not a big fan of feeling like I have to depend on other people to grow my business. And I would think that you are the same way. It is not that it doesn’t work, but you know… It can be a little bit of an odd feeling to feel like you have to go to somebody and be like, “Hey… My stuff is really good, you might find it interesting” and really what you are trying to say is “Can you link to me?” and it is just kind of an odd thing. So I am not a big fan of it although it can work in some cases.

Creating A Viral Post

Now the idea of a viral post by the way, is any post that gets shared an awful lot and so therefore it kind of spreads like a virus; that is the idea behind it. Now, I did say “creating a viral post”, and I will be the first to tell you that you cannot just engineer one of these things. Most of the time, if a post goes viral it is kind of luck to the draw. But there are some things that you can do to kind of prime it up, but it is not always going to work. It just isn’t always going to work. And not only that, typically you got to seed it. You have to push it along before it gets that momentum and starts going viral. And how are you going to push it along? You are going to be going to these influencers and try to get them to re-tweet your stuff and share it on Facebook and stuff like that so that it goes to their community and then hopefully you get some viral promotion. It is a lot of labor, okay? But it can work. It is just not a guaranteed thing.

Video Marketing

Now, making YouTube videos or you can post them to other sites, too, but we all know that YouTube is the biggie. Now, it works, too, but we also know and you will know, too if you have ever made a video is that they can be harder. They can be more difficult. Now in some cases some of you may be better at videos than writing, which is fine. But there are technical things involved with making videos. And not only that, when you put a video up on YouTube, it is not guaranteed to get views. So there still is the promotional aspect. I would say half if not more of the battle of creating content is what comes after you publish it because most content is just going to sit there and not get noticed by that many people unless you push it along and really promote it. And it really does work this way for videos as well. It is not get a lot of views in many cases unless you really peg the SEO really well or you kind of push it along by getting people to link to it or embed it or things like that.


Now, podcasting does work, but it is not an instantaneous traffic flow. In fact, it is very long term. Podcasting is a long term play. You can build up an insane amount of engagement with your listeners through podcasting. So, for many people it is a good thing to do. But it is not the kind of thing that you can depend on podcasting to totally get the word out for you; in my personal opinion, without doing a lot of auxiliary marketing around the edges. But it does work. The ROI is there, I actually track the ROI of this podcast and it is definitely there, so I know that it is definitely worth my time and if you do it right it can definitely be worth it for you. So that is a free traffic method. Not the easiest thing in the world to do but it can work.


Now the idea of running contests is basically a type of content where you are going to give something away. Okay? So it is very similar to a viral post, it is just that the main drawl into it is the fact that you are going to be running a contest. A part of the criteria for entry to this content would be the idea that they need to share it; so that is how you get the viral component. Now the one problem with the running a contest is that it can be sort of untargeted on how it works. You are going to get people who are coming in who just want to try to win but they really do not want to engage with your brand all that much. But it can work as a promotional medium and as a way to get traffic. You will get a spike out of it if you do it right and then it is the matter of how you follow through to see how many of those people are going to stick around for the long haul. But it can work; it is a fair amount of work, it is not really free because of the amount of work involved, also the fact that you got to have something to give away, but it can work.

So those are a bunch of free traffic methods. I think that you will see that the overriding theme of all these is that they are a lot of work and they are not guaranteed results.

Paid Traffic

Now I am not going to get in to a bunch of methods here because it is all… you know, you pay for it, you get it. That is kind of how it works. You pay for traffic, you are going to get that traffic. And you can go to the likes of Facebook or Google Ad Words or pretty much any social network out here today has an ad program. There is also the various banner ad networks like Site Scout and there’s retargeting like Perfect Audience… A lot of these things out there; but basically, if you pay for it, you are going to get. So that right there contrasted with free traffic in that you do all those labor with free traffic and your results are not guaranteed. With paid traffic, if you fork out the money, you are guaranteed to get that traffic. You are going to get what you paid for. The “trick” is that you need to do something effective with that traffic when they get there so you don’t lose money. You don’t want to fart money into the wind here, okay? But that is the game with paid traffic and you are going to get it if you pay for it.

The other thing that is great with paid traffic is that you can very precisely target who you want to bring to your site. Free traffic is very untargeted. Now you can’t target it by the nature of the content that you are making but you can’t really control who comes. It is just a matter of who get curious one day and clicks on the link; whatever. Whereas, especially if you use a network like Facebook that has absolutely insane targeting capability, you can say “I want to get women between the ages of 30 and 35 who are interested in blah-blah-blah, and they live in a specific geographical area, and they got married within the last year” you can get that targeted with a network like Facebook. And you can put ads only in front of those people.

So if you know what it is that you are offering and you know who your best customer is; let’s say that your niche is pretty much for women… And that many will be pretty alienated by it; well that’s great. When you do paid traffic, you say “I want to target women only” and of course you would want to get more targeted than that because that’s still half the species, but you know what I mean. It’s like you can be effective with where you put your money here and target who you are bringing in.

The other thing that you can do with paid traffic is that you can bring people directly into the things on your site that make you money. That’s a huge one because with free traffic, generally, people are not interested in clicking on some link and going into a sales letter. They are going to want to look at content. And not only is that, with content, which a fair amount of them are going to immediately bounce off your site and they are going to leave. Now that is just a fact of life; we refer to that as bounce rate. So you can’t guarantee that when somebody comes to your site, that they are going to go to one of your money pages.

They are not going to go see one of your offers, they are not going to necessarily get on to your list, they are not going to necessarily sign up for a webinar, they are not going to necessarily do anything that furthers your business along. Whereas, with paid traffic you could directly send them in to those things. You can say, “I only want people to click right into my squeeze page to get on to my list and get my lead magnet.” You can do that. Whereas, if they go to your general blog, it’s a free for all. You don’t know what they are going to do! You could put things in front of them to try to get them to click to the squeeze page, but most people won’t do it, okay? So that is one of the major benefits of paid traffic.

Here’s another one that will be very real to people who are trying to promote their sites and get traffic from social media. You probably have noticed that there is an organic reach… I’ll call it a problem, but this is not really a problem. Essentially if you post to Facebook; this is a really good example, only a very small fraction of the people who are connected to you, either as a friend or as a fan; are actually going to see what you have to say. Most people, Facebook will literally not even show it to them. And so that is called organic reach; it is just you’re not going to get it; you are not going to get it organically.

Same thing with Twitter… Now Twitter doesn’t do it the same way as Facebook; but the problem with Twitter is sheer noise. And so, you know… you put out a Tweet, let’s say you have 1,000 followers… Chances are, if you put out a tweet, maybe 30 or 40 or 50 people are going to see it. And it is simply because of sheer volume. Your tweet just races right on by. So in this, you will see on lots of places. So basically, there is a lot of noise out there. And the way to cut through it is by paying. Pay to play. So if you go to Facebook and you drop a Facebook sponsored post; an ad, in other words… You are going to get seen. Okay? Because that means Facebook is a “for profit” company.

That is how you bypass the problem of organic reach. In fact, you do all that work to get your Facebook page up to a thousand or five thousand fans; you essentially have to pay to reach those people, anyway, which is one of the funniest things. I really don’t worry about growing my fan page. And I guess it would be a vanity metric, it makes my brand look bigger the more fans that I have… But I can’t say that I put the slightest bit of effort into growing the fan base on my page because I don’t look at it as a valuable asset to me. If I say something, only a fraction of the people connected to that page sees it anyway. And if I want to get it out in front of more people, I have got to pay for it. Well, the thing is, I can pay to reach people and I don’t need them to be connected to my page in order to do it. So I don’t see the point. The thing is, I can cut through it like a knife through butter; cut through all that noise and the problem with organic reach by simply doing paid traffic.

Power To Both

So I hope you will see that there is definitely a power to both of them. And I do believe that the right way to go is to utilize both free traffic and paid traffic. I mean, I am a long time blogger. The last thing that I am going to do is tell you to stop writing content or to don’t do guest posting or stop podcasting or stop making videos. Content marketing is an extremely powerful thing but we do need to realize where it sits in the scheme of things. And I think the proper mix today is that we need to also be able to utilize paid traffic; we need to be able to pay for it because that is how you cut through all the clutter, reach exactly who you want and how you make the growth of your business predictable; because like I said, if you pay for it, you are going to get the traffic. It is all in the matter of what you do with it.

Now very close related to this, I want to once again invite you to the Big Monetization Webinar. It has everything to do with what we are talking about on this episode because monetization, doing that right, having that structure in place is what will enable you to do paid traffic without that feeling like you are just farting money into the thin air. Like I said, when you pay for the traffic, you are going to get it. The trick is what happens to them when they get there? That is exactly what we are going to talk about on this webinar. Okay? It’s completely free, live training, delivered by yours truly. And I’d love to see you there!

So with that, hopefully you found this enlightening, got your gears on a little bit and I’ll see you on the next episode of Coffee Break Blogging. We are going to be talking about pixeling your blog visitors. In other words, we will be talking about a little bit of retargeting.