by Juan Robin II
Many people consider free traffic from Google and other search engines the “holy grail” of traffic. The price might be right for free traffic but that doesn’t mean you should ignore paid traffic. Even a failed campaign could give you a significant ROI.
Besides, free traffic isn’t really free. You’re paying with time and effort instead of cash but there’s still a cost involved.
Paying for traffic also gives you several advantages over the free route. Let’s look at how paid traffic sources work to your advantage.
Get Results Fast
One of the biggest advantages of paid traffic is how fast you can see results. You can send traffic to a landing page, order page, or anything else on your website and get immediate feedback.
Is nobody buying your product or sending you their contact details to get more information? You’ll know that in a matter of hours or days. To get that same feedback from free traffic would have taken many hours or days of work and likely weeks of waiting for enough visitors to analyze the results.
Get Measurable Data
With paid traffic, you can track your visitors all the way from the point they click on an ad to the point they buy something from you. You can track them through the landing page on your website, the emails you send them, and even other websites they visit.
Most ad networks give you a lot of tracking power, something that isn’t available through most free traffic sources. Google might send you a lot of free traffic through their search pages but you won’t know what keywords those people were searching for, how many other sites they visited, or much of anything that is helpful when analyzing your results.
Testing & Tweaking
Because paid traffic sources give you so much data, it makes it much easier to test and tweak your marketing funnel. You can identify the spots where visitors are clicking away or not taking an action you want so you can make changes to improve the results.
And because you see results so fast, you’ll know if a change you make ends up performing better or worse right away. If you’re relying on free traffic, you won’t see the effects of a change for weeks in many cases.
Multiple Traffic Sources to Choose From
There are many different ad networks and paid traffic sources to choose from. Once you have one running profitably, it’s easy to add a second one. Different ad networks have different demographics so you can target a completely different group of people if you wish.
While there are many free traffic sources as well, the lion’s share of free traffic comes from Google. If you try to target another free source, it could end up hurting your ranking in Google and your traffic could end up going down overall.
Plus, with paid networks, you have different types of ads to choose from. You might learn how to use Facebook ads first and those ads will keep sending visitors while you learn how does pay per click work.
Highly Targeted Traffic
Paid traffic can be highly targeted. If your product or service is ideal for married women between the ages of 40 and 50 who are also mothers that work full-time, you can make sure your ads only show to those people.
Free traffic sources won’t differentiate one searcher from another. If Google “thinks” your website is the best fit for whatever someone is searching for, they’ll show it in the results whether it’s actually the right thing or not.
The detailed targeting available with paid traffic also lets you create different ads and landing pages for different groups of people, without having to worry about duplicate content penalties or trying to figure out how to force Google to show the right page to the right searcher.
Consistency in the Type of Traffic You Get
Ad networks tend to be pretty consistent over time. They might add new features or change the way certain things work but the overall design of their network remains much the same.
The same can’t be said for free traffic sources. Google is constantly tweaking its search algorithm to improve the results people get when searching for something. This is a noble goal but sometimes the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.
Your site might provide a good solution for your visitors but a change that Google makes could take your site from being a top-ranked result to burying it somewhere several pages deep. They’re concerned with improving things in broad terms so they’re not going to undo something because it affected a single site (yours) negatively.
Traffic Scheduling Options
If you want traffic coming to your website at a certain time of day, say during your business hours, free traffic sources are not going to work for you. You have no control over when someone uses Google to search for something.
With paid traffic, you can schedule your ads to only show between certain hours. The ads could run while you’re open for business and turn off at closing time. Once these details are set up, you don’t have to think about them again. The ad network will turn them on and off per the schedule.
It might seem backward but paid traffic can actually be more cost-effective than free traffic. Because you only pay for the people who click on your ad and visit your site, you aren’t paying for a bunch of untargeted visitors.
With free traffic, the up-front costs of content creation and other labor are the same regardless of whether the traffic that comes to your site is targeted or not. You might be paying to get a bunch of visitors who have no interest in what you have to offer.
Free and Paid Traffic – Two Sides of the Coin
Paid traffic and free traffic should be two components of your overall marketing strategy. Use the paid sources to test and tweak your marketing strategy. Once you have it streamlined and running profitably, expand your reach with free traffic.
As the free traffic builds, you’ll see much better results having already ironed out all the kinks in your system.
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