When I posited this question to myself, “Is free traffic possible?” my first impulse was to write a one-word answer and call it a day. Just see what happens in the Comments. But I chose to expand on my answer.
So, first, the answer. No.
Nothing is free, not even internet traffic. Oh, sure, you may not pay a single red cent out-of-pocket for traffic to a website. You may not buy any PPC ads, buy links, or outsource. In short, you could do all the SEO you want all by yourself. For free. As in, you didn’t shell out any dough for the work.
I know–I’ve done it. Hundreds of times. Didn’t spend a nickel on traffic.
But here’s the ugly secret: I spent a fortune in opportunity costs, tools, and wasted time.
Even if you don’t use tools, if you’re doing the work yourself, you must ask yourself, “What else could I be doing right now that would earn me money?” If you have an answer (and you should–even if it’s “I could get a job”), then that is money you will forego when doing traffic-building exercises. For example, if you worked full-time at building your site and driving traffic to it–let’s say 8 hours a day at $20 an hour–then you’ve squandered $160 a day. That’s money you could have spent effectively “buying traffic,” while working at a job.
Now, I’m not here to tell you that you should spend 8 hours a day driving traffic to your website. That’s silly. Maybe you spend an hour each day doing that. Using the same data, that’s still $100 you could have spent just buying traffic or buying links that get you ranked higher in the search engines, which gets you more traffic.
Even if all you’re doing is spending time telling your friends and associates (you network online) about your new site and how awesome it is and why they should visit and tell their readers to visit your site, that takes time and effort. It’s all translatable to an expense.
Over several weeks, NOT doing the grunt work associated with SEO and traffic, you will:
- Feel a lot better about how you spent your money
- Feel even better about how you spent your time
- Be farther ahead in the game–you will have more traffic and have done little to no work on the site
- Your outside “career” may be earning you more money
I’m also not here to tell you to “get a job.” But what I am saying is that everything has an associated cost–if you’re building links, you aren’t building products and services that would earn you money.
Now, I am as guilty of this mindset as the next guy, and I’m trying to “rehab” myself. I like putting websites together and doing the SEO and other promotions. But there isn’t enough time in the day to do that and create income-generating products and services.
So next time you think you’re going to spend a few weeks getting your SEO up and running, think about doing something different: Go get a reliable outsourcer and pay him or her to do the work for you. Or, just use a link-buying service and pay for high PageRank links (this is the “secret sauce” to winning in SEO right now–you just have to use smart services).