Should I consider
listing my site using free FFA submitters with free-for-all links pages or free classified
ad pages to increase my traffic?
The prospect of free Web site promotion is always a lure to entrepreneurs who are short on
time and marketing dollars. Neither free classifieds nor free-for-all (FFA) links pages
using a free FFA submitter are major sources of traffic compared with search engines,
well-chosen reciprocal links or e-mail.
Nonetheless, free classifieds are probably worth a shot as a secondary promotional tactic.
Submitting to FFA pages are another matter. Most people don’t get much more than worthless e-mail—tons of
it—from FFA pages, though you may want to experiment with a few of the better ones.
Free classified ads work much like those in your local newspaper. You place a short description
of your products or services with pricing and contact information. Many free classifieds sites
allow you to include a Web address, photo and e-mail address. Just as in print, you can often
pay a fee to upgrade your ad with larger type or graphics to help it stand out.
According to 100hot.com, a site that provides ranked lists of the top Web sites, the most
popular classified ad shopping site is Classifieds2000, also called
Excite Classifieds. Although ads are free to
individuals, the site charges $19.95 for an eight-week ad in the Business Opportunities and
Services section. An ad placed on Excite Classifieds also appears in the classifieds sections
of its partner sites, which include search engines such as Infoseek and Webcrawler; ISPs,
including MindSpring and AT&T Worldnet; and many specialty sites. Excite Classifieds also
offers a Cool Notify service that automatically e-mails shoppers when a classified ad for a
product or service they desire is posted.
There are many other free or low-cost classified ad sites. Some of the best known are
The Ad Net Classifieds ,
Epage. To find other classified ad sites, consult the exhaustive
listing maintained by Mega Linkage List.
Mega Linkage List also includes FFAs in its directory. Although FFA pages look like free
classified ad pages, they’re very different. The crucial distinction to remember is this:
While free classified ad pages can benefit you, the advertiser, FFAs benefit only their
owners. In theory, FFAs sound great. There are tens of thousands of FFA pages on the Web,
each offering free links to Web pages. By posting your site on FFAs—automated software exists
to instantly list your site on thousands of these sites—you create an avalanche of links back
to your Web site. Because everyone knows links are a good way to build traffic, your traffic
and business leads suddenly soar, right?
Not exactly. For one thing, you’re up against thousands of other people and businesses
submitting their links, and space is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Free FFA submitters
typically offer a defined number of advertising positions in each category. Each new ad
submitted goes to the top of a category listing—and yours moves down and quickly off the list.
Usually very few people see your listing, and you receive little or no traffic.
What you do get from FFA sites is e-mail—up to several hundred each day. That’s because when
you submit to a FFA site, the operator sends you a confirmation message along with an
advertisement of its own products and services. If you’re tempted to try an FFA site,
don’t use your usual business e-mail address for return mail unless you want to
spend your day sorting through an inbox crammed with promotions.
FFA promoters often make the argument that links from FFAs can boost your search engine
rankings. It’s true that some search engines (AltaVista is one) use the number of links to
your site as one ranking criteria. Still, there are better ways to improve your search engine
rankings than going after links from FFA sites. (See “
Getting Hits“ for more information.)
If you’re dead set on seeing what FFAs can offer, try a service that will submit to a network
of FFA sites. Some of the best-known services are FFA Net,
Fantastic Links. These services also allow you to
have your own FFA page so you can at least have the small satisfaction of sending out
thousands of your own promotional e-mails.