A Toplist Primer

Nigel McLaughlin

Toplists are one of the best free sources of traffic around. Not only is the traffic highly targeted, but you can get returns as high as 1:100 if you spend some time hunting out good Toplists. The aim of this primer is to show you how a brand new site can go from 0 visitors to a steady stream of permanent visitors in a number of weeks. Read on!

What's A Toplist?
A Toplist is a page that ranks sites by the number of visitors they send. Usually they list the top 25, 50 or 100 sites sending traffic to them. The more hits you send, the higher your rank and the more likely you'll get clicked on.

Some Toplist Math
Before continuing on with how to make the most of Toplist traffic, I want to show you why it's worth your time and energy. I'm not a Math head in any way, shape or form, so I promise this is simple.

Start by submitting your page to 10 Toplists. Let's say that on average each Toplist returns 4 visitors for every 1 that you send them. You don't really have much traffic yourself yet, so in Week 1 you send them each 2 hits.

Week 1

Outbound Traffic : 2 hits Out * 10 Toplists = 20 hits Out

Inbound Traffic : 20 hits In * 4 = 80 hits In

Week 1 Total : 80 new visitors

Let's then say that 1 in 10 visitors to your site click on a Toplist link in addition to the 2 hits you can send each site from your current traffic i.e out of your 80 new visitors, 8 of them click a link.

Week 2

Outbound Traffic : (2 hits Out * 10 sites) + 8 = 28 hits Out

Inbound Traffic : 28 hits In * 4 = 112 hits In

Week 2 Total : 112 new visitors

They're small numbers for sure, but you can see how your traffic goes up exponentially. Next thing to do is build 10 different pages/sites and submit each of them to 10 Toplists. Within a few months you'll have several thousand new visitors each week.

In/Out Ratios
Finding Toplists with good In/Out ratios is extremely important. The ratios should be at least 1:3 and I've found some that are much, much better than that. Often ratios are lower due to poor quality traffic, too many sponsor ads on the page diverting the visitors attention, a slow loading page or any number of factors. Even on the same Toplist, ratios can vary widely depending on your description. I've had results as high as 1:500 from niche terms.

How Many Hits to Be Ranked?
Virtually all Toplists require that you send at least 1 hit to them in order to be listed, so you won't be seen if you're not sending them any traffic. The other thing to check is how many hits the lowest ranked site has sent in. If they've sent in 20 hits, you need to send in at least that many to make it into the bottom position. If you have no traffic to send their way, you may want to avoid these Toplists as you'll never get the chance to be seen.

If you can find a Toplist that has a great In/Out Ratio and only takes a few hits to be visible, then you're much better joining them. In fact, I often join these Toplists even when I have traffic to send their way as it's fairly easy to get listed and climb to a great position quickly.

Choose Your Niche
Most Toplists have particular niches that they're targeting i.e Teens or Lesbians. Make sure your page matches the theme of the Toplist you're submitting to or you're just wasting your time AND you may get blacklisted.

Fetish Toplists in particular often cater for a specific niche within a genre i.e Feet, Bondage or Spanking. These Toplists generally have much higher quality traffic because the visitor knows exactly what they're looking for. Sure it's harder to stand out from the crowd when you're all promoting similar things, but when people DO click, you're more likely to make a sale.

Try to promote content that's within a particular niche, but is less saturated i.e Ethnic Shemales on a Shemale Toplist. If you're the only site pushing that angle, then you'll get better returns.

Study the Competition
Which descriptions are getting the most clicks out? Study these and make up a description that uses some of the most clicked keywords. Not only does it make you more likely to be clicked, but it gives you a good idea of what surfers are after - studying visitor demographics can help you decide what sort of page to build next.

The same description may work brilliantly on one site, but go poorly on another - make sure you see what works on each site and vary your description accordingly.

What to Watch Out For
* Avoid any sites with excessive consoles - it's just going to annoy your surfer and they may accidentally close your page while they're trying to get rid of console hell.

* Don't submit to sites that have an abundance of "Lolita" or similar descriptions. You don't want your site being on the same page as them for legal/moral reasons, plus the people visiting those Toplists are probably not going to be after your sort of content anyway.

* Poor In/Out Ratios - there's no point sending visitors to a site that's not sending any back.

Read The Rules
Always make sure you read the rules of the Toplist! Some only allow free sites, most don't allow more than 1 console and many won't allow dialers. If you submit your site and it breaks the rules, you'll get blacklisted.

Toplist Reset Times
A lot of Toplists will display their Reset Times i.e when all In/Out hits are reset to zero. By being aware of reset times you can give yourself a fighting chance against people with more traffic than you. If a Toplist resets on a Monday, put links to those sites on a high traffic page of yours on Monday. On Tuesday, change them to ones that reset on a Tuesday. This makes you visible on the Toplist straight away and because there's less sites for the visitor to choose from, you'll get more clicks to your site and therefore you'll stay closer to the top. One of the great things about having your page listed on a Toplist is that Google will pick it up. This will generally increase your Page Ranking due to the extra inbound links...

The Google Factor
One of the great things about having your page listed on a Toplist is that Google will pick it up. This will generally increase your Page Ranking due to the extra inbound links, plus because the Toplist contains lots of genre-specific terms, it should have a good Page Ranking itself, thus increasing the ranking of your own page.

I search out 99% of Toplists through Google - after all, I want pages that people are finding easily and have a good Page Ranking to start with.

Making Your Life Easier
When submitting a page, I make it easier by putting the information on simple HTML page:

<form name="form" method="post" action="">
<input type="text" name="site-name" value="Your Site's Name" size="40">
<input type="text" name="site-description" value="Your Site's Description." size="50">
<input type="text" name="site-url value="" size="80">
<input type="text" name="banner-url" value="" size="50">

Open this in your browser and now you can skip through the fields easily to Copy and Paste the relevant information. You can also use a Server Side Include to keep your Toplist information up to date.

I mirror the links on other similar pages of mine, sometimes on 50 or more other pages. If a Toplist closes down or you decide it's no longer productive enough, you can alter your SSI file and the changes flow through all the pages you've got your Toplist links on. This saves you many hours of time, and means you won't miss pages when you update your links.

In Conclusion
Toplists should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. A few hours spent searching out good Toplists can pay off in the long term because of their self-sustainability - as long as you're sending hits, you should be getting hits. Combine this with the fact that they're highly targeted and you'll see much better sign-up ratios than other sites like TGP's.

Nigel has over 7 years experience in Internet Marketing, Flash Animation and HTML markup. He is available on a Freelance basis and can be contacted by emailing