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Internet Promotion: Free For All Lists

By Richard Lowe
Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2004

You can use "Free For All" link pages to advertise your site. These are exactly what the name implies: a whole bunch of links on a page with very little order.

You can add links to an FFA page by typing the information about your site (see some of the example pages below), or you can use an automated program or service to submit to thousands of them at once.

Because so many people are posting to FFAs using automated tools, they do not tend to be extremely useful as an advertising medium. You will find that your links stay on the page for only a short time (sometimes just minutes) before being kicked off by newer links. This makes it a complete waste of time to hand-submit to them.

Years ago FFA lists were a very useful part of any web sites promotional strategy. This was in the days before automated tools and sites which exclaim "submit your site to millions of directories" (which are invariably millions of FFA pages). In their attempts to be "useful", these tools have actually reduced the effectiveness of FFA lists to practically nothing.

Because FFA lists are so widely touted as a useful promotional technique, I have spent many hours submitting to them and measuring the results. How are the results measured? It's very simple. Create a special "welcome page" for each FFA list. Submit each welcome page to a different list. After a period of time (a few days) check your server logs (or hit counters) to see how many hits you've got for that page.

The results for submitting to FFA lists? Virtually no hits at all. I attempted hand submission and found that I received zero hits in a one week period. I also attempted automatic submission using Submitwolf and some of the other automated services. A couple of additional hits here and there were the result.

That being said, some of the FFA lists that I have defined to help advertise this site are listed below. Go ahead and visit them to get an idea of how these things look and what they are about.

Once you decide to submit to an FFA list, DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR MAIN EMAIL ADDRESS WHEN YOU ENTER YOU SITE INTO ONE OF THESE PAGES, ESPECIALLY IF YOU USE AN AUTOMATED TOOL. This is very important. You see, each site sends you one or more emails confirming your addition to the site. This email is NOT spam, since you requested it (this is part of the FFA list's terms and conditions) and it's the primary reason why people create FFA lists in the first place. If you use your primary email account, that's exactly what you will get - lots of [mostly useless] advertising messages.

I did this once (and only once) and I received over 2,500 emails in one evening. Fortunately, these sites are usually set up to only send one email, so the damage is not permanent, just annoying.

You MUST use an email address of some kind, however, so get one of those free email accounts and use that address. Personally, I've never found anything useful after examining over a thousand of these emails during the past year, so I tend to just delete everything without looking. Some of the free email accounts allow you to set up rules to automatically delete messages (see ( - it can be useful to take advantage of this capability.

So far, we've discussed the advantages (few) and disadvantages (many) to submitting to an FFA list. Now comes the interesting part - You can create your own lists. When you do this, you can set up your page with one or more autoresponder messages of your own. This means that everyone who posts to your FFA list will receive one of your emails. This email can advertise anything that you want.

It's a good idea to be very careful when writing this email to not reference your primary email account. You may also want to use caution about referencing any important web sites or other things of importance. Why? Well, even though technically these emails are not spam (since they are a "feature" of submitting to an FFA list) they are often mistaken as such. This is especially true on the more advanced FFA lists which allow several autoresponder messages to be sent days or weeks after the initial posting.

Another important caution about these lists: do not ever pay a penny for one. They simply do not have a large enough pay off to justify a single cent of your hard earned promotional dollars. If you are going to pay for advertising, take advantage of higher return programs such as ezine ads.

When you create your FFA list, be sure and take advantage of all of the customization features that are available FOR FREE. If they have the option to include your own banner, then do so. Be sure to write your own autoresponder email. This is the primary way to get a return from these lists. Remember, virtually no one ever visits these pages - they just use an automated program to submit to them.

One other feature to avoid is the unrestricted ability to set up a list on your own host or server. I found out the hard way: if you do install one of these scripts, be sure not to allow automated postings. Why not? Those FFA lists which allow for automated postings have extremely high traffic requirements. After installing one of these lists you may find your bandwidth costs will skyrocket with virtually no return.

Again, I spent some effort and time determining if there is any value in actually creating my own lists. I again created custom welcome pages, and embedded links to those pages within the email messages from my FFA pages. The result? Virtually no hits from any of the dozen or so pages that I created over a period of months.

This is not to say that FFA lists are totally useless. I've found their primary value is very indirect - by including one on my site (configured to disallow any type of automated, off-site posting) I have added stickiness. Basically, by including the list I've given my visitors one more activity that they can do while they visit my site. This gives them yet another reason to visit, to look around, and to come back.

Additionally, since the FFA list pages are submitted to search engines, they tend to attract visitors based upon the keywords within the submitted links. Occasionally, these people land on one of my FFA pages looking for something completely different, become interested and look around the rest of my site.

Simply enough, my advice is to completely avoid posting to FFA lists altogether. This is, in my humble opinion, a completely worthless endeavor which eats up time with no return. I would also avoid creating pages on any of the FFA services, as this has, in my experience, no real payoff either. In fact, there is actually a risk of being accused of spamming by sending emails from these services. The only thing you may want to do is include a script on your site to improve stickiness. You can do this either with a custom script on your own server, or you can use a service such as, which has an excellent (and simple) FFA posting feature.

About the Author
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets. This website includes over 1,000 free articles to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge. Web Site Address: ( Weekly newsletter: ( Daily Tips:


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