HitLeap is a traffic exchange that enables site owners to send highly-targeted traffic to any website in the world. Its powerful, easy-to-use dashboard and proven track record make it the traffic exchange of choice among in-the-know site administrators and growth hackers alike, and explain why it has received primarily positive reviews around the web.
Keep in mind that if you're looking for organic traffic that will help your business grow over the long-term, a traffic exchange is not the platform for you. But if you understand the advantages and disadvantages of traffic exchanges, and are ready to try one out, HitLeap is an excellent choice.
How Does HitLeap Work?
HitLeap is a traffic exchange founded back in 2008. Using its unique platform, the HitLeap Viewer (discussed below), HitLeap makes it extremely easy for website owners to drive large amounts of traffic to their sites in a short amount of time. It offers site owners extreme precision over the traffic they receive, and sells that traffic at very affordable prices.
Site owners using HitLeap acquire and spend “hits”, the currency we'll discuss throughout this post. Just as a website hit is a person reaching your website, a HitLeap hit is a person who reaches your website from the HitLeap Viewer. Depending on whether you're using the Regular, High, or Ultra Plan (discussed below), those hits will hold a slightly different value to you.
There are two ways you can earn hits: either by viewing other websites in the HitLeap Viewer, or by buying them with cash. Viewing other sites in the HitLeap Viewer is a significantly slower way to earn hits, but it's free.
How To Use HitLeap
There are six steps involved in sending traffic to a website using HitLeap. The outline below may make the process seem complex, but once you've gone through it a few times, it will only take you a minute or two.
It's worth pointing out that the number of options available to you will depend on the HitLeap plan you select. I've specified below which of these options are only available to site owners on the premium plans.
Step #1: Add Your Website
This is the easiest part of the setup process: simply paste in the URL you want to send traffic to and you're good to go. If you want to track things more granularly, you can add any URL parameters you'd like here as well.
You can also add multiple websites at the same time, which can be a big time-saver if you want to send traffic with the same characteristics to multiple different webpages.
Step #2: Choose The Number Of Hits
This is where you choose the number of viewers you want to send to your chosen webpages every day. There are two options to choose from here:
- Same Limit sets a static limit on the number of hits you receive each day: if you set the Same Limit to 1,000, HitLeap will send 1,000 users to your site every day.
- Random Limit allows you to specify a range from which HitLeap will randomly choose your limit each day: if you set a Random Limit of 2,100 to 4,700 hits, today the limit may be set at 2,843 hits, while tomorrow it may be set at 3,678 hits.
If you’re using HitLeap as a tool for client websites and for longer than one day at a time, you're better off using Random Limit, since the variability in numbers will make the traffic more believable. If you're using HitLeap on your own site, either option is fine.
Step #3: Choose When To Stop
There are two options here:
- Never Stop: Send as many hits as possible (within the parameters you set out in Step #2) until you run out of hits.
- Total Limit: Send hits until you reach a total number of hits sent, and then stop. For example, if you have a daily limit of 1,000 hits and a total limit of 3,500 hits, HitLeap will stop sending you traffic midway through the 4th day, once you've received a total of 3,500 hits.
I find that the best way to use the limits in Steps #2 and #3 is to set both a random limit and a total limit. This ensures the number of hits I receive each day varies in a natural way, and also that I won’t use all of my hits on a single site if I forget about it. The total limit is a nice insurance policy that I always recommend putting in place.
Step #4: Choose Your Traffic Source
Available to High & Ultra Plan users only.
HitLeap users can choose from 4 different traffic sources, which conveniently match the primary traffic sources you find in Google Analytics:
#1 Direct Traffic
Direct traffic is essentially anonymous traffic. It's the only traffic source available to Regular Plan users, and I don't recommend it for anyone who upgrades to the High and Ultra Plans, mainly because it's much harder to track within Google Analytics: how do you know how much of your direct traffic is coming from HitLeap vs. other direct sources? The exception here is if you're using URL parameters, which will allow you to track direct traffic, but I still don't recommend using the Direct traffic option if you don't have to.
Google Analytics: Shows up as direct traffic with no source specified.
Direct Traffic Use Case: You're sending traffic to your own website and don't care where it comes from.
#2 Referral Traffic
With referral traffic, you can specify any URL that you want to receive referral traffic from. This works whether you own the domain you select to receive the traffic from or not.
For example, if you have reason to make it appear as though you've received a large amount of traffic from a certain piece of media, you can set that URL (eg. www.nytimes.com) as your referral traffic source.
Google Analytics: Shows up as referral traffic from that particular URL, just as regular referral traffic does.
Referral Traffic Use Case: You've promised a client a certain level of engagement from a social media post, so you add a link to the post to the referral traffic and send some hits.
#3 Organic Search Traffic
Select the specific keywords you want to receive traffic from. Some SEOs believe you can boost your SERP rankings by sending large amounts of traffic to your site from specific search terms (essentially fooling Google via Google Analytics in the process), and this debate hasn't been entirely resolved. I don't believe it would work, though that doesn't mean sending hits from organic search traffic isn't valuable in other ways.
Google Analytics: Shows up as organic traffic from Google. You can see the specific search phrases you selected either in Google Analytics or in Google Search Console.
Organic Search Traffic Use Case: You're working as an SEO consultant and want so show your client some early traction, so you send some hits from the specific keywords you're targeting.
#4 Social Traffic
Send traffic from any of the following list of social media websites and apps: YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, VK, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumblr.
Google Analytics: Shows up as Social traffic from the site or app you select.
Social Traffic Use Case: You're working as a social media consultant or social media influencer and want to send additional traffic to a client or partner's site to demonstrate traction and reach.
Step #5: Bounce Rate Reduction
Available to Ultra Plan users only.
Because HitLeap traffic comes from the HitLeap Viewer—an automated tool that users tend to turn on and forget about—HitLeap traffic has a bounce rate of 100%. That makes sense, since there's no human manually viewing your site and clicking around. It's also why HitLeap added an option for Ultra Plan users called Bounce Rate Reduction, which it says “will reduce the bounce rate and provide better data to web analytics services.”
This sounds good in theory, but in reality, it's unclear how this works. I've tested traffic both with Bounce Rate Reduction enabled and with it disabled, and I've never noticed any differences in my bounce rate in Google Analytics, so I can't vouch for this feature.
Step #6: Geo-Targeting
Available to Ultra Plan users only.
These are the countries you can geo-target your HitLeap traffic from on the High and Ultra Plans. Since 100% of HitLeap's traffic comes from the HitLeap Viewer, this list also gives insight into where the majority of HitLeap's customers live.
- Asia: India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
- Europe: Czech Republic, Germany, The Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, France, Italy, Romania, Spain, The United Kingdom
- Americas: Brazil, Canada, USA
If you don’t specify where you want your traffic to come from, you’ll see it come from all over the world, though I've found that the vast majority of traffic that's not geo-targeted tends to come from lower-income nations like India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. This is an important consideration if you're working on a site whose regular traffic comes from the West—if thousands of visits start pouring in from Asia, it's going to look suspicious.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that HitLeap’s ability to send you hits are technically based on supply and demand, so if you choose to send 50,000 hits to your site every day and only geo-target Romania, HitLeap may not be able to deliver all of those hits, and you’ll receive a lower number instead. I haven't had this happen to me, but it's possible if you're using restrictive geo-targeting and a high daily hits limit.
HitLeap Pricing: Buying Hits
Site owners using HitLeap can buy hits in the 5 packages outlined below:
|# of Hits||Price||Price Per 1,000 Hits||Discount|
|10,000||$7 / €6.50||$0.70 / €0.65|
|30,000||$19 / €17.50||$0.63 / €0.58||10%|
|100,000||$59 / €55||$0.59 / €0.55||15%|
|300,000||$169 / €155||$0.56 / €0.52||20%|
|1,000,000||$525 / €490||$0.53 / €0.49||25%|
As you can see, you can choose to buy hits in either US Dollars or Euros. To change the currency on your account, go to Account -> Settings. Prices are not tied to current exchange rates, though, so I suggest buying in Dollars whenever possible, since the real prices in Dollars tend to be lower than the real prices in Euros.
For example, if you were to buy 10,000 hits at today's exchange rate (1 USD = 0.84782 EUR), the Euro equivalent of $7 is €5.93, a 9% discount relative to the Euro price of €6.50. If you were to buy 1,000,000 hits, the Euro equivalent of $525 is €445.10, which is also a 9% discount relative to the Euro price of €490. Check the exchange rates before you buy to ensure you pay in the more favorable currency, but generally, HitLeap's prices are more favorable in Dollars.
HitLeap's pricing has been stable for several years now, so I don't expect it to go up or down anytime soon. HitLeap only accepts payments through PayPal, though PayPal allows you to pay in several different ways (including credit cards, debit cards, and directly from your bank account), so there are actually quite a few options available.
HitLeap Pricing: Monthly Plans
On top of buying hits outright, HitLeap also offers 3 distinct monthly plans:
|Features||Regular Plan||High Plan||Ultra Plan|
|Visit Duration||10s – 20s||20s – 40s||40s – 60s|
|Referral Traffic Source||╳||✔||✔|
|Organic Search Traffic Source||╳||✔||✔|
|Social Traffic Source||╳||✔||✔|
|Bounce Rate Reduction||╳||╳||✔|
|Monthly Hits Bonus||0||10,000||30,000|
|HitLeap Viewer Slots||2||5||10|
The Regular Plan
The Regular Plan is free and offers 3 website slots, which means you can send traffic to three websites at the same time. The Regular Plan doesn't offer any bonus hits, so you'll need to either buy them or earn them through the HitLeap Viewer. The Regular Plan also has no ability to customize the traffic it receives, and the traffic you receive stays on your site for the shortest amount of time, just 10-20 seconds.
The High Plan
The High Plan costs $14 per month and comes with a monthly bonus of 10,000 hits and 15 website slots. It allows site owners to choose their traffic source, which I believe is well worth the price. Traffic on the High Plan stays on your site for 20-40 seconds, which is a significant difference in the eyes of Google, other search engines, and marketers who may be analyzing the traffic you send. This higher visit duration may positively impact your search rankings, though I don't recommend using HitLeap traffic as a way of manipulating Google (see Does HitLeap Work For SEO? below).
The Ultra Plan
The Ultra Plan costs $39 per month and comes with a monthly bonus of 30,000 hits and 30 website slots. In addition to the traffic source option that comes with the High Plan, the Ultra Plan also comes with Bounce Rate Reduction (which I don't believe holds any value) and geo-targeting (which I think can be very valuable, depending on how you're using HitLeap). Traffic on the Ultra Plan stays on your site for 40-60 seconds, which is another big step up from the High Plan, and may send valuable signals to Google and others.
Which Plan Is Right For Me?
If you don't have a clear earning strategy for your HitLeap traffic, you probably want to go with the Regular Plan. This will allow you to test out the service in a low-risk environment, and if you use the HitLeap Viewer to gain your hits, you won't need to spend any money at all.
If you have a method for monetizing your traffic, be it directly or indirectly, I highly suggest the Ultra Plan. Having your traffic stay on your site for 2-4x longer—coupled with the ability to tailor the source and location that that traffic comes from—are valuable options you'll appreciate over the long run. The High Plan is still good, but if you're serious about making the most of your HitLeap traffic, the extra $25 per month between the High Plan and the Ultra Plan is well worth it.
How To Use The Hitleap Viewer
The HitLeap Viewer is a desktop application that runs in the background on Windows and Linux computers. It works very simply: it opens up a webpage submitted by another HitLeap user, stays on that site for a certain amount of time (the time varies depending on the user's plan), and then moves on to another webpage. Even if you never plan on using the HitLeap Viewer, it's worth downloading it just to see how it works—after all, the hits you send to your own sites will be coming from the HitLeap Viewer on other site owners' computers all around the world. In that sense, the HitLeap Viewer is the core of HitLeap's business: without it, there would be no traffic to move around.
Out of curiosity, I’ve sat and watched the HitLeap Viewer run for extended periods of time, and I’m still not able to neatly summarize the types of sites that use HitLeap. You find both spammy sites and well-designed sites across a huge variety of industries, so if you’re curious as well, I recommend downloading the HitLeap Viewer and watching it yourself for 20 or 30 minutes to see how it works.
If you have multiple computers with multiple IP addresses, you can run the HitLeap Viewer across several instances simultaneously to save you time and increase the number of hits you earn. This is less practical for individual site owners and more practical if you have a spare server you can run an instance of the HitLeap Viewer on, and probably not the case for most people reading this review.
I believe that the HitLeap Viewer is only a valuable tool in low-income economies, where the benefits of running it (free hits) outweigh the costs. Sure, anyone can have the HitLeap Viewer run in the background of your computer, but do you really want to wear down your machine (and slow it down, if you’re using it at the same time) just to earn 2,700 hits per day? Comparing to the price of 1,000,000 hits ($525 / €490), those 2,700 Hits would save you about $1.40 / €1.30. Is that worth it to you? That’s a decision you'll need to make on your own, but I don't believe that it is.
HitLeap’s User Interface
HitLeap has a clean, easy-to-use user interface you'll have no trouble navigating. Your current balance of hits is displayed at the top of every page, and the dashboard shows a nice overview of the number of hits you've received over the past 7 days. Here's a screenshot of what it looks like:
The HitLeap Viewer is just as easy to use. Simply download the application, log in to your HitLeap account, and click Open to start visiting websites. As long as you leave the HitLeap Viewer running, you'll be earning hits.
Does HitLeap Work For SEO?
A lot of people talk about using HitLeap as an SEO tool, and their logic—at least in some ways—is sound. Since Google rewards sites that keep visitors' attention for long periods of time, using the Ultra Plan to send thousands of users to your site for 40-60 seconds apiece could be a way to signal to Google that your site should be ranked more highly.
However, I strongly recommend against this.
First, Google also considers bounce rate in its list of 200+ ranking factors, and the bounce rate on HitLeap traffic is 100%.
But more importantly, if Google ever discovered that you're trying to manipulate your search ranking, you could be hit with a manual penalty that would crush your search rankings for months or even years.
Google has some pretty sophisticated tools to sniff out site owners who are trying to hack their way to the top, so if organic search traffic is important to you, I can't recommend using HitLeap as an SEO tool.
Unfavorable Use Cases For HitLeap
#1 Boosting Traffic Metrics
If you need to reach a specific traffic goal, HitLeap can be an excellent way to help you get there. For example, some advertising networks like Mediavine and AdThrive require site owners to show significant monthly traffic to join their networks (current numbers are 50,000 monthly visitors for MediaVine and 100,000 monthly visitors for AdThrive), so if you’re close to those levels but aren’t quite there yet, you may want to put yourself over the top using HitLeap. I don’t necessarily recommend this, as these networks would probably impose a lifetime ban on your site if they discovered what you'd done, but it’s possible nonetheless.
#2 Advertising Revenue
If you have a site monetized with Google AdSense, or links monetized through interstitial advertising with a service like Adfly, you could also earn revenue by sending HitLeap traffic. Just like with the advertising networks, though, if these services discover what you're doing, you're going to get banned. Google is especially notorious for siding with advertisers over publishers, so they won't hesitate for a moment in shutting your Google AdSense account down. You can probably use HitLeap to drive some traffic and make a small amount of money in the short-term, but it's not a sustainable strategy.
Is Using HitLeap Ethical?
As with most things, HitLeap can be used for good and for bad. I don’t recommend using HitLeap to deceive anyone—not an ad network, or a client, or Google themselves—both because it goes against my integrity and because in the long run, it tends not to work. But this is a place where you’ll need to use your own moral compass and make the decision that’s right for you.
HitLeap Customer Support
HitLeap is simple enough that you won't need much in the way of customer support, but in my experience, their customer support team is responsive and helpful. They tend to answer questions via email in about 24 hours.
Hitleap's Referral Program
HitLeap pays a fixed 25% cash commission on every purchase a referred user makes, with a cap of $30 per purchase. They also pay a 10% hits commission on hits earned by users you refer in the HitLeap Viewer.
To find your referral link, click on Referrals in the HitLeap dashboard.
As far as traffic exchanges go, HitLeap is probably the best one out there. It's powerful, inexpensive, and extremely easy to use.
If you’re not sure how to monetize your HitLeap traffic, we suggest downloading the HitLeap Viewer and only using the free traffic you earn. But if you have a clear understanding of how you can leverage it, we recommend skipping the HitLeap Viewer altogether and buying traffic instead. The time and effort you’ll save is more than worth the money.
We also recommend the High or Ultra Plans to gain more control over the traffic you receive. The small investment ($14/month or $39/month) is well worth it for the additional targeting options, longer visit duration, and the bonus hits you receive.
All in all, HitLeap is a reputable, highly affordable traffic exchange that delivers consistently strong results. When combined with a clean conscience, HitLeap can be a very powerful tool.