Marketing Your Website via BitTorrent

Marketing Your Website via BitTorrent

Just about everyone has used the BitTorrent protocol to download illegal (cough…) legal music, images, videos, applications and documents. In fact, for many people — except for me of course — they use BitTorrent clients (like Xtorrent) to search and download the files they’re most interested in. What most people don’t know is that BitTorrent is an excellent way to market your website.

I’ll start with a more sinister example — one that I don’t condone and is actually quite annoying, but it illustrates my point very well. The Golden Compass recently debuted in theaters all over the world. However, before movies hit the box office, movie studios usually send out screener DVDs to reviewers. These DVDs are usually leaked onto the Internet 99.9% of the time. So, when people are interested in seeing the latest box office movie in their home, they usually flock to BitTorrent and look for torrent files that contain the movie’s name and the words dvd and screener. Right before the Golden Compass hit theaters, this torrent file popped up on BitTorrent servers, “The_Golden_Compass_2007_DVD_SCREENER_Eng_XviD.torrent.”

Golden Compass Movie Torrent

The movie file was about the right size for most converted movies — about 700MB — so most freeloaders thought they had stumbled upon the real thing. However, after downloading the file and running it, they got a message saying something like, “Missing Codec, Visit to Download Codec.” If you visited the URL, you were presented with an insane amount of “just fill this out and we’ll give you the codec,” “just one more form and we’ll give you the codec,” and on, and on, and on…

The entire scam was designed to prey on people’s illegal interests and their desire for convenience, only to trap them in a never ending loop of affiliate landing pages. While I appreciate the brilliance of this campaign, I’m not recommending that anyone do it. What I’d like for you to focus on is the interest and convenience part of that marketing campaign, and how it relates to BitTorrent.

Let’s say that you just launched a website that publishes recipes and Nutrition Facts. One way you can leverage BitTorrent is to create a copy of your Apple Pie recipe or to make a short cookbook from your recipes and distribute it via BitTorrent. Make all of your documents clearly publicize your website and always leave them wanting more. For example, if you offer them the Apple Pie recipe, tell them they can get the Nutrition Facts if they visit your site. It’s all about giving them a taste of something and then upselling them on more or better content.

Apple Pie Recipe Torrent

There are a couple key things to remember when making your torrent file. The first thing is to include an nfo file. The nfo file is a plain text file that contains a description of the file(s) you’re torrenting, and is used by BitTorrent clients to help find your file. If you don’t have a good nfo file, then it will much harder for people to stumble upon your torrent file. The second thing is to name your torrent file the same way you would name a search engine friendly URL. If I were creating a torrent file for my abbreviated cookbook, I might name the torrent file “eBook_Cookbook_Recipe_Collection.torrent.”

Ultimately, BitTorrent is an excellent way to introduce a new stream of traffic to any website. It’s also appealing, because the campaign costs are low and it utilizes the resources of other computers.

Jon Henshaw
Co-Founder and President

Jon is the Co-founder and President of Raven Internet Marketing Tools.

Jon is the Co-founder and President of Raven Internet Marketing Tools.

  • Scott

    You can also use S3 to seed the torrent: How to Create and Seed a Torrent Download on Amazon S3

  • wyliet

    I’m new to SEO and I’m interested in this idea. Would this be classed as a black hat technique or is it organic enough to get past the Search Engine censors? Is the concept that by providing stimulating content to users they would then link to your website themselves, or is it that bitTorrent provides you with your inbound links?



  • Jon Henshaw

    Tom, I’m not sure I would classify it as either. Instead, I would put it under the classification of simply search marketing.

    I say this, because the only part that may actually hit the Internet is the torrent file itself and the page that describes it. And that may not even be on your own website or even be linking to the file on your website. Most torrent files are found either in the BitTorrent client application itself or on torrent directories.

    Then, once the file is being seeded, it really doesn’t interact with the part of the Internet that Google scrapes crawls. My take on the technique I wrote about is that it’s the equivalent to a digital street sign. Meaning, you’re advertising away from your medium, but it has the power to bring people to your venue (or website as it might be).

    The SEO component of this is that if your BitTorrent marketing is successful, people will visit your website and hopefully write and link to it too.