Update 26 December 2016

Some of you may have received emails regarding partnering up with me in order that I could use your Amazon accounts and we split the profits 50/50…well I did this with the site in this case study a few months ago and found a great partner.

I had managed to energize this site and now it is on course to make some decent money.

Check out the earnings so far this month:

Earnings

So that is great.

Also check out the rankings for some great keywords:

rankings NEW

Updated 11 July 2016

Because of an unforeseen event that caused me to get booted off the Amazon Affiliate program, I have decided to put this case study on ice until I can figure out what to do with it.

In the mean time, you can see my most ambitious project to date right here and follow along with a new kind of site that I think will be my long term business.

To get the most from this guide, I suggest that you subscribe and follow along with me as I update it.

The very nature of this case study is that I am testing to see what works and what doesn’t. As such this post is kind of organic and will shift and change as things happen.

Please ask me any questions in the comment section and will be happy to answer, and I promise that I will be making it easier to navigate very soon.

But for now, you can start here…


So you may or may not be aware, but recently purchased a brand new niche website (NS3) and I was just going to plod along with it trying to make a success of it on my own and then just update you guys later on.

However, I was reading Niche Pursuits brand new niche site project when I decided to let you know exactly what I am doing on a month by month basis.

Now:

I won’t be giving away the actual URL or specific niche, but I will tell you that it is in the kitchen niche about a fairly specific subject.

One thing to note here, is that my plan is to turn it into a more authoritative website that will rank for many different keywords around certain kitchen things.

To that end, the method I take here will be a little different to how I would normally rank a simple, 1 hit wonder sort of site.

For example, when bought the ready-made site, (I am lazy), there was a 2000 word long article written about the specific keyword they were targeting and made that into the front page.

This is usual for a simple site, but what I have done is to turn that page into a specific guide that is in an inner page, and I have turned the front page into a standard list of my most recent articles.

This gives me scope to turn the site into something a lot more broad and when it starts to gain some authority; I will hopefully be able to produce more “money pages” to get more money.

This is what I have done with my main money site and it has been working out very well for me so far. (I did have a deindexation scare recently, but I have rectified that and all is well – kind of, but that is for another post).

Check out the image below from Ahrefs that shows you just how far 1 good keyword can get you:

Niche site case study

Check out how many organic keywords this site is ranking for!

Note:

One thing I want to make completely clear here, is that I purchased a ready made site, (in basic form), and so I won’t be covering how to actually find a niche to begin with.

If you are right at the very start of your online money making shenanigans, then you should really read my Ultimate Guide to Making an Amazon Affiliate Website, (it really is mammoth and full of everything I know!).

You should also consider whether an Amazon Affiliate website is the right fit for you by checking out a great guest post written by the super nice Chris Lee from ablogonblogging.com, where he lists the Pros & Cons of the Amazon Associate network.

However most of the process I go through here is what I do when building my own site, only a few things are slightly different.

If you are really struggling to find a niche, I suggest you head on over to Niche Hacks where you will find some great resources outlining some weird and wonderful niches to get into – but make sure you are interested in them because otherwise you will fail, I promise you!

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Month 1

Summary of Month 1

  1. Received website
  2. Found a new, brandable expired domain
  3. Moved all content over to new domain
  4. Created a logo & social network pages
  5. Added all my favorite plugins
  6. Cleaned up and optimized the content
  7. Made sure all necessary pages (About, Disclosure etc), were there
  8. Added 1 more article
  9. Made a plan to add further, niche specific content

Taking ownership of my brand new website

So I received the website from the folks who made it over at 200bucksites.com, and I immediately made some changes to it.

This does not mean that I would not order another site from them, but I would certainly say that you should only order a site if you generally know what you’re doing.

If you are brand new and looking to buy a site, I would whole heartily recommend Dom Wells over at Human Proof Designs.

I personally have not used his service before, but I have spoken with him a few times on various forums and also with some of his customers who are more than satisfied with the websites he creates.

This is not an affiliate link in any way, but I really like the fact that he offers full training and almost holds your hand until you make money – but this is for a complete beginner and I like to experiment myself.

Anyway…let’s move on!

So, I got the website and I asked for a few changes when they were making it, which were:

  1. That they use Yoast SEO plugin instead of the All In One SEO plugin, (I don’t like that one and am more familiar with Yoast)
  2. That they give me a brandable domain name instead of just bestdishwashers.com or whatever

They did both of these thing for me, but the domain they provided me with was a bit…rubbish really!

Finding a new domain

So I went out and did a search for an expired domain name that I think I could make into a brand along the line somewhere. I will write a full post about how to find decent expired domains, but for now I will give you a very brief overview.

and for that I simply used Expired Domains and utilized some their filter functions.

I entered some pretty generic keywords to get the ball rolling such as, Kitchen & Cooking.

After about 5 minutes I found a few that I liked the look of and did some further digging.

The process was as follows:

  • Enter new domain into Majestic to see its TF & CF metrics, and also to see if there were any spammy links. It is important to look at every aspect to get a full picture including:
    • Fresh index
    • Historical index
    • URL/ Root/ Subdomain
  • I then entered it into Ahrefs to again check out the health of each domain and make sure they had not been spammed to death or had any foreign anchor text/ links pointing towards them.
  • Then I headed over to archive.org to see what the history of the domain was. Here I was looking for:
    • What the domain was originally used for
    • What it looked like
    • How it changed throughout its history
    • Whether it was used for a PBN or some other nefarious thing
    • If it had been deindexed before
    • How the length of time between the domain being dropped and picked up again

There is way, way more to it than just those points, but I don’t want to get into that just now.

So:

I found a doozy and a seriously brandable domain.

The only downside being that it could be a tad gender specific; but that depends on how I angle it and this downside could also become a very strong point if played correctly.

So once I bought the domain through Namecheap and pointed the name servers to my usual host; Bluehost.

Once the technical stuff was all sorted, I had the task of moving the content from the not so great domain, to my brand new, super amazing, brandable domain.

This is where it gets a bit tricky…

I wanted to keep everything pretty much the same and even keep the theme and plugins that 200 buck sites had set up for me.

They used the Genesis Framework which is what I also use, but they used a premium theme that I didn’t have, and didn’t fancy spending more money on.

But I liked the look of it so decided to use a plugin called Duplicator which essentially clones everything about a website and rebirths it into a fresh domain.

I also won’t into exactly how I did this because it is not for this post, but suffice to say, it was a success!

Creating a brand

The first thing I did was to create a nice new logo.

I did this myself because I enjoy graphic design and have done graphic work in the past, but if you are worried about this, I recommend using a free online service called Canva which is super easy to use and you can set the exact size of your logo without messing around.

If you have a bit of money, you could also head over to Fiverr and get someone else to make you one, but make sure to specify exactly what you want.

I decided to go down a bit of a clean, retro style with this site because I enjoy that style myself, and it also fitted the niche quite well.

At this stage you should make sure to add in some important pages including:

  • About
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Disclosure
  • Site Map

You should also set up a Google Search Console (formerly Webmasters) account and follow the instructions to add your website.

You can use the Yoast SEO plugin to create a sitemap – check further down.

Another good idea is to create a Google Analytics account.

This is not necessary like making a Google search console account is, but you will be very thankful to have added it now when you start to get some traffic – the data you get from it is pure gold.

So where are we?

I have got my website on a new domain and created a logo and brand to go with it; so whats next?

Cleaning up the content

If you are making your own website, then your next step here would be to start doing some research about what types of content to write about and finding some keywords.

However because I bought this website; it came with some fairly decent content already and some pre-researched keywords to go with it.

But it needed some housekeeping to make it more readable and interesting.

Front page

The first thing I did was to change the front page from the main keyword focused, 2000 long article; to a simple list of my latest posts. If the site gets popular I may fiddle about with it but for now, this is fine.

I went through the whole thing and made it read & flow better by adding rich text and media etc.

I also decided to turn that page into a specific resource page and made a menu item and sidebar widget pointing to it. This was when I get links to it, it will look much more natural than throwing links towards the homepage, especially when you consider how careful you have to be with anchor text.

Other content

As for the other content, there were another 6 posts about 800 words on average, that came with the site. I did the exact same thing by going through them and making them easier to read and more beautiful to look at.

I also improved the keywords and made them more natural and human searchable.

For this I used the original title that came with it, entered it into Long Tail Pro and had a look at what it spat back out. I then checked the Keyword Competition and if it looked good I went with that.

There is one other tool that I used here that I think is the best thing since sliced bread went out of fashion and got replaced with the newest best thing of full loaves of bread: embed.ly.

You can make really good looking “cards” like the one below, and it even supports your Amazon Associate ID:

The Best Web Hosting | Fast Professional Website Hosting Services – Bluehost

Bluehost – Bluehost is one of the largest and most trusted web hosting services powering millions of websites. Join Bluehost now and get a FREE domain name!

As you can see, this is a really attention grabbing, but non intrusive way to keep your website looking beautiful and professional, but also draw massive attention!

So I added one of these per post, usually after the a “Pros & Cons” section, because I think that a reader would have made up their mind by that point whether to buy or not, and if they saw that, they may just click through. I also like that these cards include an Add To Cart option which increases your Amazon cookie time to 90 days instead of 24 hours. That means that unless they click thorough someone else’s link, you will gt commission on anything and everything they buy from Amazon for 90 days; pretty great 🙂

Plugins

200 Bucks did a reasonable job with their plugins, but I added a few extra myself, (most free), including:

  • Easy Google Fonts – I think this may slow down your website, but I don’t mind because this is the super easy way to get hundreds of fonts & styles at your fingertips, without having to code
  • Jetpack by WordPress – Again, some people say this adds extra bloat, but for me I think the amount of extra functionality that it adds is amazing. Just don’t go mad and enable every feature!
  • Table of Contents Plus – To create those lovely, Wikipedia looking content boxes; great for Google & humans to read
  • WP Fastest Cache – There will be other caching plugins that others swear by; but this does everything for me and Google’s own page speed checker seems to agree.
  • Thrive Visual Editor – A paid for plugin that is worth every single penny. You can create really eye catching designs with great click through rates, as well as giving you the option to make very high converting landing pages.
  • WP Smush – A great little plugin to reduce the size of the images you upload to your website. I use the free version which has a few limitations but does the job well.If you want a fast loading website, (you do), then this does everything automatically and in the background. I sometimes use EWWW Image Optimizer which is also good & free; but I just wanted to give this one a go and it seems fine.You can use your personal preference for this one but you really should get an image optimization plugin.
  • WP Review Pro – This one was a late entry and one that I found fairly late.Basically it gives you a nice easy option to add reviews to your posts that also adds Rich Snippets which show up in the SERP results and can help you click through rate.This one is paid, but I am happy with it and I would say it is worth it because you can use on unlimited websites and get constant updates.
  • Yoast SEO – My favorite plugin that I requested 200 bucks add instead of the All in One SEO plugin. The reasons being:
    • Easy to create a sitemap
    • Super easy to use – small learning curve
    • Handy “Traffic Light” feature to show you how well optimized your site is – the more green the better
    • Lots of advanced and powerful features to help search engines to see your content
  • SumoMe – If you don’t know about them yet, you really should give yourself a good spanking. They offer some fantastic free & paid for tools that will literally make you more money.My favorite feature is the heat map, which shows you where your readers are clicking on. If it is a review site and you see they are clicking on a headline or whatever that doesn’t have any link, then you can just add an affiliate link and bing, bang, bosh…you have just made more money!

So that is pretty much what I added in terms of plugins, and actually these are the usual plugins I install for most of my websites, including Harry Vs Internet.

New content

So far I have also added 1 extra post which is a standard review post.

To do this, I used a tool called Expired Article Hunter, (Highly recommended if you are struggling with content), and typed in a few generic, kitchen based keywords and let it rip.

Now you will get a lot of crap with this tool, but every now and then a gem shines through, and this time it came up.

What the tool does is to scrape expired domains and gives you their content based on the keywords you enter. This means that you usually get some great content written by real people, but for a website that they have let expire. The content is no longer indexed and you are free to use it as you wish.

I will write a full review about it soon enough but it is great 🙂

Once I found an article I thought was reasonable, I checked that it was nowhere to be found in the internet by using Copyscape – pay for the premium option; it is cheap and makes life so much easier.

I then went about rewording the text and adding in my own voice to make it match what I want the tone of the site to be.

Social networks

This is a large part of SEO nowadays, so you should start taking it seriously if you haven’t already.

I have made a Facebook page and will make a IFTTT (If This Then That) recipe to link interesting, kitchen & cooking related stories to it in order to keep it updated with content, and therefore relevant.

I will also create accounts with:

  • Twitter – Nice way to get followers and niche related news
  • Pinterest – Perfectly suited to the kitchen/ cooking niche
  • Instagram – Same as Pinterest

There are others but I haven’t thought too deeply into it just yet.

These also mean that I can get a link back to the main site that will create a very, very small boost in authority, but some is better than none, right!

It is also a good idea because it extends your reach away from the search engines and means that you can start advertising as soon as you are ready.

What’s next?

So that is all that I have done so far and I have big plans going forward.

I will be adding lots of new content probably in the ratio of 60% review style affiliate posts to 40% pure content, no affiliate links and interesting, useful content.

I think the next post I write will be a pure content, list style post that does very well on social networks, or a simple, non affiliate review of a really great cooking app that I recently discovered.

The whole idea here is to generate relevant content that people are actually interested in. I want to eventually be the go to place that people go when they are searching for something in that niche.

Once I have a nice bank of content, I might even start using Facebook Ads to send some traffic my way and test out how it converts.

I will be keeping this post updated every month and will add a nice little sidebar widget so you can keep up t date easily…So stay tuned 😉

Update 1: 25/12/2015

Yes I know this is Christmas, but I live in Laos and they don’t really do Christmas so much here so I thought why not add an update and let you know what is happening.

After all of the carry on of using the Duplicator plugin to keep the theme, I decided to change the theme :/

I am still using the Genesis Framework, but I changed to a theme called Foodie Pro, and it looks the business. Really clean and fits the style and brand I want to create.

I have also added 2 further pieces of content – pure information about recipes – and I am also going to bulk purchase a pack of 20 articles from Dom over at Human Proof Designs in order to be able to schedule the posts and concentrate on promotion.

For these articles, I have chosen my own keywords and will hand them over to Dom for his team to write the articles around them.

The new posts will be around 1,000 words long which is a nice length, and I will try to combine 2 similar posts together based around several LSI keywords to create a 2,000 word long post and vary the length of each article.

That is it, update over and Merry Christmas to you all and I will probably come back here in the New Year 🙂

Update 2: 30/12/2015

I went ahead and bought a pack of 20 articles from Dom and his team, but I decided to have 17 articles for this niche site, 2 for my existing NS 1 and 1 for another website that I have not even looked at in a few months.

I spent a couple of days researching the keywords for these articles and if you want just share below and unlock your free guide:

Why did I just spend 17 or so dollars on a forgotten website!?

Well, I check my Amazon Associates account everyday to massage my ego a bit, and found that this random site is generating 1 or 2 sales a month!

Now I am only getting an extra 10 bucks or so, but this is from a niche site that I completely forgot about and only have 3 posts on it!

I plugged the URL into Ahrefs and low and behold, it seems to be ranking for just over 100 organic keywords! Bear in mind here thought that ranking does not necessarily mean page 1 of Google, but the keywords are hovering around the 2nd page and with a little extra push and some tender love & care for the whole site; I think we can make some magic happen 🙂

Another great thing about this other website, is that it is incredible related to this niche site case study website. In fact it is more than related; it is positively complementary.

My plan – to combine the 2 together and see if I can make a pair of authority sites to bounce off each other.

However for the sake of this particular case study, I will only be focusing on the main one.

Final note for this month: I will update you as to the quality of the content I receive from Human Proof Designs, (I have no doubt that it will be good), and hopefully give you a better understanding as to why buying content is sometimes a better idea than just slogging away yourself.

Update 3: 08/01/2016

I have not really added any content to the site since the last update and I am just waiting to get the content that I ordered from Human Proof Designs, (I know it will take a while because it is good content and a lot of it).

However what I have really been doing, is to tweak the site slightly to make it work better and flow better.

One issue I am having is a permalink problem whereby the URL slug doesn’t seem to be showing up in Google search results for some reason.

I have a feeling that it could be something to do with the redirects that 200 Bucks added, that are somehow stuffing up the way Google is crawling it.

I really want to try and get this sorted before I move on 🙁

Month 2 – 15/01/2016

So I think I am in month 2 right now and seeing as we are now living in the future (2016), I wan to share with you an update as to what has been going on.

Content

So I received the first 10 of the 20 articles I ordered from Human Proof Designs, and wow.

Worth. Every. Penny!

Seriously. I am not really the sort of guy prone to hyperbolic syntax; but this is some seriously fantastic wordsmithing! (OK a little bit hyperbole).

The thing I like about this content; is the research that the writers have obviously put in the effort to properly find real information and they actually give you the source of where they found it.

This is especially important for me because I recently read a blog post from Rank XL (amazing, amazing, amazing course and you should invest the money if you have it. Full review coming soon), about Wikipedia’s onsite optimization.

Something that was written, was about how Wikipedia cites the sources it uses in each article; you know, it looks a bit like this:

Wikipedia reference example

The point is, seeing as I am trying to make this niche site into something better and more authoritative. To this end, I am trying to cite all of my sources at the end of each post written.

I think this will add an extra layer of authority and help internet wary people to give my site more cache, that is to say be more prepared to buy something from my links and be happy about it.

Housekeeping

As well as adding the fresh content, I have been doing a bit of housekeeping around the site.

What does this mean? Well, I have several things:

  • Created optin popups and forms
  • Cleaned up the look to make it cleaner and fresher looking – If you have read my other posts, you will know that I am a stickler for a well designed website!
  • Made some good looking sidebar widgets for the sidebar that are obvious to click on and lead through to either my lead magnet or one of my cornerstone articles.
  • Improved some more of the original content that came with the website in order to make it more interesting, match the tone of my voice and also to make it hopefully convert better.

Email Optin?

Yes as I say, I want this site to be something that earns me a very nice, regular income that won’t tie up my stomach in knots every time there’s a Google update.

As we should all know by now: the money is in the list.

It is for this reason that I am trying to create a list so that I can get returning visitors everything I publish a new post, and also to be able to offer a product every now and then.

To do this, I created a simple lead magnet – it only took about 40 minutes to create – in the form of a simple instructional PDF that is a few pages long.

I want this is tie in with my website and so included subtle things in that point back to my cornerstone article.

Other than that, I haven’t done much else.

Is that everything?

Pretty much, except I still haven’t figured out the bloody annoying permalink problem that is currently blighting my life 🙁 (OK, OK, so I do enjoy a bit of hyperbole every now and then).

Stay tuned for more updates as I progress 🙂

Update 1: 27/01/2016

I have been continuing to add content to the site as well as editing it to make it look more enticing and less like a thin, spammy kind of affiliate site.

I am quite happy with the progress I a making and according to SerpBook, some of my keywords are slowly climbing the ranks without out much of a link building push – which I think is a testament to the keyword choice even if I do say so myself!!!

Serp results for niche site case study

Lovely Links

Although the serp movement you see there is a result of no links, I have actually began earnestly creating some links just to get out there.

I have left some relevant comments with a link back to the homepage, (comment links when done correctly are actually not as bad as people make out), and I have also sent out a Hoth Mini tiered link building campaign to get a nice variety of anchor text before I start to play with some really big links and my exact anchor text.

For the big boy links, I am going to do a combination of guest posting and I will also may consider Diggity links as a monthly rental and and maybe even have a go with Jon Haver’s much talked about services.

I am also tossing around the idea of getting a Hoth Mega package to really kick things up a gear, but I will wait and see what kind of traction I get first after another 3 months or so because a Hoth Mega package starts at $1,000!

Yes you read that right!

However I look at these things as an investment and what kind of return I can get back from it. But that said, I don’t just have unlimited money to throw away so I want to see how it goes first before I put down some real money!

Update 2: 01/02/2016

New month, new focus.

I haven’t really been doing too much apart from improving the existing content and making it better for my traffic.

I have been doing this by using the fantastic Thrive Content Builder and basically formatting it in such a way to make it easy to read and providing the key points that I think my readers are interested in.

There has been a little movement in the serps, but nothing really to write home about as I haven’t properly begun a link building campaign.

NSCS1

My main keyword has been very, very slowly moving from around 90 to 65 as you can see in the image there. This is without any links yet and I am curious to see what happens when my guest post from The Hoth kicks in.

I suspect there will be a little bit of dancing about until it settles somewhat.

My plan is to check the site that they put the guest post on and try to find similar websites to proposition to so I can write my own and get some free links. I will save some of the articles I had written for me by Human Proof Designs and use those as a guest post.

I also want to show you how many keywords are currently ranking for:

Ahrefs Ranking keywords

NOTE: Although I am currently ranking for hundreds of keywords, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in the top top or even getting me any traffic right now.

However what it does mean, is that something is happening and there are certain keywords and variations that are in Google. My job over the next 2 – 3 months will be to optimize the posts with the most promise and start building some juicy links to the posts that have the most money making potential.

Month 3 – 19/02/2016

I will list the things that I have been doing at the end of month 2 and the beginning of this new month:

  • Added content…lots & lots of high quality content!
  • Received a guest post and bought a set of Hoth links (basic) to create some anchor text variation
  • Created some Facebook ads to develop my Facebook page which is now sitting at around 110 likes as of the 19th
  • Started to follow some industry players with my Twitter account and Pinterest page, (not as developed as I would like, but I am concentrating on content and links right now before launching full force into social media)
  • Got my 1st email subscriber, (but not really sure what to do with this avenue just yet!)
  • Got a really, really amazing infographic made from the folks over at FatJoe

So let’s go through each of these points 1 by 1 to get our heads around what is going on.

Content

I still had loads of content left over since buying a pack of 20 articles from Human Proof Designs. This is mainly because I want to slow down the velocity of posting to around once a week in order to settle down into a more stable posting routine.

I don’t want to blow my load before I have even established how to properly market this site and I want to take some time to find relevant keywords or LSI keywords that I can sprinkle in to hopefully rank for even more and get more organic traffic.

With regards to rankings; this niche site has already increased from 246 in the last update to 277…so I think I am doing something right!

But again I want to make clear that I don’t have any keywords in the top 10 apart from some very long tail, very low search volume ones. But this is OK because this was my overall strategy at the very start. However there is 1 quite nice keyword hovering between number 9 and 12 with 90 searches a month, but that just massages my ego more than anything else 😛

The website is also getting around 130 unique users per month which is probably closer to 50 engaged users after you take out the spam and other random users that just stumble onto the site.

I have also gone in another direction slightly and will aim for another pillar type of post. I found a great keyword that is related to 1 of my inner posts, and I will have it rewritten by Hire Writers and then alter it again slightly into my own tone and style.

This pillar post has an interesting twist to it as well, in that people are a bit fanatical about it, it gets lots of searches, does very, very well on social media and has a health slant which is yet another avenue I can go down.

Very exciting stuff!

Links

I pretty much only ever use The Hoth with each new niche site I create for several reasons:

  1. I am lazy
  2. I want to create link and anchor text diversity
  3. It lets Google know that there is something going on over in this weird bit of the searchable web!

I got some very weak, basic links that I could have done on my own, but I just didn’t have the time or patience to do this. I want to concentrate on the more important things like outreach for strong links, content and promotion.

I also got a fairly powerful guest post link from The Hoth on a DA 10 website –a real, relevant site with real traffic – which I hope to be able to both receive some authority from , but also to reverse engineer it and then start getting my own guest post links by seeing how The Hoth did it.

If you are paying for something, you should always figure out how they did it so you can replicate it!

Facebook Ads

Pretty self-explanatory, I bought some likes for my page which is showing itself to be pretty popular. I guess kitchen and cooking things just work very well on social media!

I found out my demographic by finding related sites and then punching their URL into a website called Alexa & also quantcast.

What they do is give you some basic information about the types of people that visit the sites you give, and then you can use that data as a base for targeting Facebook users.

2 things to note with this method are that the related sites have to be big, I mean huge to be able to get decent data, and the secondly the data is fairly basic and you still have to do a bit more digging.

However these 2 websites are a great start if you have no idea who to target.

Other social media

I set up a Twitter & Pinterest account and just use them very basically right now.

For example I am just liking a few tweets and getting some followers from Titter and doing the same for Pinterest.

I have found on Pinterest that people love being told that their pins are amazing and will then reciprocate!

However I am not really putting any effort into these channels for now and will wait until I am ready to fully launch the site i.e. until I am getting a around $50 per month which I will then use to blast it with ads.

Email

So I received an email subscriber from a simple lead magnet I created and it sort of caught me off balance a bit!

I want to collect lots of emails and this is certainly part of the longer term plan, but I just wasn’t expecting 1 so soon.

I don’t really know what to do with that subscriber just now, so I will not do anything until I have a minimum of 20 and then I will begin an autoresponder campaign.

There is 1 thing that gives me hope though, the fact that if a real person read my website and then subscribed, it means that I am offering something of value and that people are reading the site.

It is also another nice ego massage!

Infographic

This is actually what I am most excited about this month.

I was looking for some new keywords when I found an interesting one about “the 4 best…” that had a Keyword Competition score of 35 and doesn’t look super difficult to rank well for.

It also fits really nicely as an infographic, and I noticed that none of the top 10 had an infographic on this topic, just some fairly OK content with some photos and text.

I figure that if I can properly promote my infographic, and also make the subject fresh and interesting, then I will move into the top 10 search results and also get lots of social shares to the graphic.

That concludes the updates for the beginning of this month and I really hope to share some more things with you soon 🙂

Update 1: 25/02/2016

Well a few things have happened since the last update, notably that I have published 1 post that has shot straight to position number 5 in Google and also, I received my main keyword shot up about 28 positions.

I will go through them both briefly and why I think this happened:

  • The newest post shot straight to position 5 because of 2 main reasons:
    • Good keyword research – I chose a very low competition keyword that has massive buyer intent, which is what we should be doing. The best thing is that the variations that will come out of this keyword are all going to be super targeted and include buying keywords.
    • It is a really well written piece of content that is over 2,000 words long that was professionally written by the Human Proof Designs writing team, and I also made it very good looking using Thrive Content Builder which allowed me to create very nice looking call to actions, which is kind of the main point of an Amazon affiliate website!
  • My main, or really my original, keyword climbed 28 places as a result of the guest post I ordered from The Hoth. Now I can’t be 100% sure about this but I ordered a DA 10 guest post from them, and they over delivered a DA 29 one…so very pleased with that!!!

Anyway soon after the guest post was published, it climbed those places. Want proof? How dare you question me, but OK here you go:

New Keyword Positions

So there you have it!

In fact, I am just going off now to order 2 more guest posts for another post (position 17 in that image) to see if I can knock it onto the first page 😉

Update 2: 28/02/2016

I have had some pretty decent traffic coming to the site in the past few days and i just wanted to show you an update:

Niche site case study update

About half of this is from Facebook ads with the other half being purely organic. Both are helpful and both are very nice to have.

I have also received my first click through to Amazon which was exciting and even though it was just 1 click, experience tells me that the hardest part is getting 1 click. Once that first click arrives, several more usually follow along afterwards!

Update 3: 07/03/2016

This is an update before I start month 3 and really just a very quick update.
So I have been promoting very hard and adding a few really interesting posts that have been gaining traction.
If you have read my post about how StumblUpon can increase traffic, then you would have seen how valuable it can be.

I used this method for my infographic and it has advanced like wild fire!

Suddon boost in traffic

I combined that with a boosted post campaign on Facebook and you can see just how insanely popular it is by the Cost Per Engagement:

Facebook cost per engagment

$0.04 per engagement!

Ha, I have never in my entire online life had a conversion rate this low!
Basically it means that for every person who sees the advert and / or does something with it, (share, like, comment etc), it has only been costing me $0.04!
So that’s good.

There is 1 downside I have noticed, because it is a very visual kind of thing, the bounce rate and time on page has dramatically reduced, but I have used a trick to help this.

I added a simple questionnaire right before the actual infographic to help keep people on the page for longer.

I created a free account with Opinion Stage and added it in with a shortcode and I will see how that works out.

If it works well, then I am going to add in a special, personalized questionnaire for my comparison posts in which a reader can answer a few questions and then get recommended a product that fits their needs.

Obviously the product will go directly through to Amazon, but people love to have things recommended to them and I think this could help conversion rates.

With regards to Amazon, I have also had a few extra clicks through and a couple of people buy from my affiliate links which is very promising.

Last thing to note and something that I will cover in greater detail from the month 3 report, is that I have been heavily going out to gain links and I have already gotten a few very nice ones.

My rankings are slowly climbing, but seeing as this site is not even a full 3 months old yet, I think I am going in the right direction.

It seems that this post is becoming less of a niche site case study and more of an authority site case study!

So see you next month!

Update 4: 09/04/2016

So we are now well into the 4th month and this update has been a long time coming.

What can I tell you?

Well for starters, I had an incredibly enlightening 1 hour Skype call with the amazing Matt Diggity, wasn’t cheap but it was quite simply the best SEO related thing I have ever bought and really opened my eyes…more below).

After this call, I set about enacting some of his recommendations, including creating a silo structure to keep the link juice flowing around my site and stop it leaking out. Now my silo is certainly not perfect but I am confident that it is having an effect.

As for content, I have stopped adding any more content and I am now focusing all of my efforts on link building.

I have also massively increased the amount of keywords that have a top 100 ranking to over 1,000:

Organic keywords

I have to come clean and admit something though. At the very start of this case study, I wrote that I was going to focus solely on so called “whitehat” link building techniques, but since then I have somewhat shifted my focus and am now employing what Jacob King calls a “moneyhat” technique. I.e. I am pretty OK doing any kind of marketing if it earns me money, (apart from SAPE and negative SEO because I just don’t want to get involved with that kind of thing.)

So I have been using a mixture of building links, and earning links.

I have also doubled down on my own personal PBN (personal blog network), and I am seriously considering expanding it from 10 sites to 20 or 30. But I will have to plan it properly because is very time consuming and expensive.

In fact, I am going to be publishing a post quite soon about my outreach attempts, including some excellent achievements, and also a not very nice one that kind of knocked my ego somewhat, you will just have to stay tuned for that one!

So let me get to each point individually…

SEO call with the fantastic Mr. Matt Diggity

So I was in a bit of dead end and my rankings weren’t really moving as fast as I was kind of expecting, even though I thought I was doing everything right.

I bought 3 links from his own PBN that has been getting some seriously rave reviews. Anyhow, I did my usual of haphazardly just throwing an anchor text at it, (which may come back to bite me the arse, but tying to rectify it).

I also saw on his website that he offers an hour of his time to give advice and tell you what he knows about SEO, which is a lot!

Now,

It wasn’t cheap at $499 :O, but nonetheless I went for it and I am so happy that I did because the things he told are transferable into any other kind of online, SEO related venture.

He asked me a few question to begin with and I showed him my main niche site that I am currently earning from, and he was quite impressed that I could actually earn much more from it that I currently am. To that end I have ordered up a fresh batch of articles from my favorite article purveyor; HPD, based on some keywords that I ordered from a website called Gold Mine Keywords and am currently waiting for them to be delivered, (I only ordered them yesterday so I will have to wait for a couple of weeks at least.)

So moving on,

I then showed him the website that this post is all about, and he saw some pretty fatal flaws immediately.

For one, my homepage was merely a long list of my latest posts which are a mixture of informational and money posts. But obviously I am not too interested in my information posts ranking, they are only thee to add value to my readers and to give the site a bit more authority.

He also noticed that I have a some posts that are actually competing against each other which could potentially trigger a duplicate content penalty.

We also configured some titles around to appeal to both search engines and humans – the guy is a genius…seriously!

So what was his overarching message?

The solution to these woes…SILO baby!

Silo Structure

I have actually spent most of my time over the past week, turning the site into a very clean, organized silo like structure.

What is a silo site?

Well I won’t go into too much detail, but is basically a way to organize your site into a logical way that Google loves, keeps your link juice flowing to related posts and makes it easier for your readers to navigate.

For example:

Best Running Shoes -> Nike running shoes review

-> Adidas running shoes review

-> Reebok reviews

This is a very basic version, but gives you an idea.

To find out more, I recommend that you read this post by Niche Site Project, or this one by No Hat Digital, the former being a bit easier to digest for a beginner like me 😛

So I got underway and know have it pretty much the way I like it including making a homepage with only my top posts showing and then leading down to related posts. Now what will happen is that when I get a homepage link, the juice will flow down and help to boost some to some of the posts that are less likely to receive links.

I had to do quite a bit of rejigging to get it work and I used a special plugin to change the articles from posts, to pages – making it easier to silo them and create a nested page structure.

So I am quite happy now, and I am actually going to be utilizing this structure for all new websites going forward, as well as using it for that new set of articles I spoke about earlier.

So what’s next…

Links: Building & Earning

As I said, I have geared more towards an overall get links strategy in any way that I can with a low risk, (always a risk, but there are things you can do to lower it).

I have done some outreach with pretty OK results. I now have a link from a related website with a DA of 32 so that is great.

But I also have some PBN links pointed towards some key pages.

I use a fantastic service to get some very high quality links at an affordable price, called SE Slingshot. Just make sure to be very, very, VERY careful with the anchor text because otherwise this service will blow your site to smithereens!

I have also refocused some effort into revitalising my own 10 site PBN. I am trying to nurture it a bit more and have a plan to increase it to 20 or even 30 sites in the future, (if I get decent results, I may even reinvest massively and crank it up to 75 – 150! But that is a long time off!).

I have started to point some of sites towards the main money page and will see what the results are.

Worthwhile mention

I use a special piece of software called Scrapebox which is brilliant by the way.

You know what I do with it?

Go on, have a quick guess…

OK I’ll tell you; I scrape expired, high PA tumblrs to use as a kind of mini Web 2.0 PBN a la OnlineDimes.

Does it work?

Too early to tell, but it is really great for diversifying the anchor texts. This is because if all of the generic “click here” or “see more” links were only from low authority websites, and the keyword rich links from high authority sites, it would look a bit…unnatural!

So anyway, I am going to finish here and will update again fairly soon. Just keep your eyes peeled!

Update 5: 20/04/2016

Just a very quick one to let you know about the progress so far.

It seems that the few things I implemented in the last update have been helping a bit. My rankings, whilst still not super just yet, are slowly climbing, and with some extra links I will be throwing over it should increase fairly well.

Now in keeping with my whole testing ethos here at HvI, I wanted to try a different way to help to diversify my anchor text so as not to fall foul with the next Penguin update. To do this, I followed a method mentioned by one of my favorite bloggers Franklin Hatchett. I won’t go into any detail because he explains it way better than I could, but suffice to say it works for him so I will see what it will do for me!

Anyway check out the results below and pay attention to the monthly search volumes of some of the keywords, especially because they also have buyer intent helping conversions, i.e. “best…”:

Moving Up!

P.s. I am well aware that this whole post is butt ugly, so hopefully by the time of the next update, it should be a bit nicer to look at and navigate!

Update 6: 26/04/2016

So during the month of April, it seems that I have started to very slowly gain some traffic and I have noticed on my Jetpack dashboard, (if you don’t know what that is check out my tool box…no euphemism intended), and it is showing a very slight increase in organic Google search traffic each day.

Nothing really big, but going in the right direction and ready for blast off when my links start to hit.

I have also seen a very small amount of sales from Amazon which is promising, check out the image:

AA Month 4

Facebook ads…again!

I am member of several Online Marketing Mastermind Groups on Facebook, and in one of them, a very clever chap posted an interesting method of getting fantastic conversions from it.

It is called the P.A.C.E. model and I will be writing about it soon – I have a brand new theme and my favorite plugin is conflicting with it so I am trying to fix it before writing any more posts.

But basically, I am now getting highly targeted Facebook traffic to my main money page!

See the image below to see the conversion rate…it’s pretty amazing!

FB Ad Niche Site

I basically checked out my Google Analytics account to see where my traffic was coming from and then continued to narrow it down.

I noticed that it was coming from the USA, which is where I am targeting, but the highest traffic was from New York state. However it turns out that they were bouncing quite heavily at around 80-90% so I looked down further and saw good old Florida state was giving me a decent amount of traffic and a relatively low bounce rate of 68% – so I targeted them.

A great thing about checking your analytics, is that you can really drill deeply into your audience and see what they like.

So that’s what I did!

I used all the relevant factors to make a target audience right down to the browser used. It turns out that most of the people visiting from Florida used either Firefox or Chrome browsers, and mostly used a Samsung S 5 or 6.

There is much more to this and like I said, I will be writing a proper post about it asap, but for now and for this post, yo just need to know that Facebook ads are awesome if used correctly 😉

Update 7: 07/05/2016

I have been hitting this site now pretty aggressively with links.

I have also been redesigning the actual content and site structure in an effort to improve the onsite SEO. I heard a smart SEO once use an analogy of your on site SEO building an engine, and the links you point at it being the fuel. You could fill up your engine jet fuel, but if the engine is a piece of shit; then you will still splutter along.

However if your engine is top notch; then even average fuel will getting it revving up like an F1 car!

Basically if you can get your on site SEO right, then even average links will move the needle onto the first page.

I decided to jig things around a bit with this in mind and the results seem to be paying off pretty nicely. I have seen some fairly substantial movement on some fairly hefty keywords which is very nice.

I will admit that I was getting a bit frustrated not seeing as much progress as I had hoped, but now it seems that patience and sheer bloody mindedness is paying off as you can see in the image below:

Rankings

You might also have noticed that I am tracking a YouTube video. The reason being that I am experimenting with ranking a YouTube video because they are generally considered easier to rank and can take a bit more punishment when it comes to links etc.

Also when I checked out the existing videos for this keyword; they were all terrible. I mean seriously ugly as hell, so I knew I would do better.

I used a simple piece of software I downloaded to make one of those whiteboard, explainer type videos and just very quickly went through the best point s about each of the products I was reviewing.

I have put in a link to the URL of the actual post that my main keyword is on, (the 1900 ms at rank 26), and am slowly getting it to rise up slightly.

One thing to bear in mind though, is that the YouTube ranking you see in the image there; is the YouTube ranking and not Google ranking. As of this date it is not in the top 100 yet, but I will just give it time.

That is pretty much it for the time being, so I will update probably in a month because I have a few pretty sizable projects going on right now and I don’t want to just fill this post up with filler for the sake of it.

Update 8: 23/05/2016

I have been seeing some pretty nice jumps recently, but I still seem to be stuck on pages 2 and 3 for my big boy keywords.

Very. Fucking. Frustrating. I shall not lie!

But there are some glimmers of hope, for example check out this most recent screenshot of one of my bigger keywords and check out the movement:

SerpFox Keyword checker

This is with SerpFox, a new serp checker I am testing out.

I would like to invite you to join in with me as I say, “Yay!”.

This keyword isn’t actually my main focus but it seems to be rising very nicely. And this is for what I thought was a really competitive keyword!

Again don’t get me wrong, a better person than I would already have ranked this on page 1 by now, but I am still learning this shit myself so I am quite happy with this result!

Update 9: 07/06/2016

I have been really busy recently, with both my normal day job, but also with some brand new sites that I have been creating.

OK, I really can’t help and I will admit…I have a very bad habit of hopping around.

However…and this is a big one…I have been learning a lot recently and I will be implementing it into 2 brand new sites as soon as they get some traction.

I will stay focused with this post for now and will maybe write a few specific things that I have learnt about in another post.

Something interesting, (I know all of my things are interesting but you’ll like this one)!

In 1 word:

Schema markup.

I have been using a plugin called Project Supremacy to add in schema to my pages and you know who really has the hots for schema, I’ll give you a hint…It’s Google. That’s who.

Now I am in no way well enough informed to give you a full low down about the in and outs of it and there are much better people around via a quick Google search that can help you understand it better.

But a very simple explanation would be that it helps search engines better understand what your content is about and exactly what you are providing.

I have also been experimenting with sending citations, (links from business directories based on location usually used for local SEO) after reading a great post over at Diggity Marketing.

The results so far:

123

So I am pretty happy right now, but let me just go over a few of the rankings.

  1. The 4th result down from the top is a really nice buying keyword and one that is a very popular piece of cooking equipment that is also ranking for hundreds of other keywords. This is important because you should understand that if you do your on page SEO well, you will find that you will rank for loads of long tail keywords very naturally.
  2. The 2nd & 3rd keywords from the top are brand keywords which I think is quite interesting and I am not really sure if this is a good or a bad thing. What I mean by brand keyword is like ranking for “Samsung S6”, (but mine are no way that difficult!!!).
  3. The 1st keyword is an interesting, question type that i have had some success with in the past. Don’t be fooled by its 0 monthly searches, the amount of long tails that this baby will pick up will be worth it and it is connected with the keywords in the 5th, 6th and 7th positions from the top.
  4. The last and unranked keyword, is a YouTube video. I have spoken a bit about this in the past and I am basically testing methods to rank it as a “parasite” and will wait and see what happens. It has been jumping around like crazy recently and fell from 18th position (YouTube position, not Google), so it will be interesting to see wheres it lands next.

All in all, it seems that this site is rapidly turning more into a real test bed of different ranking methods rather than a proper niche site. However I am still actively trying to make money from it more than the trickle it is currently producing and I really hope to be able to earn at least $100 – $500 per month from it by the end of this year.

Update 10: 22/06/2016

Something is going right:

Untitled

So I am pretty happy with the way things are progressing right now and they are certainly moving in the right direction.

However, I do have a few concerns to share with you guys…

  1. I have a very bad gut feeling that this site will be hit badly and possible de-indexed in the imminent Penguin 4.0 roll out.
  2.  I am not really sure how to monetize it correctly after my bad news.

Penguin

This site started out with purely good, whitehat intentions, but the more I progressed with it; the more I got blacker and blacker.

Now I didn’t go down the realms of SAPE etc, but I did use a pretty well known link network and I just feel as though it may get punished as a result.

There is 1 ray of hope however…that most of the links have been deleted for some reason, (however this could also be a very bad signal, I just don’t know).

I will see what happens. For now I am OK with experimenting and seeing what works out.

Amazon ban 🙁

I got hit pretty badly with an Amazon ban and my main performing site was knocked out of commission, meaning that I lost a lot of money…just over $6,000 worth :O

Luckily I reinvested lie 95% of its income into other properties and I am currently concentrating on a medium sized site right now.

In fact, I will be writing a post soon enough about how I think the state of ranking will be sooner or later. Basically, I reckon that websites now are being split into 3 segments: small, medium and large. My new site would fall into medium and I will be writing about this soon.

Anyway…let’s get back on track here!

My conundrum here, is that if the site survives the Penguin update; it should bounce even further up the serps, it is really good content after all.

I had a plan to flip it, but without a solid 3-6 month income behind it as proof of success, it will be very difficult to sell.

Again this is another bridge that I can cross later on, but it is still on my mind a bit.

I would also be well up for selling it to someone else to take over and give it the love it deserves.

It has a serious amount of potential, and I would be willing to part with it for a very good price.