Niche Site Case Study Update – Sep-15

Month three is over and we’re already a week into month number four. Time flies in the niche site game and as such, I have decided to make these updates a quarterly thing for a few reasons.

Reason 1 – It now takes longer to rank a site. Period.

I don’t care what niche or keywords you target, it just takes longer to rank a site these days. There are obviously ways to speed up the process such as:

  1. Buy an aged expired or auction domain
  2. Use social signals
  3. Use some paid traffic
  4. Target super long-tail keywords

But the fact is that you should expect it to take anywhere from 3-6 months to really hit top rankings for your keywords.

I’m not talking just your main keyword here, you may get there quicker, but we shouldn’t be building sites trying to rank just a single keyword these days.

Reason 2 – There is little change on how I build out my sites each month

I’d love to tell you I have a super-amazing strategy that sees me do something different each month to grow and rank my sites. The truth is, I don’t. Nothing will rank a site better than time, content, and backlinks.

By moving to quarterly updates you will see bigger (hopefully) movements, more action, and a true reflection of how long it takes to build, rank and profit from a niche site.

Reason 3 – Make time for niche site tutorials and helpful advice

By switching to quarterly I will free up time for creating helpful guides and blog posts that will help you get more from your niche sites and build them into sellable assets.

I have 25 article ideas already lined up that cover a wide range of topics all centered around building, ranking, and profiting from niche sites.

This is the topic I get asked most about and it’s where my expertise lie, so it makes sense to share that knowledge here.

What Did I do in September?

Content

I produced ZERO content in September. Nil. Nada.

Why? Simple. I was busy with other things and before investing yet more money in content I wanted to work with what I have.

Adding more content will not improve my site or income any more than improving on what content I already have. Check out how Gael and Mark increased traffic to a single page by 9,275%. This is a great example of working with what you already have.

So my focus has been on ranking the content that I have on the site.

I’ve performed what I consider to be awesome keyword research, I have several ways to make money from the site once it starts to generate more traffic and the content I have is better than my competition.

Link Building

In last month’s update, I discussed how I would be “going on the offensive” with the site by building some “core” backlinks such as comment and web 2.0 links.

These are the first kind of links I build for a niche site, it helps to diversify the anchor text profile as I use either the site/domain name or the pseudonym of the site owner I am using.

Building Comment Backlinks

For comment backlinks, I like to use DropMyLink.com

DropMyLink

This free tool will help you find footprints from CRM software such as BlogEngine and WordPress.

I found a number of sites with this tool and it allows you to find pages that are discussing the topic you have an article about.

The way to use this to your advantage is to get really specific with your search terms and then when you find a good article with decent domain/page authority, you need to do 3 things:

  1. Leave a well written and helpful comment, don’t just say “nice work, keep it up”. Webmasters fucking hate those comments.
  2. When you enter your URL, don’t just use your root domain, make the link go to an inner page that is related
  3. DO NOT USE YOUR KEYWORD for the anchor text. Just don’t, that is very 2009! Just use your domain name or site name, even better your name or a pseudonym.

Building Web 2.0 Links

Previously I would build these out myself and it sucked big time. There are now packages available from a number of sources (below) that will provide you with any number of these sites for very little outlay.

Where do I get my Web 2.0 sites from?

  1. Source-Wave Marketplace
  2. Fiverr.com
  3. GScraper (DIY Tool that can yield great results)

The reason I use these Web 2.0 properties is that similar to a PBN, they allow you to completely control your backlinks, velocity, and also anchor text.

A better strategy that I will be incorporating soon, is to build out 10 web 2.0 sites that have decent page authority and add lots more content and throw some PBN links at them to juice them up.

That way I can use them as a mini PBN as part of my “initial link build strategy”.

SERP Movement

SERPLab Sept-15

As you can see I am now tracking 88 keywords, 80% of which are really long-tail stuff with 4-6 words per search phrase.

I did, however, find some super low competition keywords with between 9,900 and 22,200 searches. I have no idea how I came across them, I think I was using SEMRush and assessing a competitor’s site.

However this was back in August and I forgot all about it, I even had some content written by a VA and it was just sat in my inbox waiting to be used!

So after publishing the content and adding all of the keywords I wanted it to target, the page jumped in at 29th for the 22k search term.

Which I’m pretty happy about.

The other big story here is that last month I had just 3 keywords in the top 10, now I have 20!

This just shows the power of time and backlinks. I would put myself in the slowly-slowly-softly-softly category when it comes to defining SEOs.

I like to track my actions and their results and therefore don’t do too much too quickly. It is really paying off for this site with the number of keywords in the top 10 increasing by 566%!

Traffic

Sep-15 Niche Site Traffic

Traffic always excites me, WAY more than SERP rankings. Reason being is that it is a true reflection on your sites progress.

Sure, you can hit top 3 for a target keyword, but you have no idea what that means in terms of clicks and sales.

By tracking your traffic you can see where it’s coming from, which pages they are landing on and what they do once they get there.

The above chart is from Clicky Web Analytics. I prefer this to Google Analytics for a number of reasons. The main one being is that it automatically tracks your outbound link clicks, so tracking which affiliate link is driving the most clicks is easy.

Doing this in GA is not.

So for September, we saw an uptick of 42% in total traffic and a 13% increase in time on site. This is a result of the ‘long-form content’ strategy I use and many of these articles/pages are now starting to rank for lots of long-tail keywords.

The most impressive number for me is the bounce rate. At the end of August, I mentioned I had changed the theme to a more professional looking one.

That’s not all I did, I also had my VA go in and add a custom featured image to EVERY article. It took a while but the site looks much more attractive and the “related posts” feature that most premium themes have these days is getting people to click around, hence the increase in page views, time on site, and decreased bounce rate.

If I can hit a 40%+ uptick in traffic every month we will have a very profitable site on our hands!

Stickability

I honestly believe Google is playing a game with SEO’s right now in that it takes MUCH longer to see any benefits from your efforts. Many people get into niche sites for their passive income capabilities and as a result, many of these people want immediate gratification.

If they don’t get it, they move on or try to blast their site with links. Either way, Google wins and fewer SEO’s take part in gaming the algorithm.

It’s those that treat this as a business and are in it for the long term that prospers.

Earnings

Azon Sept15

(click to view full size)

My expectation for this site was to start earning some form of income within 3-6 months.

That is the timeframe and mind-set I recommend you go in with. Essentially you want to set your expectations upfront to avoid disappointment in the future.

Everything we do online requires taking action and commitment. Niche sites are no different.

Running Income Total (Gross)

  • Jul-15 – $28.01
  • Aug-15 – $14.44
  • Sep-15 – $74.19
  • Total – $116.64

So a good month in September for income. October has started slowly however the Nov/Dec shopping period is just around the corner so now is the time for a big push to get those rankings and sales.

Plans for Q4 (Oct, Nov, Dec)

Minimal New Content

As I mentioned earlier, there is no need for me to keep adding content to the site unless I can start to see decent rankings, traffic, and sales from my existing efforts.

So I will not be adding any content to the site in October as I have plenty of keywords to track and rank for, many of which are on the cusp of driving some serious traffic.

November and December should really be focused on driving traffic and sales to what you already have in order to take advantage of the increased online spending.

So I doubt that much content will be added to the site until January.

More Link Building

I will be testing a few strategies over the next few months, including:

  • Social sharing packages
  • Internal linking from pages ranking well
  • PBN Links pointing to Web 2.0 sites, which point to the niche site

I have a number of other ideas up my sleeve which I will report on should I find the time to test them.