Niche Site Growth Challenge – Update Month 2

Today we will discuss the niche site challenge I have set for myself, which is to take an existing niche site that was earning circa $1k/month and build it to a steady $3k/month within 90-days (or as quickly as I can!)

Last month we looked at how the first 30-days didn’t exactly get off to a flying start, with the loss of my best-converting CPA offer and also screwing up the indexing of the site, I lost a ton of traffic and sales.

In today’s update, we will look at:

  • How I managed to increase income in April
  • What I actually achieved across the month
  • My Big Plans for May
  • How My 2 new website investments performed

What I Worked on in April

Keyword Research

I have been refining my keyword research process to a point where I have it down pretty tight. Finding new keywords is important for the continued growth of the site and to discover new areas and trends in emerging market areas.

I am always tinkering with keywords and my process, it’s something I actually enjoy doing and I am becoming less and less reliant on using tools and switching to a more “obvious” system.

I will be sharing more about this in my Niche Site Facebook Group – head on over and join us.

Fixing Broken Links

One big thing I did was to perform a complete assessment of my site to find any products I was promoting that were no longer available on Amazon. As a user, it is annoying to click a link and find a product you can no longer buy, plus I won’t get any commissions.

So I went through the entire site and fixed them all, some required replacement products and therefore new reviews writing, which was tedious but I managed to get through the entire site.

I am looking into a better solution to find these products that are “Currently Unavailable” on Amazon as the solutions that are currently on offer either don’t fit the bill, don’t work or a buggy as hell.

Adding Affiliate Links

Believe it or not, I had a bunch of pages that had zero affiliate links…I know, crazy right!

When I first create and publish content, I prefer to publish without any affiliate links so I can see how the page does in the SERP’s, I then go back and add them in over time. I have no idea if this is the right or wrong way to go about it, it’s just something I have always done and it’s a process that works for me…well until I forget to go back and add my links in!

As it turns out, I forgot to do this with 10 or so pages that were getting some traffic. So I spent a little time adding in my affiliate links and “buy buttons” to monetize those pages.

Improving Existing Content

Looking at my analytics, I could see my highest trafficked pages and cross-match them to my affiliate accounts to see how they performed in terms of products sold.

There were at least 3 pages that had very few sales but high traffic volumes. This was a sure sign that I had an issue such as:

  1. A poor product landing/sales page
  2. Incorrect traffic visiting my page
  3. I was doing a poor job of convincing them

The hardest one of those to fix is number 2, you can’t really control the kind of visitors your page gets once it’s ranking.

So I set about fixing numbers 1 and 3. First up I looked for similar products that had a good sales history using the EPC (earnings per 100 clicks).

After finding a few products I set about giving each of them 2 weeks to test their performance. The first product has just had its first week, so it’s early days but I am hopeful.

Fixing number 3 was a case of improving the language used on the page. Changing the text on the CTA’s (calls to action), such as buttons and links.

Again, it’s still too early to tell if any of this has improved things, but overall the trend is moving back in the right direction as you can see below.

How The Niche Site Performed

Traffic

April was the best traffic month for the site by far, eclipsing January which is the biggest month for traffic and sales in the health and fitness industry.

So, 9,782 visitors, I should smash the 10k mark in May if I continue my focus on the same tactics. The funny thing is, traffic means nothing…it really is a vanity metric, much like bounce rate or time on site.

If your traffic doesn’t click and buy then it’s pointless traffic and it doesn’t matter how long they spend reading your content or how many pages they view.

It’s all about the clicks and conversions.

Income

With such a big increase in traffic, at least after the f-up’s in March, we should expect to see an increase in earnings right?

Well, we did. The site earned a total of $973.20 in April, which is the 3rd highest month the site has had since it began in July-15.

So an increase of $124 on the previous month, most of which was down to the CPA (cost per action) products I promote.

In truth, Amazon was down due to a very slow start to the month and whilst it did finish strong with some good sales, it was really annoying to see.

Luckily I promote products elsewhere away from the Amazon Associates platform in order to diversify…a decision I am glad I made in hindsight.

Here’s a breakdown of the income history to date:

Jun-15 $0.00
Jul-15 $28.01
Aug-15 $14.4
Sep-15 $74.19
Oct-15 $331.65
Nov-15 $745.63
Dec-15 $1,104.82
Jan-16 $1,491.69
Feb-16 $940.53
Mar-16 $849.41
Apr-16 $973.20
Total $6,553.53

2 New Website Investments

If you remember from last month’s update, I decided to purchase a website with the plan on using the income it was making each month to pay for a short 4-day trip I had planned.

To recap, the idea was that the income over a period of 8 months would pay for my trip, after which I would still have an asset that would continue earning and I could also sell to recoup my initial investment and perhaps more.

It worked out that I needed an asset producing around £200 per month ($282 USD approx.)

Let’s take a look at how the investment niche sites performed in April.

Investment Site 1

Traffic

  • Mar-16 – 1,085
  • Apr-16 – 1,582

Income

  • Mar-16 – $190.12
  • Apr-16 – $223.92

Investment Site 2

Traffic

  • Mar-16  – 1,142
  • Apr-16 – 1,468

Income

  • Mar-16 – $220.22
  • Apr-16 – $445.12

Investment Sites Combined Performance in Month 2

Seeing both sites grow in both traffic and income for the first full month of ownership is great. Site 2 is clearly the standout performer of the two with a huge 102% increase in earnings.

I’ve literally not touched these sites in April. When I took ownership in March, the only tasks I carried out were:

  1. Correct the grammar and spelling
  2. Ensure all pages met the Amazon Associates TOS
  3. Improved site load speed

I’ve actually seen a drop in rankings for both sites for their main target keywords. Initially, they were both #2 and after the changes I made, they both moved to #1.

However, in early April, they dropped to around 3rd, 4th, and 5th spots for the main keywords. I did actually think this was the end of the “zero link building” period for these sites as the previous owner focused purely on the On-Page SEO.

May will see me turn to off-page and link building in order to get them back to where they were. With that being said, I cannot complain at the growth and it really does show the power of long tails keywords.

All else considered, if these two sites continue to make the same amount each month ongoing, I will recoup my investment in less than 5 months…which is amazing.

Plans For May

I have BIG plans for site #2 in May, which could end in disaster OR turn out to be a great decision…basically, it will no longer exist.

My plan is to merge this site with the niche site that is the focus of this very update. You know, the site I’m trying to grow from $1k to $3k?

Why?

Well, first they are in the same niche and the investment site fits neatly into my content plan. Secondly, as I mentioned last month, the site has the year “2016” in the domain which I hate. By the time 2017 comes around, it will become obsolete and I will have to move the content anyway.

So, whilst I am 2 months into this 3-month challenge (which by the way will continue for as long as required to hit the $3k /month target), I know that it will be tough to get to that goal.

Is this cheating?

By adding this content to my existing niche site, I will, if all stays the same, be adding circa $400 to my income for that site, which will get me to the half-way point of the $3k /month challenge.

Well, I didn’t really set any rules for myself here. I never actually planned to buy a site and merge it with the existing site, the opportunity simply arose and I took it.

My only plan for this entire series of updates was to show you what I do and how to do it. Hopefully, you learn a few things along the way and so do I.

Much of this is new for me too, sure I know the principles but being in the thick of it when you have money on the line is a completely different story.

The only reason I wouldn’t do this now is fear.

Fear of losing rankings once the content is migrated and the 301 redirects are in place. However, my head tells me that it will be ok. Mainly because the larger niche site has a higher DA, PA, TF, backlinks, and linking root domains.

It’s also a few years older and has some great history. So my theory is that it ‘could’ actually increase the rankings, but I would be happy with a simple like-for-like swap.

How Will I Do It?

I will be taking all of the content and placing it onto the higher authority niche site and performing 301 redirects of each page over to the pages of the new site.

I will provide a complete guide, showing the steps I took to do this should you want to do this yourself in the future. I will add the link in here in due course.

In next month’s update, I will also show the results of this decision and if it worked…or not.

Niche Site Growth plan for May.

  1. Migrate Site 2 content – move all content to the niche site challenge site and 301 redirect
  2. Work on 5 pages – improve the content flow, length, and conversion rates by change link placements, images, and buttons.
  3. Find Better Products – for high traffic pages where existing products aren’t converting
  4. Launch New Category – I have identified a number of low competition keywords in an emerging sub-niche for which I will be producing content and testing the waters.

Plan for the 2 Investment Sites.

  1. Shut down Site 2 – once migrated this will no longer exist and I will retain the domain simply to use as a 301 redirect to the relevant pages.
  2. Add content – I have a bunch of content I have had written for Site 1 which need to be formatted and published
  3. Link Building – I want to get Site 1 back to #1 in the SERP’s for its main keyword. This will take a few links.

Also, don’t forget to join my new Niche Site Facebook Group

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