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Restarting IM: A niche site case study

Discussion in 'My Journey Discussions' started by MonkeyJohn, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. MonkeyJohn

    MonkeyJohn Power Member

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    Hello all. I’ve started this journey thread because I really want to get back into internet marketing and build out a niche website portfolio. I started IM/niche sites back in 2013 and had some success/failures. In late-2017, I was made redundant from my corporate job, but as I already had a few lowish earning websites (talking sub-$1,000 total revenue here), I decided it would be a good idea to focus on building out my website portfolio.

    The problem was a became a bit disorganised at the back end of 2017/early 2018 and, due to some poor SEO service purchases and lack of focus, I lost my way in the black hat world. Around February 2018, I started to listen to Income School YouTube videos and around March 2018 I purchased their Project 24 course. I spent a lot of money outsourcing content, but I didn’t really follow their “60-step” plan. Needless, to say, I still have some way to go to breakeven on this Project 24 site.

    During the last few weeks, I have taken stock of what I want to achieve with niche websites and this is why I wanted to create this thread: to document my journey, hold myself accountable and get advice from other members on this great forum.

    What is my ultimate goal?
    • To achieve passive income: earn $2k per month by working 8 hours per week
    • To create assets: in the form of niche websites that can be sold for 20-30x monthly profit

    How will I do this?
    • Build out a niche website portfolio.
    • Gain knowledge in ranking, growing and flipping sites.
    • Gain skills in outsourcing (to facilitate scaling).

    What will this look like?
    My ideal vision is to purchase sites from services such as @Neurodigitalagency and use my SEO and content outsourcing skills to scale up these sites and build out my portfolio. This portfolio of sites will provide both a monthly passive income and potential for future capital through website sales.


    What can I control/outsource (for future scaling)?
    • Keyword research – Yes.
    • Content creation – Yes.
    • Traffic - No.
    • SEO (as a driver of traffic) – Yes, but requires testing and ROI analysis.

    SEO skills
    Gaining SEO skills will allow me to scale to having more sites (as I already have the keyword research and content creation skills or can outsource). As site builds can be outsourced, learning what works in SEO (so I can also outsource) will be my #1 focus. Basically, how can I gain skills in this area?


    SEO will be a big part of this case study and I am going to test different marketplace services to improve my skills in growing niche sites.


    The Plan
    My plan is to use a website that I already own and test SEO services and methods. This will be documented in this journey along with any relevant metrics.

    The site I’ve chosen was created back in 2017 but has yet to earn any revenue (Amazon affiliate is the main monetisation) and minimal backlinking was done at the start, so it makes a good candidate for this case study.


    Key stats/metrics


    In SemRush the site is currently showing the following (US) stats:

    Organic search: 0
    Keywords: 11
    Top 10 keywords: 0
    Top traffic keyword position and search volume: No traffic % shown

    Keyword tracking (Serprobot):

    Number of keywords tracked: 17
    Number of keywords ranking: 2
    Highest keyword position: 28

    Keyword competitiveness (Keysearch.co):

    Keyword scores range from 21 to 34 (all green). I have not carried out any in-depth SERP analysis yet, but it looks like a lot of niche sites are in the Top 10. This may also mean that the niche sites could be hiding their PBNs and distorting the competitive metrics. Overall though, at a quick glance, I’m reasonably happy with the keyword competitiveness.

    Backlinks (AHrefs):
    Domain rating: 0.2
    Backlinks: 168 (18% DF)
    RD: 48 (21% DF)


    Site history

    The site was purchased from a BHW seller (BST thread, now closed) for $199 back in June 2017 (this was a 5,000 word package). I then added a further 12x 500 word reviews and 2x 1,000 word Best XYZ articles for a total cost of $87. This took the total word count to 13,000 words.

    Basic foundation link building was done in September 2017 and consisted of the following (all using BHW services):
    • 15x Web 2.0s (@The SEO) – targeting home page
    • 50x niche blog comments (@gold service) - targeting home page and 3 Best XYZ pages
    • 600x PBN Tier 2 posts to the Web 2.0s (@eatingMemory)
    • “Top50+” PR package (@RankGeek) targeting home page and 3 Best XYZ pages
    Total cost for SEO: $99

    Total cost of site/content/SEO = $396
    Total earnings = $0
    Total profit/loss = -$396


    First goals

    My initial financial goals are as follows:

    1. Get my first affiliate (Amazon) sale from the site
    2. Re-coup my initial $396 cost, even if this means more money is spent on SEO


    What do I need to do next?


    The site is currently in a mess in terms of layout and some articles were set to draft for some reason. So, my first step is to fix the “architecture” and on-page elements of the site.

    Next, I going to grab a $7/7 day trial of AHrefs and look at the backlink profile of all the niche sites currently in the Top 10 for my top target keywords. Will look at a minimum of 10 sites.


    Hope you find this interesting as I go along. If you have any question, please leave a reply below. Thanks.
     
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  2. MonkeyJohn

    MonkeyJohn Power Member

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    For those that are wondering about my Income School/Project 24 site, here are the stats:

    Site created: May 2018
    Word count: 55k
    Traffic (May 19): 8.5k page views

    Lifetime revenue (Amazon): $161
    Lifetime revenue (Adsense): $251
    Total lifetime revenue: $412

    Course cost: $349
    Article costs: $1,139
    SEO (to some Best XYZ page): $99
    Total costs: $1,587

    Total profit/loss: -$1,175 (ouch!)
     
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  3. v.

    v. Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Income school’s monetisation model is a hit or miss.

    If targeting low comp, long tail keywords = low demand. Unless your niche have a solid aff payout, it’s a waste to outsource the content.
     
  4. seocrab

    seocrab Supreme Member

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  5. MonkeyJohn

    MonkeyJohn Power Member

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    The article with the most traffic does get a decent amount of traffic but because its an "info" keyword, earnings are poor (Adsense + Amazon links). Yes, you are right, the project 24 model doesn't really stack up if you outsource the content, but then writing 30 posts yourself is a ball ache.


    Good point about the budget. I don't have loads available right now as the sites I have aren't earning loads and most of the income I need myself. I will probably set a budget of $100 per month though as I need to invest (SEO) to grow the revenue.
     
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  6. juijuie

    juijuie Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    As you are coming back to SEO in 2019, one piece of advice i would like to give you is to not expect too much too quickly. SEO has become painfully slow and it can take many months to 1+ years for sites to take off and provide you with sizeable income. You need to be very patient and resilient as not to give up. Good luck :)
     
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  7. MonkeyJohn

    MonkeyJohn Power Member

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    Okay, a quick update on what I’ve done yesterday.

    Site
    As I mentioned in the OP, the site was in a bit of mess. I changed the theme to a nice magazine style. I also converted all the pages that weren’t posts into posts (so I had nice neat categories) and published 2 draft posts that were left as drafts for some reason. I also made sure that the post title tags had the right year, etc. Most of the URLs are now different from the originals but I’m not too bothered as I only has 2 keywords ranking :)

    The site is currently a http so I’ll probably move it over to a new hosting provider and changes to https. I’ll need to do this before link building.


    Competitor links analysis

    I also managed to find 10x competitor websites (niche Amazon Affiliate) and carried out some backlink and keyword analysis using AHrefs and SemRush (free versions).

    Findings:
    • Number of backlinks ranged from 97 to 17K
    • Referring domains ranged from 27 to 1.8k
    • DF backlinks: 82% average
    • DF backlinks to home pages: 14% of links (average)
    • Keywords ranking ranged from 821 to 53k (I have 11). Unsurprisingly, the sites with higher keywords also had a higher number of links.
    • A couple of the smaller sites had no Top 3 rankings but between 64 and 316 Top 10 rankings.

    Types of backlinks found:
    Probably no surprises here, but these are the main types of backlinks I found for the sites (using free AHrefs backlink checker). I only looked at 6 sites as the other 4 were much more established and likely to be getting “natural” links.

    • At least 4 of the sites were using guest posts.
    • Only 2 sites appeared to be using PBNs. 1 was definitely a public PBN the other looked like it could be private (the font, theme, layout was similar on all sites). I appreciate that more sites could be using hidden PBNs.
    • 3 sites were using profile links (on platforms I had not seen before).
    • 4 of the sites were using Web 2.0s. Most of these had low quality T2 backlinks. Also, a lot of the Web 2.0s appeared to be “network” sites, i.e. linking to more than one site.
    • Only 1 site has a “Q&A site” link
    • 3 of the sites seemed to be either using “niche site edits” or were simply referenced by the author as did not appear to be a PBN or guest post.

    Some things I came across that were I did not quite understand (so would welcome any feedback here) were:
    1. A lot of sites had backlinks from keyword and site analysis type sites. Question: I assuming these are natural and created by the owner?
    2. At least 5 of the sites had a lot of backlinks to the WordPress image URL. Question: is this a deliberate tactic? A lot of the linking sites were image heavy sites.

    Summary
    Looks like going to need to build 100 DF backlinks to complete I’m currently showing as 30), with around ~15% of these to the home page.

    The types of links I will need to build are:
    • Guest posts or PBNs – I hate the thought of paying a lot of money for a guest post but will still check out some BHW services. I have built a PBN in the past but no longer have it. I will most likely look to @Nargil to get some input on creating a small PBN as I’ve used his services in the past. I will also take a look at some BHW PBN services for comparison.
    • Web 2.0s – I already have a “network” of Web 2.0’s but these are (sod's law) not using the platforms I saw during my backlink analysis. I’ve done a lot of work over the years with @ofuture so will definitely be looking to use them to build out a small Web 2.0 network
    • Profiles – again, I look to work with @ofuture I think on these.
    • Other links (e.g. Q&A) – I’ll have a look around the BST and see what’s available.

    Next steps (by Monday)

    1. Move site to a new host
    2. Further backlink services research and develop a link building plan
     
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  8. hiepdn

    hiepdn Regular Member

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    Very well thought plan, good luck.
     
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  9. MonkeyJohn

    MonkeyJohn Power Member

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    Quick update on what I’ve been up to. Didn’t do much over the weekend as it was quite sunny for a change here in the UK :)

    I’ve still got to move the site to a new host but I’ve been busy taking a look at BHW SEO services and working on my link building plan.

    SEO service research
    I looked at several different types of link build services and here is my summary.

    PBN posts – the services I looked at seemed to fall within the following price groups (per post): $5, $10 and $20. These were all advertised as T1 services but some of the prices seemed very low. I wouldn’t be expecting too much from these, to be honest. Packages were normally 5-10 posts and would cost me $40 to $100+ for 10 links. My previous experience with these services though is that the domains expire quickly and they are often on cheap, spammy domains. Tempted to test the cheaper services out though ;)

    Niche edits – only found one BST then stopped looking due to the price: $250 for 5 posts.

    Guest posts – I’m not 100% convinced that “guest posts” are not just PBNs. I did find a BST offering post for $60 (a discount was also available). For fun, I looked at The Hoth and the cheapest price, for a DA10+, was $100. I also remember this article that called out the fact The Hoth were using PBNs as “guest posts”. Hmmm.

    Build by own PBN – I have done this before and seen some good results but (perhaps foolishly) I have let my network expire. Looking @Nargil service, a mid-range TF14 domain would cost $15. Minimum order is 5 with a 10% discount so total service cost would be $67.50. On top of this you have 5x hosting, say at $10 each, giving a total for 5 domains of $118 (or $24 each) before hosting and content. This compares towards the top end of the PBN post services mentioned above but my own network can be used again for other projects. One to think about, but I’ll need more than 5 domains but could start with this amount as a test.

    Web 2.0 – I’ll use @ofuture for this - $15 for 25x Web 2.0s (with spun handwritten article). Bargain.

    Web 2.0 T2 – my plan is to power up the Web 2.0s with a few services such as @eatingMemory (250 PBN posts), @SEO Controller (1000 GSA T2 + 10000 T3) and @gold service (50x niche blog comments – might only use this on 5 Web 2.0s). This would give me around 1,300 T2 backlinks across the 25x T1 Web 2.0s, so about 52 per Web 2.0. Total T2 price would be $25. So for Web 2.0 T1 and T2 links = $40.

    Profiles – Again, I’ll use @ofuture.

    Mini diversity packages – there are a couple of diversity packages from @Jay Yadav (have ordered before) and @rocket pil I quite like the look of the one from @rocket pil as its $8.49 for 25 links.


    Link building plan
    Here are my thoughts on the link building plan for the site:

    PBNs – possibly test cheap BHW service but longer term will build own PBN. I currently testing a method of buying cheap expired domains and recreating those, so will see how that progresses. Around 15% of links to home page.

    Web 2.0 – build 25 solid properties to start with and send T2 links to these 25. I thinking that if I build the authority of these Web 2.0s, I can use for other projects later. Around 15% of links (3-4 posts) to home page.

    Profiles – all to home page.

    Mini diversity package – all to home page.

    The way I plan to sequence the initial link building phase is as follows:

    1. Transfer site to a new host and get stable ranking on the URLs
    2. Purchase profiles and mini-diversity package to home page. Would not expect this to have any impact on rankings for inner URLs, just there for diversity. Cost ~$15
    3. Order Web 2.0s to home page/inner pages - $15
    4. Order cheap PBN service to inner page only (different to Web 2.0 target pages) -~$50
    5. Wait 3-4 weeks for rankings to stabilise.
    6. Order Web 2.0 T2 links - $25
    7. Continue to look at options for building my own PBN.

    I’m not expected massive things with the above alone, but it should give me an idea of price vs reward and allow me to focus more when I do the next link build phase. Total cost for this phase would be around $105.

    Would welcome any input / feedback.

    Just need to get started now :)
     
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  10. jamie3000

    jamie3000 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Fantastic plan mate, sounds you like you've given it some solid thought. Will be following :)
     
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  11. Nut-Nights

    Nut-Nights Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Going to follow you, you are going on right path. Best of luck.
     
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  12. MonkeyJohn

    MonkeyJohn Power Member

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    Many thanks!

    Thank you both. Good to hear that I’m on the right track.
     
  13. dandan594594

    dandan594594 Power Member

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    I'm running a similar test right now, with a KGR twist.

    Remember to give content and new links at least 3 months to take effect. No need to rush these things.

    Good luck, I'll be following along.
     
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  14. MonkeyJohn

    MonkeyJohn Power Member

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    Bit overdue an update, but here is what I've been up to in the last 9 days.

    Site
    Finally transferred the site to a new host. Changed theme. The sitemap was previously submitted in Search Console but I added the https property and re-submitted the sitemap. I also "fetched as Google" the home page. Within 1 day the https pages were starting to index. Interestingly, the keyword now has 6 keywords ranking, compared to the 2 at the start of the project. One keyword even jumped to #14.

    Here are the latest rankings (I've only shown the keywords that are currently ranking) :

    [​IMG]


    Link building

    I've made a start on the plan shared on 2 July:
    • Purchased 10x profiles from @ofuture - these were delivered today. This was a custom order as I requested some of my own platforms. All links to home page. As always, great service and communication from @ofuture. Nothing much to review here, order delivered as requested :)
    • Purchased 25x Web 2.0s from @ofuture - these are still in progress. I split these links between the target money page and home page (80%/20%). Again, I requested some custom platforms that I identified during the competitor research phase.
    • Mini-diversity package -still not decide on this one yet. Saw some good initial results when using @Jay Yadav service but when I checked back, a lot of the PBN links were now expired. Might just go with a cheap 10 post PBN package - I need to give this some thought over the weekend.

    Total cost so far: $16.50

    Not much more to do at the moment. Once the Web 2.0 order is delivered, I'll give it 3-4 weeks then start to order the T2 links.

    Onwards.
     
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  15. MountainGuy

    MountainGuy Newbie

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    cool journey, Love that your sharing experiences past and present from the marketplace
     
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  16. yooray

    yooray Regular Member

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    Definitely a must follow journey for me. I really like the way you have explained everything over here.
    Just wondering how you do niche and keyword research for amazon affiliates..... I mean just your tactics.....

    Thanks a lot for making this journey .....!!!
     
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  17. MonkeyJohn

    MonkeyJohn Power Member

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    Thank you.

    Thanks. I'll add something on keyword research when I start to add more articles. Basically, it's looking at low competition keywords from niche competitor sites.

    Update

    • Web 2.0s - I ordered 25 of these from @ofuture. These were delivered on 15/7/19, so took about 7 days from placing the order which I think is okay. Communication is always excellent with this seller. The package also included 250 tier 2 social bookmarks, which in theory should help them index. As of today, 4 out of the 25 are indexed, which I don't think is too bad. 4 of these are also showing in AHrefs. Cost $15.
    • Profiles - I keep checking these and none are indexed. These are at least 5 days old now. I may have to purchase some cheap T2 links to see if I can get these indexed.
    Still to do:
    • A decision on the mini-authority package - still on the fence with this one
    • PBN links - do I go with a service or start to build my own?

    I'm a bit tight on budget for the next week, so will not b able to order anything until next week anyway.

    Total cost so far: $16.50

    Thought it would be useful to share this ranking info.....although nothing much interesting happening at the moment :)

    [​IMG]


    A quick review of the original to-do list:
    1. Transfer site to a new host and get stable ranking on the URLs - DONE
    2. Purchase profiles (DONE) and mini-diversity package to home page. Would not expect this to have any impact on rankings for inner URLs, just there for diversity. Cost ~$15
    3. Order Web 2.0s to home page/inner pages - $15 - DONE
    4. Order cheap PBN service to inner page only (different to Web 2.0 target pages) -~$50
    5. Wait 3-4 weeks for rankings to stabilise.
    6. Order Web 2.0 T2 links - $25
    7. Continue to look at options for building my own PBN.

    I really need to start to pick up the pace with link building so hopefully, this will improve over the next couple of weeks.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019 at 10:15 PM