Niche Site Growth Challenge Update – Month 3
This is the third and what should have been the final update in my niche site challenge. Which was to take a site from earning $1k per month, to $3k per month in 90-days.
I've failed to hit my $3k goal so I will continue this challenge until I do…!
It seems with this project I made a few mistakes that I'm not afraid to admit to:
- I underestimated how much time would be required to put in in order to grow this site.
- I overestimated how much free time I had to devote to this project.
- I've learned a ton about CPA offers and how you can't really rely on them long term.
- I never had a system in place to grow the site, I just did whatever was in my head that day.
So I'm going to change it up a little for this update. It will be shorter and more to the point. I will still cover what happened in May and what my plans are, but I hope to provide shorter and more regular updates throughout the month, as I will be trying lots of new tactics and I want to share these with you guys.
So let's get into it.
How The Niche Site Performed in May-16
I made the prediction last month that I would break the 10k unique visitors mark and I blew past it with ease.
Almost 12,000 visitors and a super low bounce rate show me I am on the right path. I think many people new to niche sites assume you can make money in weeks. You can, but that comes with experience.
Typically my sites earn “some” income in their first month, but that is down to great keyword research and gut feel for what you can rank for.
You should expect at least 2-3 months of writing content and performing keyword research before you see any significant results.
Tip – It's much easier if you start with an expired domain with good metrics and history 😉
The highest daily visitor count across May was 465, so I just failed to break the 500 mark…which is what would be needed every day to get to my next lofty goal of 15,000 uniques.
In May, the site pulled in $895.10 which is down 8% on last month…the reason?
For the last 2 weeks of the month, the main CPA offer I was driving most of my traffic too (using internal linking) produced zero conversions.
After talking with my Account Manager, it's still not clear exactly what's going on with the offer…needless to say, I pulled my traffic and replace the offer and links with an alternative for the time being.
So 2 full weeks of nothing from an offer that pulled in over $765 last month is a big kick in the teeth. This month that same offer contributed just $212 to the total site earnings.
Here's a breakdown of the income history to date:
This is undoubtedly one of the more passive sites I have. My main interaction has been to research keywords, order content, and tweak/publish the content.
So over $7,000 in 12 months is nothing to be sniffed at. Still, I know this site is capable of doing that PER MONTH, so I am going to give this site some more love and attention to get it there.
In summary, whilst the income has stagnated for the last 3 months traffic has blown up. I now need to funnel that traffic to optimized pages and offers.
What I Worked on in May
Usually, I would provide an activity followed by a snippet of what I did across the month. However, it never seems like I am devoting enough time to really do it justice.
It's hard to get a true feel and understanding for some of these growth tactics from just a few sentences. Therefore, I will simply list out the actions I took and will revisit them across the month by devoting an entire post to each.
So here's what I worked on:
- Keyword Research with SEMRush and Google AutoSuggest
- Reduced sidebar content
- Used Thrive Leads to build opt-in boxes and 2-step opt-in links
- On Page optimization of high traffic pages
- Merged a smaller website into the main niche site (see below)
I will be sharing more about this in my new Niche Site Facebook Group – head on over and join us.
2 New Website Investments
Last month I said I would merge a smaller niche site I picked up from a broker, with this larger niche site as they were in the same industry and I really didn't like the domain name of the smaller site.
I took the plunge and made this happen…it wasn't without hiccups, however.
Here are the steps I took:
- Copied all content (5 pages) over to large site
- Told Google Webmaster Tools that the small site had moved over to the large site
- Added in 301 redirects for the old URL's to the new ones in the .htaccess file
Seems pretty straight forward but if you remember back in April this site made over $400 and I didn't want to wreck the site and income as it would effect my numbers and it would delay my ROI on this niche site.
Well, I made the changes on May 1st so we had a full month to see how the change affected things.
Google quickly started pushing traffic to my new URL's or rather the 301-redirect did. The trouble I had was I was redirecting a root domain (as it was the home page of the small site that was ranking well) to an inner page on the larger site.
So for the first 2 weeks, Google had reindexed the links and had picked up the new site, but was directing traffic for those keywords to the home page, which because my niche site is pretty big content-wise, was a bad thing as there was no relevant content on the home page for the traffic.
On the 15th of the month things still hadn't changed, traffic was still going to my homepage and after checking my Amazon Associates account for the products I would expect this traffic to buy, I saw only 1 sale of such product.
So I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I removed the redirect in webmaster tools and performed a 301 redirect in the .htaccess file of the small niche site.
This way I could tell the search engines that http://smallsite.com should redirect to http://largesite.com/inner-page/
This may seem obvious to you but I'd not done this for some time and I presumed that the best way would be to tell webmaster tools and not lose traffic etc or risk balls'ing it up myself.
So lesson learned, just use a 301 redirect for all URL's in your .htaccess file and that's job done.
That, in a nutshell, is what happened to site #2. Sales started to happen on Amazon and Google has now replaced the SERP positions with the internal URL of my larger site.
Let's look at how investment site #1 performed
Investment Site 1
- Mar-16 – 1,085
- Apr-16 – 1,582
- May-16 – 1,824
- Mar-16 – $190.12
- Apr-16 – $223.92
- May-16 – $262.64
Since taking ownership of this site in March I've done very little to improve it apart from bringing in line with Amazon's TOS.
For now, I am happy for it to continue to bring back a return on my investment and in the coming months I will look to put a content system in place to grab more long tail traffic.
Niche Site Growth plan for May
- Continue to grow email list (target 1,000 new subscribers) – I have been testing email marketing with an authority site I own and it's paying off very well. This is getting my juices flowing for the potential this site has too.
- Bring on 2x writers – In order to ramp up the efforts on this growth challenge I will be hiring 2 new writers to make the most of the keyword research I have completed.
- Bring on a content editor – My time to devote to each project is limited (I'm actually trying to cut down) therefore I can't spend time editing and publishing content, so I will bring in an editor who can improve and publish content for me.
- Improve existing high traffic pages – Continue to test/tweak pages with traffic to improve conversions
So there we go. A shorter update this month and moving forward the updates will be similar with more detailed content on specific tactics in between.
Also, don't forget to join my new Niche Site Facebook Group