September 2016 Update: There has been a lot of discussion surrounding BestProducts.com since this post, as well as a few other bloggers discussing this topic as well as a Reddit thread and I wanted to quickly revisit the website to see how it was doing 4 months later. I originally published this post in late May 2016, it’s now September 2016 and in that time the website has gone from 412,894 organic visitors per month to 3.43 million organic visitors per month. Yes, you read that correctly, in just a mere 4 months the website has gone from 400,000 to 3.43 million organic visitors.
How has BestProducts.com accomplished this?
Honestly, they’ve done f**k all – they’ve added an additional 12 backlinks (according to Moz, see screenshot below) and added lots of content, but hold up – we’re not talking about in-depth buyer guides here, we’re talking about useless product summaries, literally each summary is not even 150 words and is accompanied by a nice little affiliate link going straight to Amazon.
As well as this, another thing I find funny is the static price displayed alongside their ‘product reviews’ which as we all know, is a big no-no.
So, as the little guy – what can we do about this?
To be honest, I am not sure how we can battle the big media giants – that is unless we all decided to come together and make a HUGE network of sites, in my head as I write this, it would be quite epic to have a network of perhaps 100 five-figure Amazon earners to agree to link to one another’s websites but I am not even sure this would quite cut it, considering we would still be up against 30 websites all with domain authority in their 80’s and a huge brand following. Yeah, it just ain’t happening…
So, with that unrealistic solution out of the way, seriously what can we do? Continue what we are doing:
- High-Quality Buyer Guides – a minimum of 2,500 words with product reviews and a thorough consumer guide.
- Provide consumers with multiple types of content – written, infographics, tables, graphs, video e.t.c.
- Stay niche? Possibly a solution is to focus on niche sites, now I don’t mean sites that focus on one product, but instead one area of products like Televisions, Headphones, Laptops e.t.c as we’re still likely to outperform a site like BestProducts.com if we have an established site in a specific niche.
As we progress into 2017 though, this is going to become more of an issue – as of right now I imagine BestProducts.com are generating approximately $400,000 in commissions per month. I would not be surprised if Hearst Media (the company behind Best Products) decide to launch another site in 2017 with a slightly different angle and use their network to power that site as well.
Overall, don’t be dishearted by this – just realise that we’re not alone, Google is still lagging behind, what is considered grey hat is still an extremely powerful strategy.
Original article below
Quick Update: If you are wondering what other media companies follow the same strategy as Hearst Digital Media, then check out Purch Media who own TopTenReviews, Tom’s Hardware amongst several others – Purch Media.
OK firstly, for those who I’ve promised to write a guide to Amazon TOS & general guidelines, it’s coming, I am slightly over 50% (2,000 words) of the way through it, and it will be published soon.
Back to this – while I was conducting a bunch of research for my authority site project, looking at competitors growth since they begun to present day using Similar Web & SEM Rush tools, I noticed one of the recommended competitors had extremely significant growth in just a few months. I was slightly stunned, actually, no that’s a lie…I was very stunned. I thought that Similar Web stats for this particular website may have been broken, so then I double checked with SEM Rush, which reported similar growth. That’s when I started to focus all my attention on this one website which had shown growth from 2,546 organic visitors to 412,894 organic visitors in 6 months!
At this point I’d like to highlight a few things about the history of the domain name its self:
- Originally registered in 1998 it has a domain authority of 42 and a page authority of 50
- It was originally the official website of Lawrence County Illinois (or at least that’s what it said, pretty sure it wasn’t).
- Shortly afterwards the domain was simply parked, I assume a domain investor had the domain and waited for a buyer.
- For quite a few years the domain was parked/launched/parked/launched with no real success.
- Between 2009 and late 2015 nothing happened with the domain name.
- Late 2015 Hearst Digital began to develop and then launch the site which is what you can currently see live on the site now.
The domain name is BestProducts.com and it’s now owned by Hearst Digital Media, for those who are unaware, Hearst Digital Media are a huge company. For example, they generated $10 billion in revenue in 2014 and had over 20,000 employees (Wikipedia) & you can see an assortment of their sites on their company website here – Hearst Digital Media.
With all this being said you can now begin to imagine the resources and power that they have and how easy it may be to influence the SERPs for the launch of their new website BestProducts.com.
But first, why?
With traditional monetization methods such as display advertising resulting in declining revenue, large media companies have been in search of a new revenue generating machine and their answer was hardly shocking to you and me, affiliate marketing. Which many large media companies have steered clear from up until now, whilst we’ve been building niche sites or a site with 100 pages and calling it an authority (ha) these powerhouses have been publishing hundreds of posts per day and getting rich from rich media advertising on a CPM model.
Times have changed…
Unfortunately for them, the world of digital advertising has changed, with the introduction of demand side platforms and real-time bidding several years ago the cost of premium banner advertising has reduced, whilst the competition has increased – it’s no longer about direct relationships and long-term contracts, at a click of a button I can have a premium ad placement at the top of Forbes.com.
Now, admittedly I am skimming the surface when it comes to what’s changed in digital advertising to cause the shift from CPM models to affiliate models, but we don’t have the time to go into that right now (we should be building our empires).
So, basically to summarise the why…media companies have realised that their decline in ad revenue needed to be filled by a new solution, answer = affiliate marketing.
Gawker Media is a prime example of this, up until recent years they never even touched affiliate marketing, which is crazy to think considering how much traffic they receive and how many of those users are interested in purchasing gadgets which Gawker Media have discussed, reviewed or even just mentioned. Nick Denton CEO of Gawker Media has recently been quoted declaring that their efforts in affiliate marketing have provided “a valuable second revenue stream.”
But I don’t need to sell you guys on the value of affiliate marketing; we own it! So let’s move on…
How has Hearst Digital Media leveraged their strength & power to help launch BestProducts.com?
The site launched in November 2015 and currently has 1,890 indexed pages in Google, which means in just 6 months they’ve published 315 pages per month. Obviously, not all of these are pages like this one, but we can rest assured that a large chunk of them are.
So, first off – with a sizeable investment in employees (editors, writers e.t.c) they’ve managed to publish 1,890 pages in just 6 months.
Secondly, and most importantly they’ve leveraged the power (domain authority) of their media network by linking to BestProducts.com via their footer, for example:
Esquire.com – DA89
TownandCountryMag.com – DA71
Cosmopolitan.com – DA88
PopularMechanics.com – DA87
Elle.com – DA87
HarpersBazaar.com – DA85
MarieClaire.com – DA83
And this is just a handful of examples, remember a company that generated $10 billion in revenue in 2014 and they have a huge network of ridiculously, high quality sites.
Let’s have a look at what Moz says:
Yes, from 19 root domain links the website is currently generating more than 400,000 visitors per month from organic search alone.
I mean, it is crazy…but it’s also extremely obvious and that’s what I want to point out – look how openly obvious it is that websites with a strong domain authority and incredible authority push a website to new heights. Now, we don’t all have a network of hundreds of sites with DA of 80+ all of which are brands in their own right. However, we can get access to these sites through guest posting and blog commenting.
I wanted to discuss this to really highlight how our competition (yes, anyone who tries to rank for best xxx products) is playing the SEO game and the power they have behind them not just from linkable assets but also monetary investment. Now, this isn’t supposed to depress you and make you want to quit, it’s the world wide web for fuck sake it’s big enough for us all, but remember next time you are wondering how you can rank, look at the big players and see how they’re doing it. We might not be able to copy them, but it’s good to see how these links affect a sites performance.
Also, BestProducts.com is a honey pot of niche opportunities for anyone who has yet to jump on the Amazon associates bandwagon – check these out for example:
This is just a snapshot of the kind of queries and niche markets you could enter there are probably 50 here and there are another 81,323 queries including the word best from BestProducts.com alone.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts about what I’ve spoken about here, please leave a comment below! Also, check out 7 six-figure Amazon Associate sites here.