Authority Site Project

by Will Blears Will Blears 10 Comments

Authority Site Project – Month 13

authority site project month 13

Welcome back to the thirteenth month of the authority site project.

If this is the first time you are reading my authority site project then check out the first post which explains the strategy and the long-term goals, you can read it right here.

There have been some huge changes in March which have massively affected the site’s performance, I am talking about Amazon commission changes and also Google updates. In this update, I am going to discuss how these changes have negatively affected the site and what I am going to do about it, but first, let’s have a look at performance for March 2017.

March 2017 Amazon Associates Commissions

In March, the decline in revenue continued as I hit $1,669.92 compared to February’s $3,472.07 a 51% MOM reduction.

PPC Costs

OK, so I must confess – I made a huge mistake in March when managing my PPC activity, which I hate to admit, especially considering I am an expert when it comes to PPC advertising. What happened? Well, I re-activated approximately 50 inactive campaigns which I forgot were still using a bid strategy which I was testing months ago. That bid strategy combined with an old shared budget on an account level meant over three days (when I wasn’t even watching the account) I spent just under £700 with no increase in conversions, I burnt through £700 with zero return, extremely painful. However, it just goes to show that even an experienced PPC advertiser can make rookie mistakes when they take their eye off the ball.

Due to this stupid error, I managed to actually make a loss in March, how embarrassing >_<

PPCCostsMarch2017

Last month I mentioned that PPC activity was down month on month and this is true, except for those three days of silliness, the average daily traffic from PPC activity was less than 400 clicks compared to February where I was hitting 1,000 clicks per day. I’ve continued to reduce PPC activity, and I’ve paused the activity in April whilst the developer and I work on the website as we’ve had a few database outages and a few downtimes this month due to all the heavy lifting and the database just exploding with too much data, ha. Hopefully, in May we can re-launch activity though, with a completely overhauled site (although it might get into June before we can launch).

SEO Activity

As I write this, I am actually becoming a little depressed lol – March was such a shit month for this project.

So, on top of the Amazon commission changes which have reduced my revenue for this project by 30-40% month on month based on the commissions, as this site had a lot of electronics, kitchen appliance, tools and sports sales. The Google update also screwed me big time.

Amazon Authority Site Organic Traffic March 2017

As you can see from the above screenshot taken from Google Search Console for the month of March 2017 – the decline in organic traffic hit began just after the 12th March and continued all throughout March and has continued in April. This aligns with the Google update everyone has been discussing that took place at the beginning of March. Although, no one knows for sure what that update targeted I don’t believe my site was targeted for link building activities.

With regards to this specific site, I think the issue lies with a number of pages which have zero content or zero content above the fold. The website’s current design means that above the fold there is simply a title and a comparison table and on those pages which do have content this is below the fold. I honestly think that’s what Google has penalized my site for, which in my opinion is completely understandable.

The new site design is going to hopefully remove these issues, I just wish I had the design implemented months ago, unfortunately, business isn’t always as simple as it might seem. Therefore, I will have to bite the bullet and be patient, I am building more links to the site but very few are from PBNs, most are guest posts, press releases, social signals and web 2.0 links.

Once the new site design is live I can also focus on adding even more unique content to the site and above the fold as well as within the tables themselves.

April Action Plan

In April, my focus has been getting the backend of the website completed, as I mentioned in March’s update this included 634 pages which needed amendments, this has all been done now. I am just waiting for the developer to finish coding all of the unique page templates (I think there are about 10) and then we can begin putting the new site live.

Apart from this, I am not doing anything on the website, I might get a few backlinks built to the home page. However, I’d prefer to wait until the new site design is live and then see how Google takes the change.

That’s all for this month guys, I hope you enjoyed it – please leave any questions you might have below!

by Will Blears Will Blears 6 Comments

Authority Site Project – Month 12

authority site project month 12

Welcome back to the twelfth month of the authority site project.

If this is the first time you are reading my authority site project then check out the first post which explains the strategy and the long-term goals, you can read it right here.

Apologies for the delay in writing this, as most people will be aware there have been lots of changes taking place throughout the month of March, Amazon changing their commission structure being one of the biggest. Fortunately, we were able to get a decent month of revenue in the bag before those changes went into action.

AmazonCommissionFebruary2017

In February I managed to generate $3,472.07 in commission from Amazon Associates, a slight reduction from January which generated $4,777.15 however, I am still happy with the progress.

PPC Costs

If you have been following this case study you will know that for the past few months I’ve been actively driving traffic via Google Adwords. The cost of this activity in February was $2,179.93 which brings my net commission (after PPC costs) to $1,292.14.

PPC Activity Metrics for February

In February the PPC campaign generated a total 25,113 clicks compared to 36,905 clicks in January 2017. This reduction in clicks and cost ($3,179.94 – $2.179.93) directly impacted the total commission I generated. The main reason that PPC activity reduced so much was due to me hiring a web developer and beginning work on the second phase of the site design and backend development. As well as the fact the site is running like dog shit right now, it’s awfully slow and just a heap of shit ha.

It’s the 22nd March whilst I write this, trust me – March numbers are down drastically due to how slow the site is, but we can discuss this next month!

AmazonCommissionPPCCost

You can see from the graph above, whilst commission is down, the cost is down at a similar level as January, therefore our profit margins haven’t been drastically affected by the poor site performance.

SEO Activity

I honestly don’t want to speak about SEO activity right now… it’s not good.

seo traffic authority site project

This graph isn’t up to date, it’s now the 22nd March and this screenshot above is a custom date range to the end of February 2017. As you can see from the above it looks pretty healthy, no huge increases, no huge decreases – consistent growth, as slow as it might be, progress is being made. The average position (green line) is such a shit metric, I really should remove it from these graphs as its very misleading.

The positive from this screenshot is that impressions and clicks are on the up with us seeing a peak on the 26th February 2017 at 285 clicks. During February, I hired a guy to help build authority links from sites like dzone.com and several other business/tech related sites. Unfortunately, dzone.com has now switched to no follow, same as HuffingtonPost and many other sites – it appears a lot of big authority sites are switching at the moment.

March Action Plan

  • Link Building – yes more of this, I am currently targeting 6 key pages for ‘best xxxx’ type keywords this includes web 2.0 links, press releases, guest posts and social signals. I am also continuing to build authority links to the home page to help increase the overall site authority & strength.
  • Web Development – the developer has now added a few new backend features which allow me to have more control over the product selection for the comparison pages. Unfortunately for me, I now need to go through 634 pages and manually change every product on every page, that’s 634 pages x 10 products = 6,340 products on a site which is nicknamed turtle because of its speed. It’s just one of those things, for progress to be made, sacrifices need to be made and the sacrifice I am making in this endeavor is definitely time. In March the web developer will begin coding the design, this will take 3-4 weeks due to their being so many different unique elements in the design.

That’s all for this month – just a quick note I have a few random posts I am going to be doing soon, including a very interesting post on how I’ve managed to triple my revenue after Amazon changed their commission structure, so be sure to subscribe to the site and also join our group!

If you have any questions, just leave a comment below and I will reply as soon as possible.

by Will Blears Will Blears 11 Comments

Authority Site Project – Month 11

authority site project month 11

Welcome back to the eleventh month of the authority site project.

If this is the first time you are reading my authority site project then check out the first post which explains the strategy and the long-term goals, you can read it right here.

OK scrap quarterly updates, we’re going to continue with monthly updates, not every update will have a lot of golden tips, but at least you will be able to follow along and perhaps find a nugget or two of information amongst them all!

Commission-January-2017

Fortunately, the growth continues! Unfortunately, it’s not from organic traffic.

In January I generated $4,777.15 in commission from Amazon, compared to December’s $3,706.58 giving me an extra $1,070.57 in commission. But at what cost?

Well, the cost was high – the PPC spend for January is a whopping $3,179.74 on compared to December’s PPC spend of $915.71 that’s $2,264.03 more in spend. Whilst I didn’t generate as much profit (after PPC cost) in January as I did in December, it was all purposely done. Sure, I’d loved to have that commission without spending so much on PPC, it just wasn’t realistic. There were a few reasons I decided to ramp up spend and those are:

  • Data – increasing spend on PPC gives me a vast amount of keyword data to explore
  • Limits – I wanted to see what my limits were and what sort of margins I had, basically where my break even point was.
  • Commissions – Sure, I was spending more money but I was going to generate a profit so I am happy.

Interestingly, off the back of the PPC activity I was able to get a whitehat backlink, someone found my site and added it as a source to their website, they forgot to remove the gclid (Google Adwords auto-tagging) so I knew they had entered my site via a PPC advertisement.

Not only this, but I’ve also seen brand related searches appearing in Google Search Console, so I am also thinking that with the level of traffic I am generating via PPC, people are actually beginning to search for my brand after entering my site via PPC – brand awareness in play!

PPC Activity Metrics for January

In January, the PPC campaign generated a total 36,905 clicks compared to 12,854 clicks in December 2016. The increase in clicks is an effect of increased daily budgets and a slightly increased average CPC, as well as additional campaigns being built for new pages on the website.

ppc-cost-january

You can clearly see that the increased PPC cost did not directly result in the same increase in commissions. I knew this was going to happen, once you begin opening the floodgates for PPC traffic, you rarely get the same results. I am happy with this, as I mentioned before, data, limits, and commission make this a worthwhile cost.

SEO Activity

seo traffic authority site project

The screenshot above shows the past 90 days activity according to Google Search Console.

Interestingly, you can see the green line (average position) consistently declining from about the 25th December onwards, now I am not 100% sure why this is. However, I’d suggest that it’s an effect of more pages being built, more content being published which equals more keywords (especially long tail keywords) appearing within Search Console which would impact the total average position (its a bit of a redundant metric to highlight on an account level really).

What’s positive from this screenshot is the increase in impressions and clicks, we’re now consistently hitting 200 visitors per day from organic search and impressions are rising weekly.

The below snapshot shows you organic sessions for the past 3 months:

seo traffic authority site project

This really annoys me, I hate not seeing growth, but I have to just remain positive, SEO takes time. What I have noticed is building an authority site, a site like this that covers every category on Amazon takes a lot longer to gain strength in Google. Comparing this site to a site which is an authority in a single market, this site never wins – at least not initially, but what I am hoping is once Google gives the site the thumbs up, we then begin getting a flood of traffic across all of our categories.

February Plan of Action

Content Plan

I am ceasing the content creation for February for two reasons:

  1. Money – I am investing the money that I usually spend on content creation into link building this month to try and build up the website’s authority and I am also beginning to target specific internal pages with a few keywords targeted which will help bring in the traffic and the income once I am ranking.
  2. Development – I’ve found another developer to take on the project, this time I am hoping he can do the job. It’s a big job and is costing a fair chunk of cash to do. If he is able to do it, I am positive it will be one of the most aesthetically pleasing affiliate sites out there. Not to mention, it will be very useful and much, much easier for me to build on.

Link Building

As I mentioned, I am investing approximately $2,000 $2,500 this month into link building this includes several contributor accounts I have acquired as well as several editors/guest post writers I know who will be helping me with this.

As well as this I also have a virtual assistant doing blog/forum commenting.

Outreach Manager

I’ve hired the outreach manager, she has yet to start working with me properly as I’ve been a little slow on this front and have delayed her slightly.

2017 Milestones & Goals

For this year the targets I have for this site are as follows:

  • Launch the second phase of the website by March 2017
  • Launch UK, Canada & Australian websites by May 2017
  • Hit 50,000 organic visitors per month by May 2017
  • Have at least 1,000 pages of content published by May 2017
  • Hit $10,000 in monthly commission (after PPC cost) by May 2017

From the milestones I’ve set above, I think the most difficult, or at least most daunting to look at right now is hitting 50,000 organic visitors by May 2017. If we compare that with the December’s 4,000 visitors it’s a huge increase, however, I know that if I can rank just a handful pages on the first page for a few keywords that this will be realistic.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment below and I will reply as soon as possible.

by Will Blears Will Blears 16 Comments

Authority Site Project – Month 10

amazon authority site project

Welcome back to the tenth month of the authority site project.

If this is the first time you are reading my authority site project then check out the first post which explains the strategy and the long-term goals, you can read it right here.

In my previous post I mentioned I would be doing these updates quarterly, however with Christmas just gone and 2016 in the past, I thought it would be good to recap over the year and briefly discuss 2017 goals. First off, let’s get started by looking at what the site earned in December 2016.

Christmas amazon commission

As expected, December was a great month for the website; I hit $3,706.58 in commissions with a PPC spend of $915.71 making a total profit after PPC costs of $2,790.87.

PPC Activity

In December, the PPC campaign generated a total 12,854 clicks compared to 9,775 clicks in November 2016. The increase in clicks is solely down to the increase in demand, due to the Christmas season, the average CPC remained the same.

Amazon Associates PPC Marketing

As I mentioned in the previous post, this graph above does show that I am making significantly more commission than I am spending on PPC. However, what it does not factor in is the organic traffic and the revenue being generated there.

SEO Activity

Amazon Affiliate Marketing Organic Traffic

The screenshot above shows the past 90 days activity according to Google Search Console, as you can from the 24th November 2016 onwards (where the initial peak is, about midway on the screenshot) traffic began to improve and then continue to improve with a nice spike on the 26th December 2016. This has continued into January; I am now hoping the SEO I’ve been doing as well as the publishing of several hundred thousand words of content has begun to take effect.

The below snapshot shows you organic sessions for the past 3 months:

Google Analytics Amazon Associates

From the above, you can see that there has been a steady incline from October onwards which is the same time I began publishing the 100k of words per month, so it’s to be expected! However, I have to admit that I was hoping to have hit five figure organic traffic results by now.

2017 Onwards

Content Plan

I will continue to publish 100,000 words of content per month. However, I am also going through all of the pages to improve the on-page optimization and also improve the internal linking as that has been pretty abysmal so far.

As well as this, the current site doesn’t have any product review content, just the buyer’s guide, once the developer has finished on the second phase of the website, I will go back through all the pages and have the writers produce the content for each product which is recommended in the comparison table. This should help the site rank for multiple ‘xxxx review’ type keywords as well as bolster the content length for the ‘best xxxx’ related keywords.

Link Building

January has got off to a strong start with me preparing and launching a scholarship campaign, as well as this I am in talks with several people regarding authority guest posts on websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. I am also building a ‘hit list’ in Excel, basically a list of all the sites I want to get links from within the next six months, this includes websites such as the two mentioned above as well as other large publications.

Outreach Manager

I am also looking to hire an outreach manager who will be responsible for building relationships with editors and website owners and liaising with the content writers to create and prepare the content for publishing on the external website.

SEO impact so far

As I discussed earlier, I am not overly impressed with where I am at so far in regards to organic traffic numbers. However, I know the reason for this – to date I’ve focused all my SEO efforts on improving the authority of the site entirely, rather than focusing on specific pages and specific keywords.

The result is that I now have hundreds, if not thousands of pages ranking in the top 100 for ‘best xxxx’ related keywords with very few ranking on the first page. Therefore, the focus now is to shift from solely building the site’s authority, to also focusing on specific pages and keywords.

With that being said, I’ve selected 5-6 pages and a few keywords per page to focus my attention on first. I selected these pages and keywords based on the fact they were close to the first page (second or third page), and the keyword difficulty score was quite low.

2017 Milestones & Goals

For this year the targets I have for this site are as follows:

  • Launch the second phase of the website by March 2017
  • Launch UK, Canada & Australian websites by May 2017
  • Hit 50,000 organic visitors per month by May 2017
  • Have at least 1,000 pages of content published by May 2017
  • Hit $10,000 in monthly commission (after PPC cost) by May 2017

From the milestones I’ve set above, I think the most difficult, or at least most daunting to look at right now is hitting 50,000 organic visitors by May 2017. If we compare that with the December’s 4,000 visitors it’s a huge increase, however, I know that if I can rank just a handful pages on the first page for a few keywords that this will be realistic.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment below and I will reply as soon as possible.

by Will Blears Will Blears 14 Comments

Authority Site Project – Month 9

amazon authority site case study

Welcome back to the ninth month of the authority site project.

If this is the first time you are reading my authority site project then check out the first post which explains the strategy and the long-term goals, you can read it right here.

If you have been following then you should by now know that I ‘ve changed the authority site project updates to quarterly, rather than monthly. There are a few reasons for this, one of the main reasons is that there are not enough new actions being taken on a monthly basis as a lot of actions are dependent on the second phase of the website development being finished which has been an absolute nightmare and is still on-going.

Let’s begin by looking at the monthly revenue comparison, I’ve scrapped the bullet point finances for a nice looking graph instead, I think we can all agree it’s far more visually appealing and easier to follow.

ASPNovember2016Commission

As you can see from the above, November was a huge month, I finally hit four figures for the authority site with $1,279.79 in Amazon commissions. Interestingly, October wasn’t half bad either hitting $875.99 in Amazon commissions which is a huge increase from September, so why did this happen?

Launching a PPC campaign

In September I launched a PPC campaign on Google Adwords to help drive targeted visitors to my site. The reason I did this was to both generate revenue but also to collect data and lastly to analyze the user engagement on the website as I was working on the design for the beta launch.

For September there was no real goal in terms of how much revenue I wanted to generate, I had a budget of £500 to spend on PPC advertising and in September I only spent $188.46. Throughout September I made a variety of changes, optimizing the campaigns based on bounce rates and average time on site (since I can’t optimize based on conversions) and then in October decided to crank it up.

Below you can see the total number of sessions that were generated from PPC activity alone.

google adwords affiliate ppc marketing

That’s quite a decent amount of visitors hitting my site on a monthly basis from PPC alone which costs me just a few cents per visitor, well worth it I think!

In October & November, I successfully made a profit, you can see the spend for Google Adwords activity plotted below.

ASPNovember2016PPCCost

Whilst this graph shows that I am making a profit, what it does not account for is organic sales which are combined in that commission bar above. Unfortunately, due to Amazon Associates restrictions, I can’t split the commissions from each traffic source. Therefore I will just continue to look at it cumulatively, as long as my commissions are higher than my spend then I am happy for now.

Also, the added benefits of spending $800 per month on Adwords activity is that I have access to more than 5,000 queries which I can use for content writing and SEO. Secondly, I can see which pages convert best, what products sell well and analyse how visitors interact with my website. In the future I plan on creating multiple landing pages to compare alternative landing page designs, the end goal being to drive more people to Amazon and generate more orders.

SEO Activity

As we’ve just discussed PPC activity we may as well move straight on to what is happening from an organic perspective.

authority site project amazon search engine traffic

As you can see from the graph above which is a snapshot of the last 90 days organic activity, the site is growing quite nicely, it’s now hitting about 150 organic visitors per day. We’ve also begun to hit the first page for a few ‘best xxxx’ type keywords, however, these are quite low traffic volumes and generally low average order value products.

The below snapshot shows you organic sessions for the past 3 months:

amazon affiliate marketing organic traffic

A slight uplift in November, most of which was around the time of Black Friday & Cyber Monday, even though I didn’t have a Black Friday page setup for this website the demand was higher due to it being a peak retail event.

Content Plan

Part of the SEO strategy is to invest a significant chunk of the £25,000 loan I took out for content. In the past 3 months, I’ve published approximately 300,000 words of content on the website and each month I continue to publish at least an additional 100,000 words.

One of the most difficult parts of this process is finding the best products to create consumer guides for, products which deserve a buyers guide and secondly products which are highly searched and have low competition keywords. I’ve been utilising AHREFs top pages tool for this which allows me to look at my competitors highest traffic driving pages and then I can use this to begin keyword research and decide whether or not the topic makes my list.

Link Building

I am ashamed to say this but very little link building has been done over the past 90 days.

Guest Posts

I did have a fantastic writer who created some guest posts which I then submitted to various sites but most of them have just been stuck in review for the past 45-60 days, which is incredibly annoying. Going forward from January 2017 onwards I am going to be focusing more time on networking, creating business cards and building a proper brand out of this website which I hope will help me generate more natural links and also present a better opportunity when it comes to pitching guest post ideas to websites such as entrepreneur.com and forbes.com.

Scholarships

Apart from this, I have my VA making a large list of universities for me to approach with the scholarship strategy, meanwhile I have created a scholarship page on my website and also created a PDF leaflet to make things look more professional. I will be delaying this, as I will be getting a more professional scholarship page created, as a sort of template which I can use across several of my sites which I hope will increase the conversion rate of the scholarship campaign.

2017 onwards

For December I will continue to publish the 100,000+ words of content and hopefully, the website developer will have finished with the beta version of the website. Apart from this, a lot of December will be used for reflecting on 2016, looking at the goals I set up at the beginning of the year and what I’ve accomplished so far. It will also be time to create goals for 2017 and an action plan on how I can start the year off smashing them and a big focus will be on this authority site!

In 2017 the targets I have for this site so far are:

  • Launch UK, Canada & Australian websites by May 2017
  • Hit 50,000 organic visitors per month by May 2017
  • Have at least 1,000 pages of content published by May 2017

These are some bold targets, however this is whats needed to really take this site to the level I want to take it. To hit those targets I need to stop thinking of this site as another affiliate site and begin treating it as an individual brand, which is why I will be completely overhauling my priorities for 2017 however, I will talk more about that in a future post 🙂

If you have any questions, just leave a comment below and I will reply as soon as possible.

by Will Blears Will Blears 34 Comments

Authority Site Project – Month 6

amazon authority site project month 6

Welcome back to the sixth month of the authority site project.

If this is the first time you are reading my authority site project then check out the first post which explains the strategy and the long-term goals, you can read it right here.

Before we start, let me apologise for the large gap between the last monthly update and today. There were a few reasons for this, mainly real life and business priorities which took a president, however, it was also because during the past 3 months very little has happened and that’s because I’ve been waiting to finish the startup loan application, which I can now confidently say is almost over, I am literally waiting for the loan to be deposited into my account which should be this week!

This authority site and the overall plan for the site was built upon having an initial £25,000 investment which is going to come into fruition this month, therefore from now onwards we will continue with the monthly updates.

However, since we’ve had a big gap let’s quickly summarise what results we have seen during this time.

  • Organic Visitors: April – 452  / August- 997 = 120.57% increase
  • Revenue: April – $45.79 / August – $186.35 = 306% increase

From a revenue perspective, I am quite happy with the amount I’ve generated from just 997 organic visitors, this calculates down as $0.18 earnings per visitor and if I can sustain that then I will be absolutely thrilled! However, I am not happy with the slow growth in organic visitors, a 120% might seem fantastic but over 3 months I think this absolutely sucks and to still be in the hundreds and not in the thousands or even the tens of thousands, sucks a lot. Before I get all depressed,  I just need to remind myself that this authority project has had an incredibly soft launch, it’s not been all systems go and will only begin to go in to a full blown launch now that I have the loan approved.

Let’s compare Amazon clicks and engagement for August vs. April:

  • Amazon Clicks: April – 366 / August – 570
  • Pages/Session: April – 1.83 / August – 2.21
  • Average Session Duration: April – 1 minute 5 seconds / August – 1 minute 9 seconds

Again these metrics are fine, nothing close to what I am trying to achieve, as I keep mentioning though there are lots of plans now that the loan has been approved.

£25,000 Investment & rapid growth

The £25,000 will be invested throughout the next 6 months (October 2016 – March 2016) and is based on a forecast model which I’ve been building for the past 12 months. This forecast is built using an estimated revenue per visitor (lower than what I am currently getting). I’ve also done a significant amount of competitor analysis, looking at approximately 15 competitor sites and analysing their success from the launch until present day to understand what sort of organic growth they had.

With all of this data (there was a lot more) I built a few different forecast models, and I have predicted that I need to hit 50,000 organic visitors per month by April 2017 to sustain the level of spend I will be investing from this month onwards. So basically, I have 6 months to hit 50,000 visitors per month from organic search, which right now when I am recording just under 1,000 visitors a month sounds extremely scary!

What will the £25,000 be spent on?

OK, so each month I will be investing approximately £4,305 which will be broken down as follows:

  • £3,000 – Content
  • £125 – Virtual Assistant
  • £1,000 – SEO
  • £55 – software (SERP Book e.t.c)
  • £125 – Initial Loan Repayment

I plan on publishing 100 pages of unique content each month at 1,000 words per page so in total 600 pages spread across 6 months. As well as this I plan on creating an additional 250 pages per month which will not have any content; these will just have the algorithm which generates the recommendation table.

Our burn rate is 6 months, and after the initial 6 months, we will need to hit revenue levels of at least £4,305 revenue, otherwise we will have to reduce our monthly spend which in turn will have a negative impact on growth.

What is the strategy right now?

OK, so up until this point the strategy has been to focus on increasing the strength of the overall site by building links to the homepage and category pages, rather than focusing any link building on specific ‘best xxxx pages’ and over the course of 3 to 4 months monitor what queries we begin to appear for and this is where it begins to get interesting.

I am currently tracking 69 keywords in SERP Book based on data I’ve analysed from Google’s Search Console, all of these are ‘best xxxx’ type keywords and this is what it currently looks like:

SERP BOOK Authority Project

Admittedly, we’re bouncing around the SERPs massively, for example just now I’ve checked, and we’ve just moved up 68 positions in 1 day for one query and this happens daily. As you can see from the above, we have hit the first page for 4 keywords this is beginning to generate some traffic and a few sales, however, these keywords are relatively low search volumes and we’re not hitting the top positions yet, we definitely need to in order to see any real volume.

What’s the strategy going forward?

As I mentioned above, with the loan being approved this will be invested in two key areas – SEO & Content, there is also an initial lump sum which will be invested in web development, we will talk about that in a moment.

Content Plan

Initially, I am having the writers produce 1,000-word buyer guides for each page, I hand select which pages based on keyword competition, where we are currently ranking (if anywhere) and what our competitors are doing. I do have my reservations with writing just 1,000 words per page, however the idea is that we initially publish 1,000 words of content, if the page begins to climb, generate traffic and sales or is close to the first page in the SERPs then we can produce additional content for that page to help push it to the first page.

Each month I am planning on publishing 100 additional pages of content, this is a hefty investment both in time and money but it’s the only way we will see the growth we need to see. Personally, I feel 100 isn’t enough but that’s all we can afford to invest right now.

Side Note: We all know that content isn’t the key to ranking, sites like BestProducts.com clearly proves this as I discussed here.

SEO Plan

There are a few elements to the SEO strategy I’ve devised for the authority site, from an on-page point of view the pages are dynamically generated and I use dynamic meta titles & meta descriptions that automate this process. As well as this I always append the year to the end of the meta title to help rank for ‘keyword + year’ queries.

From an off-page perspective it obviously all comes down to links and there are a few layers to this, let’s first discuss global SEO.

Global SEO Plan

By global I mean, link building across my entire site so usually targeting the home page or category pages but not focused on any particular keyword or page for ranking. This strategy is to help build the site’s overall authority and spread link juice throughout the entire site.

What sort of SEO am I doing for this:

  • Press Releases
  • Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Google+)
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Guest Posts
  • Scholarships
  • Job Boards
  • Directories

As you can see there are quite a few different things going on here, the idea is to basically get my site out everywhere, many of these are probably considered to be ineffective in today’s world of SEO, but I am still a firm believer that whilst they may not work as singular strategies, collectively they have a larger impact.

Page Specific SEO Plan

This is the strategy I am using to rank specific pages for specific keywords and many of the strategies are the same but are used in slightly different ways.

  • Press Releases
  • Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Google+)
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Guest Posts

The big one in both plans are the guest posts though and this will be achieved through a lot of outreach as well as trying to build up a network of contributor accounts across multiple sites so we can publish multiple posts.

So that’s it in a nutshell, the SEO plan laid out flat – I am sure it will evolve, but that’s what I have so far. If anyone has any other suggestions, please let us know in the comments section below!

Web Development

As I briefly mentioned before, the website has been struggling – the initial launch was an alpha launch of the platform. However, I did expect it to handle the volume of data e.t.c better than it is has been doing. I don’t want anything to jeopardise the success of the website and since I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to site design and usability this stresses me out even more so.

Quick Update: I recently upgraded from a VPS Server to a Cloud Server and also installed Litespeed Web Server & Litespeed Cache which have dramatically improved both the front and backend speed of my entire portfolio. For anyone interested, I use Scalahosting for my host which I 100% recommend.

Initial Web Development Plans

For now I’ve decided to hire a web developer to make some tweaks to the current alpha site, hopefully, these updates to the custom theme will carry us through the next 6 months. I will be monitoring this closely though and if at any point I feel we are hindered due to the website development then I may have to speed up the phase two development.

On that point, what exactly is the phase two development of the site?

Web Development: Phase 2

For the second phase of the development I am currently torn between staying on WordPress or moving away to another platform. My current thought process includes two options which are:

  • Ruby on Rails: moving away from WordPress to Ruby on Rails, a language, and platform which is extremely popular amongst startup companies and is used by companies such as Air BnB and Twitter. The reason I’ve been considering ROR is that it’s lightweight, powerful, intuitive and dynamic  which will not only set the site up for the next few years but will be a solid foundation for the entire future of the business.
  • Genesis Framework: the other, easier, more affordable solution is to continue with WordPress but to use the Genesis Framework and to develop our own theme using this Framework.

At this point in time though, both options have their pros & cons and I am nowhere near making a decision, nor am I really informed to make a decision on either as there are plenty other options I’ve not yet considered…a decision for the future I think/hope.

OK, that’s all for today – I promise I will continue updating this monthly and will also release a quick update once the startup loan has been deposited in to my account and we kick off. Also, if you have any questions or thoughts please add a comment below.

And, lastly please join us on Facebook for awesome tips and networking with some great, experienced people – check us out right here!

by Will Blears Will Blears 2 Comments

Authority Site Project – Month 3

amazon authority site project month 3

Welcome back to the third month of the authority site project.

If this is the first time you are reading about the authority site project then check out our first post which explains the strategy and the long-term goals, you can read it right here.

OK, let’s cover of the numbers first since that’s what everyone wants to know, for this month we’ll do a month by month comparison since we have a full month (March) to compare with.

  • Organic Visitors: March – 529  / April – 457 = 13.61% decrease
  • Revenue: March – $12.95 / April – $45.79 = 253.59% increase

Interesting numbers, while the organic traffic to the website reduced by just over 10%, I still managed to increase revenue by 2.5 times. However, I am not that bothered about the revenue, what does bother me is the decrease in organic traffic, and there are a few reasons for this I think:

  • Link Building takes time to take affect and the initial boost of organic traffic simply came from launching the website, we can call it our ‘base traffic’ as in, we don’t need to do anything to achieve that traffic it’s simply just there.
  • On-page SEO isn’t up to par – I will admit that the on-page SEO is pretty poor right now, aside from having the meta tags all setup fairly well and the header tags, everything else is pretty dire. There are multiple web development issues which affect the ‘crawlability’ of the site, such as the javascript navigation menu, which should be HTML/CSS, and it will be, soon.
  • Content – The majority of pages are without actual content, aside from the recommendation table which means there isn’t much for Google to crawl and it goes against the ‘content is king’ paradigm (this is not intentional, just a bump in the road).

Let’s also compare Amazon clicks and engagement month on month to see how we’re doing there:

  • Amazon Clicks: March – 120 / April – 366
  • Pages/Session: March – 1.75 / April – 1.83
  • Average Session Duration: March – 56 seconds / 1 minute 5 seconds

In my opinion, these are some very interesting stats, especially the Amazon clicks, which according to the data has increased by 205%. I even went into my Amazon Associates dashboard to double check, and this is correct. So, basically while the traffic reduced by 13% our Amazon clicks went up by 205% and our revenue increased by 253% – weird.

The only thing that I can think of that might explain this is that the traffic was far more targeted towards buyer intent related keywords. As I’ve previously explained the initial organic traffic the site is generating comes of a huge amount of long tail queries, many of which are simply product names rather than ‘best xxxx’ or ‘xxxx review’ therefore the conversion rate on product name keywords is likely to be much lower. Therefore, it is my assumption that in April there was a higher amount of organic traffic from high buyer intent keywords and less traffic from low buyer intent keywords.

Overall, looking at the performance of April it was quite poor, there was no growth in traffic which is what I am more focused on, the revenue growth is great, and it does show a promising future for the site when we do begin to generate more traffic, as the conversion rates from visitor to Amazon click to conversion are quite high. We just need more traffic.

Which brings us on to the next part of the post…action points / goings on and all that jazz.

Last Months Priorities and Action Points

  • Test writers with sample pages of content of approximately 2,000 words each, this is so I can find decent writers in time for getting the loan approved which is when I will be investing upwards of £5,000 on content within the first month.
  • Continue guest posting / finding contributor accounts – I have a list of about 10 sites which I have the potential of guest posting / contributing to and a handful of sites which I’ve already confirmed that there is a guest posting opportunity I just need to get the content written for these as I am doing most of them myself to begin with.
  • Phase 2 design brief – while I am not yet ready to begin phase 2 of the website development I want to keep working on the design brief so as soon as the loan comes through I can begin that.
  • Competitor Analysis – each month I am analysing my competitors, working on strategies to take forward for both establishing this as a brand and also outranking my competitors which mean also getting links everywhere that they have established links.
  • Statistical Data Learning – as this website is powered by an algorithm I am trying to learn more about statistical analysis, data analysis and all of that jargon – I’ve been talking with a statistical engineer who will be working on phase 2 of the algorithm as I am not happy with the results from the initial algorithm I had developed.

Following on from last months action points we have a lot to cover, so I will do my best to keep these brief.

Testing Writers

For those who are not aware, I had a team of writers who were fulfilling all of my content needs across all of my websites. However, the company that managed the team decided to close up shop, therefore I’ve been forced to find a new team of writers.

Over the past month, I’ve been testing various platforms including Text Brokers, iWriter, UpWork & Warrior Forums hiring section. All of which have been to some extent disappointing. None more than Text Broker which I find severely lacking on the interface front, it’s just garbage…plus they charge quite a hefty fee and the quality difference between 3 stars and 4 stars in my limited experience was very little, the biggest difference was simply the price.

That forced me to begin looking on UpWork which I hated from the get go, because they got rid of a site which was working perfectly fine (Elance) and merged it with Odesk to create a poorly tested user experience, UpWork and just last week introduced that they are increasing their fees, talk about market dominate and exploitation. However, my issue with UpWork is that you are opening up your doors to a boat load of people who say they can speak English fluently and then clearly cannot. There is a lot of time and effort involved in UpWork, filtering out the awful, poor, and mediocre to make way for the half decent to amazing writers.

As of right now, I am testing two teams from UpWork; I still have some credits in Text Broker so I will edit the way I have been finding people on Text Broker and test 2-4 more people there. I will at some point write a review on each of these platforms, but don’t hold your breathe as it might be a while, or maybe I will do a video review as they’re somewhat easier.

Continue guest posting / finding contributor accounts

Contributor Accounts

This is the one area which has seen the most improvement last month and an area which I purposely put a lot of energy in to since it’s so important. Throughout April, I was able to get contributor accounts at a handful of sites including one site with a DA62 and another with a DA42. I have an article at one of those sites going live today, and another scheduled for this time next week.

Google Doc System

As well as this I have hired a team to work with me in researching topic ideas and writing articles for me to then send to potential GP opportunities, and I have the first article being sent to me today for my approval. If that goes well, then they will be managing another part of my GP system which is managed through a Google doc. I will post the URL of where I am looking to get a guest post submitted; they will research topic ideas, write an article, upload it to Dropbox and provide the URL in the Google doc. I will then check the article, send it through to the website along with an E-mail and await a reply.

Outreach hire – number 1

I’ve also hired a guy who already has connections and contributor accounts at a variety of websites, and he has agreed to write the content and submit the guest posts or publish the articles on 8 sites. These sites include do follow and no follow links which are fine considering it’s extremely cheap for the no follow links, and I believe it will still have a positive effect (I mean it’s not going to be negative is it, duh). The stats of the websites includes DA80, DA88, DA31, DA28, DA23, DA38, DA16 & DA26.

If all goes well, I will continue to work with this guy on this website as well as several of my other sites.

Outreach hire – number 2

I’ve hired another guy who again has connections and contributor accounts and similarly to the above he is writing the content and publishing the content. We’ve agreed on 18 sites which range in DA from the 80s down to the 20s/30s from what I recall. These will be published as and when he can produce the content and get it submitted and approved, and he will send me an E-mail once they are live.

You may be wondering what anchor text I am using for these links, well I am keeping it completely natural, no specific keywords, just keeping it simple ‘site name’ or ‘sitename.com.’ I don’t believe at this stage I need to be using keyword heavy anchor texts and to be honest I am very skeptical as to whether or not that is even needed any more. Right now I am simply focusing on improving the sites overall authority.

Domain Authority Update

I think it’s worth mentioning that each month Moz update their domain authority metrics for each site, while I was extremely excited to see my site increase in authority, I knew not to expect much as most of the link building has just got underway. However, the site still managed to increase from a DA12 to DA15. I expect that next months increase should be much more significant although this is also dependent on how long it takes for the majority of my link building efforts to go live and how long it takes Moz to account for these links (I assume it’s between 4-6 weeks).

Phase 2 design brief

This is on-going, I’ve got the initial plans for the second phase of the website development and now just awaiting the loan approval, which is delayed until I return to the UK (in the next few weeks).

Competitor Analysis

Last month I focused on analysing just one of my main competitors, I made it my purpose to build the same links they had and part of the outreach above includes several sites which this competitor has already published on. I think this is a great strategy to implement, if you have all of the links your competitor has + more then surely you will beat them, at least that’s my logic.

Statistical Data Learning

Not much to update here it’s an ongoing process, and there will be more to update on this once we start the second phase of the web development.

Month of May Priorities & Action Points

  • Continue guest posting / finding contributor accounts – now that I’ve built some initial systems it’s time to put them into action. I am positive I will come up against some issues with regards to each system I’ve got running, and I will continue to find new opportunities including an opportunity I currently have for a contributor account at a very large site, I am just going through the interview process at the moment.
  • Test Writers – as much as I hate doing this I need to find a new team of writers before the loan application comes through so I am not delayed with the content building as it’s delaying the growth of the website.
  • Loan Application – as I am flying back to the UK soon, I will be able to make progress with this and hopefully, get the loan approved some time in late May or early June which means we can start to grow!
  • Web 2.0 – I have a team of VAs, and I want to see if I can get them to create web 2.0 sites similar to what the Hoth provides in their web 2.0 packages, let’s see how that goes!
  • Press Releases – every month I will be submitting a new press release for the site, as part of the link building process and to help increase brand awareness.

 

by Will Blears Will Blears 8 Comments

Authority Site Project – Month 2

amazon authority site project

Welcome back to the second month of the authority site project.

If this is the first time you are reading about the authority site project then check out our first post which explains the strategy and the long term goals, you can read it right here.

OK first things first, let’s see how we did in March, in my first post I had forecast 500 visitors and $50 in revenue and this is what we did:

  • March organic visitors: 529
  • March revenue: $12.95

So, I was absolutely on the money in regards to the forecasted visitors…however I am not at all on the money (pun intended) when it came to the revenue, a pitiful $12.95 is a whopping $37.05 behind my target. This month has to bring bigger and better results than that…

I’ve been analysing my on-site performance in regards to the actual engagement of visitors to ensure they are actually sticking around, reading the content and absorbing it. I’ve also taken a look at the amount of clicks I had through Amazon to ensure that is in line with what I’d expect, here are the results:

  • Amazon Clicks: 120
  • Pages/Session: 1.75
  • Average Session Duration: 56 seconds

OK, so the amount of Amazon clicks isn’t too bad – 529 visitors and 120 clicks is 22% which is slightly below what’d I’d expect from a niche site (30% and above). However, as we know this is not a niche website and the type of traffic we are driving from organic in the early days is rather sporadic, all over the place – product names, best xxx and xxx review and not all of the pages have content yet so it kind of makes sense.

Right, now this is out of the way let’s see how we did on our action plan.

Last Months Priorities and Action Points

  • Continue the loan application which includes quite a bit of administration and legwork

I’ve spoken to my business advisor and this is unfortunately on hold until I get back to the UK which is in about 1 months time, this is when I will be able to finish the administration and get the application submitted.

  • Continue building contributor accounts & guest posting

I’ve successfully published a post on the DA74 tech site I mentioned in my niche site journal as well as this I’ve added the site to an earlier article I posted on a DA52 webiste and I’ve also acquired a link on another DA52 website. As well as this I’ve just this week published my first press release so I hope that will help progress it’s been submitted and approved to 350 news outlets and it’s been received by another 10 of the best news outlets but I am waiting to hear back as to whether or not it’s newsworthy enough to be published there, it’s probably unlikely at this stage.

  • Get the developer to tweak the category pages so we can add a few paragraphs of unique content for SEO purposes

This hasn’t been completed yet as I am working with a new developer and we’re currently focused on another project at the moment but this will be completed very soon.

  • Fine tune the entire marketing strategy which includes press releases so once the loan is approved we can launch

OK so as I mentioned above the loan is on hold until I am back in the UK and the press release, well I couldn’t wait any longer ha.

What else is going on with the project?

There is plenty being done or in the pipe lines with this project, here are a few things below.

Domain Authority Update

Yes there was a domain authority update and generally speaking I don’t really care about this however as this is a brand new website I was intrigued to see what the update brought. Well, we went from a domain authority of zero to a domain authority of…

domain authority update

Yes of those 3 domain names I mentioned above we have moved to a DA of 12, so I guess that’s what 3 powerful links gets you.

SERP Rankings

OK so this is very interesting…

Whilst the website is completely brand new, the domain name is brand new – as in it’s never been built on before or had links built to it or anything like that, the SERPs are actually incredibly good for some very competitive keywords. Check out the snaps below:

Organic Keywords

I am using AHREFs as well as Google’s Search Console to keep an eye on the SERP performance, the screenshot below is from AHREFs position explorer.

ahrefs position explorer tool 2

As you can see the website is now ranking for more than 2,000 keywords and to break this down further:

  • 2,087 keywords have less than 1,000 searches per month
  • 22 keywords have between 1,000 – 10,000 searches per month
  • and a lonely 1 keyword has over 10,000 searches per month

Now this might sound pretty normal but then look at the following, this I didn’t expect – there are 60 keywords with a position between 1-20…now to me that is pretty awesome for a brand new website with only 3 backlinks. What’s even more interesting is that Long Tail Pro has calculated these keywords competition scores as high as 36, see the screenshot below which is filtered to only show keywords which are ‘best xxxxx’ related

long tail pro comparison screenshot

OK so from the above you can see that a few of these keywords have pretty high keyword competitive scores, the sort of scores which I’d usually predict would take between 3-6 months and here I am ranking within 1 month and to top it all off all of these pages have zero content, yes zero just a product comparison table at the moment.

To take this a step further, check out this awesome little graph from Google’s search console:

google search console screenshot

And according to Google’s Search Console there are more than 200 queries with an average position of 200 and below. Also, at this point in time I am ranking 27th for a keyword with a LTP competitive score of 35 and this keyword has 2,900 searches per month.

So, to summarise from what I can see Google is pleased with my website so far – you will notice the search console graph below shows the impressions and clicks flat-lining this is mainly due to the fact no additional content has been added. As I mentioned earlier I am waiting for my loan to start adding content to the website, however I am becoming impatient and may start to pay for this out of my savings and then reimburse myself when the loan comes through.

Month of April Priorities & Action Points

  • Test writers with sample pages of content of approximately 2,000 words each, this is so I can find decent writers in time for getting the loan approved which is when I will be investing upwards of £5,000 on content within the first month.
  • Continue guest posting / finding contributor accounts – I have a list of about 10 sites which I have the potential of guest posting / contributing to and a handful of sites which I’ve already confirmed that there is a guest posting opportunity I just need to get the content written for these as I am doing most of them myself to begin with.
  • Phase 2 design brief – whilst I am not yet ready to begin phase 2 of the website development I want to keep working on the design brief so as soon as the loan comes through I can begin that.
  • Competitor Analysis – each month I am analysing my competitors, working on strategies to take forward for both establishing this as a brand and also outranking my competitors which means also getting links everywhere that they have established links.
  • Statistical Data Learning – as this website is powered by an algorithm I am trying to learn more about statistical analysis, data analysis and all of that jargon – I’ve been talking with a statistical engineer who will be working on phase 2 of the algorithm as I am not happy with the results from the initial algorithm I had developed.

That’s all I can think of – I am pretty sure there is a load more stuff but lets just leave it here for today – any thoughts, questions, feedback or what not just comment below!

by Will Blears Will Blears 3 Comments

Authority Site Project – Month 1

authority site project - month 1

Welcome to the first month of my authority site project.

Now I must confess that this project actually started in October 2015 and was a seedling which flourished in to something tangible after many, many, many months if not years of it being a thought in my mind.

However this will act as month 1 where I recap over the past 5 months of planning, design and development as well as taking a look at the goals for this project and the plans going forward.

What I will share with you

  • Statistics – I will share the sites monthly growth in impressions, clicks, queries and revenue.
  • Costs – I will openly discuss the costs of both the setup and ongoing costs.
  • Time – I will discuss the time I’ve spent each week on the website.
  • Strategy & Goals – I will share the strategy I am implementing and the short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.

What I will not share with you (yet…)

  • The website URL or the specific market I am in.

This will be announced at some point in the future, probably 6-12 months in to the project.

What is the concept of this authority website?

The concept of the authority site comes from a personal desire to help improve the way in which consumers can find the best products in any given market. A staggering 60% of consumers use search engines for initial product research, now I am not really shocked about this statistic as I already leverage organic traffic from the same consumers who type queries such as ‘best microphone to buy online’ or ‘whats the best wireless headphones to buy’.

However, what I am shocked with is the quality of service that the websites ranking at the top of the search engines provide these 60% of consumers and I am stumped as to why the user experience of these websites changes so little and why very few are really going the extra mile to provide consumers exactly the answers they desire.

This is where my authority site comes in to play, we leverage big data to help answer consumers questions and provide them with the best recommendations for any given market.

The strategy

During the months of October – January I hired a web development team to help design and develop a phase 1 site on an extremely tight budget. They were able to do this but of course with a tight budget comes compromises and corners cut so I am not entirely happy with the end product but it gives me enough to actually launch the website and begin to prove the concept which will be used to provide potential investors with a more tangible business opportunity.

For the next 6-12 months I plan on using an initial business loan of £25,000 to fund the growth of the website with the majority of this loan being invested in content and SEO and 20% being invested in additional web development to help us reach phase 2.

At the end of the first 12 months I am aiming to hit £15,000 in revenue, now that is by no means an easy goal or even at this point a realistic goal. However, to get serious investors onboard these sort of goals need to be set and whilst it’s not going to be easy, I’ve crunched the numbers and it’s definitely doable.

Where is the project right now?

As of right now phase 1 of the website has been completed meaning the site has launched and is fully functional. I am currently investing a very small sum in to SEO and I am slowly link building myself through a new strategy I am working on which includes using contributor accounts that I create to help link build. However, until I successfully acquire the initial business loan of £25,000 the site will not officially launch.

The website is growing month on month but the numbers are tiny since very little is being done to grow the site from a marketing point of view.

The numbers right now:

  • February organic visitors: 351
  • February revenue: $24.04

For the month of March I’ve forecast that organic visitors should hit approximately 500 and revenue of $50.

Month of March priorities & action points

  • Continue the loan application which includes quite a bit of administration and legwork
  • Continue building contributor accounts & guest posting
  • Get the developer to tweak the category pages so we can add a few paragraphs of unique content for SEO purposes
  • Fine tune the entire marketing strategy which includes press releases so once the loan is approved we can launch

That’s all for the first month update, I do hope this is interesting and if you have any questions or have any requests please send them through.

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