I’ve gotten comments and messages from people wondering what’s up with my niche site case study. Well, it’s still going strong! I’ve just been so super busy with it and my Insider25 group that I haven’t had a chance to give you an update on things. Keep reading to learn how the site has progressed as I’ve built it out. Or, if you want to know how the site is doing, just skip down to the bottom portion of this post.
I know that there are people who rank sites without any backlinks, in fact I’ve done it myself. But the fact remains that it is easier (and quicker) to rank a site by building out backlinks. The good news is that you can do this all on your own and not spend a single cent on it – as long as you have the time. Or, you can outsource it and free up your time for other things.
The first thing that I do when it comes to link building is to set up social profiles for my site. I don’t go overboard with it either. Just stick with the popular places like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Once I have those profiles all setup, I use the Jetpack plugin to automate posting to my social accounts. There may be other plugins that offer this capability as well. And if you want your profiles to look more active, then use IFTTT to set that up. Plenty of other SEOs have written on this topic, so I won’t repeat that. Just do a Google search and you’ll find plenty of methods.
I know that Matt Diggity advises against blog commenting since it’s something that only SEOs do, but I always start new sites out with these kinds of backlinks. Honestly, I don’t think they hurt anything because it’s not just SEOs that pop their website into that comment URL box – it’s also those noob business and blog owners who are just so damn excited to have a website that they drop it in the URL box when they leave comments. My very first website was a really simple, really ugly blog on Homestead.com (yes, I’m that old!) and I couldn’t wait to pop that non-impressive URL into those Blogspot comment URL boxes. I wasn’t even thinking about making money (cause it wasn’t a monetized site). Instead, I was just happy to pimp that ugly ass site that I was so proud of. The truth is that there are still plenty of people like that back-in-the-day me who have a shiny new website that they are the proud owner of and they can’t wait to drop it in the comment URL box of their favorite blogs.
My buddy Doug over at Niche Site Project uses blog commenting for his sites and he has a video on part of his process here. I seem to recall some other posts on his blog about the topic, but I couldn’t find them, so you might want to look around his site if you’re interested in blog commenting tips.
I know you’re not surprised that I’m a fan of using web 2.0s for backlinks to new sites, as I’ve written about it before. This is something that you can do 100% on your own, or you can outsource it. When I outsource this, I end up using The Hoth. However, there are lots of other people who provide this service. If I build my own web 2.0s, then I typically do anywhere from three to five web 2.0s and that’s it.
One thing to note is that if you’re building the web 2.0s on your own, then you’ll need to get them backlinked as well so that they pass enough juice to your site. You can look on Fiverr or Source Market for some GSA backlinking gigs to take care of that. The gig on Source Market that I use is this one for $21.
Building Out The Niche Site
If you recall from my last update, my case study site only had 6 pages of content. Fast forward to today, and I have a total of 21 posts on it four months later. I know what you’re thinking – damn, why she building it out so slow? Two reasons.
- One, a lot of the people in the Insider25 group have day jobs and only have part-time availability to build out their sites. So, I’m taking the same amount of time with my site to show them what you can accomplish with a limited amount of time to work on your site.
- Two, I’m actually building out two niche sites for the group as a result of a member requesting a site to be built in a specific niche and targeting a specific set of keywords. That site is actually on a topic of much greater interest to me and has 40 live posts so far.
When I build sites, I typically start them with a mad rush to get somewhere between 20 – 30 posts live as quickly as possible. Once I get that accomplished, I typically move on to the next site and let that one sort of marinate in the SERPs. I do this because it lets the site age and it lets me see how Google responds to the site before I spend too much time on it. This allows me to see if my content strategy is on point or if I need to adjust it as I grow the site.
Unlike a lot of people talking about niche sites online, I tend to approach things with the authority site model in mind. This means that I have a lot of informational posts instead of a lot of individual product review posts. My money posts are more the epic buying guide style, where I include product review information in the mix. I then use those informational posts for internal linking, which gives the money post you link to a nice topical relevance boost for your target keywords.
This authority model approach does result in taking a bit longer to start making sales. However, it also means that your income potential isn’t as limited. Plus, I make all of my niche sites with the intention of selling them. And an authority style site with a lot of growth potential is always much more attractive than one focused on individual product reviews. Of course, I do often include some individual review posts on my sites, but not a lot of them.
Link Building Round Two (And Going Forward)
Once I have added more content to my site, I start round two of my link building. At this stage, I ramp up my efforts a bit since Google has already seen links flowing to my site from the blog comments, web 2.0s and social profiles. However, I think that it is important to not go too crazy with the links too fast. The key to successful link building is link velocity. So, you can’t hammer a site with 20 backlinks in a single day and then forget about it. It needs to look natural, and as a site ages it is natural for it to acquire more and more links as time goes on. This means that you need to always be link building. This is true not just for round two, but for the rest of the life of your site.
More Blog Commenting
Yes, I do more blog commenting. It’s free and it’s easy, so why not? Plus, it’s the perfect way to kill time while you’re waiting on a movie to start, standing in line at the grocery store, sitting on the toilet playing on your phone or whatever. I think the only downside of blog commenting is that it is super easy for your competition to copy. But, I still do it – even for my most successful sites.
Though I am not doing this for my case study site, I have used Doug Cunnington’s guest posting service in the past on another site. He’s not the only person or place offering such a service and prices vary quite a bit. Of course, this is also something that you can do on your own, if you don’t mind putting in the time for the outreach. The Ahrefs blog has some decent info on getting started the DIY way, and this guest posting case study is pretty interesting.
This is also something that I’m not doing for my case study site, but that has been getting a lot of buzz in the SEO community recently. I’m not sure why all of a sudden everyone is talking about it when it’s been a thing for a while, but it is a great way to get some epic backlinks to your site. The gist of this method is to get a contributor account at a high authority site and use your account privileges to send a high powered backlink to your site. Some contributor accounts are easier to get than others, and you do need to be a talented writer in order to be able to pull this off. Or, if you have more money than time (or writing talent), then you can pay someone on Source Market to do it for you. Just search for ‘editorial link” or something similar and you’ll see how many hundreds of dollars a single link will cost you. Yeah, it’s not cheap if you go that route. And I’m not sure what your recourse is if the site editor removes the link, so do your own due diligence if you decide to pay for the links via Source Market.
Another thing to consider here is that it’s probably just a matter of time before Google comes down hard on this since it’s starting to get abused by so many SEOs. So, I suggest that you stick with places that are more difficult to gain access to instead of sites that will take anyone who wants to write for them.
Of course I am using PBN links on my case study site, as I do with all of my sites (except for the 100% white hat site I’ve recently started). Yes, PBNs can be risky backlinks to have, unless you can make them look like real links. I regularly turn my PBN sites into mini niche sites, which makes it difficult for anyone to tell that they are PBN sites. The best way to do PBN links is to create your own PBNs. And don’t use spun content like some dipshits do, because it will be a total waste of time and money since Google will take action on that shit. Just last week I saw someone in a Facebook group complaining about their PBNs getting hit and the truth ended up being that they’d used spun content on them!
There is no “easy road” if you want to have PBN links that don’t pose a lot of risk to your niche site. It takes time and money to build (and maintain) PBN sites that don’t get hit by Google.
But what if you don’t have a lot of time or money? Or if you’re just not sure that you can create a PBN that passes the test? That really only leaves you with two options –
- Read everything you can on PBNs and take the risk on your own
- Buy PBN links from a reputable source
Unfortunately, finding a good source of PBN links is not easy. The only place that I buy PBN links from is Diggity Links, and I only do that sparingly. When you buy PBN links, the risk factor goes through the roof. All is takes is for one dumbass to disavow a link from a network that you’re paying to use for it all to come tumbling down.
There are lots of other link building options that you can do as well. Things like infographics, forums, scholarships, sponsor pages, directories, image galleries, etc. You can have success with all of those, but since these are links that are easy to get, they get abused by other SEOs. I kind of feel like infographics are the most abused backlink method right now, so I haven’t really done much of that. Scholarship and sponsor links are probably the next most abused links right now.
For most of my sites, I do add in forum links and slide sharing site links just for diversifying my backlink profile. I only do forum links sparingly and stick with niche relevant forums.
I think the key to out-link building your competition is to start thinking outside the box. Instead of chasing the same links that everyone else is chasing, do some brainstorming and see if you can’t come up with something new or barely utilized. And if you do, for the love of God, keep it to yourself or every shitty linkbuilder will abuse it to the point that it no longer works.
What’s Going On With The Case Study Site?
If you’re only here to see how the case study site is coming along, then I hope that I don’t disappoint you. As mentioned up above, the site currently has 21 posts live on it and it is doing well in the SERPs.
For link building, I have done the following:
- blog comments
- forum profiles
- web 2.0s
- social profiles
- PBN links (only 5 so far)
The case study site started earning from Amazon Associates in April. Here are the earnings so far:
- April: $14.19
- May: $22.07
- June so far: $62.59
As you can see, the upward trend is moving right along at a decent pace. I’ve also monetized the site with another affiliate program (which I definitely suggest that you do for your niche sites), but I haven’t had any sales through them yet.
Total amount spent on the case study site so far: $519.95
So, I’m definitely still operating at a loss here, but that’s just the way that it goes when you outsource a bunch of content up front before you have any rankings that can bring in traffic. Speaking of rankings, they are looking pretty good for this site! I shared the rankings you see below with my Insider25 group a week ago. The site actually made it to page one a few weeks before that though.
In fact, the site has more page one rankings today than it did a week ago! And remember, this site currently has only 21 pages of content, has posts that are primarily informational, has zero individual product review posts, and is only being actively worked on with part-time hours (like if you had a day job and only had nights and weekends available).
Assuming that I had more time than money, this site would already be profitable!
Currently, I am focused on adding more content to this case study site and increasing my internal linking instead of building more PBNs. With most of my sites, I find that you can boost rankings with good internal linking instead of spending more money on PBNs. However, my competition in this niche do use a lot of PBN links. With that in mind, I’ll have to see how close to the top of page one that I can get without investing a ton of money in PBN links.
So, that’s pretty much all that there is to say about it. Here’s hoping the next update doesn’t take me another four months!
Other updates to this case study:
Hey, I’m Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok, Las Vegas, and (currently) Amsterdam. I share how I do some of that on this website.
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