Mike Bradford

Author Archives: Mike Bradford

1

How to Buy a Profitable Website & Increase Its Value

The following is a post from Greg of EmpireFlippers. While I’ve talked in the past about brand new sites, EmpireFlippers are the experts when it comes to investing in sites that are already profitable or established.

buying-profitable-website

Purchasing a website can be a big shortcut.

It cuts out a lot of the legwork that a niche site builder has to do. Instead of doing a bunch of keyword research, ordering content, and buying a good domain in the hopes of making money, you can jump right ahead to the making money part. When you buy a website, you already have profit coming in; so instead of guessing what will make money, you are in a position to optimize a website so it earns even more money.

Before you go out there thinking that you should just buy any website and start optimizing it, it is important to slow down and ask yourself what kind of skills you already have.

Here are some common skill sets that profitable niche site builders have:

  • Writing great high quality content
  • Researching keywords effectively
  • Understanding both Grey Hat SEO (such as Private Blog Networks or PBNs) and White Hat SEO (such as guest posting)
  • Employing Paid Traffic (typically on just one ad network, such as Google Adwords or Facebook’s advertising platform)
  • Outsourcing effectively

Now, you might be just starting out, with none of these skills at your disposal. That is okay. You can still purchase a website and learn these skills.

If you are new and want to “shortcut” the process by buying a website that is already profitable, you will want to play it a little safer. For example, a website that depends on paid traffic will probably have a steeper learning curve than a content site reaping the rewards of free organic search engine traffic.

Regardless of your skills, the best time to see if a website can be improved is before you buy the actual website. This is the due diligence phase, and it is extremely important.

There are always low hanging fruit that don’t take much skill at all to change or to improve, and then there are the more advanced strategies.

We are going to cover a bit of both here, so you get a good idea of how to start looking at potential websites to purchase.

The Low-Hanging Fruit

Google Speed Test

The speed test is a fantastic first place to start when researching a potential website purchase. Most people in the SEO community realize the importance of site speed. The faster your site loads, the better experience it provides for the end user, and the more likely Google is to rank you over the competition.

It is a very simple test to use, and you know it is official because it is a speed test actually designed by Google itself — you get the information you need right from the horse’s mouth.

All you have to do is enter the domain of the website you want to test. I’m going to put in Empire Flippers and see how we do:

google speed test

Hit the blue “ANALYZE” button and we are off to the races…

speed-test-result

As you can see, we have some low hanging fruit ourselves in terms of speed, that we need to work on.

The greatest thing about this test is that it gives you both the mobile version and the desktop version for your website. Considering that right around 60% of internet surfers today are on mobile, it is incredibly important that your website is optimized for smartphones. As times move on, this will become even more important, as mobile traffic continues to overtake desktop traffic.

The other thing that makes deficiencies in speed so easy to fix is that the test literally tells what you need to fix to obtain a score of 100.

You can either learn how to fix it on your own through some clever Google searching, or just go to Upwork and pay someone $50-100 bucks to do it for you.

Most of these fixes are pretty simple to implement, and they can be an incredibly effective method of raising your rank in the organic search for your keywords.

Split Testing Affiliate Products

Split testing is a fundamental skill when it comes to increasing revenue. To do a split test, you test one aspect of your website or marketing funnel to see if the test converts people visiting your site into leads (i.e. potential customers) or paying customers at a higher rate than the control.

When it comes to split testing, the control is the way the website is already set up. The actual test is the variant from the way you already have things set up (the control) to see if it will work better.

You might have an Amazon affiliate article talking about dealing with beard itch, and while the article is a generally informative article, you include a link to a product on Amazon that is supposed to help with beard itch.

In this case, there is probably more than one product on Amazon related to this problem. So why not test more than one at once?

You can use a link rotator service such as Click Meter (which starts with a free plan) or one of the many link rotators that are out there on the internet.

Link rotators are exactly what they sound like.

If you have 1,000 searches a month coming towards that article, and 500 of the 1,000 visitors click on the link, the link rotator can send 50% of the traffic to the control Amazon product (the one that was originally linked to in the article) and 50% to the test Amazon product (the similar product that solves the same problem, but was not originally featured on the article).

At the end of the month, you can look in your Amazon back office and see which one sold more. You could get even more in-depth here by adding in two unique Amazon tracking links, which would show you not only which product was bought more, but also which person bought the most from Amazon during that 24 hour cookie window.

Amazon is just one place where you can do this kind of split test.

If you use any kind of Cost Per Action (CPA) offer from one of the many networks that are featured over on OfferVault.com, you can use this method to split test between offers, as well as to split test the exact same offer featured on several affiliate networks.

When you do, send 50% of the traffic to one network and 50% to the other network. The reason why two affiliate networks offering the exact same product might convert at such drastically different rates, is because there is more going on in the actual sales process than just the offer itself.

Every network has their own loading speeds, sales funnels, payment processing carts, and dozens of other moving parts that could seriously affect your conversions.

That is why testing, as always, is paramount.

Split Testing Ad Placements

If you are running an Adsense site or a similar monetization strategy, there are a few things you can do. First off, it could be worthwhile replacing Adsense with another display ad network such as Media.net.

Usually Adsense is going to outperform Media.net, but this is not always the case. Also, it is often effective to use both Media.net and Adsense in conjunction with each other.

Outside of split testing different content display networks, you should also be testing where your actual ads are placed on your website.

I am not going to go into too much detail here, as NicheSiteAzon has got you covered on this topic with their blog post concerning Adsense.

As their blog post lays out, you can dramatically grow your net income just by split testing. Split testing is not terribly difficult to do, and it can dramatically increase your monthly net profit.

The skills you will learn from training yourself in split testing will also aid you later on, should you ever decide to explore creating your own products or building sites that direct visitors to higher ticket items.

Ask for a Pay Raise

This is probably one of the simplest methods that affiliates who invest heavily in paid traffic use to increase their profit margins. Most website owners, bloggers, and SEOs never really think about doing this, though.

After all, margins from free traffic are always pretty high, and most of us rely on drawing free organic traffic to our websites.

While this will not work for Adsense and Amazon sites, it does work when you are using a smaller affiliate company or even an affiliate network that utilizes Affiliate Managers (AMs).

When you find yourself converting your traffic on a consistent basis, with little refunds and few complaints about the quality of your traffic from the AM, you’re in a good bargaining position.

Just reach out to your AM and ask them upfront if you can get a pay bump on the offer you are converting on.

While we can’t scale traffic as easily with organic traffic as we do with paid traffic, this is such an easy thing to do. For less than thirty minutes of your time, you can bring in some extra cash flow, with no real work needed on your part.

The Not-So-Low-Hanging Fruit

Now that all the easy stuff is out of the way, there are other things we can do to grow our site’s income into a total profit juggernaut.

None of these are exactly easy, and not all of them will work for every website. When you are doing your research on a potential site purchase, keep these ideas in mind. If you find the right site to implement them on, some of these tips could improve your revenue dramatically.

These tips will likely require you to learn new skills, but hey, that’s the reason why these aren’t low hanging fruit!

New Revenue Streams

When purchasing a website, consider whether or not there is any room to add a new kind of revenue stream to the website that could earn it even more money.

There are quite a few options available to you:

  • Creating a product (it could be just an info product that solves a problem people have in the niche).
  • Promoting items that are relevant to the site’s niche. (What items relevant to the main core niche of the website are not being promoted or reviewed to the website’s audience? This could both expand revenue and create some new high-quality content for your website.)
  • Drop shipping certain items that you are currently selling as an affiliate.
  • Evolving an Amazon affiliate site into an Amazon FBA website.

One of my favorites on this list is taking an Amazon affiliate site and evolving it into an Amazon FBA site.

Amazon FBA businesses ship products directly from the manufacturer to one of Amazon’s warehouses. The FBA stands for Fulfilled by Amazon, which means Amazon literally holds your merchandise, processes it, and ships it whenever someone buys it from your Amazon listing.

Some of the really great things about this kind of evolution:

  • You still get to keep affiliate sales, as you just change your affiliate link to point to your Amazon FBA listing.
  • Your profits will go up because now you are collecting a larger profit margin on each sale.
  • Your market research is already done, as you have data in Amazon’s backoffice from affiliate sales that people are buying this type of product from you, before you invest any money into purchasing your own product.
  • You can rank your Amazon FBA listing in the search engines much more easily than your website article since Amazon’s domain authority is so strong.

From Niche to Authority Site

If the website you are looking at is in a broader niche and doesn’t have a domain name like BestBlendersforVegans2016.com, then the website could be a prospect to become an authority site. For those who are unaware of what an authority site is, it is a much larger website than most niche sites and covers broader subjects, rather than, for example, the best blenders for vegans in 2016, which is a pretty specific niche.

Unlike most niche sites, authority sites are not exactly a passive endeavor. You will need to add content on a consistent basis, and you will also need to make sure the content is high quality.

There can be no cutting corners here, as the real product of the authority site is the content.

An authority site wants its visitors to come back again and again to review the content.

If you are willing to put in the work, an authority site can become a huge income-producing machine. They are able to expand outside of just a single traffic channel as well.

Instead of relying just on Google organic search traffic, these kinds of websites might be utilizing Facebook ads, Twitter sponsored tweets, or a huge Instagram following as their main sources of traffic.

Likewise, the potential to add new revenue streams is often much higher than it is with a niche site.

This is especially true if you are going to expand your site by promoting your own product. Since you are an authority, people respect you in the niche. Therefore, when you come out with your own product, you will have an audience that is primed to buy your product.

If you really want to grow an authority site, you will need to develop a good content team.

You could do it all yourself, but unless you are very passionate about the niche, I would not advise this. Creating content will take up most of your time, and it is difficult to have several different projects going at once if you are handling everything on the authority site.

Besides, if you end up selling the website later, it is better to have a team in place that can go with the sale — or at least some knowledgeable people who can create good written explanations of the site’s standard operating procedures, so that new hires can follow and learn.

Email List Building

An email list is not a viable solution for all websites.

Yet it constantly surprises me that despite every internet marketer with a marketing blog preaching that the money is in the list, some affiliates never build an email list for any of their niche sites.

As with taking a niche site to an authority site, there are only a few instances where you will want to add an email list.

This is not a quick win either. Depending on the site, you might have to wait a few months to see if the email list can really move the needle for your website. There is a lot that goes into building a successful email list, including split testing things such as:

  • Email subject lines
  • The message in the actual email
  • The offers you send in the emails
  • The time of day when you send the emails to get the most open rates

However, there is a lot of potential when it comes to building an email list.

For an Amazon site, you could be emailing out consumer guides, cheat sheets, and more in order to bring people back to your website.

With an Adsense site, for instance, you could be sending out a weekly content wrap up of interesting articles that would bring that audience back to the Adsense site.

When you start selling higher ticket items or information products and services, having an email list just makes sense. You are able to build on that sales funnel, sharing case studies, testimonials, and more sales copy.

While building an email list is not easy, it is certainly a worthwhile endeavor and will increase a website’s income.
Paid Traffic

Another advanced strategy to increase revenue is using paid traffic. As we have already mentioned, most websites simply rely on organic traffic. Organic traffic is mostly visitors who find your site through a Google search.

Paid traffic can speed up the process and scale up your entire operation in a hurry. Paid traffic comes from visitors who have clicked on a linked ad which you have paid to post on another site, such as Facebook.

One of the cool things about purchasing a proven money-making website is that you already know the website is converting traffic into customers.

Now you just need to find out what your average profit margins are per customer, and drive traffic to those pages that are proven to convert customers.

As long as your paid traffic advertising expenses are lower than your profit margin, you will be able to scale up your traffic source. Since paid traffic can scale very easily just by increasing your daily ad budget, even a small profit margin can become a lucrative win.

While there are several different ad networks out there, my personal favorite is Facebook advertising for a couple of reasons:

  • They are incredibly targeted and can grow my organic social reach at the same time.
  • The social traffic will help me get ranked on Google for all my site’s other pages as well.

I’m also a huge fan of AdEspresso.

If you decide to dive into paid traffic and you want to take advantage of everything that Facebook advertising offers, I highly recommend split testing and running all your campaigns through AdEspresso to help you optimize your campaigns fast.

New Organic Traffic Channel

Creating a new organic traffic channel is similar to building an email list. This might be one of the hardest of the “not so low hanging” fruits to implement.

Nevertheless, it can increase your bottom line significantly and open the doors to a whole new audience that you would never have had access to otherwise. Once it’s set up, the kind of traffic created by this system will start coming in more or less automatically.

If you are unfamiliar with what an organic traffic channel is, it is basically what NicheSiteAzon is teaching all the time. While NicheSiteAzon focuses on Google organic traffic, there are other organic channels available where traffic can start coming in regardless of what you do once it is set up.

This is usually done through social media and search engines. While social media at first is not a passive channel, it is still organic in the sense that when done right it does not cost any money to bring that traffic in.

Some social channels below can become very passive (such as Pinterest & Youtube).

It is not easy — you will have to learn new skills — but these are good skills to have to diversify your traffic and increase the actual revenue of the website.

There are a few places to grow these new channels; here are some of the most common:

  • A Facebook Page
  • Twitter
  • Youtube – this one is especially lucrative because in addition to being social media, you can rank on Google with your videos while simultaneously ranking on Youtube’s search engine, which is the second largest search engine in the world.

Is Your Niche Visual? Try These Channels:

  • Pinterest – a site that’s especially great for targeting women, as women tend to use Pinterest more often. Over time, interest can become a nice source of a swathe of free traffic, even if you are not posting as often or stop posting altogether.
  • Instagram – you can create a big following here very fast, though it can be difficult to track since you cannot create many clickable links.

While growing a new channel of traffic comes with a learning curve, there are a lot of benefits. For one, if you want to sell the website at a profit, having diversified traffic will definitely add value to your website.

Relying on one traffic method can be pretty perilous. When a potential buyer sees that you have multiple sources of healthy traffic coming in, your site will become much more desirable.

The Waiting Game

After you have implemented all of the strategies discussed above, there is not much left to do other than play the waiting game.

Even if traffic and revenue doubled in the first month from applying all these changes, you still want to wait right around the three month mark at the very least, before selling the website for a higher multiple.

This is because your sales multiple is based off the average monthly net profit that the website makes. The longer you can show the increased earnings, the better your average profit will be, and the larger your multiple will be when you go to list the website for sale.

While the Waiting Game is playing out, there are a few things you can do to prepare for flipping the site:

  • Track ALL expenses.
  • Look for areas where you can automate the business.
  • Cut back your personal workload, and remove yourself as a bottleneck for growth.

Finally, after all of your hard work, you will be ready to flip this site for a serious increase in cash.

Say you bought the website initially for $20k, and the website was roughly making $1,000 in net profit per month. If in a year, the website is making $3k a month before you list it, that website will sell for right around $60,000.

After broker fees (15% at Empire Flippers), this means you make $31,000 in net profit for the year.

That doesn’t even include all the extra monthly net profit earned via your improvements to the website.

If you become a master of tweaking websites for both the low-hanging fruit and the not-so-low-hanging fruit, you can create an incredibly viable business just by buying and flipping site after site.

Unlike real estate, stocks, or almost any other investment class out there, nothing can return such crazy ROI like buying and selling websites.

If this post has you fired up, feel free to check out our marketplace to see our current listings of profitable websites for sale.

10

I Sold Niche Site #2 (Plus An Update)

Hi all,

First, I’d like to apologize for my extended absence in not updating the blog for a while. I’ve had a lot going on these past several weeks, which you’ll read about in the update below.

The main reason for the lack of new posts is because I sold my Niche Site #2!

Here’s what happened.

About six weeks ago, a buyer reached out to me via email and was wondering if I had any interest in selling Niche Site #2. (This person is somewhat well known in the internet marketing space, though I will be keeping his identity anonymous per his request). Regular readers of the blog know that Niche Site #2 had been growing steadily over the past several months, and was approaching the $2,000 per month threshold, nearly on auto-pilot.

I initially told the buyer I hadn’t really given much thought to selling the site, but was curious to hear if he had a number in mind. Since I make my income reports public, he knew exactly how much NS2 was earning, so clearly he must have given thought to how much he was willing to pay.

As many of you know, in the niche site field, niche sites are generally bought and sold around that 20x-25x monthly earnings clip, as it’s done on Empire Flippers and FE International, among other brokers. So going into our negotiations, we already had a framework to work around. So we started to throw some numbers around.

After a few weeks of back-and-forth negotiation over email, we reached a deal. I agreed to “consult” on the site for three months, and generally offer any advice that I could to ensure that the site continued to grow. I also included all of the PBN sites that were pointing to NS2, which was a huge selling point.

Now, as part of the deal, there are several things which I cannot disclose, and that includes the final buying price. But what I can tell you is that the purchase price was in that 20x-25x valuation, so you can give yourself a reasonable idea on how much I was able to sell the site for.

Why did I decide to sell?

To be honest, I gave a lot of thought about not selling the site and just keeping it in my portfolio. As I mentioned, the site was approaching the $2,000 per month clip, was growing at a steady pace, was not requiring much time on my end to upkeep, and most importantly, I was in the middle of a white-hat link-building campaign that was starting to see serious results, including an editorial link from BuzzFeed. So I was pretty sure the site would continue to grow, and that was part of the negotiation.

At the same time, you have to remember, this entire niche site game really is a “side gig” for me. I have a full-time job, a wife, and an entire life away from this whole internet marketing thing. So while I loved cashing those monthly checks from Amazon, the thought of being able to cash-in on a much larger lump-sum was even more enticing. While this isn’t life-changing money, the wife and I have been looking at buying a house, and this move will make that dream even closer to a reality.

The other benefit of this sale is that I was able to sidestep using a website broker and paying that 15% fee. As I noted, the buyer who reached out to me is somewhat known in the internet marketing space — someone who I already knew of before he contacted me — so that made doing a private sale a smarter move to make.

What does this mean for Niche Site Azon?

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to this blog, and how selling NS2 will effect things over here. And the truth is, nearly everything I know about building niche sites is something I’ve already covered on the blog.

Really, if you take all the posts I’ve written, and read them in order, you could consider all the content a full-on e-book.

From finding your market, to identifying profitable products on Amazon, to performing keyword research, to writing content for your niche sites, to using PBN links to help your sites rank, all the way to growing out your site in the first six months, I’ve written about every part of the niche site building process.

Does that mean that’s the end of the blog? Not necessarily. I think I’ll be doing new posts here and there, just not as often. In terms of my portfolio, I’m really only left with NS1, and there’s only so many new topics that I can write about.

What about the PBN and Custom Niche Site services?

The thing is, over the past two months, even though the blog hasn’t been updated, I’ve still been providing services for my PBN and Custom Niche Site customers.

And these are services that I will continue to offer.

So if you are interested in any PBN links, or would like me to build you a brand new niche site from scratch, do get in touch.

Going forward

So yeah, that’s what’s been going on with me and my niche sites these past several weeks. I just wanted to provide an update of all the recent developments, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

34

August 2015 Income Report

At this point last month, I was worried that I'd be able to keep up with my income numbers in August, mainly for two reasons: 1) I thought my niche sites may have been affected by the Panda update, and 2) I wasn't sure that I'd be able to keep up with my Custom Niche Site orders.

Well, it turns out, those fears were pretty much unfounded.

First, I had another record-breaking month with my niche sites, totaling $4,431.58 in Amazon income, which barely edged out last month's $4,414.07 figure. This was aided slightly by me finally geo-localizing my Amazon links using a service called Geniuslink, which I'll get to in a moment. 

Additionally, the income generated from this blog's products and services also stayed relatively steady, bringing in $3,673.37 of revenue, due mostly to my Custom Niche Site offerings and PBN. 

So, combining the Amazon affiliate income with the revenue generated by the blog, and my total income for the month of August comes in at $8,104.95.​

Continue reading
43

How to Grow Your Niche Site: A 6-Month Strategy Guide

Have you just launched a new niche site, but are unsure what steps you should be taking next to grow out the site?

Oftentimes with a niche site, after it's been launched, ​there's no clear strategy guide to follow to ensure proper growth, both in terms of adding new content, and acquiring new links.

Well, in today's post, I'm going to show you my six-month strategy guide that you can follow to make sure that once your niche site is on the right path after it's been​ published.

Continue reading
32

July 2015 Income Report

Welcome to another Income Report here at Niche Site Azon. The purpose of publishing these reports is to document my successes and failures with my niche sites, and to hold myself accountable. 

July was a crazy month.

First, I had another record-breaking month with my niche sites, totaling $4,414.07 in Amazon income.

Second, the revenue I was able to generate from this site has been increasing as well. In July, the blog was responsible for an additional $3,805.21 of income. This was attributable mostly to my PBN Service and Custom Niche Sites, plug some nice affiliate sales.

So, combining the Amazon affiliate income with the revenue generated by the blog, and my total income for the month of July comes in at $8,219.28.​

It's not all good news, however. Google rolled out its much-anticipated Panda update in the middle of the month, and it appears that my sites may have taken a bit of a hit.​

Continue reading
30

PBN Lab Review & Tutorial: Quickly & Easily Find Expired Domains

Have you thought about building your own Private Blog Network but didn't know where to start?

​Having your own PBN can have tremendous benefits in creating a profitable niche site, but it can be an extremely time-consuming, confusing, and expensive process.

And the most frustrating and difficult aspect of building out your own network has got to be the actual process of finding powerful and spam-free expired domains ​to use in your network.

In today's post, I want to introduce you to an amazing piece of software that I've been using lately that makes finding expired domains as quick and easy a process as I've ever seen.

Continue reading
40

June 2015 Income Report

Welcome to another Income Report here at Niche Site Azon. The purpose of publishing these reports is to document my successes and failures with my niche sites, and to hold myself accountable. 

In June, I had one of my best months ever. In fact, outside of December 2014 (i.e. Christmas season), it was my best month ever as an Amazon associate with $4,005.07 in income.

On top of that, my PBN Service has started to take off a bit, and combined with a few affiliate sales plus building a custom niche site for one of my readers (read more on this below), Niche Site Azon itself was able to generate an additional $1,960.52 in revenue for the month.

So, combining the Amazon affiliate income with the revenue generated by the blog, and my total income for the month comes in at $5,965.59.​

Continue reading
35

The Ultimate Guide to Using PBN Links for Niche Sites

Have you been in the niche site space for a while and always wondered what all the hype was about PBNs?

I've been playing around with niche sites for a year and a half now. I've paid to be in a public PBN service, I've built out my own private PBN network of 45+ sites, I've built a PBN service for my e-mail subscribers, and I've studied how successful niches sites in almost every market have been able to achieve their rankings at the top of the SERPs.

And the bottom-line realization is this: using a PBN to rank at the top of Google still works, it never stopped working, and it's still the single best approach that I've found to building out a profitable niche site.

And in today's post, I'm going to show you why that's the case, and how you can use PBN links to help rank your niche sites.

"Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful" — Warren Buffett 

Wait, PBNs Still Work?

Nine months ago, Google dropped an atomic bomb on the gray-hat SEO community.

The damage was bad. Untold amounts of PBN domains were deindexed, and money sites that had been earning four- and five-figures per month were wiped out, overnight, without warning.

Many gray hat folks vowed to never use PBNs again, including Spencer.​

But amongst all this carnage, there were two key bits of details that stood out to me:

Google Showed Their Hand

  • By having to take a massive action like this and deindexing all of these sites​, publicly, Google confirmed to us all what we already suspected: that private blog networks were still an incredibly effective way to rank sites at the top of the search results.
  • By making these penalties "manual actions", Google also informed us that their algorithm still cannot detect the footprints caused by ​a well-made PBN; instead, it requires a human-review of the network to deindex it.

So while it totally sucked for those people who were negatively effected by the great Google PBN deindexing (my sites, luckily were NOT affected), the good news that came out of all of this is that using PBN links to rank a site is still a wonderfully effective strategy, and Google's algorithm cannot (yet) detect these networks on its own well enough to penalize these sites automatically.

Let's Take a Look at Some Examples

Bonus: Want to see a quick trick on how to find your competitors' PBN links, even if they are blocking the backlink checkers to their sites?

You will be asked to confirm your email address. Current e-mail subscribers, no need to subscribe again.

But you don't have to just take my word for it.

As many of you know, the real goal of this site isn't to simply tell you about a specific strategy, but instead to show you the how and the why.

So why don't we take a look at the SERPs and see what we find?​

Work Boots Niche

Here's a Google search for a random buyer's keyword, "best work boots", which has a very attractive local monthly search volume of 8,100.

As you can see, the top two results are niche sites, and there's another niche site ranking #6.

So how on earth are those first two sites outranking two HUGE authority sites in Amazon.com and Popular Mechanics?​

Easy, they have some great PBN links pointed to them.​

Let's take that second domain and plug it into Moz's Open Site Explorer to have a look at some of the backlinks.

As you can see, this site has 7 very high-quality PBN links pointing to it according to Moz.

Ahrefs shows a similar story. 

And remember, these are just the links that the domain owner did NOT block from the search crawlers, which means there are probably dozens more PBN links just like these.

Air Compressors Niche

Let's take a look at another random niche, "air compressors", which between "best air compressor" and "air compressor reviews" has a very healthy LMS volume of 7,800.

Same story here. The sites ranking #3, #5, #6, and #7 in the SERPs for "air compressor reviews" are all niche sites!

Let's have a quick look at that 5th site ranking there.

Here are the top six links for this niche site according to Moz, unsurprisingly, all PBN links.

And here's what Majestic has to show.​

Again, same story. And remember, Moz and Ahrefs and Majestic are only showing the links that haven't been blocked from the crawlers!

The truth is, I could do this all day long. Just do a Google search for any high-value buyer's keyword, and take note of any niche sites ranking on Page 1.

Run their domains through a backlink checker, and you will find the same thing. Over and over again.

Why? Because despite all the hysteria, Google has not figured out an efficient way to prevent PBN links from ranking sites (yet).

Empire Flippers' Sites with PBNs

Many of you already know that one of my favorite ways of identifying a profitable niche to enter is by browsing the listings over at Empire Flippers.

The reason why this is such an effective strategy is that the listings have already give us validation for our market.

In other words, if a review site in the electric shavers review niche is generating over $2,500 per month, then we know that is a great niche to enter.​

The thing about the Empire Flippers listings is that in the name of transparency, they have to disclose which sites listed for sale have been built using a PBN.

Like this.​

So what kind of sites in the Empire Flippers marketplace are using PBNs? Are they really profitable sites?

Well, the screenshot from above comes via this completed listing ...​

An Amazon affiliate site in the home & garden niche ...

That happened to sell for over $205,000. ​

So, yeah: using a PBN to rank your affiliate site can certainly pay off handsomely. ​

My Experience with PBNs

Update: As of August 2016, I now offer my own link building service, Rank Guardian. The results have been fantastic, and I'd love to help you rank your site too.

As I mentioned, I've been using PBNs for a little over a year now.

I think I first heard of them when Spencer announced the launch of the now defunct and deindexed Rank Hero, but luckily for me, I never bought links from there.

Lightning Rank

No, I started my PBN experience using Jon Haver's Lightning Rank service, way back in May 2014.

At the time, he was offering links on 5 domains (2 links per post) for $300. 

You have to remember at that time, I wasn't earning $3,000+ each month with my niche sites.

In fact, when I placed my first links order back at the beginning of May, my entire April earnings had been only $397. 

So I was effectively spending 75% of my niche site income on one links package.

Looking back on that now, I can see how that may sound crazy. Why would I spend so much of my income on only five links?​

And the answer is, because I wanted more.

Sure, I was extremely happy to have earned nearly $400 in a single month with my first niche site, but I knew that I could grow it even bigger. I knew that at the beginning of my journey, ​if I decided to re-invest a lot of my revenue back into the business — and that's how you really have to think about your successful sites, as small businesses — that it had the potential to grow into something really great.

And that's exactly what happened.

But I can see now how easily I could have been complacent with $400 per month, never invested any money back into the site, and just never tried to improve the site.​ I could have been happy with $400 per month and that would have been that.

And I realize typing this now that I've gone off on a bit of a tangent, but it's how I encourage people to think about their sites, provided they've started to earn a little money from them — don't be afraid to re-invest those earnings back into the site. That's what you need to do in order for it to grow.​

Anyway ... I ended up using Lightning Rank on and off over the course of about five months, and was a very happy customer. NS1 climbed in the SERPs, it was earning over $2,000 per month consistently, so I was glad to spend the $225 (Jon lowered the price eventually) on a links package that helped secure my ranks.

The Google Update and Changing Course

And then this happened.

The great Google PBN de-indexing.​

I have to be honest, I was pretty terrified. There were so many PBN domains getting deindexed, and so many money sites disappearing from the SERPs overnight.​ I assumed that my NS1 was going to get hit.

But for whatever reason, it didn't. I do think that a few of Jon's PBN domains got deindexed, but NS1 never received the manual thin content penalty for using PBNs.​

Of course, I was relived, but I knew that I had to be more careful. While Lightning Rank served me well, it was still a very public service that anyone could join and it didn't limit the number of outbound links, so I wanted to be a little more cautious about my links.​

Full disclosure: yes, I do offer a PBN Service of my own. It's not a "public" service (I handle all orders by e-mail) and I only allow six people per domain.​

Building My Own Network

The thing is, buying links from trusted sellers is still the best course of action for the majority of niche site builders.

Why?

Because attempting to build your own network can become quite expensive and time consuming.​

Using a Doman Broker

But I decided to take the leap anyway. I wanted to try building my own network.​

I can't remember how I found them, but I ended up connecting with Dan Thompson, who at the time was running a domain brokerage with his buddy Curt. (Dan does local SEO now instead).

I ended up spending quite a bit of money getting my network up and running, as you can see above.

I was paying on average probably $40 per domain, and hosting and setting them all up with content myself. It was a lot of work but a great learning experience.

Scraping My Own Domains

After several months of purchasing domains, I decided it was time to learn how to scrape them myself. This would allow me to lower my costs and scale a lot faster.

At first, I was using ExpiredDomains.net, which is a real manual process. I was following this guide by Jon on how to find them.​

That was working okay for a bit, until I connected up with Scott Moran, who runs the extremely impressive PBN Lab.

It's the best domain crawler I've ever used, and I've been able to find dozens of premium expired domains pretty easily. He has various weekly and monthly plans, so if you're serious about building out your own network, I highly recommend you check it out.

I've been so impressed with the service that I'll be writing up a dedicated review of PBN Lab in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned.​

Another service worth checking out is Hammerhead Domains.​

How I Use PBNs to Rank My Niche Sites

Now that I have so many domains in my personal network, how exactly am I using them to rank my niche sites?

I should stipulate that there are a couple of different approaches you could take here; I'm not saying mine is necessarily the best strategy, but it's one that has worked for me.

Also, this is not going to be a step-by-step guide on how to set up your own PBN; if you're ready to take the leap on that end, check out this post by Steve. Or you can get in touch with me, and I can set one up for you.

"How Do I Set Up My Domains?"

Once I've registered a domain and set up unique hosting, installed WordPress and some basic plugins, it's time to set up the site.

I like to post at least 5 unique (not-spun) articles to the site, spread out over a couple of days/weeks each, and I aim for around 500 words per article or more, including links to authority sites in your niche.

Then, it's time to add the posts with the links back to your money site. Try to add the links as naturally as possible, and don't include more than two links back to your money site per domain; anymore than that is overkill.

In terms of the design of your PBN sites, I may be in the minority here but I don't go to any great lengths to make a stunning design. The way I look at it is this: if a member of Google's spam team were to stumble across your PBN site, chances are, your "unique logo and theme" are not going to save you. So I don't waste my time.

You can keep adding a new article every month or two to the PBN site if you like, thought I don't find it totally necessary. 

When you are done, you will have a PBN site with 5-7 articles on it, with two links back to your money site (or more than one money site, see below).​

By far the most common question I receive about PBNs is how many PBN links do you need to rank a site on Page 1 of Google.

As you can imagine, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. How could there be? Each niche is different, each keyword is different, and competition plays a huge role in being able to rank, so there's no blanket answer I can give.

However ... to give a very general idea of what I like to target, ​I've typically found that a money page will require at least 15 moderately powerful PBN links (PA ~30) to rank, maybe up to 25.

What you're looking at above is a spreadsheet that I keep to track all the PBN links to my money sites.

This one is for NS2, to give you an idea, but just to be clear: this includes links to the homepage, and each of the three money pages (not just links to one money page)., over the past three months (not all time).

So that's generally how I plan out building out links to my sites, in terms of quantity, but again, every site and niche will be different.

"Should Each Money Site Have Its Own Dedicated Network?"

If you have 20 PBNs in your network, and two money sites, can you link to both money sites from each PBN domain?

The answer is, it depends on your risk/rewards goals.​

By linking out to multiple money sites from each PBN domain, you are able to scale faster and build a more cost-effective network.

The downside is, if one of your PBN domains gets discovered by Google and deindexed, then every money site on that domain is at risk of being penalized.​

Personally, I have done a bit of both, so there's no hard and fast rule for me. It all comes down to your goals, your budget, and your risk tolerance.​

"Do the PBN Domains Need to be Relevant to My Money Sites?"

In my experience, the overwhelming answer is no, definitely not.

Now, is it better to have a PBN link from a niche that's relevant to your domain than one that's not? Yes, it's nice to have, but it's certainly not necessary.

How do I know this?

Because outside of maybe a handful of domains, none of my PBN domains are niche-specific to my money sites. And my money sites are all ranking just fine.​ The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Interested in Getting Your Own PBN Links?

Update: As of August 2016, I now offer my own link building service, Rank Guardian. The results have been fantastic, and I'd love to help you rank your site too.

If you've made it this far and are interested in testing out some PBN links on your own niche site, I can help. 

I launched my semi-exclusive PBN Service to my e-mail subscribers at the beginning of the month with a simple e-mail to my list, and already I've nearly sold out the first batch of domains.​

Since I do have a full-time job and this blog is more of a side-hobby for me, my time is limited and so I'm only able to build out 10 new domains per month.

And since this service is semi-exclusive with only six people allowed per domain, I'm only able to accept 12 customers per month. So if you're interested in a links package, get in touch.

While using a PBN Service like my own is sufficient for 90% of niche site builders, there are people out there who want to own their own network, but don't have the know-how and/or time to put one together. 

So if you're interested in owning your own mini-network of 10-20 domains, let me know and I'll see if I can build one for you. I'm in the process of building out a network for one of my readers, and I think I can manage doing a few of these per month.​

Any questions, let me know in the comments.

17

The Hoth Review: Backlink Building for Niche Sites

No doubt one of the most frustrating and challenging aspects of the niche site process is building backlinks to your sites.

When do you start building links? What kind of links are​ good for your site? How many links do you need?

It can be a confusing mess.

Well, when it comes to building links to my niche sites, there is a bit of a one-two step process that I like to follow to help ensure higher rankings and get my sites started on the right foot.

And in today's post, I'm going to show you Step 1 and exactly how I build the initial layer of links to a new niche site by using a trusted and proven backlink service called The Hoth.​

Continue reading
76

How to Structure and Write Content for Your Niche Site

Are you struggling with how to structure your written content for a niche site?

Having well-optimized ​and organized money pages is one of the most important factors in creating a successful niche site.

Well, as it turns out, there is one "formula" that I like to follow with all my money pages that helps me to rank high in Google and convert that traffic into clicks over to Amazon.

And in today's post, I'm going to show you what that "formula" is ... and exactly how you can use it to better optimize all of your money pages.​

Better yet, I'm going to show you an actual example from a brand new niche site of mine, so that you can see for yourself. 

Continue reading