Discussion 2: Product Keywords and Link Building for an Amazon Affiliate Website
[Case Study] The new guy in the hood (Amazon affiliate) – Month 1 Hey, guys! I have joined this subreddit only a couple of weeks ago and I am lovin' it! I guess one of the best parts is the case studies – they helped me a lot, so I am starting my own to contribute to this community. I hope you like it and find value in it.
My main goal is to get 1k/month by the end of < year > or in other words, start earning at least 1k from January because December is going to a big month anyway. That gives me exactly 6 months to achieve it which I think is doable.
Background or in other words – who are you dude?
I am your friendly neighborhood Spiderman! I hope I can win the Oscar for this amazing joke. Okay, okay, let's get real here. Just some details about me, so you could get to know me better.
I have been involved with digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with various jobs, clients, projects etc. for roughly two years. There is still a lot for me to learn, but I suppose it was a nice learning curve. The problem was that I did not focus on any area, in particular, so basically I was only "good" in all the areas of digital marketing, but never went in depth in any of them. I guess it's a nice background for all the online business models, but now I want to focus myself purely on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), hence my new affiliate website.
Have you done this before?
This is my second affiliate site. The first one taught me a lot as it was the first website that I ever built and had to deal with all the technical stuff, but in terms of everything else – I did not do much. Basically, I and my friend have built a website with about 40 articles. And that's about it.
After building the website, we literally did nothing with it. There were some other circumstances, but the bottom line is that we did not publish any more content or did any link building at all. However, the traffic was still climbing each month and after 3 months we received the first commission and then 6-7 months later we started to make $100+ per month. Despite this, we could not agree with my friend on how to proceed further with this website and there were other reasons as well, so in the end, we just sold the website.
Are you done yet? I am getting bored!
Okay, the boring stuff is out, let's move on to some exciting statistics.
• 602 sessions in July (around 10% of that is organic)
• $2.89 Amazon affiliate earnings
• €2.07 Adsense
To be honest, I was amazed to get my first commission from Amazon on the first month of launching the site, so that was a nice surprise. By the way, most of the Amazon clicks there are not real. Most of them are mine and some generated by the broken link checker.
Disclaimer: technically I launched my website in middle of June, but it was not finished and I was still uploading the articles, so the work was finished in the beginning of July and that is when I consider that my site was launched.
What is your niche?
Actually, everything started on Flippa. I think that platform is very good to scout out information about established or started affiliate site. I gathered quite a lot of knowledge from there. I saw some of the websites that did not have strong link building profile plus the websites and articles were not top notch quality, but they were still getting quite a lot of traffic and earning some decent amount of money.
So, I started by choosing two sub-niches in my main niche and going for them first. Although the main niche is very competitive, specific product keywords are where you can win. I saw that there are a lot of sites that were made ages ago with 10-30 articles and have not been touched in years. Their link building is strong, but not unbeatable. So targeting two sub-niches now, but the good thing about this main niche is that there basically is no limit in terms of products and articles to write.
So what have you done so far?
I have 28 articles in total. That should be enough to start with. Later, I want to start writing articles that do not sell anything, but just provide pure value to the reader. I heard that Google is or may start punishing sites that purely rely on "best x product" articles. But anyways, my plan is to grow this website beyond just reviewing products, but more like go-to place for everything related my niche.
• 4 reviewing specific product (1000 words)
• 2 buyer's guides (3000 words each)
• 22 of "best x product" (1000 words)
I decided to go for not so competitive keywords first, to get some traction. They do not have a lot of search traffic, except for the buyer's guides – they are targeting top keywords. I think starting with not competitive, low volume keywords is better, as you can rank faster and earn some respect from the … of Google. After you rank for those keywords and have stronger links pointing to your site, then I will go for more competitive keywords.
By the way, I am outsourcing everything to my writer – I do not intend to write any of the articles.
Cool, cool. How are you doing with links? Any luck here?
Oh yes! Well, at least I consider it as a success. First I have downloaded all the backlinks from my competitors (the ones on the middle-low end) as they have fewer referring domains and I might get some easy links there. However, I found that many if not all of them had terrible links… a lot of spam and Private Blog Networks (PBN)s. I was actually surprised by the quality of these. Looking up Ahrefs or SEMrush – these sites are doing quite well, so this gave me a boost of confidence as I can definitely beat most of these competitors by building a higher quality of links.
I still did few forum posts, a couple of comments and submitted to few directories. I then moved to my strategy. I wanted to get the low hanging fruits first, so I decided to go for "resource" and "links" pages first. Basically searching for websites that list a lot of links to my niche:
• 465 emails sent
• 15 links + few are still pending
3% – 4% conversion… ah was expecting a bit better, but that will do.
I left the best for the last… The biggest success in my link building is that I did a guest post on a very strong site in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in my niche and got a do-follow link! I am very excited for this!
So my link profile looks like this:
• 32 referring domains (24 do-follow)
• 227 backlinks
Actually, I have one question for you guys. Looking at Ahrefs URL Rating (UR) & Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) ratings, don't you think the score is pretty high for a website that has only been up for one month? I have never used Ahrefs before, but compared to some of my competitors, I am almost catching them up. I know that the scale there is logarithmic, but still… looks pretty good for one month old site. What is your take? Do you get the same result when you launch a new site?
Plans for August
• I am done with resource page strategy. This was just to get me started. Next on the list is guest post strategy. I have already gathered a small list of potential website to guest post. I am not going to go for blogs or a small site. My strategy is to target high Domain Authority (DA) sites. I have already got one link this way, so I want to continue this method. The goal for August is to get at least 10 of these.
• I might get few more articles on my blog. Now my site looks a bit spammy with only "best x" articles, so I want to start filling it with another type of content.
• Have several small technical issues with my website that I want to fix.
At the moment, I want to focus myself on link building for upcoming 1-2 months. After all, this is the most important aspect that gets you high ranks on Google. When I start getting some organic traffic, I will go back and try to update or write more content to rank for more keywords. For now, I will just produce non-commercial content to keep my site fresh.
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case study: How I just started… and continued! I've been subscribed to this sub since < month name >. This Reddit account was explicitly made for this sub, to post my case studies. The reasoning behind this is because my old Reddit account was *name-surname*, and I don't want to reveal my site here. (I'm using my real name on my site so it would be too easy to crack what my domain is, sorry!)
This case study will be posted every month around 20th, with the stats resetting every 18th day of the month. Why? Because at the start of the month, this sub is flooded with new case studies, it's better to mix things up!
Okay, but If I've been lurking since < month name >, why am I posting my first case study just now?
Good question. To be frank, I'm not even sure why. I guess it's because I've been talking too much and doing too little in my life, so I wanted to start first and talk later. I've actually been doing a lot to train my discipline and habits over the past months, but more on that later.
What are my goals?
Well, there's many, but here are the main ones:
• I want to sell this affiliate site for no less than 150k in three years from starting.
• I'm starting by making my own affiliate sites and later moving into flipping them.
• I'm doing this so I can work remotely and make enough to move to Spain and buy a house right next to the sea.
P.S. I know they're a bit far-fetched, but from what I've learned – Possible!
A little about me
Okay, so here's where it gets tricky. I'm not a native English speaker. In fact, I'm from eastern Europe. Furthermore, I have zero experience in writing and affiliate marketing which makes achieving my goals like climbing the Mount Everest. But hell, you know how many people have been up there? All it takes is discipline.
My journey of trying to become an entrepreneur started more than two years ago, with my first business where together with a partner, we made wooden accessories. We were making only around 1000$-2000$ per month in sales and everything went back into the business. We were selling on Amazon, Etsy, local stores and our own WooCommerce store. After about a year in, I realized that basically, our product is widely available from China at around 40% of our price. I tried everything, but it was like running straight into a wall, so this May I finally closed the business to pursue different ideas (Affiliate marketing).
I'm 24 years old, and currently, I work part-time at a warehouse. The job is really easy but pays very little. In June I was still working in a bank full-time, but I left so I could work more on my site. Working in a bank was very stressful, and I had to work around 60 hours per week, despite getting paid for 40 hours. Also, a career In a bank (In fact, anywhere but my own company) doesn't interest me, so I left. I got enough saved up to last a while working part-time.
Oh, and a bank employee in my country gets paid around 1200$ p/mo which is above average wage. So you can see why affiliate marketing is worth pursuing for me.
Lastly, since < month name > I've been working very hard to train my discipline because I want to succeed really bad. I work out four times per week, I started running in April, and in August I ran my first half-marathon (21km), I'm on a keto diet, I meditate, I take cold showers every day, and I try to work on my website as much as possible. Succeeding is my only goal, so I rarely go out or relax any other way. My main problem now is that I procrastinate too much, which I'm working to change.
What I've done so far
I registered my domain on the 5th of May. However, I only started publishing posts on June 15th. During May and June, I was still working full time and doing stuff on closing my last company. After that, I went on a two-week vacation with my girlfriend, before really starting to work on this site.
From the first published post, my website is about two months old. As of now, It has 19 articles published totaling 43 434 words, which averages 2286 words per post. Of those posts, eight are money posts and eleven informative. At first, the writing was really hard for me, but I'm getting better and faster with every post that I write. Also, I try to study a lot on copywriting, as I'm not a native speaker. (So far, I've read six books on copywriting, in addition to reading copyblogger.com and studying successful affiliate sites)
I feel like I've done a lot, but I could have done more. I've been focusing too much on little stuff and spending too much time learning, rather than doing.
Here's a list of some mistakes that I've made in the first months:
• Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). I basically installed the WordPress plugin and forgot about it. It resulted in all of my pages broken entirely, so I uninstalled it and de-indexed the AMP pages on search console.
• High-volume keywords. My first post is 5 k words long and targets a 18 k volume keyword. What the f*ck was I thinking? Why would Google show post from an entirely new site with zero backlinks over sites with 1m+ monthlies and dozens of links? Now I'm targeting really long-tail keywords that mostly answer questions related to my niche and finally, I'm seeing some organic traffic.
• Spammy affiliate site. Basically, my first posts were all money posts, which made my site look too affiliate focused. I've done a lot to make it look like a regular blog where the writer is passionate about a subject and just happens to recommend some products. I did a complete re-design about three times, I've re-written my first post about three times, and installed a new theme once. Also, I try to make everything look slightly unprofessional like a regular person made it. I feel that there's still some work to do, but now my site doesn't look too spammy.
• Little time spent writing. If I had spent more time writing, my website would be at around 40 posts, but with crappy user experience and website design. I feel like this would have been better than 19 posts with good User Experience (UX) and design because of the time that it takes for Google to rank these posts. A much better option would be to just publish as much as you can and fix the User Experience (UX) in month 4-5.
• Niche selection. Basically, I picked a too broad niche with too many competitors. What are the consequences? I spend much more time on keyword research than I should be spending. It's tough to find untapped low-volume keywords, and I can't compete for medium-volume keywords yet. What I've done is focused the site around a sub-niche, where I can write around 50-80 articles, with the option to expand in future. I have competitors that cover the whole niche with 1-10 m monthlies with just a few articles on my sub-niche.
• Low-quality content. I've rewritten my first posts several times now, and I feel that they're pretty good now. I'll leave them for now and see how they rank. They're all longer than the competition, and I try to answer the query right at the start.
What's my strategy for growing?
First of all, I'm not only focusing on Google. My niche has a dominant presence on Pinterest, and a lot of my 1m+ competitors are pulling 20-40% of their traffic from there. That's why I've started being active there since last month and the last few days I'm pulling around 5-20 visits per day from Pinterest.
My content is divided into three groups, with each group taking up around one-third of total articles:
• Money posts with affiliate links, like "7 best brushes for rabbits" or review posts. Main traffic source from these is Google, and I'm targeting low-medium volume keywords here.
• List type posts with no affiliate links, like "12 tips for new pet owners". These are aimed solely at Pinterest. I'll be monetizing them with Mediavine (When I hit 30 k monthlies) and links to my money posts.
• Answers to questions relating my money posts with no affiliate links. For instance "Can a rabbit really be trained?" or "What should I feed my rabbit with?". These target long-tail keywords, where first places are taken by forum posts. I'll monetize these posts with Mediavine and links to my money posts. By the way, I'm not in the pet niche.
I plan to grow this site into an Authority site. I'll finish writing about 40-50 posts there and start my second site.
My second affiliate-site will definitely be something with a much more passionate audience, smaller niche, and less competition. I haven't found anything yet, but when I get to 40-50 posts, I'll start looking.
The focus on the second site will be to write around 40 posts there, leave it for a year and sell it. After I finish the second site, I'll come back to the first site and evaluate if it's worth developing into an authority site.
Also, I want to try making a site with no affiliate links. A site that targets the masses and makes money from premium ad-networks, but I feel that niche sites are much more reliable. So I'm postponing this to my third site or later.
I will be doing very little link-building. My strategy is to push absolute-best-quality content with a superb user experience that answers the search intent as best and as fast as it can. I'll be active on Pinterest, Reddit, and Twitter, but I will not be spending much time on link building.
We'll see how this works in the following months. (Yeah, I know I will get bombarded in the comments)
Words wrote: 17 776 words
Organic: 7 new users
Social: 16 new users
Direct: 12 new users
Referral: 2 new users
Total traffic: 37 new users
Words wrote: 25658 words
Organic: 32 new users
Social: 99 new users
Direct: 31 new users
Referral: 1 new user
Total traffic: 163 new users
Goals for next month
• Write at least 15 posts
• I feel like my site is still too spammy, so I'd like to revisit the money posts and make them less affiliate-like.
• I'd like to get my first dollar, so I get the boost of motivation.
In the previous few days, I've seen a surge in traffic from Pinterest and Google. Yesterday I got 23 sessions with 6 being from organic. I know it's nothing, but It feels good finally seeing someone on my site, haha. I feel like the next month Pinterest will start to kick in and I'll get around 1 k monthlies because I'm really active the last few days.
I really wanted to write a lot more, but this post is already 1.9 k words, so I'll finish here. See you next month!
A quick final thought: If I wrote 1.9 k words in around two hours, then why is my site only at 43 k words? I really got to get my shit together and write more.
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