Ben’s Journey From Review Site to Authority Site

Ben Adler 5k Story

Hey guys,

The new year's been kicking off to a massive start already.

Our first episode of the HPD podcast has already been recorded and it's with the one and only Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz.

Not only did he drop some knowledge bombs about upcoming trends in search, but he also gave away a few business ideas he's considered previously.

Today though, we're welcoming another friend to the HPD community, Ben Adler.

We asked Ben to share his lessons taking his affiliate site to $5,000 a month, and what he's doing to make sure it maintains that revenue and grows beyond it.

I won't hold the suspense any longer – take it away Ben!

Four years ago I was looking for business ideas browsing Reddit.

I came across a post of a dude with a crappy website reviewing vacuum cleaners making $500/month through affiliate marketing. 

Naive me thought, “that website sucks, I can do that”, while not understanding anything about SEO or online marketing.

My goal was to do the same by the end of the year.

I wrote down my goal, signed it, and posted it to my door. 

Every day I woke up, I saw my goal. I didn’t know what the journey looked like, but somehow knew I it was going to work.

From $0 to $5000 per Month

You might say I got “lucky”. I found a decent niche with low competition. My goal was to review every product on the market, and I did.

I would come home every day, open my laptop, and work until I went to bed.

I taught myself WordPress and learned SEO along the way. I read from reputable sites like Moz and Backlinko, which were a huge help.

It took me 6 months to make my first dollar. I was so excited I would tell my friends every time it happened.

Some even laughed when they found out how long it took.

It seems like a long time, and if you know what you are doing, it can be.

It was a very manual process me for. 

I didn’t use any research tools or buy SEO services. Instead, I used my intuition and stuck to white hat tactics.By the end of that same year, I was making $5000 a month.

All my traffic was organic.

But the money didn’t last long. Amazon cut their commissions. I had more competition. And I even took a year off to build a failed SaaS product.

The Reboot

I needed to jump start my site. I had two big players in the space review my site. One of them suggested I had even “maxed” out my site.

Deep down, I knew there was a way to give my site new life.

I started writing more and updated existing content. I discovered whole new content categories to write about.

I expanded focus to other traffic sources such as Pinterest, adding infographics, shareable images, and added social share buttons to my site.

I even started monetizing with ads which are now bringing in an extra $1,000 a month.

I still have a long ways to go, but I now have a huge roadway in front of me.

But Do Amazon Review Sites Still Work?

You might be wondering if Amazon Review sites still work? Yes, they do, but they must be done well.

Throwing up spun or half-assed content is not going to cut it.

While there are many ways to do affiliate marketing, review sites are only one way.

And they do have their pros and cons:

The Good

  • It’s straightforward. It’s simple. You know what you need to write for content and you know where to find the information. The process is repeatable.
  • In Google’s eyes, when you have a razor-focused site on one particular topic with lots of good content, it ranks high. This is one advantage of having a review site – your whole site is about reviews about 1 particular type of product.
  • Reviewing new products can instantly put you at the top of Google, even before they are released!  I’ve ranked pages higher than the manufacturer at times because I was the first to blog about it.
  • There’s great buying intent with reviews, especially when you do comparison guides, which a lot of marketers miss.

The Bad

  • Your site traffic is dependent on the product’s popularity. If the products you review become outdated or unpopular, so does your site.
  • You must constantly keep up with new products in your niche. While this can earn new traffic and income, it requires upkeep.
  • Having only reviews limits your content.

Building Review Sites

I love lists, so is my 28 point guide for creating niche sites:

  • 1. Write good thorough reviews. Cover everything about the product and answer as many questions as possible.
  • 2. Have a nice looking site with good pictures and a quality logo. It builds reputation/trust.
  • 3. Focus on content early. It takes time to earn Google’s trust. The earlier you start the relationship, the better.
  • 4. Make your site fast. If you are on a slow host like Bluehost, switch to something like Siteground, or if you want something premium, WPEngine. This also means optimizing your images (tinypng.com) and having caching plugins (WP Rocket)
  • 5. Write comparisons, especially 1v1 comparisons. This is what a lot of people forget, and there's a lot of money in those pages. People love tables/charts. Make it easy for them to compare.
  • 6. Start a mailing list. I wish I did this 4 years ago. Even if you aren't sending emails, the list is important if you ever want to sell your site.
  • 7. Be the first to review new products. This will put you at the top of Google.
  • 8. Avoid shady link building. You are building a long-term asset. Build it right and it will make you money for years.
  • 9. Join FB groups in your niche. This is a great way to find content ideas and questions people are asking.
  • 10. Focus on buyer intent keywords. This is an audience that will convert.
  • 11. Make a helpful data table that people would use for your products. People love linking to these. For example, if you were selling paintball guns, you could have a huge comparison table of the different kinds of paintballs on the market.
  • 12. Use affiliate networks in addition to Amazon. I also use Shareasale. It's safer to monetize in multiple ways and will earn you more money.
  • 13. Be dedicated to putting out good content. This is huge! Work a little every day and you'll have built an empire.
  • 14. Use canva.com for making featured photos.
  • 15. Be sure to understand and follow Amazon guidelines so you don't get banned.
  • 16. Keep learning SEO but don't overdo it. Basic SEO will get you very far. Be sure to link internal pages together.
  • 17. Make sure your navigation makes it easy for visitors to find what they want. Don't’ make them think.
  • 18. Enable comments and respond to them. I have an extra 50,000 words of content thanks to comments. And yes, people do read them.
  • 19. Pick a niche that actually has money. It seems obvious, but this was my first mistake.
  • 20. Always remember backups. Again, you are building an asset that you want to last a long time.
  • 21. Write content that answer’s people’s questions. You’ll be found much easier.
  • 22. Make your content shareable by having appealing images and sharing plugins.
  • 23. Monetize in multiple ways besides affiliate income. Ads are very predictable and steady.
  • 24. Network in your niche. I found a smaller influencer to write articles for me.
  • 25. Test, test, test. Just because the top competition is doing something, doesn’t mean they are doing it right. I was able to optimize my clicks by 65% using Google Optimize.
  • 26. Don’t be afraid of putting ads on your site. They can boost income significantly.
  • 27. Always be learning new tactics and methods. Marketing is ever-changing. Join my Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/AffiliateMarketingSEO/)
  • 28. Don’t be afraid to try new things that always be fixed.

Closing Advice… The Best I’ve Ever Heard

Affiliate marketing can really be as complicated or as simple as you want.

When it comes to building sites, you can optimize your site sideways 20 different ways.

That certainly helps. But when you’re first getting started, none of that matters.

The most important thing in getting started is… getting started.

Too many people analyze everything before they take action. They try to get everything right.

It’s an oversimplification, but some of the best advice I ever heard was “pick a niche and write 100k words”.

Don’t over complicate getting started.

You’ll learn as you go along.

19 thoughts on “Ben’s Journey From Review Site to Authority Site”

  1. Hey
    Really inspired by your journey.
    Is it mandatory to run social media ads for attracting traffic to my site? Is there any organic strategy that works better and fast for bringing the target audience to my site?

    1. Hi Namithaa, I didn’t run a single ad to my site, so not mandatory at all. SEO is a long game. If you want to speed up the process, you’ll need to create a lot of content fast and do link building.

  2. This is a thorough article that has been given me insight into affiliate marketing with Amazon. That is to say I need to pick a low competition niche, write 100k words of quality content and build white hat links to list-based articles. I can monetize the site both via sharesale, amazon, and ads. Thanks for putting this case study, it worth a read.

    1. Yep, that’s a good summary! I don’t think the niche necessarily needs to be low competition, but if you find a low competition niche that brings in money, great!

  3. Congratulations Ben. The beauty about being self made is that if you hit obstacles or fall down, you know how it feels to be up and most importantly, you know what to do to get back up. This is exactly what happened. I wish you continued success.

  4. Hey Ben,

    Thank you for putting so much information over there. It helps to understand the priorities while building niche website business.

    Just joined your facebook group, recently.

  5. Awesome post Ben. Very motivational and inspiring at the same time.

    You’ve made so many great points in this post. I completly agree with you when you say :”don’t overthink it. Just start doing something”

    I am like that in a sense. I need to understand everything before I get into something (it’s a problem I’m trying to fix) …

    … but that’s when shi**y things come to mind right?

    As my favorite motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, use to say:

    “Overthinking is the art of creating problems that don’t exist” 😂

    So the sooner you start … the better. That way your mind wont have time to create those problems.

    Would be nice to see an update 1 year later to see where you’re at!

    Good luck mate!

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