First off, I just want to wish you all a happy and successful 2017!
I thought it was a good time to post an update on my site’s status, now that it has been about a year since my first post about the site went live.
That post was a catalyst for me!
It started when Dom first reached out and asked me to share about the small success my site was having in it’s first few weeks.
Eventually we ended up coming to an agreement that I would join the team for 10 hours per week to help with the running of the business. In this way, Dom would be able to freed up from some of the day-to-day processes. This will in turn give him more time for tasks that can serve people where his expertise can be fully utilised.
Working for Human Proof Designs at night, after my day job (I worked about 46-50 hours per week) ended up taking up all the time I would have spent on my site. So, the site got put on hold, right after the blog post went live!
Well, business kept increasing in 2016 and by the time March rolled around, Dom and I could both see that there was room for a full-time role for me at Human Proof Designs.
By May 2016, I joined Human Proof Designs in a full-time role as Chief Operations Officer. It has been an incredible year, and a real privilege to serve you all with the Human Proof Designs team.
My wife and I have a couple sites that we run, so even when I started working full time at Human Proof Designs, any spare time I had went directly into working on those sites. The sites we had were earning decently and I needed to focus on them.
But, one day in July, I thought I would look at the traffic on the site I purchased from HPD. I could see the earnings when I checked Amazon for my other sites, so I knew the site wasn’t earning much. I found out that the site was getting a whopping 3,287 visitors per month!
That’s when I knew something was wrong…the site wasn’t earning much at all, but was getting enough visitors to at least be earning something.
I asked Dean, our CTO, to have a look and he fixed things up in a hurry. By August, the site started earning immediately.
Not much, but enough that I knew the affiliate links were working again :).
So, that was a little embarrassing to write so far as I really intended to put more effort into the site and have a bang up story to tell come January 2017. But I want to be honest with you and that’s the truth.
The story gets better...
For 2017, my wife and I made the decision to close our other sites so that I can focus on my HPD site, and add 1 more.
In some ways, it was a little hard to do because our largest site has earned $300-$1000 in a weekend and $2000 in one week from our 1 time yearly sale one of our main affiliate networks were putting on.
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Those week-long sales required a lot of promotion to hit those numbers and there is only so much the both of us can do. Try as we might, we just couldn’t get our VA to replicate our efforts as well. At the same time, we were also growing tired of the niche that we had.
The new plan is for my wife to run the new site with a new niche which she is interested in. She will be in charge of the writing for the site but primarily her focus will be on Instagram.
I, on the other hand, am ready for something that is a little easier to outsource and Human Proof Designs sites are the way to go. I am going to continue with the site which I had plus, a new site for 2017 which should go live in about 2 weeks time.
Now, let’s get back to my HPD site!
Timeline of My Amazon Niche Site
By September, pageviews continued to increase very nicely, but earnings were still under $30/month so I knew I needed to do something to increase conversions. I had one of HPD’s web developers go through all my sites and added a “buy on Amazon” buttons underneath all of my product pictures in the product review articles.
I also saw a few great keywords hovering around the top of page 2, so I ordered a Results package of 15 links from Rank Guardian.
At that time, I had 22 keywords on Page 1, of which:
- Some info keywords in the Top 3 position
- Some buyer intent keywords in the lower half of Page 1
I had some articles created (10,000 words total) and at the same time, I bulked out a couple of the posts that were hovering around the top of page 2. These were 1000-word product review articles, each reviewing 3 products. I bulked them out with an additional 3000 words each, reviewing another 9 related products.
One of the posts that was hovering around the middle of Page 2 was a “Top Ten ….” article and in the URL, the number 10 was included, like this: exampledomain.com/10-top-etc
I wanted to bulk that post out to cover the Top 20, 25, or even more to try to get it to Page 1 (maybe I over-thought for this one), but I didn’t want the title of the page to say “Top 25 ---“ and the URL to remain “exampledomain.com/10-top-etc”. Also, I didn’t want to break the URL to change the 10 to a 25 and lose the rankings.
So, 1000 words were added to the existing page and a new one was created called “25 more ---“ and this time I just made the URL say: “exampledomain.com/top-etc” (No number included).
This way, if I want to add more to the list, I can just change the title and keep the permalink the same. Lesson learned!
10,000 words were added in October, primarily from the 4000-word post called “25 more ----” and then some new posts targeting brand new keywords. That 4000-word post outranks the original top 10 post now, despite being live for a much shorter period. It has a couple page 1 rankings, while the top 10 post only moved slightly up from the middle of page 2 to the top.
I think that demonstrates that it would have been fine to break the URL and just remove the 10, and add all that content to the original article. The page wouldn’t exist, and the rankings would be gone, but Google picked up my new content from the new longer article and outranked the much older article within a month anyway.
The conversion rate jumped from 1.32% to 4.51% so it was cool to see the drastic improvement the “buy on Amazon” buttons had – plus it is the front end of Q4 so that could have something to do with it.
There were some good ranking improvements with buyer intent keywords and a resulting increase of pageviews:
- August: 4100
- September: 4512
- October: 5157
Again, the bulk of the traffic was to the info posts so earnings were still meager - $50 for October.
November started out fun, with someone purchasing 2 of these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0052FDLCW (no, that’s not an affiliate link) which resulted in a nice commission to start the month off.
That’s one of the best things about Amazon too - that you can get commissions for products that aren’t in your niche!
Anyway, the conversion rate jumped to 8.33%, and a buyer intent keyword hit position 4. I could also see the Rank Guardian links kicking in and traffic did a nice jump from 5157 in October to 5768 in November and earnings were just under $80.
At the beginning of the month, I also hired a new VA and had her build some links via blog commenting. I passed her the training that is provided with an HPD site purchase and after a couple weeks she has a good handle on it and builds a few links per week.
This month was the most fun by far.
At HPD, we were completely swamped with the large influx of orders from the Black Friday sale, so I didn’t have any time to spend on my site at all.
But it was the best month yet:
- My conversion rate went up to a whopping 18.32%. The vast majority of purchases were related to the niche, so something’s working!
- My new VA was in the swing of things and Semrush was picking up the backlinks. The site went from 51 backlinks at the beginning of October, to 73 by the end of December.
- Also, a couple buyer keywords popped into position 4 – from position 8 and 12; many more into the bottom half of page 1. There was a total of 101 keywords on page 1, roughly 1/3 of them are buyer keywords.
Here’s a shot of the Semrush results filtered for buyer keywords only:
To see the images larger, right click on the image and open in a new tab.
Here’s without the filters:
Semrush picked up 2206 keywords ranking at some level in Google
Traffic for December was 4794 on Dec 22.
Yes, it says Dec 23, but WordPress is in a different timezone than I am 😀
Earnings for December were just under $250 for the month so far!
Total earnings for the site to date: $415.
A lot of people come to us confused about what they are supposed to do in their first few months. We tell them to follow this 6 month plan Dom laid out so you can maximize your time while in Google's Sandbox.
A Small Pivot
One thing you will notice if you’ve read my earlier post, is that I’ve taken my focus off social media. I want to eventually set it up so a blog post is shared out to Twitter and Facebook, but that’s about all I will be doing social media wise.
That’s not to say don’t do it, but at this point, I feel like I have a good thing going with my VA doing the keyword research, product selection, uploading and formatting of the articles once it has been written, and Google is a much easier source of traffic for me.
That was a bit of an adjustment for me to make because years ago, it was much easier than today to build up a Facebook following and we had large followings to tap into; Facebook was always our primary source of traffic, then other social media channels, then Google.
One of the things I love about the site stats is the clear Sandbox period:
Remember, after working on the site for Nov 2015 – Dec 2015, I didn’t touch the site until September 2016!
My Goals for 2017
I’ve put about 100 hours into the site so far, but my goal is to put less than 36 hours (3 hours per month) into it for all of 2017 and have my VA do the work, along with the article writers.
- Add 10,000 words per month to the site – combination of new articles and bulking out existing articles that need a bit of help to move
- Keep an eye on posts that need an additional push to get to page 1
- Bulk out the posts that are performing the best.
- Add youtube videos and images.
- And build links to them.
- Add Comparison charts to the review posts to try to boost conversions even more