Once you've got your site ranking, you've optimized the top trafficked pages, and you're starting to earn some income, what comes next?
This is the most fun part of building out a site to success, because you are leveraging what is already working, and just doing more of it.
Scaling is basically a case of adding more content, performing CRO to more pages, and building more links.
By this point, Google should already be showing you some love and your site should be starting to edge towards making a decent profit, if it isn't already.
In the case of my site, after doing the CRO I mentioned in the previous post, it was now making me about $300-400 per month. As it was around April when this happened, I set myself a target of making $1,000 per month from the site by the end of the year.
What actually happened was I made $1,000 in November, and over $2,000 in December thanks to the holiday spending season.
This post is about how I got there.
What You Will Learn Today
- The things to focus on to scale a site
- The tools I used to scale
- When you should focus on scaling
- Other quick tips for leveraging your site's authority.
How To Scale A Site
Scaling a site seems simple on paper. As I mentioned above, you just have to add more content, get more rankings, and rinse and repeat the CRO that has worked thus far.
The problem is that when it comes to actually adding the new content or getting the extra rankings, you might not know where to start.
I've learned three or four different strategies that can all be used for scaling, and some of them were learned specifically from this site. I'll start with those.
Semrush - A Scaling Man's Best Friend
Once your site has started getting rankings (even if they aren't yet on page one), Semrush can be of good use to you. Once you start to get a lot of rankings though, Semrush is fantastic.
The strategy outlined below should be done with a premium Semrush account. If you don't want to subscribe monthly, then I recommend just signing up for one month, or a free trial, or even picking up one of our keyword packs, which comes with competitor analysis.
Here's a breakdown of what I did:
Strategy 1 - Reverse Engineering Competitor Rankings
- Entered my domain name into Semrush and looked at the list of competitors (I only included other niche sites or forums).
- Opened up a new tab for each competitor and saw which keywords they were ranking for that I hadn't built content around.
- Made a note of about 5-10 post ideas that I could add. I focused on the keywords that they ranked well for, since I knew I could also rank for them.
- I then looked at THEIR competitor lists and did the same.
- In total I found about 30 new post ideas.
- I got those posts written, dripped them out over the next few weeks, and two months later, repeated the process. Since I now had 30 new pieces of content, I showed up for even more keywords, and had a slightly different list of competitors to reverse engineer.
This strategy works well because it gives you a ton of new ideas of content, and it also shows you which keywords niche sites rank for. There are always keywords that you target that Google just doesn't want to rank your kind of site for, and this is a good way to limit that.
It also helps you identify which articles you should do your link building for, as you can get an idea which keywords you can rank for first.
Strategy 2 - Leveraging Your Existing Content For Quick Wins
This strategy also used Semrush (see why I recommend it so much?) but doesn't require you to add new content. Essentially what you do is look for keywords where you already rank on page 2 or 3, and you then optimize your content more to get them to jump up to page 1.
The great thing about long-tail keywords is that you will ALWAYS find your content ranking for keywords you didn't target. Sometimes, these keywords might be worth making a whole new post about, but in most cases they are still on the same topic as the original post.
An example would be my post "Straight razors vs safety razors". One keyword I was ranking on page 3 for was "Straight razors vs DE razors". DE = Double Edged which is another name for safety razors. Google knew this, so was ranking my post for it even though I had not targeted the keyword anywhere on the page.
If Google is going to rank you on page 2 or 3 without even optimizing for the search term, imagine what will happen when you DO optimize it?
In the case of this page, I added "DE razor" a couple of times to the post, and 2-3 days later when Google re-crawled the page, it jumped up to position 3 for the keyword.
I did the same for a few other long-tail phrases such as "Straight edge razor" and with under an hour's work, the post was now ranking very well for 4 or 5 other keywords.
Using Semrush, there are two ways to find these keywords and I recommend you try both.
- Enter your site into Semrush and expand the keyword list.
- Sort the list by keywords, and look for all keywords in position 11-40.
- See which ones of these you haven't optimized your content for, and get optimizing.
- Enter your site into Semrush.
- Find some posts which are already ranking well. Any posts on pages 1-3 is a good start.
- Click on those posts within Semrush, and you'll see a list of all the keywords they rank for.
- Find the ones that you haven't yet optimized.
It's important to note that this strategy works best when you have some posts that already rank well. If they are ranking well, it makes sense that Google wants to rank the other keywords well too, you just don't have enough on-page optimization yet.
Completing that optimization is usually enough to send those keywords up to the same rankings as the other ones. We are looking for quick-wins here.
My straight razor vs safety razor article was already on page 1 position 1 for many keywords, so I knew optimizing for the others would get a similar rank.
How To Do The Optimization
The final step of this strategy is to understand how "easy" the optimization is. As we already discussed, the ideal scenario for this strategy is when Google is ranking your post on page 2-4 for a keyword that you've barely used on the page, if at all.
To get the jump up to page 1, all you need to do is the following:
- Add 1 or 2 instances of the keyword to your page.
- Optional: Add the keyword or part of the keyword to a subheading.
- Optional: Add the keyword or part of the keyword to your meta description.
By "part of the keyword" I mean that you don't necessarily need to add the entire phrase in. When trying to improve the ranking for "Straight vs DE razor", I already had the straight and vs part on the page, so I only needed to add "DE" and "DE razor" in order to succeed. If that hadn't yielded results, I would have tried the other parts too.
The other thing to consider is that some keywords are only worth 10 or 20 searches, but if they are worth significantly more, you might want to consider adding them to subheadings or meta descriptions.
That's all there is to it though. You can rinse and repeat this with many keywords on many pages and only spend a few hours, depending on how many instances of this strategy you come across.
Strategy 3 - More Advanced Version Of Strategy 2
Another way you can leverage your existing content takes more work on your part, so I have decided to separate it into a whole different strategy.
Josh Shogren explains it very well in this post, so I recommend you go and read that. In short though, the strategy involves finding your page 2 rankings for keywords you HAVE already optimized, and improving the posts. We're talking about keywords where you have already done the fundamentals, but the post just needs a boost to get to page 1.
This involves adding 500-1,000 more words to the post, adding a Youtube video, and/or a few other tricks. Go and read Josh's post to learn more.
This strategy can work as a "step 2" to the strategy above. Not all the keywords you optimize for will jump to page 1 right away, so it's well worth checking in on things 1-2 months later.
Strategy 4 - Using Semrush + Forums
This is something I hadn't yet discovered when I ran this site, but it's well worth including for scaling a site.
In short, you find forums in your niche, input them into semrush, and see what they rank on page 1 for. The strategy works great, because if a forum (generally considered weak competition) is showing up on page 1, then you can too.
Once your site has some good authority and rankings, you can pretty much rank for "Forum keywords" without much effort.
To learn more about that strategy, read this post.
Strategy 5: Which Links To Build Next
The final part of my scaling strategy is identifying link building targets. There are a few ways I decide which articles to link to next:
- Is the article going to earn me money?
- Is the article already optimized and ranking fairly well?
- Is the search volume good?
It makes sense to start linking building the articles that are already close to page 1 and will earn you money. In my case, I built links to some of the "best shaving brush" and similar articles I had built after doing strategy 1, reverse engineering my competitors.
It costs time and money to build links, so you don't really want to build links to that 5,000 searches per month keyword unless you think you can get it to page 1.
Final Strategy: Repeating Your CRO Monthly
Remember the CRO tips I taught you about in the previous post? I don't recommend you spend time doing them for all your posts until you start to scale.
Those banners and CTA's will help you to get your posts earning a lot more, but it can take a lot of time to do, and when you are publishing new posts, you have no idea if they will ever reach page one.
A more time efficient way of doing this is to check your Google Analytics "most viewed" pages on a monthly basis. Whenever you see a new post/page has reached the top 10 and is getting traffic, go and optimize it more for increased income.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can do this for all of your posts or at least more than the top 10.
The Tools I Used To Scale
In case you hadn't noticed, the tool I used the most was Semrush. I really recommend it for someone who has a site earning a few hundred dollars a month. Even if it is earning less it is great, but where semrush really comes into its own is when a site already has some rankings.
Even if you just signed up for one month and spent a few hours doing the work outlined above, the payoff could be huge.
When your site is new, or it only has 10-20 posts live, I would not suggest you focus on scaling initially.
By all means, add more content, as it will payoff in the long run, but your focus should first be on getting some of your articles to page 1 and making your site start to earn.
This is done by link building, outreach, guest posting, and other forms of promotion. I wouldn't recommend trying to scale a site in the beginning, unless you are confident that you are in this for the long game and don't mind waiting until later to get the site profitable.
Once I got my site to this stage, it was just a case of rinsing and repeating. Find new content ideas, rank them, rank them for long-tail keywords too, optimize them, and wait for the income to increase.
The final step in my site's journey was for me to sell it, and in the next post, I will explain why I chose to sell it, and how I went about it.
There's no real rule saying that you have to sell your site, I could quite happily have kept it, and you could too.
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