Part Four: Links

My Niche Site’s Journey From $0 To A $25,000+ Sale

Post 1: How I Chose My Niche 

Post 2: How I Got My Site Structure Wrong

Post 3: Content, Content, Content

Post 4: Links <– We are here

Post 5: Conversions

Post 6: Scaling The Site To $2,000 per month

Post 7: Selling The Site

Post 8: Summary

As I mentioned in the previous post, I gave up on my site in the 4th or 5th month. I had suffered from burnout by trying to hit the ground running and doing too much too soon. The end result was that when I had nothing to show for it, I became frustrated and moved on to another niche.

A few months later, the site did start picking up traffic and rankings, and income went up a bit too. However, I was now busy with my other niche sites and still believed the site to be a failure.​

An Aside: The Sandbox

I suspect that when the site hit 6-7 months old, the rankings went up because the site was now out of the sandbox. Even though I had “quit” the site already, it did get a boost. However, as I said, I didn't understand this back then and so still didn't return to the site.​

Returning To The Site And The First Steps To Success

Let's fast-forward now to late 2014, when the site was about 1.5 years old and had been “abandoned” for close to a year.

​It was at this stage that I returned to the site, armed with a far superior knowledge of ranking sites.

I had been through the second Niche Pursuits case study, the one with Perrin, and had realized that not only was this niche good, but I had been doing it completely wrong.

A lot of the lessons I have been teaching came from reading that case study, and applying what I learned to this site, then seeing the results first hand.​

As I mentioned in this post, I started link building for this site in September 2014​, and only added 1 or 2 posts during the next few months.

The end result was that about three months later, the site's traffic had exploded, increasing by 500%. Links are still today the number 1 element of off-page SEO.

After adding more and more posts for 5 months and seeing no real traction, then doing nothing for a year and obviously seeing no traction, I was blown away by how much ​a few links would affect rankings, and therefore traffic.

I'm aware that a lot of the success of the link building was because I had 30-40 posts on the site and it was 1.5 years old already, but until I started building links, nothing had been working, and nothing got the dial moving faster than those first few links.​

You need content for the links to work, but you need links for the content to shine.

I'm not going to repeat myself too much here, so go and read the post before coming back to this series. Consider it as supplementary reading.

Read:How I Increased A Website's Traffic By 500%​

After you read that post, you might have some questions about the type of links I added and how you can repeat them.

I'd like to take this time to point out that you don't necessarily have to use the same link building methods I used. Some of those methods were a little bit greyhat, but for me, I'd rather spend $$$ on not having to worry about SEO, so I can use my time for other things.

Here are the link building services I used in the order of appearance: 

  1. The Hoth (read my review).
  2. Lightning Rank.
  3. The Hoth again ($250 pack this time).
  4. Lightning Rank again
  5. Some of my own cobbled-together PBN's.

​How Many Links Do You Need?

This is not something that is easy to answer.

The short answer would be, as many as necessary.

I like to build links slowly (about 10-20 per month) and build more as the results come in. These days, it can take 2-4 weeks before your link building affects the rankings, so building slowly will help you avoid building too many links and getting yourself a penguin penalty.​

To learn more, you can read Jon Haver's most recent post on the subject here, and you can also read my interview with Glen Thomson where he gives his own thoughts on the matter.​

Are All Links Equal?

Not really. The most ideal link you could ever build would be a white-hat link, built by outreach or guest posting.

In fact, the best link is one you get naturally, purely by writing good content and making people aware of it. See how I linked to Jon Haver's article just now? He didn't ask me to. He just wrote that post and I read it, liked it, and knew it was relevant to this article, so I linked to it.

That's the purest form of link building right there, but it's not always possible to do that. ​For Human Proof Designs, every link I build is either a result of networking with other bloggers, so they too will link to my content when they see it, or from guest posts. 

For niche sites though, it's not always easy to get guest posts. How many sites care about your knowledge of Water Filters, for example?

It's for niche sites that I will do riskier link building, and that's why I like the Hoth, PBN networks (that I can trust), and other methods that I'm testing.

I would tell you to only build PBN links if you can handle the risk and you have researched the matter and decided for yourself to engage in it. Otherwise, I will tell you to just focus on white-hat link building and check out blogs by Backlinko.​

Learning about link building is one of those key building blocks that you need to make your bridge strong. You've got content as the keystone, and either side of content would be links, and user engagement. ​

On the subject of user engagement, our next post in this series is going to look at how to improve your site's conversions.

In my own case, increasing the traffic by 500% was great, but it wasn't resulting in a whole lot more income. I've already told you that I ended up doing a lot of re-structuring to the site, but it wasn't until I made some simple on-page changes that my income skyrocketed too.

In the next post, we'll cover how my site went from $50 per month to $500 per month almost overnight.​

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