500+ Visits a Day and Ranking FAST: Authority Site Case Study

500 Visits a Day and Ranking Fast
I LOVE a challenge.

That’s why I chose to build an authority site in one of the most competitive and risqué self-help niches out there.

And set myself a goal to turn it into a $9K/pm authority site in just 90 days!

It has now been 147 days since the site went live on 17 Dec, 2013.

Is it earning $9K/pm yet?

Not quite yet, but if we’re talking traffic I’m excited to say that after 3 months of failing to build any serious traction to the site…

…it is finally happening!

Despite the niche being dominated by authoritative “rank-hogs” like Wikipedia, Huffington Post, Men’s Health and YouTube, (because no-one else can get quality links to their site), I’ve found a way to outrank everyone.


In just one month I’ve increased the site’s traffic from 220 visitors a day to 500+ and climbing:

220 to 550 Visits a Day in One Month

…am on track to rank #1 for the most sought after keyword in the niche – a “how-to” keyword that gets over 8,100 exact searches per month:

On Track to Rank for 8100 Searches Per Month Keyword

And in the last week the site has made an average of $75 a day in ClickBank commissions! YAY!

Don’t get me wrong. Getting to this stage has NOT been easy.

I’ve experienced A LOT of failure along the way and today I’m going to share my experience with you.

Seriously, no matter how impossible a niche may seem there’s ALWAYS a way!

Choose a Tweet and click the bird to share!

Tweet: 500+ visits a day and growing FAST! Authority site case study: http://ctt.ec/pKP1k+ 500+ visits a day and ranking FAST! Authority site case study

Tweet: Learn how I turned 220 visitors a day into 500 a day in 30 days: http://ctt.ec/k3Zd2+ Learn how I turned 220 visitors a day into 500 a day in 30 days

First, I’m going to give you a short and sweet summary of everything that happened before we launched the site on 17 Dec 2013.

Oh and make sure you read on, because I’ve got an exciting announcement at the end!

Building an Authority Site from the Ground Up

In October last year I left China shortly after making 50 panda costumes to promote BA’s new Chengdu flight…

Pandas for BA

…flew to a secret location (with my brother and biz partner) in the French Alps…

Chengdu Plane

…and announced my mission to build a $9K/pm authority site in just 90 days!

It was a pretty unrealistic target but we went for it!

It took us 2 months and 1 day to choose a niche we could dominate, research it, mine for content holes, write 16 blog posts, create 2 infographics, plan our attack (with viral carrots), build the site and create a gigantic black book of contacts to email on the day of the launch!

With everything ready to go, on 17 December 2013 the site went live.

Did we launch with a BANG?


Launch day was a DISASTER!

I’d spent three days writing and scheduling 1500 targeted emails to promote each of the 16 posts.

These 16 posts included 4 power pages, 2 of which were important infographics.

After sending just 200 of the 1500 emails, I received an email from Google Apps saying my email account had been blocked for 24 hours because of spam.

The remaining 1300 emails I’d scheduled NEVER reached their recipients and were sucked into a black hole :(

Since the success of the launch all hinged on email outreach, as you can probably guess, the launch tanked.

The only thing I had to fall back on was Facebook promoted posts and our friends sharing the blog.

Imagine how crushing it it felt after working 18-hour days for 2 months to create a site that barely even caused a ripple when it launched?!

Traffic Only from Facebook

Lesson Learned: If you’re sending in bulk, make sure you use a server like SMTP to send your emails through different IPs. Also, be sure to use alias accounts and to not host those email accounts on Gmail!

Unfortunately we used Google Apps for all our email hosting and paid the price.

So don’t make the same mistake as we did to ensure your important emails get delivered!

How we picked ourselves up: the quiet before the storm

Following the failure of the launch, between December and early February I focussed on building links to the infographics and two other power pages whilst plotting the next move.

There was little chance of getting links from people within the niche, because as I explained above, NO-ONE links out in this niche (it’s VERY risqué and highly competitive).

For example, just the other day a fan of our site linked to us from a competitor’s forum. The link was taken down within hours.

So I tried to build links in adjacent markets.

But after sending hundreds of emails, I only managed to build a small handful of links, which had VERY little impact on traffic:

The Quiet Before the Storm

It was puzzling. The site had 4 AMAZING power pages yet no-one was interested in linking to them?!

So, I decided to do something I specialise in: an expert roundup.

Since no-one ever links out in the niche I thought the experts would jump at the chance to get a link on our site and came up with the Little Big Horn Strategy of Link Building.

The Little Big Horn Strategy is simple: publish TWO expert roundups parallel to one another and then create an infographic from the results.

The idea was that it would create content with huge viral potential and cause a Viral Tsunami.

It took some pretty hard grafting, but in total, 53 experts took part and the result was three epic power pages with huge viral potential.

Here’s what happened after the roundups went live:

Expert Roundups Viral Tsunami

YES, the posts brought in a ton of traffic, but these waves are not impressive at all.

When you consider the fact these were two MASSIVE expert roundups launched at the same time these results are VERY disappointing!

And don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just sit back and expect the experts to share. I sent HUNDREDS of targeted emails, paid for Facebook promoted posts and even two press releases.

In fact, the ONLY reason these waves of traffic reached the levels they did was because they were manipulated by me.

The first wave only grew so large after I asked one of the experts to share a link to the roundup on Reddit. I then paid a couple of people on Fiverr to upvote the hell out of it!

Reddit referrals to niche site in 7 days

I did the exact same thing to create the second wave, except this time I had to pay a Redditor to submit the link, because no-one else would!

So, after the Reddit traffic died down only 4/53 of the experts posted a link to the posts on their blogs/Facebook pages. That was it.

The two roundups and infographic between them, only generated a total of 150 Facebook Likes and about 70 Tweets. Ouch.

Yes, traffic saw a small increase to 150 visits a day and I at least had 3 AMAZING new power pages to promote, but seriously, the roundups should have done a lot better.

It just didn’t make any sense?! No-one was sharing?!

And then it hit me.

After scratching my head and emailing back and forth with one of the experts I finally got to the root of the problem.

The brand name was UN-SHAREABLE.

I asked some friends to tell me the brutal truth and they said the exact same thing: “Yeah, you wouldn’t want your friends seeing it on Facebook. Sorry :S”

Well thanks for telling me guys!

So what did I do?

I accepted we’d failed on the branding, bought a new domain name and rebranded. (This was March 20th).

Thankfully we didn’t lose any organic traffic over the whole domain name change fiasco (thanks to my mate Aaron Hawkins who walked me through the whole thing) and on April 10th I was itching to start link building again!

With the new brand in the bag I held my breath and commenced email outreach!

Only this time…

After just a few hours of outreach with the new brand name I noticed an INSTANT change in the way people responded.

It turned out branding was EVERYTHING.

Within days I had managed to land a link on a competitor’s home page widget:

Continue Your Education

And three highly contextual links on three very relevant pages (all strangely PR3).

I kept reaching out, building links…

…and took two of the power pages (one roundup and one list post) from Google’s third page, to page one in less than two weeks!

Then, in a matter of days, bit by bit I watched the two power pages slowly but surely clambr up the rankings.

I’m pretty confident Google is rewarding our best pages for average time spent on page:

Average Time on Page is a HUGE Ranking Factor

Because even after I STOPPED building links the power pages continued to rise up the rankings.

You see, once you get an unbeatable resource on Google’s first page, if people spend longer reading it, Google will reward it with rank:

Clambering Up Google Fast

Well that’s what I think anyway ;)

The site is continuing to rise up Google FAST and I’m confident when I update you on its progress in a month or two’s time I’ll have smashed through the 1000 daily visits mark!

IMPORTANT: I’m going to share the EXACT techniques I used to rank the site in my next post so make sure you don’t miss out by signing up below!

But how much is it making?!

Sales have only just started picking up so I’m going to wait a while before sharing exact figures.

But now it’s ranking for some pretty decent keywords I’ll be able to focus more of my time on CRO and ranking some of the commercial intent keywords higher.

The reason the site is only making an average of $75 a day at present is because the power page keywords are NOT money/product/review keywords with commercial intent.

Luckily though, two of the product review posts are balancing between Google’s first and second page in #10 and #11 place:

Product Keywords

So I’m hoping to rank these by pumping more links to the power pages and filtering that link juice through to them.

A rising tide lifts all boats!

Hopefully, when I come back with an update in a month’s time we’ll see these review posts a little higher in the SERPs.

So what can you learn from this?

Don’t be afraid to fail.

Be persistent.

And NEVER give up.

Exciting Announcement!

Sure, we’ve still got a LONG way to go and working on the site’s conversion rate optimisation is the next priority!

Before the announcement, please Tweet this post if you enjoyed it:

Tweet: 500+ visits a day and growing FAST! Authority site case study: http://ctt.ec/pKP1k+ 500+ visits a day and ranking FAST! Authority site case study

Tweet: Learn how I turned 220 visitors a day into 500 a day in 30 days: http://ctt.ec/k3Zd2+ Learn how I turned 220 visitors a day into 500 a day in 30 days

And now for the announcement…

Next week I’m going to be releasing the first in a series of “over the shoulder” video tutorials where I’ll be building backlinks to one of my niche sites.

It’ll be completely open book and we’re going to cover a HUGE range of broken link building strategies in step by step walkthrough style!

I recently spent a week with the link building team at Distinctly Digital in London perfecting my methods for this video series, so a BIG shoutout and thank you to Aaron, Dan, Jon and Tom for an amazing experience!


Make sure you sign up using the box below and I’ll see you soon!

Post image credits: Pandas in plane via ChinaDailyAsia.com and Panda plane on runway via BusinessTraveller.com.

Are you struggling to rank your authority site? Leave your questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help out!


  1. Aaron says

    My pleasure to help out mate. Glad your project is coming along nicely and that is some nice traffic after a short period of time so well done.

    Keep up the great work and I will check out your tutorial vids, they sound awesome :)

  2. says

    Great post mate

    I’d been wondering how your authority site project was progressing, and it really looks like you’ve turned a corner with this now.

    Online branding is really hard in terms of creating a business people can trust and relate to, but I think your rebrand looks to be paying off.

    ‘Don’t be afraid to fail’ is a good mantra – I also like to think that the only real ‘failure’ where it exists at all is to not even try in the first place.

    Keep up the good work :-)



    • Richard Marriott says

      Thanks mate!

      What you said about failure is bang on. I always remember the line from Batman where Bruce’s father says to Bruce:

      “And why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

      Thanks for your support Loz :)

  3. says

    Wow, what a great story in persistence and tenacity. The best internet marketers share your grit.

    You took the star trek philosophy to go where no man has gone before……and it is paying dividends.

    Why not just build a massive PBN to compete with the big boys and control your own links?

    • Richard Marriott says

      Thanks Scott, you have a pretty good point there. A power blog network might be a good shout.

      Also love the fact you’re a star trek fan. When it comes to Sci-fi I’ve got to admit I have a huge crush on Sharon from Battlestar Galactica ;)

  4. Joe says

    You’re really teasing by telling us everything about the site an making it sound so risque, but no revealing the name or even the industry! I understand why you don’t want to review, but knowing what industry it’s in would be interesting. I imagine it has to do with sex and/or attraction?

    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Joe, yeah sorry to be such a tease ;) I wish I could give it away because it’d be SO much easier to explain everything.

  5. Brandon Dennis says

    Thanks for the article. I have a question.

    I’ve been working hard on my own niche site for almost 2 years now. I’m finally breaking 75,000 visitors a month. I make money from AdSense/Sovrn and Amazon Affiliate. I do pretty well.

    However, I don’t think I’m doing much better than you are, despite having way more traffic than you do. Can I get your tips about Clickbank? I don’t want you to reveal anything that would compromise your project, but I desperately need advice on monetizing a site I feel gets excellent traffic. My site is about men’s health–does that mean I would have little success on ClickBank, since it has nothing to do with digital products?

    Thanks mate.

    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Brandon, you’re most welcome and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      And blimey, those are VERY impressive traffic figures. Nice work!

      I checked out your site and understand your concerns that digital products might not quite suit your audience. However, you might not know it but a large segment of your audience could be very interested in improving their fitness, learning about paleo diets or even learning a new language!

      What I’d do is send a survey to a portion of your subscribers and try to find out other things that interest them. Say you’re planning to add a new flavour to the blog and would love to know what they’d like to see more of because they’re your valued readers.

      Then perhaps trial a post on the blog that is a little different to the usual theme and test the reception it gets. I know you’ll need to tread pretty softly before recommending a ClickBank product, so it would definitely be best to find out what else they’re interested in first and then once you do that, slowly wean it into the blog.

      You may find that 25% of your audience are very interested in getting fit! You could then do a monthly post about the exact workout a certain bearded celebrity does and inspire your bearded audience to get buff (because having a beard and a ripped body is a pretty good look right?!).

      So yeah, I’d totally drive through the man vibe of the blog and bring out the testosterone. Then recommend ClickBank products that help with that. Health, fitness, confidence, etc. I’m sure there are plenty of different avenues you could go down.

      ClickBank is great for that. There’s a product for everything! Hope that helps.

  6. says

    Fantastic post Richard.

    I’ve actually just started a similar project myself, although in an unsaturated industry which is generally dominated by two mega sites. My hope is ill be able to outrank them with some targeted long tail content that really gives the user a definitive answer to their query.

    2 questions for you :

    1. Was all the content created ‘in house’, i.e. You and your biz partner. Or did you outsource any of it?

    2. It might seem like a strange one, but can you give us an average word count on the posts? I’m wondering whether or not to shorten a couple of the posts I’m planning to get the keywords even longer tail.

    Thanks for the post Richard.

    • Richard Marriott says

      Thanks Sam!

      And awesome to hear you’ve started something similar. It’s amazing when you stumble upon a niche like the one you described :)

      In answer to your questions:

      1. Yes, all content was created by my brother and I. We actually spent 2 solid weeks reading a ton of books and taking notes before we even began writing. This way we could guarantee the content had our unique voice, was SEO juiced up to the max and ROCKED!

      Up until now I’ve never outsourced anything because I like to have complete control. But there’s definitely nothing wrong with outsourcing, as long as you find a decent writer!

      2. I just hopped into the site and did a word count of our highest performing posts. This is actually quite interesting, because in order of the amount of traffic they bring in here they are:

      #1: 18.5K words (the how-to post that brings in most of the blog’s traffic

      #2: 2.6K words a list post and the second biggest traffic puller

      #3: 1.2K words (an infographic, but this also has the most backlinks)

      #4: 3.5K words (another huge list post)

      #5: 7.5K words (another expert roundup. This is ranking #17 on Google. I haven’t started link building to this yet but I’m confident a small handful of links will bump this onto the first page in no time).

      So yes, word count is incredibly important. The #1 post picks up so much longtail it’s insane. In fact we rank on Google’s first page for pretty much every possible variation of the main keyword for that term!

      The longer the better!

      • Shelby says

        Hey Richard, just curious, are those posts multi-page posts? Even 3.5k words is quite lengthy for a single post.

        I wonder because from Google’s perspective if it’s broken into different pages, a 18.5k word post could be viewed like 5 posts/pages that are 3.7k words each.

        Sounds minor, but curious what you’re classifying as a post.

        • Richard Marriott says

          Hey Shelby, good question!

          They are all one posts. Not split up. The 18.5K word one literally sucks in every single short and medium tail variation of it. The long tail is of course all vacuumed up too.

          Post length is 100% the most important thing these days I’m sure of it. Now whenever I want to nail a keyword I’ll either make a post that’s at least 2K words long and put as many infographics or videos in it as I can!!

          The expert roundup that I said was ranking #17 in the post above is now ranking #12. I haven’t built any new links to that one so it’s all in the time on page I’m sure.

  7. says

    Hi Richard,

    Neat note about feedback. Find the mix between feedback and intuition. I’ve heard so many ridiculous success stories about people who were told THOUSANDS of times, that their idea was garbage, or foolish – the KFC guy was turned down over 1000 times – then, that rubberband effect snapped back, and they became billionaires.

    Sometimes the worst idea to your friends becomes 1 of the greatest ideas in history ;)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Richard Marriott says

      Awesome, thanks for your support Ryan! Can’t believe the Colonel was turned down so many times. Where on earth do you find 1000 people who don’t like fried chicken? ;)

  8. says

    I sign-up your blog just because of two things richard. 1: I hope you’ll provide the link building methods you used to rank well and 2: Brian dean tweeted this post on twitter. Good luck for clambr. Don’t forget me when you’ll be on top of the list. ;)

  9. Richard Marriott says

    Hey Hammad, I’m really happy to hear you signed up and thanks so much for the good luck wishes!

    I’ll make sure the video tutorial is absolutely top notch so you can learn lots from it and can’t wait to update you when the first video comes out!

    Cheers :)

    • Richard Marriott says

      Thanks mate. CRO is still a work in progress. We’re currently focussing on building up the mailing list. Getting 5+ subscribers a day at present. In terms of sales we’re making on average two sales a day.

      As soon as we get in the top 3 slots on Google I’m sure we’ll start killing it! Since this case study went live we’ve climbed one more position (to #5) for that big “how-to” keyword. It’s only a matter of time!!!

  10. says

    Honestly this is one serious post which I am gonna backlink sometime soon :-) The depth at which you did your work is really commendable!! The idea of working Fiverr for Reddit traffic didn’t work in my mind ;-)

    Thanks for the heads up Buddy! Keep Rocking!

    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Swayam, thanks for your support man! I’ve just joined your rockstar sized flock of followers on Twitter!

      Yeah, the Reddit thing surprisingly worked a treat! Next time I’m going to buy every single gig I can get my hands on in hehe.

      Great thing is, even if the Redditors don’t like it, after they downvote it, one of the Fiverr people upvotes, so it’s really a war of attrition that can go on for days depending on how large your army of Fiverr upvoters is ;)

    • Richard Marriott says

      Thanks Eric! I really hope so too hehe :)

      It is tough trying to make money online. Experienced so many failures along the way and am still learning. The main focus we have now is increasing conversions!!

      Traffic is still on the rise. Since publishing this post traffic has risen to over 650 visits a day now and counting. I haven’t even been link building since this post went live so am more and more convinced by the fact that time spent on a page is one of the most important things these days.

      The posts that get the most time on page are now all sitting on Google’s first page, most within the top 5 results.

      Btw, best of luck with your first home buy Eric! And loving your income reports!

    • Richard Marriott says

      It does indeed hehe. Longer and longer but you can get there with lots of hard work! Thanks for stopping by and glad you like the post! The next update is going to be epic hopefully :)

  11. says

    Thank you for sharing, Richard. I am looking forward to learning more about the tactical side of your link building strategy.
    I respect your persistence.

    • Richard Marriott says

      Cheers George! Loved the interview the other day and looking forward to updating you when the site hits the magical $9K/pm marker!

    • Richard Marriott says

      Hey Alam, actually we’re currently working on creating our own ebook and will then dominate every single keyword related to the problem that ebook solves.

      Our plan is to release the book mid July. I’ll let you know how we get on :)

  12. says

    OMG! This is the kind of post I am looking online. Pure tutorials and no hype.
    I am looking forward to your inspirational post. Gonna implement this method as soon as possible.

  13. says

    Really enjoyed your write up of this case study Richard. Have thus featured it on my own blog in my roundup of really good posts found in June.
    Looking forward to following your other posts.

  14. says

    Thanks for the well written and informational post. This is a kind of posts i love to read. Case studies from people who done whats needed to be done and how they did it.


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