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:
…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:
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!
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…
…flew to a secret location (with my brother and biz partner) in the French Alps…
…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?!
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:
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:
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!
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
And NEVER give up.
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:
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!
Are you struggling to rank your authority site? Leave your questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help out!