Case Study: Building Niche Site On Expired Domain
I love experimenting when it comes to building niche sites. Sometimes I get my fingers burnt, some other time, I get amazing results.
This article is about one of those amazing results… And I want to share the exact thing I did with you.
Kindly take note, that what you’re about to read is not a typical representation of the outcome of building a niche site on an expired domain. More often than not, the result is not always amazing, or it sometimes takes as much time as building on a new domain for the site to gain traction towards the niche you’re repurposing the domain to.
In this experiment I am about to share, I will give you an idea of the timeline, and what we did to get things going for the domain.
Basically, we had a huge budget, up to date, we’ve spent close to #500,000 on the project, and we’re still spending. We’re yet to make any profit whatsoever, but the project is just four months old.
In building niche sites, such expenses don’t freak you out, because you know that two to three months of earnings can recover the whole expenses and still give room for a massive return on investment.
Without many stories, let me give you the breakdown.
#1. Deciding the Niche:
The first thing my partner and I did was to think about the niche we would target. We made a HUGE mistake here because we settled for a medium competitive niche. That is not the mistake though.
The major mistake is that the Amazon commission for that niche is not so great. We would make a lot of money from the site during festive seasons, but aside from that, it would be a $1000-$3000/month regular earning kind of site.
But we’re making a deliberate effort to try some other type of contents on the site, if it works, then there is a prospect of making more from it on a regular month.
What you should learn from this is that selecting your niche goes beyond competition. Yes, competition should be an important aspect, but then what’s the point of ranking if you can’t make serious money from it?
#2. Getting the expired domain.
Once we settled the niche selection issue, we moved on to hunting for an aged domain.
Our goal was simple, we wanted something that will give us the initial push we need in the niche. It does not necessarily have to be a thousand dollars domain, but we had $500-$700 budget for the domain.
We wanted something with a strong backlink profile, and most importantly, something that is targeted towards the audience in our niche.
What that means is that, if our niche is about plumbing, for example, we want a domain that is targeted towards home, family and maybe men. Or for better understanding, if the niche is about kids gift, we want a domain that is targeted towards parenting, and mothers, something in that vertical.
We did not do the research ourselves, because we don’t have the experience or the tool to scrape. so we settled for a service that does something like that. TBSOLUTIONS.INFO is a great place to start your hunt for super expired domain.
After checking through their inventory for a while, we settled for a .org domain, we had to cough out $730 (#260,000) for the domain.
As you can see, the domain name is pretty short. About six letters, but it’s a .org extension. It used to be a government-owned domain before we got it, and we’re enjoying the trust that comes with that right now.
#3. Repurposing The Domain:
After setting up the domain, the next thing is to repurpose the domain for our use.
There are various schools of thought as regards this.
Some SEO will suggest that you restore the content directly using the Wayback machine and let it be for a while. Some will advice that you put in the new content on it directly. Our approach was a little bit different.
What we did was to first check the link profile and make a long list of the pages that had the highest proportion of links. We want to squeeze all the link as much as possible. So we conducted a thorough analysis of the pages and ranked them based on the number of links pointing to them.
We had about five important pages aside from the homepage. These pages were getting massive links from important sites, so we knew we had to restore those pages as it used to be. That way Google will get the signal that the site is back online.
I used the Wayback machine to copy the content that used to be on the page, and then created a new page with the same URL and posted the content on the page. There was a bit of challenge in that regard because the site was built using an old CMS style, so most of the URL ends with .asp or .php extension.
I had to create the same URL structure and then initiate a 301 redirect from the .php extension to the new URL.
This might sound a little bit complicated if you’re not used to the technical jargons, but the main information there is that, I had to make sure that the pages that were getting massive links appeared back on the site they way they used to be.
Once I was able to do all of that, I went back to the pages that were pointing to those articles, and clicked on the link, just to make sure that it is directing them to the pages I have created on the site.
Everything seems fine. I installed Google analytics, and also activated the site on Google search console.
Now is time to wait.
The initial plan was that we would wait for at least eight weeks, to see how Google reacts to the domain. As we wait for Google to show us, love, we commissioned our writers to get to work on the content for the site.
#4. Content Planning.
This is where most of the money is going into.
Our approach is simple, we will target three categories of keywords:
The KGR keywords: This should be an easy win because it virtually has no competition on the internet. And if the domain is super enough, we should rank for this in a month or 8 weeks at most.
For this type of keyword, we instructed the writer to write 1500 words review articles for these ones. Nothing deep, just review of 5 products, introduction and conclusion. From experience, the content will rank as long as the content is detailed enough to cover the topic.
Because the search volume for these keywords is always very small, less than 300 searches per month, we don’t want to go hard on it.
Medium Competiton: This type of articles are a little bit competitive. We commissioned the writer to write 3000, to 4,000 words article on these keywords. They’re a bit competitive, and we know it will take a while for them to rank. We’re talking of four to five months, to see them move to page one, and then before the end of the year, they get to top 3.
High Competition: These keywords are very very competitive. The goal is not to automatically rank for them, but to structure the article in such a way that it will rank for some long tail keywords over the years before ranking for the main keyword that is being targeted.
We have about five of such articles on the site. They’re the longest and most detailed article you will find on the internet about the primary keyword. We’re talking of 7,000 10,000 words for each article.
For an informational article: we did not go crazy about it. we just wrote 1,500words articles about topics that will let us link out to the review products. We wrote about twenty of those, and that was it up to date.
But in the future, we will be writing more informational articles, targeted at promoting some other affiliate products on click bank, or we might end up pushing our own products as well. Only time will tell.
#5. Google LOVES Us.
After waiting for a month, I noticed in November that we’re good to go! Some of the keywords were showing up on google already, so we began to publish our monster contents.
In some of the articles, we reviewed up to 50 products and in some, we reviewed 25-30 products. In our KGR articles, we reviewed just 5 products.
And that was it.
That’s the screenshot I took while working on this article. We got the domain in late October, but we had to let it wait for some months, so we did not start publishing articles on the site until November.
As you can see from the screenshot, we literally started getting traction in December, a month after we started pushing contents on the site.
Over the last three months, we have moved massively for some heavy keywords. Check the screenshots below. Surprisingly, Google started ranking our KGR for medium keywords, so we are currently making plans to flesh up the content of those KGR that Google is picking up for medium competition so that they can easily compete in that space.
We’ve also scored some #1 position, even though the site is fairly young, we have been able to hit the first spot for some of the KGR keywords that we published in November and early December.
The next screenshot is that of the keywords in #1-#3 on Google search result page.
as you can see, the search volume for those keywords is not that huge, but it’s a good thing to get some organic traffic to your page in the early days. It will further push your site up in the search engine result page.
As at the time of writing this, we’re getting close to 800 visitors to the site per day, and I really can’t wait to see what’s next of the site in some months to come.
Hopefully, by December, it would have gained a lot of traction that it will comfortably pay for all the expenditure in a single month. And then we would have a well-valued business.
#6. Link Building Effort
Aside from building a site on a strong expired domain, you have to make a conscious effort to rank, part of the effort includes, publishing a rock solid content, as well as sending some backlink.
I wanted us to diversify our link profile, so I commissioned a friend to do blog commenting on some sites. We agreed on $100, and I paid $50 upfront. for a while, he commented, but soon he stopped. I believe he got lazy…
Aside from blog commenting, we recently paid for a PBN link rental to some of the money page, we paid $300 for six months link rental. The goal is to see how the site reacts to some PBN link love.
It’s too early to know the impact of those links, and only time will tell if we can send more of it to the site or not.
#7. Earnings So Far.
I know this is the part most people are interested in. If we’ve spent this much on a site, by now, we should be making a profit?
The answer is no.
We’re not making any profit from the site yet. But we clearly have a winning site, all things being equal. What this means is that the only reason why we’re not making money right now is that we are still young, and we need more time to claim that number one spot for most of our targeted keywords
Let me show you a breakdown of the earnings of the site since December.
In December 2018: It made just $10.58
January 2019, it made $85.31
That huge spike is as a result of two extra sales as you can see in the screenshot, so it’s actually not regular. Normally, it should make around $20-$30 without the spike sales.
February 2019 so far: It has made $19.
One thing you should notice is that the number of clicks coming to Amazon from the site has been increasing significantly. And with that comes a better chance of conversion when the time is right.
If this were to be a regular site, in a niche with a reasonable commission and a not so seasonal niche, we would most probably be making close to $200 steadily from the site right now.
But it is too early to talk about earnings.
I will most probably make another case study update about this same site in three (3) months time, and you’d notice the earning movement all things being equal.
#8. Take Home Lesson?
The reason why I wrote this article is because of a message I got from one of my students some days ago. He wanted to know if there is a shortcut to all of these things. If you can skip the process and earn money from affiliate marketing as soon as possible.
My response to him might have sounded rude, I simply told him “Not that I know of” He probably expected a better answer, but I disappointed him with my response.
Affiliate marketing is a REAL BUSINESS. There are no shortcuts when it comes to building a real business. You have to follow the process and let time have its own effect as well. The time effect is very important.
Especially since you’re building a property that would one-day worth thousands of dollars if not hundreds of dollars, you don’t have to be in a hurry. Just set a time frame for yourself to know if you’re making progress or not.
In due time, the effect of hard work and waiting will sum up and you will have a winning site.
That’s about it for now, and I can’t wait to share updates with you guys in April or May.