How to Buy and Grow a Website 5x in Just 7 Months

How to Buy and Grow a Website 5x in Just 7 Months

Wondering how to grow a website after you’ve made a purchase? Well, today, I’m excited to share an interview I conducted with Jared Bauman, a long time Niche Pursuits reader.

Jared and I sat down to discuss a recent site he purchased on MotionInvest.com and how he grew it 5x in just 7 months.  He took the site from earning around $200 a month to now over $1,000 a month!  Below you will find all his exact strategies for success.

Jared was kind enough to offer to write up his strategies, and so I allowed him to do that below.  You can listen to the entire interview by clicking the play button above, or by watching the video version below.

My name is Jared Bauman, and today I want to walk you through my process in buying my first existing website that’s already earning money. I’m not a stranger to starting niche websites, as I’ve been doing it on the side for 3-4 years. 

To be fair, I’m also no stranger to online marketing. For my “day job,” I run a digital marketing agency, so I have a good amount of experience with websites. I own a few other niche websites that I started from scratch (or virtually from scratch) that are making money. But, I’ve always been intrigued by the prospects of buying a site that already makes money.

This is the path I took to find a site for purchase and grow 5X in 7 months. 

Why Buy an Existing Website?

At first glance, buying an already-established website that is making money doesn’t make any sense at all. You can start a site for next to nothing. Provided you know a thing or two about SEO, you can publish informative, optimized content to the site and over time, grow it into a profitable asset. 

However, this all takes time… a lot of it. Most websites sit in Google’s sandbox for 6+ months before seeing any traction. And even after that period, it can take 1-2 years for the site to earn measurable income. As an example, look at Spencer’s recent Niche Site 4 project

Plus, your site might never take off and become profitable. There are no guarantees…

Buying a website eliminates all that. You shorten the time horizon to profitability while ensuring that the site you put time and money into is already earning money. But, the downside is that you’re paying for all of that work that someone else has done, and that time that it’s taken to season the site. 

One great approach is to buy a site that has a lot of growth potential. If you can find a site that is close to having a breakthrough, whether because it needs technical work, more content, or some link building, then you can quickly increase the value of the site you purchase. 

That was the approach I wanted to take. 

Website Purchase Criteria

There are no shortage of websites available to purchase, and it can be really easy to get overwhelmed at the number of options available. I quickly learned that I needed to have a set criteria for a website that I was going to purchase. This would allow me to weed out the majority of sites I saw, and feel confident in the one that I would end up buying.

I started by determining that the most I wanted to pay for a site was $12,000. Most sites sell for a multiple of 25x-35x monthly profit, so this meant I was looking for sites that were earning no more than $500 per month. 

However, I’d be happy to pay less than $12,000 if I saw a website with good opportunity. 

With price point out of the way, here is the additional criteria I settled on for the website I wanted to purchase. Obviously, yours might be a bit different.

1. Ranking Articles

The website had to have content with keywords that ranked on the first page of Google. The site didn’t need to have a ton of first page rankings, but it had to have a few. 

According to an Ahrefs study, over 90% of content on the internet gets no traffic from Google. 

There is a risk that a site will never get “Google love,” and no matter what you do, it will never get first page rankings. This could be due to a number of factors, but since I wasn’t a part of the building process from the beginning, it was a concern. 

First page rankings would show me that Google liked the site (to some degree), and trusted it enough to put something from it on the first page. 

2. Consistent Revenue

The website had to be earning money, and had to be doing so for several months. Many websites never reach this stage, and much of the reason I wanted to purchase a site (rather than start from scratch) was to get a site that was already earning money. 

It’s one thing for a site to rank on the first page for keywords, but an entirely different thing for it to be making money from its content. For this to happen, not only do the keywords have to rank, but they have to be keywords with buyer intent. 

In addition, the articles need to have a compelling enough copy to create affiliate revenue conversions. Granted – having revenue doesn’t mean that the content is great. But, it is a good sign. 

3. No Backlink Profile

You might think that getting a site with a built-out backlink profile would be a plus. And, if I was going for a site that was earning more money, I would agree. But, the nice thing about buying a site in this price range is that it’s entirely possible to find a site that doesn’t have many (if any) backlinks. 

I wanted to avoid spammy backlinks, over-optimized anchor text, and PBNs. 

A site without much of a backlink profile means that it is ranking based on other factors, and that is a good sign. It also means that adding backlinks after purchase could help supercharge the rankings. 

4. Monthly Traffic over 3,000 Pageviews

This goes hand-in-hand with the next criteria. A site that is getting consistent pageviews is a great sign. Once a site reaches several thousand pageviews each month, it is getting close to being eligible for a Premium Ad Network. 

You could monetize with ads through Google Adsense, but the RPMs are terrible. With sites of mine in the past, I’ve gotten under $5 RPMs, which hardly makes it worth it. 

But, premium ad networks make monetizing with ads worth it. I personally have sites on both Ezoic and Mediavine, and get consistent RPMs between $15-$30. 

Ezoic has the lowest bar for entry, set at roughly 10,000 pageviews per month. Buying a site that has at least 3,000 pageviews per month puts it within striking distance of getting ad revenue. 

5. No Premium Ad Network

I wanted a site that did not have any premium ads on it. Once I added premium ads, it’s an instant source of additional revenue, and greatly increases the revenue of the site. 

When buying real estate, they talk about “getting your money on the way in.” In essence, this refers to buying the property for less than it is worth, so you’ve basically made some money as soon as the deal closes. 

While you can directly apply this to website purchases, adding a Premium Ad Network quickly is another way to do this. If you buy a site earning $200/month, and add premium ads in the first few months, you could very easily jump the revenue to $400-$450/month. You just doubled the value of the site.

So, those were my five criteria. I highly recommend you set a stringent criteria list for a website purchase, especially if this is your first one. This made it really easy to evaluate (and eliminate) websites that I saw for purchase. And, when I did buy a site, I was able to do it quickly and full of confidence. 

Buying a Website

With these criteria in mind, I set out to find a good website for purchase. 

Where to Buy Websites

There are also no shortage of places to buy websites. You can go through a broker, a Facebook group, or even find a site on your own. There are upsides and downsides to each, and lots of great articles about which to pick for your situation. 

For my first purchase, I was looking for a site making less than $500 per month. In the grand scheme of things, I would be purchasing a pretty small site (as an example, Spencer bought a site making $10,000 per month in 2018)!

A smaller site would carry less risk for me. And, with success, I could reinvest the profits into a bigger site. For a site this size, you might be able to find one on Empire Flippers, but they are rare and go FAST!

Flippa has no shortage of sites in these criteria, but if you look closely, most of what is sold there is junk. Yes, you can find a good site, but you really have to know how to sift through the bad ones. I wasn’t confident enough in my skills, at least not for the first one. 

I ended up purchasing a site through Motion Invest. Their sites are typically more in the range I was looking at, and had a layer of vetting that I appreciated. After several months of looking over sites that were published, I found one that met my criteria and pulled the trigger to purchase it. 

Purchasing the Website

The site that I ended up purchasing was in a broad niche with a lot of affiliate websites. It wasn’t a niche that I had any particular expertise in, but I did find the topic interesting. There were lots of different products to write about, which was a good sign to me. 

The site was making around $200 per month, and I purchased it for just over $7,000. The multiple was a little higher than I wanted, but the site met every single one of my criteria. Given that it had been several months of looking and I hadn’t seen one single site like that, I felt it was worth purchasing. 

How to Grow a Purchased Site

Within minutes of wiring the money for the site purchase, I was already making plans for how to grow it. Here is the step-by-step process I went through.

1. Site Audit and Repairs

Immediately, I ran the site through Ahrefs Site Audit tool. This can take a few hours, but once the crawler is done, it spits out a report on all of the technical errors on the site. 

For the most part, the errors on this site were pretty easy to fix. The bulk of the fixes that needed to be made were:

  • 404 pages
  • Redirect loops
  • Missing meta descriptions and alt text
  • Missing or multiple H1s

These tasks are pretty easy but very monotonous. They can easily be outsourced to a VA or a hire on Upwork if you want. 

There were a few other technical issues, such as an incomplete Amazon Associates disclosure statement and a missing Privacy Policy page. 

I also made some adjustments to the plugin stack in WordPress to reduce the number of plugins that were being used, and added Autoptimize to help with site speed. 

Finally, the site’s architecture was poor, and so I re-categorized the posts and changed the navigational menu. 

All of these changes were done within the first week. To be honest, these aren’t a lot of fun. But, sometimes you can see a lot of traffic gains just from fixing the technical details of a site. Beyond that, making these changes provided a better user experience and potentially helps avoid future ranking downturns. 

2. Add Buy Buttons and Tables

One glaring problem I saw while working on the site was that none of the articles had tables or buy buttons to Amazon. While the articles had helpful content, the only links to Amazon were text links that seemed randomly placed. 

Tables are a great way to showcase the product details to a reader and help them make an informed decision. Big buttons that stand out on the page naturally attract clicks to Amazon, which make you more money. 

I added the AAWP plugin to the site and put tables and buy buttons on all of the monetized articles. 

3. Keyword Research

As soon as I finished fixing the technical errors, I turned to keyword research for new content. 

The site was severely lacking in Informational content. My hunch was that one quick way to increase site traffic was to publish some long tail, informational articles. These are typically easier to rank than monetized content and they would help round out the site.

Most of the keywords I found were low search volume questions. These long tail keywords are relatively easy to write content for. 

I also found a good number of “best x for y” type of keywords. These articles would help round out the site’s monetization, as right now the site really only ranked for individual product reviews. 

4. Hire a Writer

While doing keyword research, I posted a job offer on Upwork for a writer. I was looking for someone with previous experience in the niche. I also posted in a few Facebook groups, and ended up finding a few great candidates there. 

With the writing SOPs from my agency, I tested several writers and found one that stood out as the best option. 

With a writer hired, it was time to start cranking out content. New content would do several things:

  • Informational content would help shape the site into more of an authority site and less of an affiliate site
  • Informational content could rank quicker and help me get on a premium ad network faster
  • Buying Guides would present new monetization opportunities in future months

5. Publish New Content

The writer started writing a mixture of Informational articles and Buying Guides. The informational articles were around 1,500 words, while the Buying Guides were typically around 2,500-4,000 words.

Here is the publishing scheduled we ended up with:

  • Month One: 11 articles
  • Month Two: 24 articles
  • Month Three: 16 articles
  • Month Four: 16 articles
  • Month Five: 20 articles

After five months of publishing content, I stopped publishing any new content. This is because I wanted to see what ended up ranking, before I decided what to write next.

6. Build Links

As I mentioned above, the site didn’t really have any links when I purchased it. Sure, it had a few random links it had picked up along the way, but nothing that was really moving the needed. 

I took a very basic approach to link building, focusing on links that pointed to the home page of the site, with very basic branded anchor text. 

I pursued websites that had linked to my competitors. I would scan their website and try to find some sort of connection that I could make with them. I would then email them, trying to strike up a relationship to see if I could guest post. 

Luckily, I found lots of doppelganger competitors in this niche, and so I had a good number of link building targets. 

The success rate for this process wasn’t very high (2-4% conversion rate). I know it could have been higher if I spent more time on the individual emails. But, I also only wanted 2-3 links per month, so I knew I didn’t need to be razor sharp focused. 

After six months, I had been able to build around 17 links to the site, with the majority going to the home page, but also some to inner pages. 

7. Add Internal Links

One gap the site had when I acquired it was a lack of internal linking. I could have tackled this right away, but I chose to wait until I had some more content on the site. 

Once content started to get published routinely, I started going back and adding internal links. The informational articles were really good for linking out to relevant buying guides and reviews. 

Link Whisper makes this task extremely easy, and it didn’t take me too long to add a lot of relevant internal links. I’ll admit – I was a beta tester for Link Whisper, so I’m quite partial to how amazing the tool is. 

Internal linking helped Google crawl the site better, while also providing key links to internal pages, especially some of the buying guides that I was having published. 

Results

Traffic and revenue results started to pour in after the first month.

Traffic

Traffic to the site started growing immediately, perhaps buoyed by the technical repairs done right away, along with a few backlinks during the first month.

New content was getting published to the site within 2 weeks of purchase, so that sustained and increased the traffic gains in coming months.

  • Traffic at Purchase: 6,100 pageviews over past 30 days
  • Month One: 7,100 pageviews
  • Month Two: 8,500 pageviews
  • Month Three: 9,900 pageviews
  • Month Four: 15,100 pageviews
  • Month Five: 15,900 pageviews
  • Month Six: 16,600 pageviews
  • Month Seven: 22,100 pageviews

The site is currently on pace for roughly 27,500 pageviews in Month Eight. 

The combination of technical fixes, new content, and backlinks seem to have provided for several spikes in site traffic. 

Revenue

The site had been valued at roughly $200/month, which is what it had averaged over the past 6 months. For clarity, the site earned $296 the month right before I purchased it, but that included some revenue from the Q4 holiday period. 

  • Revenue at Purchase: Roughly $200/month on a trailing 6 month average
  • Month One: $274
  • Month Two: $609
  • Month Three: $978
  • Month Four: $775
  • Month Five: $556
  • Month Six: $775
  • Month Seven: $1,149

The site’s revenue has dipped a little bit in Month Eight, as we get closer to the Q4 sales season.

The site’s revenue benefited from a number of things:

  • Adding AAWP and cleaning up the site’s content had an immediate impact on conversions
  • Ezoic was added quickly, leading to several hundred dollars of additional revenue every month
  • The global pandemic led to a temporary spike in revenue for this niche. This only lasted a few weeks but provided for a nice bump
  • There was a seasonal lull during Month Five, but this had been anticipated using Google Trends

Value

If we use a 32x monthly multiplier, then you could value the site at $32,768. I think 32x is a reasonable multiplier, as that site has lots of potential upside. Granted – the site will need to earn this kind of revenue for close to 6 months to get a valuation like that. But, it still represents a nice estimate as to where the site is at given current earnings. 

Since purchase, the site has brought in $5,116 in profit. The vast majority of expenses have gone to new content, totaling $4,126*. This leaves $990 in profit after expenses from monthly earnings. 

Taking the current valuation of $32,768 plus monthly profits of $990 and subtracting the purchase price of roughly $7,000, the website has currently added $26,758 in profit since purchase. Not bad for 7 months!

*This does not take into account using team members at my agency for outreach and some of the technical work. There is obviously a cost associated with this, but since they worked on it sporadically when they had time, I didn’t have great metrics on it to share. 

Future

My original goal was to get the site to $1,000 per month in profit, which would represent roughly 4x growth. In about seven months, the site has grown more than that and currently sits at a 4.75x growth multiple. 

While I’ve reached my goal, I think the site still has a lot of potential growth. Many of the articles and buying guides published are only starting to get traffic, and many are sitting on page two and three of Google. 

The next few months also brings Q4, which is historically the biggest quarter of sales for most Amazon Affiliate sites. Using Google Trends, I was able to see that this site performs really well on Black Friday and throughout December. 

I do plan on selling the site, but my new plan is to wait until after November and December to see how the site performs. With any luck, I can get the earnings higher and increase the final sale price.

On-Page SEO Tutorial: How To Perfectly Optimize Your Website

On-Page SEO Tutorial: How To Perfectly Optimize Your Website

In this tutorial, I’ll show you the exact on-page SEO techniques you can use to outrank your competitors.

Although Google is getting smarter, you still need to optimize your pages if you want to show up as the most relevant result.

I have a few competitors in my niches who are not optimizing their site at all.

They have a much stronger link profile than me, and have amassed links for years before my site was even created. But my site is optimized much better, and I outrank them.

Want to learn how? Let’s dive in.

On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO – What’s The Difference?

On-page SEO refers to the optimization of your HTML source code and content to rank higher in search engines for your targeted keywords.

Off-page SEO refers to increasing positive external signals pointing to your site such as backlinks.

Back in the day when I used to work with SEO clients, clients who had on-page SEO issues were my favorite to work with.

Why? Because they were the easiest to fix!

On-page SEO is totally under our control. We can fix issues instantly.

Off-page SEO, on the other hand, takes longer. You need to go out and “build” links on other websites that you don’t own, and the process is more complex and time consuming.

There are a LOT of websites out there with huge backlink profiles that don’t get a lot of search traffic.

The reason? Their on-site SEO sucks.

Just a few tweaks to your content and HTML source code can drastically increase their rankings and traffic.

Let’s go through what a perfectly optimized SEO article looks like.

On-Page SEO Starts With Search Intent

Before we start optimizing anything, we have to make sure that we’re not fighting a losing battle. Google is getting better and better at understanding search intent – what users are specifically looking to do when they make a search query.

search intent categories

If Google sees that searchers for a keyword are looking for ecommerce content, your informational content is not going to rank no matter what you try. And even if you do, it won’t last long. Your horrendous bounce rate will tell Google your page is not relevant for that keyword anyways.

It only makes sense that this is the very first place you start when optimizing any page for a keyword. Always try and maximize your understanding of what the search intent behind that keyword is before you create something around it.

Is the searcher looking to buy something or are they looking for information? Are they looking for quick or in-depth information? What pages are ranking already? Why are they ranking? What type of content would help the searcher answer their question fully and in the best way?

Once you understand that, we can begin the optimization process.

Create a Compelling Title With Your Target Keyword

A page has many HTML tags, but the title tag is the most important one. Your title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor. It’s what tells Google what your page is about, and it’s also what shows up in the Google search result.

title tag google search result

There are a couple of things you need to do with page titles.

First of all, you need to make them compelling so that people click on them.

Don’t write boring or vague titles that don’t immediately tell the searcher what your page is about. Instead, use descriptive and action-oriented words in your titles.

Here’s a really useful comparison that shows the difference between good and bad page titles.

difference between good and bad page titles
Source

As you can see, the best performing titles have certain common characteristics for example they use numbers at the start, have an element of mystery, and powerful words that drive action.

Using the current year in your blog title also makes it stand out and generates more clicks.

Tell me which title would you click?

On-Page SEO Tips For Bloggers OR On-Page SEO Tips For Bloggers (2020)

Most users would click the second one becuase it gives you the impression that the content is more recent and updated.

The other thing you have to consider when creating titles is SEO. You have to use your target keyword in the title to tell Google what your content is mainly about.

It’s still surprising to me when I browse the web, and see a website with a super strong link profile. They should be ranking #1, no competitor should even come close to outranking them. But the title of their page is something like: “Main” and they’re nowhere to be found.

Keyword in title tag: If you want to rank for a keyword, the first and most important step is to have the keyword in the title tag.

Title tag character limit: Make your title tag too long, and it will be cut off by Google with ellipses. Today, there isn’t a total character limit. It’s totally user and device dependant. Ideally though, your title tag should be 60 to 70 characters in length.

Creating your title: Just because having the keyword in your title is important, doesn’t mean you should create title tags with JUST your keyword. You want to make it interesting so that people want to click through to your page rather than the others.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do:

bad example of title tag

Instead, go for something like this:

good example of title tag

The second one is much more interesting and detailed, and also accomplishes another very important thing…

Optimizing for related keywords: If you have room for more characters in your title, target another keyword that’s closely related. In the example above, I fit in “Create Articles That Rank” alongside my main keyword.

If I can get this page to rank for “on-page SEO” then I have a high chance of ranking for the other one as well.

This is something I do a lot, and it makes a big difference in how many keywords your article ranks for, and drives more long-tail traffic to your page. Don’t go overboard though. It has to be very closely related to your main keyword.

Entice A Click With Your Meta Description

What’s a meta description?

It’s the snippet of text in each Google search result that describes what the page is about.

meta descriptions

The meta description isn’t a direct ranking factor, so it’s not a huge issue if you don’t optimize it. However, it can help increase your CTR in the search engine results.

The best method of writing a meta description is to try and convince the searcher why they should click on your page rather than the others. Think of it like you’re writing an ad description. The more enticing it is to the reader, the higher your CTR is likely to be.

NOTE: Even if you write the perfect meta description, Google often shows other content from your page within the description depending on what the user is searching for.

Create A Short And Simple URL With Your Keyword

Shorter is better. Try to keep your URL’s short and concise, and try not to bury content deep in multiple directories.

Just keep in your main keywords, and cut out everything else.

You can edit your URL’s in WordPress here:

url structure

As you can see, my title is really long, but my URL has been edited to be short, and contain only the main keywords.

*This isn’t a major issue. Having reasonably long URL’s are not going to hurt your Google rankings. However, it’s just good practice to get into the habit of creating clean, keyword-focused URL’s.

You can read more about good URL structures for SEO here.

Use Header Tags To Tell Google About Your Subtopics

Headers are simple. Whatever you put into your title tag should be wrapped in an H1 tag on the page. If you’re using WordPress, your title will automatically be used as your h1 tag in most cases. But you could still change it up a little bit using an SEO plugin like Yoast.

The rest of your headers should be H2, H3, H4, H5, H6.

Personally, I usually never use anything beyond H2. I only use H3’s when I need to expand further on a topic within the H2 subtopic.

Like this:

header tag example

As you can see above, the H3 subtopic is still within the H2 subtopic of goals. Header tags are also a great way to improve your user experience on the page. Headers give your page depth and organization. They guide the user through the article.

A few things to note:

1. There should only be one H1 tag on a page.
2. Don’t skip header tags. Don’t use H1 and then H4’s throughout the page. Go in order of importance/significance.
3. It’s not essential to use multiple header tags in a page, but don’t forget the H1.

And lastly…

No keyword stuffing for h2 and h3 tags – keep it simple

Use Wikipedia, one of the best examples of a website that does on-site SEO correctly, as an example. They don’t use the the main keyword in their h2 and h3 header tags.

header tags
header tags
header tags

It’s not: “SEO history” OR “SEO as a marketing strategy” OR “White hat SEO vs black hat SEO techniques”.

I see a lot of people excessively stuffing keywords into all their header tags. There was a time when this worked, and it was recommended to do so. Today, especially after Hummingbird, there’s really no need to do this kind of stuff.

If you have too high a keyword density, it can hurt your rankings.

Sometimes, you can’t help but use the keyword all throughout the page. If you’re writing naturally, that’s fine. But if you’re excessively stuffing keywords into all your header tags just because you hope that it gives you a rankings boost, you’re potentially putting your rankings at risk.

Should you focus on keyword density at all?

No… but not entirely.

What I like to do is to write naturally first and don’t focus on keyword density at all. When I’m outsourcing content, I’ll tell the writer to ignore keyword density.

After the article is completed, I’ll either replace synonyms with keywords and LSI keywords if the density is too low, or I’ll remove them and add synonyms if it’s too high.

If you’re unfamiliar with LSI keywords, Ankit does a great job of explaining them in this article.

Don’t forget image alt tags

Using images makes the article have a better user experience. It’s much more enjoyable to read content that has images than it is to read hundreds of lines of pure text.

But a lot of people forget to optimize their images with proper alt tags.

Setting alt tags to images gives Google another indication of what your page is about.

How to use the alt tags: For the first/feature image of a blog post, I’ll put in my keyword as my alt tag. All other alt tags should be used for describing the image. Don’t stuff them with keywords.

Use LSI keywords: Using images to add LSI keywords is one of my favorite on-site SEO strategies. Don’t stuff your main keyword into every alt tag. Instead, use it as an opportunity to add even more LSI keywords into your page.

For example, for the image I used earlier:

header tag

I set the alt tag as “wikipedia use of header tags”:

image alt tag example

It clearly describes the image while using an LSI keyword that isn’t my main keyword.

Embed Relevant Videos To Increase Ave. Session Duration

Ave. Session Duration indicates the time an average visitor spends on your website.

If this duration is higher, it tells Google that your visitors like your content and find it relevant to their interest.

It is one of the ranking factors Google uses to evaluate sites.

Embedding relevant videos to your content is an easy way to increase your site’s ave. session duration.

Brian Dean, a leading SEO expert, regularly embeds relevant videos within his blog content.

embed relevant videos
Source

If you don’t have original video content, there’s nothing wrong with using third-party videos from YouTube as long as they’re relevant to your content.

This simple strategy not only increases the perceived value of your content but also positively impacts your search rankings.

Use Your Main Keyword Early On In Your Article

Go through any of Wikipedia’s articles, and you’ll notice that they always have their main keyword as the first word, and that it’s bolded.

SEO keywords
keyword snowboard bolded
keyword bolded

You don’t need to go that far, but you shouldn’t be 1000 words deep into your content before you bring up your main keyword for the first time.

For best results, use it as early on as you can. For me, I always try to use the keyword in my first sentence.

Create Long-Form Content With Search Intent In Mind

Longer content ranks better.

Based on studies by Moz and BuzzSumo, longer articles tend to get more links and shares.

And this study by SerpIQ analyzed the top 10 search results for over 20,000 keywords and noticed that on average, content ranking on the first page of Google had over 2000 words.

content length and rankings

While optimum content length varies depending on keyword difficulty, and type of keyword, it’s fair to conclude that long form content is the way to go if you’re serious about ranking for anything (especially informational keywords).

For standard blog posts, I try to keep my articles between 1800 to 2500 words in length.

The type (and length) of content you create depends on search intent. It largely depends on the scope of the topic, and keyword. For some topics, it just doesn’t make sense to have so many words.

Google algorithms have evolved over the years and consider lots of different search ranking factors while evaluating a site.

But backlinks are still among the most important ranking factors.

According to a study by SEMRush, there’s a direct relationship between the search ranking of a site and the number of domains pointing it.

study by SEMRush
Source

I have covered various backlinking strategies on this blog before.

But getting backlinks becomes much easier when you create link-worthy content (content that actually deserves to get backlinks).

How do you create such content?

With a few simple changes to how you create content

i) Back your arguments with data and research

You can instantly make your content more link-worthy by adding more stats and linking to credible third-party research.

A study by Link-Assistant found that 70% of marketers use Data/Research-based content for link-building.

A study by Link-Assistant
Source

Whenever you’re making an argument or sharing an opinion in your content, search Google to see if you can find any research or numbers to back to your argument.

This makes you content more credible and as a result people mention it in their content and link back to it.

If you have a large email list or social media following, you can also generate primary data by running surveys on your audience and sharing the results in your content.

ii) Share case studies and examples

Examples and case studies have the same impact as numbers and data.

They also add credibility to your arguments and make your content more link-worthy.

If you’re running an agency, share client experiences or case studies of how you helped them improve performance.

If you don’t have your own case studies, share relevant examples from your industry to back your argument.

iii) Create long, in-depth, and actionable content

I’ve already discussed the importance of creating long and in-depth content for SEO.

part from helping you rank for your target keywords, longer content also gets more backlinks.

Hubspot found in a study that articles longer than 2500 words received the most backlinks on their blog.

Word Count vs Linking domains
Source

It makes sense as well becuase longer content covers a topic from every angle and gives the readers a lot more value.

But don’t increase your word count just for the sake of it.

Add genuine value to your content so that your readers benefit from it.

iv) Add visuals to your content

Here’s an easy way to get backlinks.

Find any research, study, or raw data and turn it into an infographic or image that describes the same study visually.

KissMetrics used infographics to get more than 41K backlinks to their site in just two years.

Canva and Visual.ly are pretty awesome tools to create infographics and attractive blog images for free.

If you can’t create images yourself, use cropped sections of third-party infographics in your content like I’ve done (but don’t forget to link back to the original source).

It not only makes your content more engaging but also results in more backlinks because people tend to links back to your content when sourcing images instead of the original image creator’s site (I’m speaking from experience).

What’s one of the biggest signs of unnatural linking? Having all your links pointed at just your homepage.

One of the keys to building a successful blog these days is to make sure that your links are spread out throughout your domain.

It’s just natural.

Don’t just build links to your homepage. Build links to your internal pages as well.

It’s a tough concept for people new to SEO to understand why building links to page X helps increase rankings for page Y.

It’s one of the reasons why broken link building is so effective, and one of the reasons people like Neil Patel invests thousands of dollars creating infographics.

His infographics attract a lot of links and shares.

But these links usually point only at the page the infographic is on, not other pages he’s trying to rank.

So how does that help rankings for other pages?

Your domain authority increases and you build more trust to your site overall. This in turn increases rankings across the board for your entire domain.

Of course, make sure to set up your internal links on those pages so that they pass this link juice to the pages you want to rank higher.

You should be interlinking your blog posts whenever possible.

Proper internal linking is probably one of the easiest (and fastest) ways to improve your site’s SEO.

Why?

  • Internal links helps improve your link flow to individual pages on your site, helping them to rank better.
  • The anchor text of links helps Google to understand the context of a webpage and to rank better.
  • Internal links help Google Bots crawl and access different parts of your site.
  • Internal links also improve user experience by providing them with more information on certain topics. That in turn increases your user metrics such as bounce rate and time on site which are all ranking factors.

When you publish new articles, link to your older articles wherever you can. And you should also make it a habit to go back to older articles and link to your newer articles.

When I’m onboarding new writers, one of my criteria is to use and link to as many sources as they can.

Linking out to helpful external sites is just a better user experience overall.

So you should do it more often. You won’t lose your rankings by linking out to a helpful resource. If anything, it will make your own content more credible and trustworthy.

For instance, I love reading content like this articles by Forbes because there are links everywhere.

When I read a sentence that intrigues me, and I want to learn more, there’s usually a link to another page which extensively covered that story.

links on forbes

Now, that’s a helpful external link!

Know what I’m thinking after reading it?

Forbes really did their research and covered this story thoroughly. I trust this site.

When you write an article, you’re NOT the only authority on every single sub-topic within the article. There are other places where people can go to learn more.

Link to them.

Don’t be a dead end on the internet. Link out to helpful sites. Credit sources where you got your information. Outbound links in relation to your rankings is pretty well explained in this video by Moz.

Should you nofollow external links? Ever know somebody who’s super cheap? Don’t be that guy. Nofollowing every external link in fear of sharing link juice is pretty much like being the cheap friend who is stingy about spending a dollar more than their fair share.

Share the link love! You won’t lose rankings for linking out to helpful sources on the internet.

One of my favorite things about a Wikipedia article is how they organize their content with in-page links.

I’m talking about this thing at the top of every article.

in page links

It’s a great user experience because it allows you to preview all the major sub-topics within the content, and then jump straight to the section you’re interested in.

It’s the perfect way to format organize really long pieces of content.

For example, I created in-page links for my outreach link building guide because it’s over 10,000 words long.

inpage links

Creating in-page links is really easy to do.

All you need to do is create links and ID’s throughout the page by following this guide.

NOTE: Creating in-page links is probably not the best thing to do on pages with less than 1500 words. It’s short enough that people can just easily scroll through everything. But if you have pages that are over 2000 words long, it’s a nice feature to add on.

Write Naturally For Your Readers

Don’t write for search engines. Write for people, then optimize for search engines afterwards by going through the techniques we just learned.

Don’t pay too much attention to keyword density. Sometimes, your keyword density will be higher than others. That’s just due to the nature of the keyword. There isn’t a “perfect” keyword density you should be shooting for.

Instead, check to see how it reads after right before you publish it. If it sounds weird because you’re stuffing keywords everywhere, then use pronouns or LSI keywords to remove some of your keywords.

If you notice your keyword isn’t mentioned enough, then sprinkle it in a bit more.

As long as it reads naturally, you’ll be fine. Focusing on keyword density will hurt most people more than it helps them.

Format Your Content For Maximum Engagement

No matter how well you write, most of your readers won’t completely read your articles.

They’ll simply skim it for the information they’re looking for.

If you want them to find value in your content, you need to format it so that it’s easy to skim and scan.

Why is this important?

Apart from giving value to your readers, proper formatting improves the ave. session duration of your site since the readers stay longer to read your content. Plus, it results in more social shares, comments, and clicks on the CTAs in your content.

How do you format your content the right way?

  • Nail The Introduction Paragraph

Blog article introductions are different from the essays you were taught to write in high-school.

Blog readers don’t have time so you need to get straight to the point.

However, to engage them and keep them interested, start with a question or a bold statement that immediately captures their attention.

Here’s a really good example.

Formating Content for maximum engagement

The writer starts with a big claim and then goes on to prove it with numbers.

Why wouldn’t you read a blogging guide from someone who has built multiple six figure blogs?

In short, make your intros impactful.

Don’t drag them too much (100-150 words max).

Just tell the readers what your content is about and why they should read it.

Then jump right into the meaty part of your article.

  • Use Short Paragraphs

You’ll lose your readers pretty quickly if your write in the conventional book format that uses long paragraphs and large text blocks.

Blogging is different.

Use short paragraphs, 2-3 lines max., and make it easy for readers to skim over your content.

The concept of paragraphs is different in blogging. They’re not distributed based on the topic. They’re simply there to make your content more readable.

Look at the passage you’re reading right now.

You’ll even find 1 line paragraphs.

Because it makes reading easier.

  • Use Sub-Headings For Easier Navigation

I’ve already covered this part so I won’t repeat everything.

Like paragraphs, make sure you have lots of sub-headings (H2, H3, H4) throughout your content.

It makes it much easier for readers to navigate your content.

  • Use Lists And Tables To Communicate Faster

Lists are easier to remember for your readers as compared to long paragraphs.

If you’re sharing tips or instructions in your content, try using lists so that your readers can remember them.

The same goes for comparison tables.

They’re much easier to remember and help you communicate a lot of value in fewer words.

Plus they make your content more engaging.

  • Use Bold, Italics, And Underlines To Highlight Important Parts

Use these common formatting options to highlight the important points in your content that you want your readers to remember.

These are effective but highly underutilized techniques to make your content engaging and more readable.

Making them a part of your writing style will give you immediate returns.

Optimize Page Speed To Improve Rankings

And lastly, page speed. If your page takes forever to load, you’re going to have a really high bounce rate.

Even a one second delay in page load time can decrease your page views and conversions by a significant amount.

On a mobile device, Google recently reported that on a mobile site, as page load time goes from one second to five seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 90%.

The fastest way to increase your page load time is to switch to a high end hosting company.

If you don’t want to increase your hosting budget by hundreds of dollars per year, you can also use Cloudflare (free) combined with a caching plugin.

Here were my results when I implemented CloudFlare with a caching plugin:

BEFORE:

page speed before

AFTER:

after page speed

Only took 10 minutes of work, and it was compeltely free.

Read this tutorial if you want to do the same: How I sped up my website by 362% in under 10 minutes.

Update Your Content Regularly To Stay On Top Of Search Results

Google wants to serve fresh, relevant, and high-quality content to its searchers all the time. This is why content freshness is one of its core search ranking factors.

It makes sense as well.

For example, if I am searching for the best travel destinations today (2020), it doesn’t make sense for Google to show me 2-3 year old content.

According to Moz, content degrades with time and needs to be updated regularly to stay relevant.

content freshness on page seo
Source

There are a couple of ways you can keep your content fresh and stay on top of Google search results for your target keywords.

First of all, make updates a regular part of your content calendar.

There’s no ideal update frequency since it depends on your niche. For example, news and current affairs sites update their content every few hours.

You can’t do that with a marketing or corporate blog.

You could decide a frequency for reviewing older content (for example quarterly or bi-annually) based on your niche and make updates to keep your content fresh.

Add new data or reference new studies, share new tips, or expand the older ones, share new examples, etc.

Don’t try to game the system by changing the order of different paragraphs in your article or changing the title only.

Make genuinely useful updates if you want your content to be considered fresh.

Secondly, use Google Structured Data (Schema.org) to tell Google when your content was last updated.

Schema is a piece of code that helps Google understand the various aspects of your web page.

You can use this free schema markup generator to create the required code and copy/paste to your site’s header section.

Once you do this, Google will show the last modified date of your page in search results.

Use “People also ask” For Easy On-Page SEO Wins

In response to most search queries, Google Search shows a “People also ask” section” that lists the most common questions people are asking about that topic.

People also ask google

These are proven topics that your audience is searching for.

Here’s how you can use them in your on-page SEO strategy.

  • Search for your target keyword in Google.
  • Note down all the relevant question from the “People also ask” section
  • Answer those questions in your content.
  • Use the questions in H2/H3 tags where relevant.

Apart from this, add an FAQs section at the end of your blog articles and answer all the relevant questions you can find in “People also ask”.

Also, use the FAQ schema markup code on your page to display your page’s FAQs in Google Search results (you can generate the FAQ schema with the same tool I mentioned earlier)

FAQ schema markup code

As you can see, the result with FAQs stands out in the SERPs.

However, don’t use this approach for pages where adding an FAQs section doesn’t make sense.

For many search queries, Google shows a featured answer box at the top of the search results.

Google shows a featured answer box

This featured answer snippet (also called position zero) is second only to position 1 in terms of the average number of clicks by searchers.

How do you optimize your content for position zero?

There’s no fixed formula becuase Google can pick results for the featured snippet from any of the top 10 search results for that keyword.

But based on experience, here are a few things you can do to rank for position zero.

  • Target the questions related to your main focus keyword
  • Include all the relevant questions from the “People also ask” section of Google Search in your content
  • Use the Inverse Pyramid Approach to content creation which means you’ll briefly asnwer the most important questions after the initial introduction section of your article. You can answer those questions in more detail in the later sections.
  • Use H1, H2, H3, H4 tags in proper order throughout your content body.
  • Add an FAQ section in your content as I’ve mentioned earlier in this article.
  • Structure your answers according to the needs of your audience. For example, if a question requires you to compare different products, use comparison tables. Other questions types might require simple text or lists.

Following these tips won’t guarantee you a featured answer spot, but it would certainly improve your chances.

Conclusion

Optimizing your on-page SEO is very important. And the best part is, it’s easy. Anybody can use go through this tutorial and implement these techniques even if they’re not an experienced SEO.

Although writing high quality content and building strong backlinks are what mainly help you rank higher, you can’t forget to optimize your pages for your keywords. For a lot of websites I’ve come across out there, it’ll be all you need to do to drastically improve your search rankings.

Can you be an affiliate marketer without a website?

Can you be an affiliate marketer without a website?

Can I do affiliate marketing without a website?

It’s a question we’re asked on a regular basis. The short answer is yes. But there’s a little more to it than that.

In this article, we’ll explore common and not so common methods people have utilized which have led to success in the affiliate channel without creating their own websites. What is important to note is that some advertisers list having a website as a requirement for their affiliate program. It’s advised to look for these parameters within an advertiser’s terms and conditions prior to signing up for their program. Alternatively, you can reach out directly to discuss your chosen approach.

How can I make money with affiliate marketing without a website?

There are several common approaches to affiliate marketing without a website, and certain publishers find their profits are far higher using these methods. You will come to see that though definitely viable, each option may take either significant time or financial investment to reach their full earning potential for you.

Promote through social media 

Promoting brands through social media is one of the most common ways to share your affiliate links without a website in 2020. As there are so many different social media platforms to choose from, you should consider what content you’re confident in creating. You should also think about the target audience you are hoping to reach with your content and which platforms they might be using more often.

Facebook is currently still the most used social media platform globally and is great for a variety of content types. Here you have the opportunity for more written content that can be accompanied by images or videos. However, certain audience demographics may spend more time elsewhere. Instagram is a popular platform for brands with strong visual appeal, as it is an image focused form of social media. You can fit more information into video content on this platform but some people may not feel comfortable creating video content. It should be noted that this is a fear that should be overcome sooner rather than later, as video is increasing in popularity in online marketing. 

Twitter is great if you want to be short and succinct in your marketing, but struggles to allow for longer-form content that could be necessary for some products and brands. LinkedIn is a professionally-driven social media network. As such, products promoted here should really have more of a business focus.

TikTok is now emerging as a place for marketers to create content which could help increase sales. To fully utilize the social media app to increase sales, affiliate marketers need to be able to place links within their content. TikTok recently launched ‘TikTok for Business’ which does allow creators to do this, however, the minimum advertising spend for their features is $50 per day. Some may find this sort of cost does not create a positive CPA for their efforts.

As you can see, the four major social media platforms have their benefits and pitfalls… it all depends on where you think you can best put your energy.

Youtube videos

You may have noted that we didn’t list Youtube in the ‘promote through social media’ section above. This is for very good reason. Firstly, Youtube is commonly classified as a search engine before it is categorized as a social media platform.

Using Youtube is a great way to promote your associated brands and be part of the affiliate marketing game without needing your own website. Audiences watching Youtube videos are already primed and searching for advice and information, or ‘warm leads.’ Nurturing a dedicated audience can see very high success rates for affiliate products but, of course, it takes time to build this trust with an audience.

Paid ads

Paid ads, as the name suggests, take initial investment from a publisher to see a return on that investment. Paid ads are available on lots of platforms, with varying costs. These can be extremely effective if you find the right niche with a good CPC (Cost Per Click).

One of the most popular platforms is Google Ads. These ads are relatively easy to set up and have a good interface to be able to track the successes or failures of the adverts. However, in certain popular niches, CPC can be extremely high.

Paid advertising takes time to tweak to ensure the money you are outlying for the advert creates a profitable return for your efforts.

Forum browsing

This can be a time-consuming option but an effective one. Finding online forums where people are asking questions about your specific affiliate marketing niche takes time but within these spaces can be lots of very warm leads. Where people are asking for information, you can offer valuable advice with the knowledge you’ve gained as a publisher and then provide your affiliate marketing link alongside it. 

The key here is to ensure you are actually providing value to the reader with your comments. Only comment and insert your affiliate link if it is relevant to what they have asked and always provide context around your link – never just the link on its own. Otherwise, you can come off as ‘spammy’ and people will be less inclined to purchase from you or the brands you work with.

This technique can also work in the comments sections of relevant news articles, blogs, Youtube video comments, and even other forms of social media. 

EDMs (Email marketing)

Building an email marketing list is a tried and true form of marketing. It means you can utilize your database across other platforms but, most importantly, speak to your database very directly. Whether these emails are designed and branded or very simple in format, you’ll be able to reach them straight to their inbox.

Lots of research has been conducted as to the best trends to follow for email marketing, particularly in 2020. Optimizing for mobile users and focusing on storytelling are just two of them. The best part of email marketing is you can be as creative, or not, as you like.

Many email database management systems will allow you to segment your list too. So you can potentially separate your audience into people who have previously purchased from you, those who are warm, and those who are cold leads.

It’s very important to consider data privacy laws when it comes to email marketing, as it is your responsibility as a publisher to adhere to these in different regions around the world. 

‘Traditional’ marketing

We’re talking print, radio, and flyers here — ‘old school’ marketing tactics. These come with their own varied costs, but as long as the link or coupon code is unique to the publisher, this data can still be tracked.

At ShareASale, we have the ability to track coupon and discount codes within our data tracking using advanced coupon code tracking. So if you would like to put an ad in your local newspaper or on a flyer drop, your affiliate efforts can be monitored. What needs to be considered here is both your return on investment, as well as the inability to be as targeted as is possible other methods. You could be wasting your money promoting to an audience who simply won’t convert for you or your advertiser.