10 Site Affiliate SEO Case Study

u/Wilson
10 Site Affiliate SEO Case Study
Hi, I'm Wilson. I've been in the affiliate SEO game for a couple of years. I started taking more serious action in < year > and just recently sold a site for a little under $100K minus brokerage fee.

Now I'm starting 10 new sites, out of which, I started 5 from zero and bought 3 starter sites for $500 to $5,000 and am still looking for 2 new sites to build.
A Little Bit About Me

I'm a guy in my early 30s, working full time in finance. I've been reading about affiliate SEO and all kinds of different strategies for over 7 years, but started to actually do something only a few years ago.

I'm super lazy and have a massive shiny object syndrome. I get bored of repetitive tasks very easily and move on to the next thing that seems more profitable and requires less work.

With the site I sold, I just made a plan to not quit, before I publish 100 articles and build 100 links. I wasn't allowed to start any new project until I had completed that seemingly simple goal.

Luckily, this plan worked out quite OK 🙂
Why Build 10 Sites?

The main reason is that I have no clue which niches work best, before I haven't actually tried them out myself. I can make guesses and assumptions, but I really won't know until I haven't tried.

Just to clarify, I think that all niches work and can make you massive amounts of money, but different niches have different entry-barriers to get Return of Investment (RoI) positive.

E.g. hosting is a niche that's super-duper lucrative with its massive commissions and potentially recurring revenues, but I see affiliates spending 100-s of thousands per month on link building just to maintain their position. How on earth would I be able to catch up with them?

If someone would know where a massive treasure is buried, why on earth would they share that with you? So I go look by myself.

Also, I want to one day hopefully do this full time and be able to quit my day job. For that, I would need to earn at least 3k$/month from these ventures. I don't want to count on just one site, when taking the plunge.

It would be a lot easier for my super conservative personality to have at least 2-3 different sources of income to rely on.
What's the Overall Strategy?

Reinvest most of the moneys I made from selling the first site into the 10 sites. But I won't divide it equally. What I'm doing is, I'll first put 30 articles on each site, leave them be and wait for the sandbox period to end.

I will only invest more into each site once I see that they are ranking in the top 30 with different articles and without any backlinks. That would be a first sign of potential in the specific niche.

The first 30 articles together with the site build, theme and everything will cost me max 1K per site.

Once I see good Return of Investment (RoI) potential, I will then move further with adding more articles and starting to build links to the site.
Current Stats for the 10 Sites (April < year >)
Site 1 – Finance

Traffic: 1251 visitorsEarnings: 90$Articles Live: 93Ahrefs Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR): 36Start: February < year >

Backstory: I bought the site in February < year > from someone who had previously earned over 5K/month, but had received a manual penalty and now the earnings are around 100$ month. I paid 5K$ to get it. The seller is someone I know personally so I made a direct deal with him.

Goal: 5K$/month. I plan to keep this site, because it has recurring commissions. The old site owner still receives commissions from the sales he made before the site went down in mid < year >.

Plan: Build new content. Do competition cannibalisation traffic building strategy on it. Concentrate my funds on 2-3 bigger volume keyword articles that already exist on the site, but need more links. Get the links via link inserts and guest posts. This specific niche doesn't have too many keyword opportunities, so growth comes through getting links to posts.
Site 2 – Technology (Gadgets)

Traffic: 951 visitorsEarnings: 105$Articles Live: 49 postsAhrefs DR: 30Start: March < year >

Backstory: Bought the site via Flipping websites FB group for around 30x past 3 months earnings.

Goal: 3K$/month and sell for 100K$.

Plan: I've found around 100 decent article ideas. I'll keep adding new articles until I reach 100. Also, in the meanwhile, I'll monitor my rankings for the existing articles and build new links for articles where I see a good Return of Investment (RoI).
Site 3 – Technology (Home)

Traffic: 174 visitorsEarnings: 10$Articles Live: 36Ahrefs DR: 8Start: January < year >

Backstory: Bought the site via Flipping Websites FB group for 500$. I liked the name and was looking for a site in that particular niche that would already be out of the sandbox phase. The site had 12 articles on it when I bought it. I've since added 24 articles and plan to add more. However, the site has not grown as fast as I was expecting it to grow.

Goal: 3K$/month and flip for 100K$.

Plan: Add more content and start building links to articles that end up in top 20 without any links.
Site 4 – Beauty Products

Traffic: 202Earnings: 12$Articles Live: 14Ahrefs DR: 16Start: March < year >

Backstory: I started this site from scratch, but I purchased the domain from ODYS. They're buying up domains that have decent power from auctions. As I don't have the time to monitor and bid on auctions myself, I am OK with paying a premium to the guys at ODYS. This has been a good purchase thus far, as the site is already getting traffic 2 weeks after placing the initial articles on it. So no sandbox, which is awesome 🙂

Goal: 2K$/month and flip for 60K$. This might change, because I don't really know anything about beauty products. I've given my editor (she's a woman so knows and cares more about the topic) my keyword research strategies and she's running with them. I've also given her a promise of 20% of the total profit for the site so she is highly motivated. I will keep this promise, in case you're wondering.

Plan: Find low hanging fruit keywords and get the site to 100 articles. Also, I will monitor the rankings and do a return on investment analysis for building links to more promising articles. If I see at least a 3-1 return on building links, I'll do that. This niche is really easy in terms of building links. There are a tonne of mom and beauty blogs that ask for little money in return for a GP or a link insert.
Site 5 – Clothing Site

Traffic: 5 (still in the sandbox phase)Earnings: 0Articles Live: 35Ahrefs DR: 14Start: January < year >

Backstory: This one I started from 0 and built it on a brand new domain so I expected a sandbox period. This usually lasts for the first 6-9 months based on my previous experience. My brother gave me this idea 2 years ago, but I wasn't really interested in the niche so I didn't do anything about it until I saw a site listed for sale for 860K on FE International. This got me interested. I checked the sites articles and backlinks and found that this niche is very lucrative so registered a site and started going after it.

Goal: 5K$ and flip for 150K.

Plan: Build 30 articles to the site (I went over, I know), then just sit and wait. I won't do nothing with it until the sandbox period is over and I start seeing initial traffic. From there I will expand the specific categories and articles that show the most promise.
Site 6 – Luxury Items

Traffic: 21 (still in the sandbox phase)Earnings: 0Articles Live: 21Ahrefs DR: 20Start: April < year >

Backstory: Started the site from scratch, but built it on a domain bought from ODYS. I had thought about this niche for a few years, but didn't have the time or motivation to get into it. This was until I saw a site listed for sale on Flippa for 300K$. I checked their article quality, quantity and backlink profile, which got me interested. It seemed like replicating the same site would cost me about 30K$ and take about 24 months.

Goal: 10K$/month and flip for 300K$. This niche has some serious potential. The products are expensive, there are a lot of different affiliate programs available outside of Amazon with commissions around 5-15% per sale.

Plan: Build out 30 articles and let them sit until I see some initial traffic, then expand from there. If I see which categories are showing promise, I will put more effort (=articles) into it and build links to the articles that show a positive ROI based on my calculations.
Site 7 – Yoga Site

Traffic: 42Earnings: 3$Articles Live: 44Ahrefs DR: 5Start: February < year >

Backstory: Started this site from scratch, built it on an expired domain that I got for the price of registering a new domain (8$ via Namecheap). Same story as you've seen before. I saw a site for sale on FE international that was in this niche and did some further research. I saw a significant number of keyword ideas and many lucrative affiliate programs and decided to put up a site and see how it goes.

Goal: 3K$/month and flip for 100K$.

Plan: Put 70 articles on the site and wait until I see initial traffic. Then expand based on which subcategories worked best and build links to articles that need link juice and where it's worth to do so.
Site 8 – Make Up Niche

Traffic: 492Earnings: 15$Articles Live: 79Ahrefs DR: 24Start: July < year >

Backstory: This site was started already back in summer of < year >, but I had neglected it for a while. It was my wife's idea to do this so we partnered up on it. I did keyword research and she double-checked the article ideas to make sure they're worth writing about. Now after selling the bigger site, we picked the site up again and started to add more content and links to it.

Goal: 3K$/month and flip for 100K$.

Plan: Build the site up to 150 articles and build links to articles where ROI seems to be positive. Right now, we've only gone after keywords that seem to have little to no competition at all. But to make money in this niche, we would eventually need to start attacking keywords with more search volume.

For now, we'll build out the 150 low competition articles (keyword research has already been done) and build some links here and there. Once we get some more money dripping in, we'll start going after harder keywords one by one.
Site 9 – Musical Instruments (Coming soon)

I'm still in the process of hunting for a site for this niche.
Site 10 – Looking for a niche (Coming soon)

I'm hunting for different niches and sites to complete my list of 10 sites.
Questions?

If you have any questions, please post them here and I'll try to get back to you. I'm a shy guy and get offended very easily, so be aware that I might cry, when you say something bad about me (just kidding).

I've read so many case studies and follow-alongs myself. I think they've been one of the best sources of information and inspiration for me.

Since I've delegated and am still delegating most of the actual work required to grow the sites, I would be holding myself a little more accountable for doing these monthly updates and quite possibly, I'll get some invaluable advice from you guys as well.

Also, if I'm able to actually add value or help at least some of you, it's an awesome feeling that I'm hoping to experience.

/EDIT/

• I see that a lot of you are concerned about this being a stupid idea. I understand where you're coming from and respect that opinion. But please bear in mind that this is my case study, this process is based on my experience in the niche and with the sites that I've succeeded and failed with. I won't spend my budget evenly among the 10 sites. My initial investment per site is 1-2K$, after which, I'll leave the site be and see how it goes after it's out of the sandbox phase. If I see that the site is showing promise and that my return on investment calculations show attractive returns, I will expand the site with more content and start to build links. Realistically, 80% of my budget is going into 2 sites.

• Many questions about my current team: I have 1 editor, 3 writers, 1 assistant and 3 linkbuilders. My wife is helping out with one site. Total cost for the staff is 2.5K$/month. Some are full time, most are part time.
Thank you! 🙂

72 💬🗨

FruitPunch
What is your link building strategy?

Wilson ✍️
I use many different strategies. I can create a separate post about this if you're interested.But to sum it up in order of importance:

• Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

• Link insertions

• Guest posts with a twist

• Shotgun Skyscraper

• Infographics with a twist

• Broken link building

Drago
I'm not building any links now. I will start in two months. Right now, I'm doubling down on content writing.

When I do, it will be mostly HARO and Guest posting since it's a one man job. Once I get some money I'll also try Infographics and niche edits..

What do you think?
Wilson ✍️
Sure thing, why not.
Content is the main part. Once you get that down and already see some initial traction, meaning that you're ranking in the top 50.. only then I'd start with adding links.

However, I do build links with HARO since day 1. Just to get the power of the domain up.

InternetWeakGuy
I think it's bizarre that you are self aware enough to know how you managed to get the first site to the point of selling for $100k, and then you're throwing ideas at a wall to see what sticks – but your life/money, do what works for you, best of luck.

I bought the site in February < year > from someone who had previously earned over 5K/month, but had received a manual penalty and now the earnings are around 100$ month.

What was the penalty for and what is the plan to get it removed?

Wilson ✍️
He had done a tonne of spammy links. Private Blog Network (PBN) rentals, Private Blog Networks (PBN)s with one time payment, etc. I helped him get the penalty removed, but the site is now getting only 1/40th of the traffic it used to get. 1K now, used to get 40K/month. He was sick and tired of it all and wanted to step away.

Lopsi
This plan is borderline retarded. Sorry, but there's not really any other way to describe it.

You're going to build a finance, gadgets, home, beauty, clothing, luxury, yoga, music and whatever else sites with no real budget and no real interest in any of the niches?

To me it sounds like you got lucky once and are about to lose everything you gained there.

If you were to pick one or two of these niches and try them properly then I think you'd *maybe* have a chance of success. Your current plan looks like you're just about to set fire to a pile of money.

Wilson ✍️
Thank you for your opinion, I respect that.
My plan is not that moronic as you describe it to be.
I won't divide the money between the 10 sites evenly. I will test the waters with 1-2K per site and only then see, which sites show the most promise to put further investments into.

Haaalum
How do you build links to your website?

Wilson ✍️

I use many different strategies. I can create a separate post about this if you're interested.But to sum it up in order of importance:
Help a Reporter Out (HARO), Link insertions, Guest posts with a twist, Shotgun Skyscraper, Infographics with a twist, Broken link building.

navdeepsoni
What a line of projects to handle in one go! What is or will be your team to handle 10 sites? Are you doing link building already? I see some site with Ahrefs Domain Rating (DR) > 1 that are still in sandbox?

Good luck! 🙂

Wilson ✍️
Thank you, Navdeep!

My current team consists of 1 editor, 3 writers, out of which 1 helps out the editor and 3 linkbuilders. One linkbuilder does HARO, 2 others do the other strategies I've outlined above.

navdeepsoni
Thanks for replying back.. how are 3 writers able to handle so much content generation?

About existing DR > 1?

All are full time?
Wilson ✍️
About the DR thing.. yes, the new sites already have some links going to them, but still aren't ranking for anything. The articles are indexed, but 90% of the articles are out of top 100 positions. This equals sandbox to me.
About writers: they can do 20 articles per week so 80 articles per month. My initial goal is to get each site up to 30 articles and then leave it be. Writers are one my bottlenecks for now, but that's a conscious decision. Also, I will burden my writers with occasional guest posts as well, so that will decrease their output.
navdeepsoni
20 articles is amazing for a week. What's your average word count for a post.
Wilson ✍️
Average is 2K. Depends on how many words are needed to cover the topic at a high enough level of quality. Also, my writers use Surfer.

[deleted]
Are these earnings from ads or affiliate? Amazon or other than Amazon

Wilson ✍️
Both, but mainly Amazon. I try to move away from amazon as much as possible. But thus far I've seen that 3% commission on amazon at 10%-15% conversion rate usually beats the higher conversion other sites are offering. But this depends on the specific site and I'll test this with each site.
EDIT – Finance site is not making any money from Amazon, but other dedicated aff programs.

PuttPutt
I'm in the affiliate space as well and do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for some big companies as my main job. So i'm less familiar with the Private Blog Network (PBN) space.

Are you lookin to purchase most of your links?

For the free ones – are you going to do multiple sites all on those? Or are you worried the sites might look linked

Wilson ✍️
I don't use Private Blog Networks (PBN)s, but I do pay for the majority of my links. The reason is that 90% of people I reach out to via different link building campaigns, ask for money. If their site passes my thorough quality filters, I'll be happy to pay.

puttputt
Do you use Moz or something for checking backlink quality? Or are you doing manual checks? I feel like I haven't had the best of luck with the tools that measure spam links
Wilson ✍️
I mainly use some tools to check for PBNs that people don't know to hide from in their robots.txt file.

WastingTime
Thanks for sharing your experience, I have 3 points if you don't mind:

• How much have you invested in your first website that was sold for nearly 100k?

• You mentioned that you have a conservative personality, and would like to have multiple sources of income, but you put all of your eggs in the affiliate basket, wouldn't it be better to diversify?

• Which do you think the best sources are to learn affiliate marketing (besides hands-on experience)? Wish you to do well.

Wilson ✍️
• 15K was the initial investment, after which it started to make 1K/month, which funded further growth. I put everything back in to the site from earning 1K to 4K and then sold it.

• Here I'm only talking about my affiliate business. I have diversified into real estate and stocks, but that's off-topic.

• Hands on experience, I'm afraid, is the best method there is. But besides that, I just go at my goal and whenever I'm stuck at some point, I research the hell out of Google and YouTube to find an answer to my problem. Then proceed.

Thank you for wishing me well!

WastingTime
Appreciate your clarifications, Good luck.



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