How to Build a Successful Website on an Expired Domain (Case Study)

Well hello again.

It’s only been about six months since I last posted here — exactly what NOT to do when trying to build a blog. The problem is that with this blog, I actually have to do all the work. It’s a topic I love to talk about, a topic I know a lot about, but it’s also a lot of fucking work to write these posts. It’s not like I can site down and bang out some bullshit internet marketing article in 30 minutes like I see some blogs in this sphere have a habit of doing.

Good, deep insightful posts take time to write.

Even worse is that my content heavy posts (the smallest are over 2000 words and largest of them nearly 10,000 words) and the lack of commercial incentive (yes, I’m so busy building up authority websites that are currently making me money, I’ve been dragging my feet at writing content for this blog).

Excuses of course, but I’m just letting you know why it’s been months between posts.

The reason is that I’m just pretty fucking busy all the time.

But I think about this site all the time and I’ve got some interesting topics I feel I need to share.

So I want to update the ‘Build a Website on Expired Domain case study” series.

Previous Case Studies Related to This Site

Part 1: Building an Authority Site on an Expired Domain (April)

Part 2: Authority Site on Expired Domain Deployed (Update 2)

Part 3: Update (May 3)

Part 4: Building Authority Site on Expired Domain (October 2015).

Part 5: THIS POST (April 5 2015)

Part 5: How to Use Facebook to  Build Authority and Generate Instant Traffic (update May 2016)

So it’s been about 5 months since that last updated post (October 2015) about this website case study, and the very first post on it was in April 2015. The website is now exactly 1 year old. Which means it’s a good time to revisit the site and see what’s happened over the full year.

Brief Recap of Site History

  • I paid around $300 bucks for this expiring domain on Godaddy.
  • The link profile is not crazy good, but it had about 60 or so links from different IP’s from similar type sites in the niche.
  • The PR was 1, but I don’t pay much attention to PR as it goes haywire with expired domains where the old site was taken down a long time ago (my experience is it comes back once you put content back on the domain)
  • There was a previous site on this domain  about a year ago with quality content. That site existed for about 4-5 years before disappearing
  • The domain was 5 years old.

The Current Website Progress

So how is the site doing now? Quite fucking well actually — there’s some huge potential here in this niche and specifically, with my site.

I can already see huge growth in traffic, social authority, and a corresponding increase in earnings. I have not yet tapped the potential, nor even scratched it.

Now, truth be told the past year I did very little on the site. Basically, I used the previous domain authority to get some early rankings and I pushed out a content heavy strategy the first month.

After I put up the initial 50 or so articles (many of which were 2000 to 4000 words), I basically left the site to grow on it’s own.

I have not since May 2015 done any of the following:

  1. build links
  2. launch a social authority campaign
  3. create or maintain a Facebook page
  4. network or promote the site in any way to other blogs

Basically, I left this site to see what would happen if, well, I left it alone, hoping the quality, deep content and the authority of the domain (remember, it was expired and it had a quality site previously about the same topic I recreated) would bring in traffic on it’s own.

And in fact, this strategy paid off.

Now, this is a very passive style strategy and I recommend you take a much more ACTIVE approach to building an authority site if you want quicker results. I generally have found though that over the course of the first year, there is a limit to how much natural organic search traffic you can build. It does seem, based on my previous sites, that google caps your traffic the first year, no matter how many links you get and how much content you build. It seems there’s simply a ‘proving time’ where you need to prove your site is worthy of traffic.

It’s a guess as to what factors Google looks at. Perhaps the number of links, the type of links, the social presence, how much content your site has, how active your site is, and so on.

But regardless, even if you build a lot of links and gain a lot of social authority, you won’t be getting thousands of search visitors a day within the first year. I noticed this with my other site that I pursued a heavy social authority strategy with. There was a limit the first year how much traffic the site could gain, even with high powered links and huge social authority.

I actually have another new authority site I started roughly around the same time on a brand new domain as this expired domain website, so it’s been interesting to observe the two sites over the past year and how they compare.

I believe in 1 year since putting up the site with all the initial articles, I wrote 2 new articles and posted 4 articles that I had not put up at the initial.

However, now, as 2 weeks ago, I started resuming work on the site with full steam ahead. I’ve added some new articles, hiring writers to add new compelling content, completely updated the theme, optimized the site load speeds dramatically, build a handful of links from some authoritative and somewhat related sites I own, and have now aggressively pursing a social strategy on Facebook.

Traffic Stats

So lets look at the traffic states then analyze what’s been going on.

Traffic stats SINCE OCTOBER 2015

expired_domain_traffic_since_october2016

Traffic Stats for the last 30 days

expired_domain_traffic_march_april_2016

Traffic Building Analysis

Ok, a lot of graphs but lets quickly recap what’s happened

The Traffic Since August 2015

  • From May 2015 (1 month), I had about 60 impressions a day with (1800 page views a month with 1000 unique visitors)
  • October 2015, I had about 120 impressions a day (3600 page views in a month with 2600 unique visitors).
  • March 2016, I had 591 impressions a day, 475 unique visitors with 18,000 impressions with 14,500 unique visitors.

So since last update, my monthly visitors went from about 2600 to 14,500 or about 500 unique visitors a day.

And it’s going up fast now, very fast.

February 2016

You’ll note that big spike in traffic during February in the first image.

The expired domain’s  previous authority and the large amount of deep long tail content I initially added to the new site has helped it gain steady Google Search rankings each and every month so far (with no link building or social promotion on my part).

The result of this steady increase of search ranking is that the blog was picked up (presumably because someone found it via google search for a long tail keyword and share the article via Pinterest or Facebook) and shared on an authoritative Facebook page in a somewhat related niche (healthy living).

This ‘share’ resulted in a good 4k visitors per day for a couple days and nearly 3000 Facebook likes to a single one of my website’s content pages. These likes and shares also put the site on the map and the site picked up a handful of links from health blogs during the month because of this.

Let’s Talk Last Month’s Traffic (March 2016)

The current March 2016 to April 2016 has been a great month. The traffic has seen a huge boost. Having the site picked up and shared on some popular niche health website Facebook page helped garner a few links and thousands of Facebook likes. The end result is a big spike in traffic from referrals in February and a month later a rise in regular search traffic!

You’ll also note this spike in traffic over the past week.

rise

Why The Sudden Spike in Traffic Last Week

This is because I finally started to put some serious work into the site around the 24th of March.

I have a number of pretty strong authority sites in some somewhat related niches (or niches that can be used to send a link) that I’ve finally started to use to send links. There sites are legit sites and not some blog farm. In fact, several of the sites get anywhere from 1500 to 3000 unique visitors per day, so these are not small sites. I used two sites to send a link and I will likely find 2-6 more related sites I own and send a link.

Note that for links I write a very good article directly related to my Keyword, but in such a way that it completely ties in with the content and niche of the source site. The article is at least 2000 words long and fits in perfectly. The links are integrated and use different keywords (sometimes using the domain name, sometimes a related keyword, sometimes THE keyword, sometimes not related (click here). I only send 1 or 2 links from each site from the page and I also link out to related authority sites in the same niche too — I don’t ONLY link to my site.

I will be talking in a future article about how effective links from somewhat related authority sites can be at improving your search ranking within days to weeks. The effect can be almost immediate. But this is an example of how effective getting quality links from semantically related sites / web pages can be.

You’ll also note a large increase between the unique visitors and the page views (a higher percentage than compared to previous days).

See the image:

rise

There is a nice large bump in the number of page views vs uniques compared to previous days.

The reason is quite simple: I changed the wordpress theme to a brand new, much better looking theme. The previous theme was a premium theme, but it lacked the extra ‘punch’ it needed to impress, visually. I bought a brand new theme that looks really good and spent a couple days customizing it. The end result is a beautiful looking, visually stunning site that’s also very effective at getting the reader to where they need to be.

I added a Logo, revised the menus and sidebars, and basically completely redesigned the entire site.

I also have worked on vastly improving the site loading speed, bring the site load time from 8 to 9 seconds to 1-2 seconds. This should improve the page view count and may in fact improve earnings (slower page loads can effect your conversions, your time on site stats with visitors, and your page view count). I’ll have to track and see how (and if) this makes a difference over the next month though.

So far, I see a lot of potential here. I foresee the site reaching about 1000 unique visitors a day within about 6 months, and by April 2017 (1 year from now), anywhere from 1500 to 3000 visitors a day. This depends on how much social authority I try and build over that time, but I’m putting serious effort into the site now — and I have been since last week. So now the work begins!

Site Earnings

Here is what the site has made. I have two amazon affiliate ID’s used to track two different ad types: Amazon Native product ads (I give an example later on in the article about what Amazon Native Product Ads are) and Amazon Text Link ads I inserted into a couple key posts.

Total Amazon Earnings Since August 2015 (7 months):

earnings_id2_march2016 total_earnings_since_aug2015

 

Total Revenue made from Amazon so far between these two ads:  $511.36 + 97.65 = $609.01

So the site has made me over $600 in seven months via Amazon affiliates. Now what’s interesting is to see just what the site made last month, which is the best indicator the current monthly earnings.

I had initially hired a very good writer to write the initial article for the site. There were something like 50 to 70 articles, with a fair many of these articles about 2000-4000 words long. It took my writer about 2 months of pure writing every day to finish these. Then she burned out and quite and in the 1 year since she quite, I have not replaced her. I paid about 1500 or so for that content, so the site has nearly made me back about 40 percent of the costs. Based on current projections, the initial costs will be paid for within a few months.

 

earnings_id1_march2016

earnings_id2_march2016_2

So Amazon Affiliate Text Link ads made me $97.65 and Amazon Native Product Ads have made me $61.29 last month (I put the Native Product ads half way through March and they have proved to be just as good as my text link ads, even better!).

So total revenue for March 2016: $158.95

Now, the Amazon Native Product Ads went live March 15th and in just the 2 week period, they made $61.29. Had I put them up at the beginning of the month, I likely would have made over $100 from those ads, which would have been $200 in total earnings. The last months earnings was $144 from only the text link ads, so adding the Native Product Ads + Text Link seems to increase the earnings, even though the Product Ads seem to have reduced the Text Link Ad conversions, the total amount is still higher than just Text Link ads, when comparing Feb to March.

Future Earning Projections / Earning Ideas

It’s hard to predict exactly how much I can make. In this niche, I think I there is a strong possibility the site could eventually bring in something like 4000 to 5000 visitors a day related to the topic the site is about. If I target more broad terms related to the tropic (i.e. spread horizontally into more related niches), the site could reach 10,000 to 20,000 visitors a day perhaps.

Amazon Affiliate Potential

I’m now about 600 visitors a day with about 800 page views. Based on this, the site seems to be making roughly 200-300 USD a month JUST with amazon ads. This could dramatically go up depending on what specific content pages rank (not all terms are equal for converting into sales. If the earnings to traffic ratio held steady (it likely won’t as some keyword you rank for are more valuable for conversions) and the site started getting 2000 visitors a day instead of 600, then I the earnings may triple or quadruple. That means the site could make anywhere from 800 to 1500 USD just from Amazon affiliate sales.

I feel the site could reasonably make around $2000 to $4000 USD a month from amazon affiliate sales within about a year or two, provided the site brings in somewhere between 2000 to 5000 visitors per day. The potential for direct product sales, if I create and sell a product from this site, is much, much higher than amazon affiliate sales, however.

The Amazon potential is pretty good when you crunch the numbers a bit.

The conversion rate is VERY high for products which means the overall commercial intent is high — and Commercial Intent is one of the most important factors when doing proper niche keyword research. This controls how easy it is to make money in a niche. 

Here is an example of the Amazon Native Product Ads (taken from an online search)

Example-Amazon-Display-ads

These are kind of like a version of Google Adsense, but instead of text links, amazon puts in products. If someone buys something, you get affiliate credit. The ads scan your content and put in contextual ads related to it (just like Adsense). So far, I’ve found these very effective for some niches!

Here is the CTR on my site for these Amazon Native Product Ads just for March. 

 

product_ad_ctr

As you see a 12.41 percent CTR.

Here is the CTR for the manual text links I added to some of the posts covering from August 2015 to April 2016

product_links_ctry

 

A 14 percent CTR which is very good for Amazon. Typically, I’ve seen an average of about 4 percent CTR for most of my other websites. Note that these websites are highly targeted with Amazon and in Amazon friendly niches with a lot of directly related products. And from these sites (I have something like 4 to 6 such sites), I see about a 4-5 percent CTR.

So believe me when I say a CTR that’s 10-14 percent is very, very high in my experience. This means the commercial potential for this site is very high indeed.

Read more about how to make money with Amazon where I talk more about amazon affiliate strategies.

I have one site that gets between 2500 to 3000 impressions a day (with over 2000 uniques). However, the Commercial Intent is so low that the CTR is something along the lines of a .01% or .05% which means the site gets maybe 2 to 5 sales per every 1000 or so clicks to Amazon.

I can still squeeze out more money by optimizing the Amazon earnings. There are still many pages I have not added links to. I’ve added product images below the content and in the middle of the posts, but I can certainly increase the clicks count higher if I add more links.

Adsense / Media.net Potential

I’ve done some initial tests with this and the site does not look very suitable at all for Adsense based on my Media.net test. Media.net is often puts out less higher paying ads than Adsense (and it takes two clicks before you get paid rather than a single click like Adsense), but this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that that some ads are far more targeted, at least in some niches.

I’ve tested Media.net and in 3 or so days and thousands of impressions, I’ve not had a single click, despite the ads being very targeted and related to the content / topic. This is dreadful CTR and does not bode well that Adsense will make any decent money if I put it on instead of Media.net. There is also the fact that I’ve had both adsense accounts banned a couple years ago, but I have a means to create a new account whenever I wish, which I intend to do for some new sites next month.

Digital Product Potential

Note there is also some very good PRODUCT creation potential. Selling a digital ebook for example or  a membership site about the topic. I’m not sure how much work I will put into digital product creation though. I think an ebook or two would do ok and make some money. I may consider hiring a writer to cook up an ebook for me to sell for a few dollars as a test. The membership site could work — I’ve seen a couple related sites in the niche do this. So this indicates there may be some potential here since other people are doing it.

Ecommerce / Amazon FBA

Then there is the direct product creation — making a physical product and selling it via a store on the site or via an Amazon FBA. There are many products in the niche I could actually get manufactured and sell. I think this is the best way to make the most money with this site. I would like to pursue this idea more when the site matures somewhat.

The Strategy for this Website

So we’ve looked at the traffic the site has had since the last update in October 2015. We’ve gone from about 2500 uniques a month to nearly 15,000 uniques which is very good growth.

Because the site, on it’s own, started to garner social movement a few months ago, I’ve now taken to seriously building up social presence (as of this week).

Here’s what I’ve done the past couple days:

  1. Created an active Facebook page with daily posts
  2. Started a Facebook Advertising Campaign to acquire Facebook Page likes. I’m averaging about .10c per like and am building about 100-200 likes a day.
  3. I’ve hired two writers (who are experts in this specific topic) to start writing loads of high quality articles The mix of articles being created are informational and list-style viral articles
  4. I’ve put a brand new premium theme on to replace the previous theme and spent 3 days customizing it. The site looks VERY, very good now.
  5. I’ve worked on optimizing page speed loads to bring the page speed load time from 7-8 seconds to about 2 seconds.

I’ve already outlined how to build social authority to create a killer authority website in a previous hero post. I will be following the same thing.

1. Content Silo supported by Social Authority

Over the next year I intend to add 200 to 500 new articles to the site (there are about 70 articles). Additionally, I am branching out horizontally into other related niches. While this niche is narrow, it’s also pretty wide and you can cover a broad set of topics. If you want to build broad authority in a niche, you need to cast a wide net and cover many, many different topics in that niche (and related niches). In the old SEO days, we talked about Content Silo’s.

And while some of the strategy has changed (we, unlike days long past, don’t simply make a bunch of articles talking about the same topic but changing up a few keywords in each title), the basic principle of targeting different keywords in a niche with an individual article remains the same.

For example, if I have a website Coffee, then I would:

  • have an epic article recommending the best coffee brands
  • have an epic article recommending the best coffee cups
  • have an epic article comparing the types of coffee
  • have an epic article about organic coffee
  • have an epic article about semi automatic coffee machines
  • have an epic article about automatic coffee machines

This strategy is very, very effective if you have a lot of domain authority. You can quickly rank for a wide variety of topics in your niche by writing an article about that topic. The longer and more informative the article (we are talking 3000, 5000, 10,000 words with images, pictures, and videos), the better it will likely rank over time. And if you pursue a social strategy to promote it (i.e. use your Facebook page with thousands of followers), that article will quickly build up social authority and will likely rank high in time.

THIS is how to combine a social authority strategy with the old school Content Silo method.

I may consider rebranding to a more general domain name so it can easily cover a lot more topics, but I will wait at least a year before considering this. I don’t want to fuck with the rankings or momentum by rebranding the domain.

2. Building Social Authority with Facebook Advertising + Facebook Page

This is KEY to my strategy now. It’s wildly effective if done right. As I’ve talked about, you can do it the free way by networking with bloggers in your niche and in related niches. Guest posting, link outreach, and so on. These are all effective strategies, and you should consider them.

However, it is possible to get by simply having a high quality authority site that’s BETTER than your competition in every way (more content, more detailed content, better looking, more images, etc) and then promoting the shit out of that content + site through social advertising (Facebook ads + Facebook page).

I talked about this in my previous case study about how I built a site that got a million visitors in less than a year with no backlinking.

I’m currently advertising on Facebook and paying about .10c per Facebook Page like at this point. The page is building up a steady 100-200 likes a day. I will budget 1000-3000 USD for adverting over the next six months. Likely this is 1000 likes for 100 dollars, or 10,000 likes for $1000. I’d like to have a solid 30,000 to 100,000 likes.

If I can bring the Facebook Page like down to about .2c a like then I could aquire this with a 2000-3000 USD, which is my goal.

I’ve talked a bit about this already, but with about 50,000 Facebook Page likes and in a niche where people have a lot of passion (health, fitness, sports, organic foods, etc), it is possible to write a very good post and instantly bring 1000-2000 visitors straight from Facebook with each post. These visitors will ‘like’ that page, thereby sharing it on their own wall and increasing the chance of that post building social momentum.  The end result is each post can bring in hundreds to thousands of extra visitors a day, and your posts may get 50, 100, 400 or 1000 facebook likes.

This can really affect your ranking. While I know Google says they do not look at ‘facebook’ likes to determine ranking, I’ve found in fact having a popular social page actually make a big difference with ranking!

3. Organic Social Momentum

Now the end effect of building social momentum and creating a high quality website stuffed with lots and lots of awesome content is that people will naturally find your site (the social momentum helps immensely with this). They will share your site, and you’ll sometimes find other bloggers in the same niche or related niches will in fact link to your site.

This is a passive effect — you are not busting your ass to build this. You put your time into creating a quality site and over time people find it via the SERPS and via social platforms. Then they link to it and share it with NO effort on your part. Unlike #2, you are not paying Facebook to show your website or your Facebook Ad, you are not paying Twitter, or advertising on Adwords.

My new site has picked up a number of links — magazines and blogs writing about the topic find my articles and readily link to them. I recently found Ellie Magazine linked to my site for example. This comes from a) having search ranking for key long tails b) having social authority — being talked about by other sites / blogs which makes you an ‘expert’ and c) being found on social sharing sites like Pinterest and Facebook.

It helps to have:

  • a really great looking site (builds the trust level) full of images and big articles
  • lots of social proof (an active facebook page with a lot of likes, lots of VISIBLE shares on your articles)
  • consistently added new content

And More Content Coming Soon (I Promise…)

This ties up this case study for now. I will update in about six months and talk about how the site is doing with traffic and earnings and how my internet marketing strategies worked (or didn’t work).

Next week, I will be updating my other case study: Moving Authority Site from Partial Match Domain to Exact Match Domain. This case study has taken a lot longer then I thought, but I now have a lot of data that I need to crunch. I launched this case study back in May 2015 and it’s now April 2016 — so  a full year of data.

I’ve observed some interesting things in that period of time, both with search engine CTR and traffic rankings. So, full details to come next week. It’s going to take me a long time to compile and crunch the data at this point, so I’m interested in seeing the exact results too.

There are a few other posts kicking around I’d like to find time to write over this month or two, if I can:

  • How to Optimize Your WordPress Blogs for Blazing Fast Speeds
  • The Power of Semantically Related Backlinks
  • Why a 301 Redirect May Be a Very Bad Idea For Your Authority Website
  • My Income Reports (yes, I’d like to start sharing my income reports each month from various projects)
  • How to Create a Safe Personal Yet Powerful Blog Network Without Breaking the Bank
  • How to Find the Best Expired Domains
  • How to Optimize the Shit Out of Your Website Earnings
  • The Best Absolute Adsense Ad Positions: Case Study
  • How to Optimize the Shit out of Adsense Ads
  • How Decreasing Page Load Times May Dramatically Boost Your Income

Additionally, I will be folding my old ‘Make Money Online with SEO’ blog into this blog and my other old ‘Backlink Reviews blog’, archiving the content here.

Many of the articles and strategies I talked about over there are no longer valid, but the spirit of some of the tricks still remain valid even today. I will update each post with this. I’m also interested in seeing what effect adding a lot more content will have on this blog — yet another experiment to track 🙂

I’m going to move another project dedicated to reviewing themes and plugins and such into this blog to save time and effort on my part.

So there we go! Go work hard and make money online 🙂

Ben

Comments 6

  1. Neil April 8, 2016
    • BenK April 10, 2016
  2. Afili Muhalif May 25, 2016
    • BenK May 25, 2016
  3. LIJIN June 23, 2017
    • BenK June 27, 2017

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