Thanks to everyone checking in with me asking how the site (and I) am doing – prompted me to push out a brief update to share my progress for the last couple of months.
I’m still on the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ methodology; the site is growing nicely by adding low comp articles, so that’s all I’m doing.
I did get hacked twice, which dented my earnings in April, I’ll explain that in more detail below.
But apart from that, it’s all positives, here are the highlights for April and May:
- I published 59 new articles
- Pageviews crossed the 100k/mo mark
- Had my first $2,500+ month
Total earnings to date for the site $17,482.82, and for this year $8,857.42.
Here is a little more detail:
Traffic and Earnings Stats for Jan-May 2021
Here’s an overview of the site’s traffic and earning stats for this year:
|Month||# Articles Posted||Pageviews||Mediavine ($)||Ezoic & Adsense ($)||Amazon ($)||Other Affiliate ($)||Total ($)|
Traffic Stats for Apr-May 2021
As I add more articles, the traffic goes up. Simple.
Something I noticed over the last couple of months is that my articles are indexing and ranking fast, like really fast.
I’d say at least 90% of the articles I published we’re ranking in the top 5 within an hour or so of manually inspecting the URL after publishing.
That’s part of the reason why you see the traffic climbing. Some articles literally had an impact and were bringing in traffic the next day when I looked in Analytics, can’t complain about that.
Mediavine Ad Earnings
I’m really pleased with the Mediavine earnings, RPMs are around $24 on a good day and we’re getting close to $100 days.
That dip is where I got hacked! Which leads me on to:
Getting Hacked Sucks
First of all, apologies to anyone who got redirected to some kind of spam site while on this site. All of my sites got hacked on two occasions in April, and I’m 99% sure the way in was through a Thrive Theme I had on one of my sites.
It cost me a small fortune, but more than that it was just pretty stressful and annoying. WPX sorted it out for me and I nuked any trace of Thrive stuff on my sites – I don’t think it will happen again.
It made me realize that I was literally doing nothing to stop my sites from getting hacked. I wasn’t using any security plugins, authenticators, nothing.
It was a wake-up call, and since then I’ve basically done everything Chris advises in the video below. The best advice you may get today is to be proactive about being hacked so it doesn’t happen at all! 🙂
I made $715 from affiliate income in Apr-May, which is awesome, but honestly, I’ve lost interest in the affiliate side of things. I know that sounds crazy and I’m leaving money on the table, but that’s just how it is.
I don’t think I added any links in the last couple of months. I will continue to add links if it’s absolutely necessary to the post but I’m not going out of my way to do so.
I’m hooked on ranking content, pushing pageviews, and earning from ad revenue. That’s why I started this site, and that’s what I’m going to continue focusing on first and foremost.
That’s about it in terms of what’s happened over the last two months.
Things are going pretty awesome, I spent about 65-70 hours working on the site and made around $4,250.
How’s everything going for you guys?
Honestly, it feels like this is one of the best times for publishing content around low comp keywords. I’m publishing on a few sites and everything is ranking well, so should be the same for you.
At the time of writing this, we just had half a core update come out and there was no change to my site. We got a couple more updates over the next couple of months or so, so fingers crossed.
Header Image by Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash
42 thoughts on “Informational/Content Site Case Study Mths 16-17”
Your niche site case study has been inspirational to me since last year that I discovered you.
Thanks a lot for sharing your journey with us. It means a lot to me.
1. How many articles do you write per day?
2. Do you do research and writing at the same time or separately?
3. Can you share any writing tool(s) that you use to write lots of content consistently?
4. Can you share any writing tips/advice that can help someone write lots of content regularly?
Thanks in advance
1. I don’t write each day, I tend to work in bursts when I have time. Typically late in the evening or at the weekend, I’ll write 4-5 articles in a sitting when I have time outside of all my other work and projects. Haven’t written 1 article yet this month.
2. I have a load of KWs ready, probably more than 100 as every time I think of one or see one I add it to my sheet. I then try to research and write a few related articles at a time as it’s quicker and easier to research one topic I can use for several posts at the same time.
3. I don’t use any writing tools, just Google Docs. I just sit and hammer them out as fast as I can while making the content the best I possibly can.
4. Writing is a discipline for sure, you have to make it a habit, and you really have to find a way to enjoy it – else it’s torture. That’s why it helps to write about something you’re interested in, and it helps writing related topics at the same time as I said. You have to find that fire in you to really attack it and say, “I’m going to do more than my competitors”.
Great update Phil.
I struggle to index posts, even though they are (in my opinion) good quality.
Some of them are 3 weeks old.
Do you have any idea why your posts index so fast?
I use request indexing inside search console, I presume your doing the same?
I think posting regularly helps, as does good interlinking. I had a friend recently struggling to have some posts indexed, we added more internal links to and from the post, inspected it and it indexed shortly after.
I also request indexing for each post within Search Console, yes, I always have it’s just a habit.
Can you please share what theme, hosting and sitemap plugin are you using? Thanks for all the updates, Phil.
Sure, I use free Astra theme the same as I use it on this site, I don’t really tweak anything, I just changed the color. I use WPX hosting, they’ve been great to me, and I use RankMathSEO and upload a site map once when I start a site.
Also, how many posts do you have on this website in total?
awesome journey bro love it
and how many articles you have and what your goal for this site
reach 10k or sale the website . make youtube channel bro
you have awesome skill making new website
Thanks mate, I have 542 articles, and I’m just going to sell it at the end of the year I think – I’d heave to learn about making videos and stuff from scratch, for now my time is best spent just writing more for my sites. 🙂
I’m also one of the many people you’ve inspired to start this journey so I thank you so much for your work and updates here.
Do you use pseudonyms on your sites? Do you use an About page at all?
I think Shaun Marrs doesn’t do any of that.
I’m at the keyword/topic research phase for a brand new site and I would rather hide my identity. I saw a couple of competitors that are obviously using a stock photo for their profile and so it’s highly likely that they’re using a pseudonym and their About profile just made up.
I understand the intent from a marketing perspective but I don’t really believe in that as long as you deliver topnotch content. Not that I would never do it, though.
Also, how do you establish authority—as in being an “expert” on a niche? Do you link out to a lot of authority (as in high DA/DR) sites as references? Do you publish content for an “intermediate” or “expert” segment of the audience, which is a bit more geeky/technical (because I think niche sites should appeal mostly to “newbie” audiences)?
Sorry to hear about your sites getting hacked. I’ve used Thrive forms before but I heard Thrive is generally bloated. From my experience, getting your sites more secure isn’t really that hard thanks to WordPress, basically. The worst experience I had was a high volume of brute force attempts but thanks to Wordfence they didn’t get through. Chris gives out good tips there.
Hey Rob, good to hear that, appreciate the kind words- hope you’re making good progress.
Re: about pages and pseudonyms; I don’t create a whole fake persona and make up credentials or lie about anything, no. It’s fairly obvious a lot of sites do, but the whole ‘E-A-T’ thing has been overstated by marketers to drive clicks, sales, or whatever else they’re pushing.
At this point, Google has no way of verifying if someone is an expert. If they did, people would just find a way to lie about it anyway, as they already do. So, adding fake qualifications, a bio, a long about page etc doesn’t make any difference for the kinds of keywords we’re targeting (in my opinion).
Personally, I just have an ‘about’ page explaining what the site is about, I don’t feature myself on my sites.
It’s different if you’re building a community, trust, all that kind of stuff. But for ranking well and driving organic traffic, most of which is people visiting one page once, you don’t need to worry about it.
I’m really not focusing on being seen as an ‘expert’ to be honest. My goal is to rank as much content as possible. In fact, I tend to stay away from the more technical types of posts, give me low-hanging fruit that’s easy to write all day long.
If I can rank a post around funny memes, a joke, or something obvious like “do horses have eyelashes?” < that's actually a really good one, I'd write that if I had a horse site - I take those types of posts over ambiguous, complicated, or technical posts every time. I actually write technical 5-10k word posts for clients around SEO and marketing, so I'm no stranger to them. But, I don't know, I just find ranking something interesting and fun that helps someone out a lot quicker so much more satisfying.
Hey Phil, love your posts and strategy to SEO. I’ve got a few questions for you!
1. Do you ever outsource content for one of your websites? If so, how much would you pay for ~1000 words and where do you look for writers?
2. Also, how far do you intend to grow a site, given there is more content to write about (especially low comp kw)
3. Do you think it would be a good idea to go for a broad domain name and write ~250 articles about one sub topic and then expand?
For example: The broad niche is painting. You then start out with writing a ton about watercolor. Once you’ve got a large amount of articles and got a good amount of traffic, would you expand to acrylics or oil paints?
If so, would you write a big batch of content about this topic as well (let’s stick with the 250) and then go on to the next sub topic, or would you mix both of them?
Do you think it would be a good idea to grow a site to ~2000 low/mid comp kw articles in a broader niche by starting in a smaller segment of that niche, or would you split these subtopics (like watercolor, acrylics and oils) up into different websites?
4. How much traffic and RPM do you expect per article? Or what is your average for an article that’s ~6months old and had time to rank?
For example: 250pv*15$RPM=3,75$ per article per month.
What is a correct measurement for that in your experience?
5. Would you sell info products on your sites? Like ebooks for example? If we stick to the painting thing, maybe an ebook about how to start painting or smth like that? If so, how much would you charge?
6. Why do you plan to sell this site instead of keeping it? If you need the money to make a large purchase (like a house etc.), would you still sell it, if you didn’t need the money right now?
7. Do you think it’s worth posting on Pinterest?
Thank you for your time 🙂
Hey Elias, appreciate the kind words, and here’s my thoughts:
1. I don’t outsource content, no. I’ve tried a couple of writers but came to the conclusion that I need to work with an SEO to get the content how I want, not a writer. And SEOs don’t like writing. It takes me about 45-60 mins to write an article, if I spend time on writing a brief, then editing an article, it quickly becomes too time consuming.
2. I don’t see an end to any of my sites, just keep finding more keywords and go wider when necessary.
3. Yes, that sounds fine and is similar to what I do. I don’t even spend much time in the way of ‘siloing’ content, I just keep adding relevant content that interlinks naturally and keep building out a site that way.
4. You know, I don’t spend much time pining over those kinds of metrics. I know a lot of people do, but really those numbers are not something I can control, to an extent. What I can control is producing the best possible content with the intention of it ranking, and then seeing what happens. It always turns out profitable, that much I do know, so my advice is to just focus on doing everything right. You can see how this site is performing, it’s very similar to at least two of my other sites.
5. I would sell products, yes. I wish I was better at getting stuff in front of people that would convert, I’d like the extra income!
6. I’m only selling it because I have other sites that I’m not even working on right now and to release the funds for my debt (mortgage). If I didn’t have debt, or if it were my only site, I would not sell it, absolutely not. Collecting passive income is the best feeling in the world, but I do have other sites so it’s not a big deal.
7. Yes, I think it’s worth doing Pinterest. If my account didn’t get banned for this site I’d have at least 10% more traffic, that’s what I have for my other sites from using Pinterest.
Hope that helps!
thanks for the answers, I appreciate it a lot 🙂
Have a great rest of the week!
I love this blog. This helped me a lot.
One question, I’ve just joined Ezoic about a week ago and then I lost 30% of my traffic. I can’t find any reason because even after ads on my site, it loads superfast. I get 100/97 score in GTmetrix. 73/92 score in page speed insights. I use Vultr cloud vps to host my site. Everything is good after using site speed accelerator. I also get notice on page speed insights that my site couldn’t pass the Core Web Vitals for last 28 days period. But after some optimizations, I don’t see any speed issue right now. When will I get my traffic back. I’m so much worried about this.
Thanks, Harsh, I love to hear that you’ve found some helpful tips here.
It hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve heard from other people they experienced an initial dip in traffic when moving to Ezoic. As far as I know, they always got that traffic back in the following weeks, so I’d be hopeful if I were you.
Did this also happen around the 4-5th June? There was a Google core update then and I saw some big movements on a couple of my sites due to that update.
Also, damn, you got some awesome page speeds while running ads, good job!
I am facing a big problem with keyword placement in my blog articles. I have tried every alternative but not succeed. Every 5 out of 10 blog posts are reflecting in the 7-8th page of google and others are not reflecting in google search. I have used google keyword planner, google autocomplete, google related searches, people also ask(Google), ahrefs keyword generator, keyword surfer all of these alternatively for my keyword research and placement. Can you please guide me about article writing and keyword placement?
Do you mean you can’t get any articles to rank on page 1? How old is your site and how many articles do you have?
Start with the lowest competition keyword you can find, even if it’s zero volume and see if you can rank that. By low competition, I mean use a keyword that no other sites are targeting at all, just as a test to see how you do.
Yes. I can’t get any articles to rank on page 1. My site is 1 month 10 days old. I have published 16 articles. All of my articles are targeting either the lowest competition keyword or zero volume keyword.
Almost 80 percent of my articles are FAQ type and more than 1000 words.
You need to give Google more to work with to show that you’re an authority on the stuff you’re writing about. By this, I mean more content around the topics you want to rank for, more content overall on your site, etc.
My advice is to keep going. I had 180 something posts on my case study site before I started making money. That might sound like a lot, but look at where I am now – if you do everything right it’s more than worth it.
Yes. I can not get my articles on page 1. My website is 1 and a half months old. I have published 15 articles using zero volume and lowest volume keywords.
As usual great post, thank you.
Perhaps you could give me your thoughts on these 2 questions:
1) Is it possible to go back and redo post titles after they’ve been published a while without hurting SEO?
2) Regarding monetization. I’m building out a blog now and it’s in the SaaS/Tech niche. I’ve noticed almost none of my competitors use display ads, only affiliate products.
Admittedly, the affiliate commissions in this niche are quite high. But do you think they aren’t monetizing with both ads and affiliate products is because of possibly lower ad rates or traffic that is not more than 50% US?
Although the US is my highest traffic source, India is second, followed by the UK and Germany, Pakistan or the Netherlands, then either Canada or Australia.
All the best,
Hey Dave, good to hear from you!
1. You can go back and tweak the H1 for sure, yeah. Loads of people split test clickbaity stuff, you can even change it from the keywords in the URL, I’ve done that before. If a post isn’t doing well, it’s well worth testing it.
2. It’s hard to why they aren’t using ads. You know what I find all the time is that people try AdSense, realize it sucks, and just don’t know they have other options. That’s fairly common. Also, some affiliate sites just don’t want to put ads up in case it harms their revenue, but I think it’s pretty well known at this point that you can add some ads without harming revenue.
I hear the ad rates are decent in tech/SaaS though, so you should test it out for sure.
As always Phil, thanks for the great advice!
I am really enjoying your Case Study. You inspired me too start my own site.
I’ve been lurking here and on Just Start for around 6 months and now I think I am ready to start.
I just have one question: How do you choose niche?
I have been thinking about niche from the start but can’t seem to find anything that ticks all the boxes.
When I think of a niche I seem to think that only alive things (animals, plants…) can have questions to answer (long tail content) without featuring a product.
Example: Can rabbits swim?
I am not comfortable to talk about a product if I don’t own it, and that bothers me a lot.
How do you choose a niche and if you don’t know anything about the niche, how do you get idea for long tail content.
I saw in some of your other replays that you don’t stress about the niche too much, but for some reason I really do, and It really irritates me.
Good to hear you’re going to get started – a lot of people get stuck on the niche selection, so I understand.
I don’t feel comfortable ‘reviewing’ products I have not used or blogging about niches I don’t know anything about either. My sites are about pets I own, or topics I know well.
I’d suggest trying to find a niche that you know a lot about, it gives you an advantage for sure. Don’t stress too much about writing content on topics you’re not familiar with. Think of it like curation for the most part, you’re helping people get an answer to their question faster by writing an optimized article.
If that means you need to find the answer from another article, that’s fine. That’s what most of the internet is.
You could almost pick anything around the house, any sport, hobby, some tech stuff, whatever you’re into. As long as you have the goal of making the best possible site and going deeper into the topic than other people, which usually isn’t hard, you’re more than halfway there!
You have been a big source of inspiration for lots of people, including me, with this your case study.
I would like to tell you couple of the things that has happened since the last update.
I have set up my website, it is up and running fine. My websites is 40 days old today with 100 published articles (1,000+ words each) and 20 in drafts.😊
Two out of the articles landed on the first page of SERP for the targeted keywords in three days using your keyword research methods.
Also, I use Astra theme (free version) and installed only vital plugins on my website.
All these make my website loads faster. I was able to achieve 98 (mobile) and 99 (desktop) on Google site loading test.
I’d keep my strategy simple, I will continue to publish at least 1 article per day for rest of the year.
I am saying a big thanks to you for making this case study public, it’s really helped people like me get back on track.
Before I go, I have some questions to ask you about this website,
1. Do you have Wordfence on your website when it got hacked?
2. Couple of months ago, you stated that you wrote some articles (about 25 of ’em) targeting local keywords.
I’d like to ask that, thus
Are those keywords bringing in noticable traffic? Do they have impact on RPM?
3 Once you sell this websites, are going to start another public case study just like this one?
4 Lastly, how can I contact you in case I want to ask you private question?
Looking forward to hearing from Master Phil. 🤗🤗🤗
Thanks for the kind words, Aliu
Sounds like you’re on a similar trajectory as I set out with this site, so I don’t doubt you’ll have similar results. I love hearing people going at this hard and sticking with it, you’ll find a way to succeed for sure with this attitude – do let me know future updates, that would be awesome.
To answer your questions:
1. I didn’t have Wordfence the first time my sites got hacked, no. I do have it now. My host rolled my sites back a few days, and I installed it, but I think the malware was still there, which is why I got hit a second time.
2. Almost all the local keywords I targeted are ranking well, yes. Local results are typically lower comp, but the intent is often different so it’s not always as easy to be a relevant result. I just checked a few of them and they’re getting $18-$21 RPM, which is a little below my site average, but still respectable.
3. I am going to do another case study, yes. I have something in mind involving an existing site I have, actually. 🙂
4. My contact form works (I just tested it) use a good subject line though, I get a lot of spam and I may have missed a message here and there.
Thanks for dropping by!
Read over everything at least twice. This information was really useful. I’ve been doing stuff very similar to this for 7 months now, but sadly I think the niche I decided to get into is a little to competitive. After publishing 215 articles,I have to say, it sort of stinks lol. However, I am starting a new site currently and found a much better niche to target. (I hope) I did have a few questions for you if you have time.
1. When targeting search terms, Do you ever judge sites you are competing against by their DA? I’ve almost exclusively targeted keywords that have forums ranking in the top 3 spots. However, I don’t seem to be able to beat them most of the time. I know most of them have higher DA so not sure if that’s why.
2. Have you ever built links to the site in this journey?
3. Again, when targeting search terms, do you ever go after terms that others have written information it and are primarily targeting the keywords? Even if it’s just one site? With my new niche I seem to have found several terms that do appear to have no completion, and no one targeting the keyword at all, but it is fairly rare in my opinion. Maybe I am going too broad in my niches? Most of the time I will find a keyword like “why does my gel pen stop writing randomly.” (Just an example) and it will have forums and user generated content in the top 3 but one blog will be targeting that exact same term. Do you still try and compete or do you just move to the next one?
4. Do you primarily target keyword with 10 to 50 searches a month still? I remembering seeing in your keyword guide that this is what you go for. Just curious if that still holds true.
Sucks to hear that your niche is competitive, we learn loads of lessons along the way – park it up and start a new site, you might be able to go back and right that ship down the line.
To answer your questions:
1. No, I never look at DAs. There are high DA sites in the SERPs, but because I’m trying to find keywords that those sites are not targeting, I don’t feel like I’m competing against them and outrank them anyway.
2. Nope, I’ve not built a single link, I think the DA for my site is around 3, I did check it a couple months back.
3. Yes, I will go after KWs with 1-2 sites ranking for it, I’m also playing the long game and intend to out rank them. I know I’m probably going to write a better article, write more articles and link into it, and it’s always worth just going for it. It’s hard to find true zero competition KWs, most have a site or two and forums ranking for the KWs I target.
4. I go by competition first, so if it’s low comp and I’m sure I can rank I really don’t care what the volume is, as long as it’s 10/mo upwards. I’d say almost all the KWs I target are between 10-100/mo, yes.
I just started following you today and I can see you’re doing a really good job. I also love your transparency. I have two questions for you. Do you write all the articles by yourself? What proportion are done personally and how much do you outsource?
I really struggle with writing mostly because of my day job and would really like to commit more and build my site. I have about 30 posts but would like to cross the 100 mark in a month or two. I cannot outsource and would want to do it on my own.
Thanks for dropping by. I write everything myself, I love writing so it’s not a problem. My websites are still my hustle really, I freelance and have some writing and SEO clients so I do it in my ‘down’ time.
It’s so much easier if you enjoy it. I look forward to writing a post. But if you don’t enjoy it and have to do it because you can’t outsource yet, you have to just build that habit and focus on the end goal.
Finding the motivation to write is what holds a lot of people back. I hope you can do it. I know it’s tough if you work a day job, I was there once, too.
Thanks you so much. Seeing someone else doing it is just the right amount of motivation I need right now to get over the consistent writing hurdle.
Hey Phil, super glad to see your website still being on upward trajectory.
I’ve launched my first niche website exactly six months ago by following mostly you and Shaun Marrs.
I can proudly say that in June I hit $50 month mark, and I am more than ever motivated to keep on grinding.
Btw could you kindly answer questions below:
1. If I understood from one of your comment replays you basically have a virtual ‘silo’ and you interlink to any relevant article?
2. How many links coming or going from one page is too much? Do you even pay attention to this, or you just place internal links whenever it makes sense? Do you use any tool for internal linking?
3. When creating a post, do you add supporting secondary KWs in H2s that have some search volume? Or you don’t pay attention to volume of those?
4. Do you have video ads, and do they bring good chunk of revenue or nah?
Thank you Phil, you are the man! 🙂
Thanks, Alex, $50 is a pretty huge milestone, honestly, I remember a time longing for that – good on you.
Sure, to answer:
1. I don’t create super strict silos, but I’m careful about what I interlink to, yeah. I do build out groups of related content and make sure it’s all interlinked. It seems to work well, but I don’t know how different it would be if I didn’t do it, you know? It just feels like the right thing to do, keeping content relevantly linked.
2. I don’t pay too much attention to how many links there are. Some pages have 15 or so, and some have just one to be honest. I just keep it fairly strictly relevant, and I don’t use any tools to do this.
3. Yeah, if the KWs are relevant to the article, have volume, and they don’t deserve a post of their own I always use them for headers. That works really well, I see a lot of my posts ranking well for those subheaders.
4. I haven’t used Ezoic video ads, but the Mediavine ones are awesome. Looking at the revenue they account for about 10% of my ad income.
Hope this helps, cheers!
Hey There Phil,
I just finished reading all your journals. I want you to know that your journey has been very inspiring. I will be launching my site in August too, thanks to your journey.
I have two questions if you don’t mind:
1. Did you use an expired domain, or was it a fresh one? Everywhere I read people recommend to purchase an (expensive) expired domain to escape the sandbox effect.
2. How many backlinks do you have as of now? Did you buy any, or perform any outreach?
Hi Darsh, good to hear that- and thanks!
1. I did not use an expired domain, no. I really don’t care about the ‘sandbox’ effect to be honest, maybe it takes a bit longer to rank – it doesn’t change the long term goal. I do see the benefits though and I’m not against it, if you understand how to find a good expired domain, nothing wrong with that.
2. I did not build or purchase any backlinks, nope. I just put my domain into Ahrefs free authority checker and it says I have 962 linking websites (76% dofollow) and a domain rating of 6 if that answers your question.
Cheers – Let me know how you get on building your site, good luck!
I think I’ll go with a fresh domain too; a brandable expired domain is pretty expensive and I would rather use that money for content.
Is that 962 referring domains? That is amazing.
I think it means referring domains, yes. Haven’t looked at them, no idea how many are spammy. 🙂
Great Insights, Thanks Phil.
My site is currently with EZOIC, beauty niche, and eligible to move to Mediavine. I am confused about either moving to Mediavine or staying with EZOIC, currently, I am hitting around $20 EPMV. From your experience, what do you advise? Thanks!
I know people like to hold on to their Ezoic commissions, but I cannot lie – every site I’ve moved to Mediavine has earned way more than it did on Ezoic, and the same for anyone else I know who has moved their sites.
Obviously, I can’t guarantee anything, but I’d always move sites to Mediavine. They show a lot fewer ads, too, like less than half Ezoic does. I don’t know how they do it, but they just give much higher RPMs.
Let me know how you get on if you do swap, I’m always interested to know.
I actually applied with another site just today, by coincidence. 🙂