Table of Contents
I want to start this post by mentioning that if you’re somebody who does not take action then this is not the post for you. What I will be sharing is just a piece of the puzzle, but one that is critically important.
You can make a lot of money if you follow the right tips, however, unfortunately, a lot of people fail to reach their full potential simply because they do not do the right thing.
Today, I am working on a number of sites in different niches, all making me a good amount of money. I don’t only work to build sites but I also work to buy and sell ‘em when it’s time to move on to a different project.
Like most of you, I too was struggling, until I found a blueprint for success that I follow on all of my sites. There are different strategies that come together to create a top ranking site that also converts into dollar bills.
In this article, I will talk about all I have learned as an online entrepreneur flipping websites. We’ll have a look at how to find the pillar method, the hub and spoke, low hanging fruit keywords via Ahrefs, and content freshness.
Expect to know all my secrets and how spending a little on links helped me create an authority track website. Let’s get started:
The Pillar Method
A pillar for me is exactly what its definition sounds like, “A tall vertical structure of stone, wood, or metal, used as a support for a building.” Just as the definition points out, each of my “BEST/Money” style pages are propped up and supported by the pillar methodology. Most people online want to get away from building a site into an authority because it’s easier and cheaper to just focus on a couple of pages vs a real content strategy specifically designed for growth and long term effectiveness.
Each pillar is made up of the following:
- One 3,000-5,000+ word “10 Best Style Article”
- 10+ individual 1,000 word product reviews linking back to the best style article
- 5+ 1,000-1,500 word informational articles. (How To’s, VS articles, “Under $x articles, Why Does X do Y articles, etc.)
This gives each pillar on average 20,000-25,000+ words of content, which not only elevates your website as an authority on the subject, but starts indexing you for a wider range of keyword related traffic sources.
Why Do We Do This?
We’re focusing primarily on Google’s ability to seek out relevance and authority within a specific niche or keyword. Each of these keyword types has a different buyer intent and customer journey that you have to consider when leveraging the pillar method.
The “BEST” style articles give you the ability to use the Bigfoot method and go for the wide net scoop of keywords.
These tend to take the longest to rank due to the fact that you are focusing on buyer intent keywords. However, these are worth the effort. Such articles will bear the most fruit for you once they do rank. That’s why we focus on sculpting its relevance and playing the long game.
“BEST” style articles have a way of finding buyer intent and playing on the perception that whatever you are reviewing actually is the best out there on the market if it ranks within the top 5 on Google. Who would argue that has absolutely zero industry experience?
The 10 individual product reviews can often be low hanging fruit. You can flesh out a more in-depth review from the Best Page (this gives awesome crawl ability) and reciprocal links, i.e.: your best articles covers 10 specific mountain bikes that only get a couple of mini reviews within the article.
You would select those 10 to individually review and have links from the best page to the more in-depth reviews and vice versa creating natural crawlability and extending the time on-site for your visitor.
Your next option is to simply go after keywords with volumes that are greater than 100+ traffic and have 0-2 RD’s within the top 10.
This is an example of a specific home/garden keyword I have been chasing that has roughly 350 monthly visitors. As you can see in the Domains column there is barely any competition here with link equity and I have already indexed at #11 for it.
My products tend to be $500-2,000+ so even a small amount of traffic can yield fantastic earnings.
Imagine you have 10 pillars on your website following this strategy. That means you have 100 individual products reviewed where even one sale from a single article is an additional $40 in your pocket. They add up quickly once you get to the 20+ pillar stage in the game. It’s just a giant traffic magnet.
The individual reviews tend to rank much faster and are completely avoided by most thin sites that are focusing primarily on “BEST” style articles as their main offering to Google.
So many people do not talk about individual product reviews anymore and my experience with them has been incredible. A couple 1,000-2,000 searches/mo individual keywords can earn your site >$1,000/mo. So, do not be afraid to chase them.
Think about when you are searching for a very specific product number and are looking for a second opinion. Are you going straight to the brand’s website to read their review or looking elsewhere? I tend to do both and then make an educated decision.
The 5-10 informational posts are purely for user engagement and topical relevance. You don’t want your website to be stuck with only best style reviews with nothing of substance.
Would an authority in your space only do best style articles? No! You want to keep your money posts to informational posts at a much higher ratio so that Google knows what type of site you are.
Let’s just say I’ve started websites with informationally focused content first and then never been able to rank for commercial intent keywords. It’s almost as if my sites would get flagged as a DIY/How To site and get stuck there.
The traffic here needs to be funneled somewhere so always make natural references to your main pillar page once the question is answered.
One thing I’ve learned is that once the question is answered the buyer has a few thoughts:
- I do not want to have to do that in order to fix/sharpen/service this item
- This will take too much time
- I will just buy a new one instead
Take advantage of this thought process when you are crafting your answer… Do we want this to be so easy that someone can go do it themselves or do we want to make sure that we answer the question and funnel the user into an “easier” decision?
If this is a maintenance or how to video I will find the longest one on YouTube to make the end user think this could potentially take me several hours… leaving them thinking how much is the new one gonna cost me so I don’t have to fix anything.
Hub and Spoke
Hub and Spoke is a strategy I leverage when I am not sure which specific keywords I want to go after in a wide niche.
I typically follow along with this strategy on Auction Domains from Sumit @ DominatingPBN’s or aged domains to leverage their inherent authority and age when going after the “BEST” style keywords.
This is a strategy I would suggest that you follow if you have multiple sites and not a lot of time to focus on this new site individually or one where you are going into a brand new niche that you’ve never worked in before. This will save you time and money by focusing your additional supporting content on a page that has a chance of ranking.
The build is simple… rather than building the entire pillar strategy above at one time you simply build all of your “BEST” style pages one after another for 3 months and that’s it. I would suggest you build at least 10 of these pages over 90 days to make sure you break through any sandboxing and have enough time to analyze the pages before moving on.
Over that 90 day period you are analyzing which one of these pages has started growing the fastest.
Fastest could be in terms of the number of keywords indexed per page to which of these pages start ranking in the top 50.
This gives you a good idea of which of those hubs DESERVES to be built out with more supporting content. (Spokes)
Some of my websites have 20-30 “BEST” style pages and only a handful of them have a completely built out Hub and Spoke system. The focus here is primarily on low hanging fruit and not wasting time on pages that simply don’t want to rank.
My experience with larger content strategies like this has given me some unique insight into how websites respond when they’re built like this.
- Step 1: Build 10 “BEST” Style Pages
- Step 2: Wait 90 days for all of the content to index/settle into its first ranking benchmarks
- Step 3: Choose 3 of the top ranking/most indexed keywords pages
- Step 4: Refer to Pillar Methodology and start building out your supporting content as spokes to the hub.
KW Research With ahrefs
I’m going to keep this pretty short as most of you who are reading this are familiar with most common keyword research methods, but we are going to focus on the most important filters you should use when deciding on a niche or a batch of keywords.
- KD should never be blindly followed.
- When looking at a SERP how many affiliates (like you) are in the top 10?
- What’s the average # of RD’s to rank top 5?
- Your competitors will almost always have the keywords you want to leverage so gather all of their keyword ideas into a spreadsheet.
KD is much like DR and is simply a metric. It’s a good place to start manually checking, but following it blindly will not yield the best fruit. Funny enough, some of my best ranking & earning sites have nothing but KD 0-5 keywords so it is a good starting point.
If you’re not seeing other affiliates in the top 10 then where are you seeing them? This question is important to ask because you’re looking at the future you.
I’m a big believer in choosing keywords where I’m competing with a minimum of 1 affiliate competitor and maybe 2 that are <DA/DR30 style websites. Babies.
I get this question a lot from my peers in the industry:
“When doing KW research what should be a filter of RD’s you should stay away from?”
The answer is always… Depends… Much like KD – RD’s can be a flawed system until you dig into what those links actually are.
The difference between a link from the New York Times and an obvious pbn is apples and oranges. You don’t want your website going up against anymore goliaths than it has to.
Give the top 10 a good scan and filter by the following:
- Site does not equal Amazon/Home Depot/Walmart/The Usual Suspects
- RD is less than or equal to 2 throughout the top 10
- This single page ranks for > 100+ keywords
Maintaining Active Freshness
The days of building content once and never updating it again are over. In this modern era of a dynamically changing algorithm freshness has never been so important. What constitutes as freshness?
Freshness can be a brand new page of unique content that indexes on your site. Freshness can also be small changes to content on already existing posts that require the website to be re-crawled.
You see, all we’re trying to do is let Google know that we’re actively updating our website and our top pages are ALWAYS GETTING BETTER.
There are some niches where simply updating your existing content regularly can keep you at the top of the SERPs. There are others where that is just a small piece of the puzzle.
I currently have my team run a quick 3 step process:
- Pick the top 10 ranking or close to ranking pages
- Adjust their post dates, adjust their opening lines if necessary, adjust titles if CTR isn’t high
- Do this every 30-60 days on every single one of my websites
Keep your freshness up and monitor how your SERP specifically reacts to your increased freshness.
3 Stages Of Growth
If you read my post on Seo.Institute about scaling Amazon Affiliate Websites moving into 2019, you have already learned about the 3 different stages of growth. Pure Growth, Stable Earners, and Authority Track.
Growth to me is defined as a website that earns $100-250 month and can get stuck there if you completely rely on reinvesting your monthly revenue to get it to the next level. This leads growth sites to be tricky to scale overtime without writing your own articles and getting FREE links.
Stable Earners $250-500 – This stage has always been my favorite to buy and sell websites from. On the low end if you feel you have tapped out a very small niche then it’s best to go into maintenance mode and sellout. On the high end you are moving into big money territory and can use as much of your monthly revenue on growth as necessary.
Authority Track $1,000+/mo This stage always starts with “What’s Next?” Depending on the size of the niche and the price of the products you have an idea of what sells and converts at this level.
At worst you’re selling this website for $30k on empire flippers so you have two choices. Go for broke and spend all your cash on growing through the niche or go into hardcore maintenance mode and have a target date you want to sell.
The question you need to ask yourself is what stage is your website currently in?
Are you adding new keywords + growing in traffic every month? Are you burning cash and staying the same?
The answer can be a bitter pill to swallow. As someone who manages 20 websites in varying stages I can tell you that sometimes you just have to say no and stop funding non growth activities. This means active pruning of my sites that are no longer performing for what is being spent on them. ROI IS KING.
I would much rather have 10 websites making me $250/mo that require maybe an article every month to stay that way and earn $2,000+ in profit than 10 websites at $500/mo that cost me almost all of my profit just to keep them ranking.
You see, many of us can’t look at ourselves in the mirror and say this isn’t working. If you’re not letting your balance sheet be the judge of a successful venture then maybe this isn’t the game for you. We are in digital real estate, and foreclosures happen every day. @James Dooley
DFY Links Review
How Did we Achieve These Rankings Above?
In July of 2018 I set out on buying 4 new affiliate sites within the Home/Garden space. I wanted them to each earn$100-200/mo. I had recently sold a single portfolio and wanted to reinvest the money into a friendlier space with a 6%+ Amazon commission over each of the 4 websites.
In August I redesigned all 4 of the websites and began developing them via the Hub and Spoke method.
The website above has been the flagship of this new portfolio team and was littered with “BEST” style articles with almost zero supporting articles or individual product reviews. I took the 10 highest ranking pages and began optimizing them 1 by 1 and comparing those target keywords to what my competitors had been doing at the top.
The findings were eye-opening. If I wanted to actually compete I needed to do the following:
- I needed to increase word count on almost all of the pages by 500-1,500 words (some required a decrease)
- I needed to add a minimum of 50 individual product reviews spread between those pages (5 per “best” page)
- I needed to add at least 2 informational articles per “best” page (20 total)
This seems like a daunting task for most people, but if you do calculations, you will see it’s feasible. You need 75k words of content. Let’s split it into two:
- 50k words of 1,000 word individual review articles
- 20k words of 1,000-1,500 words of how to/informational articles
Let’s say you hire affordable writers to do the job at $15/1,000 words. It will cost you $1100 over a 6 month period.
So less than $200/mo of new content that the website earnings completely cover as we begin fortifying each of those “best” style pages.
I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t also buy some very select links from Charles and the DFYLinks team.
I actually spent $1200 from April-May on 7 niche specific links. I targeted 3 of them to the homepage that were DR40-50+ with 500-1,000+ RD’s.
Each of these links had my exact niche or keyword in the URL for the niche edits providing plenty of topical relevance and top shelf quality.
I then picked 4 of my bottom of page 1 ranking posts (7th-12th) and sent them 4 more monster links with my niche (Garden) in the Domain name or in the URL of a niche specific website. The explosion that we have seen from April through June has been pivotal to making this site a linear focus.
Site URL 1:
Site URL 2:
Site URL 3:
Site URL 4:
Screenshot from June 7th
With these tactics, I have brought several of my websites to the top. Follow the tips given above to see what works for you. Remember the time lag. It may be awhile before you begin to see results. The secret lies in continuing to work hard and putting your best foot forward.