Affiliate Site Case Study – Month 3 Update
Well, it’s been another VERY busy month.
As we head into the Christmas break for the Daine Media team, we have very little time to get a whole heap done.
Luckily, not only did we get ahead of all of our client work before breaking up, but we also smashed out the work on Survival Front.
No one can ever say that Daine Media doesn’t work damn hard. 🙂
This month, I’d like to start with earnings.
The reason, well, we bagged ourselves another amazing ‘guru’ ad headline.
“Increase Your Sales by 177% in Just 30 Days”
And that’s what we did.
Last month (November), we managed to scrape together $5.61 in commissions.
And now, in month three?
A grand total of $15.54.
That’s almost 3x the commissions we earned in month two, which is, as I’m sure you’ll agree, pretty darn good for a brand new site.
Interestingly, we had 4x product link conversions out of the 13 total ordered items. Which is pretty decent.
In terms of the goals we set up last month via Google Tag Manager and in Analytics, we were not far off where we wanted to be. I’d initially set it at $0.14, but it turns out it is currently closer to $0.10, which is still great.
I’ve now changed it to $0.10 to more accurately reflect its current true value.
At this stage of development in a site, it’s important to take the little wins and let them inspire and encourage you. From here, the only way is up.
We’re still a long way off hitting our short-term goal of $1,600 commission by month 6, but it’s too early to tell whether or not that goal was too ambitious for a brand new site or not.
Nonetheless, we’re still extremely confident that our long-term goal of $8,500 per month is more than achievable.
Again, it’s all about that ‘compound effect’ we talk so much about.
Things start slowly, before reaching a ‘tipping point’ and growing exponentially.
So, now we understand the earnings, let’s dive into rankings for the month.
This month, we have a total of:
- 92 keywords in the top 100
- 52 in the top 30
- 16 in the top 20
- 3 in the top 10
I know, SEO rockstars, right?
Clearly these ranking increases are nothing earth-shattering, but still, they show some nice movement in the right direction.
Most importantly, it’s on the right growth trajectory.
With a focus now switched firmly on link building and content promotion, we can expect things to improve significantly and fairly rapidly in the coming months with respect to rankings.
One thing we have noted through our research at this point, particularly with regard to search terms, is that brand product searches appear to be pretty lucrative, providing you’re in the right niche and can find the right products.
While some people say that trying to rank for brand product (traditional e-commerce) terms, is essentially a non-starter, as you’ll be competing with the big boy e-commerce stores; we have found the opposite to be true, based on our initial research.
We’ll be exploring these brand product search terms in more depth going forward, particularly as we come to implement our new custom-built affiliate site themes (which I’ll talk about shortly), and testing what sort of ROI they provide vs ‘best X for Y’ type content.
In summary, though, we’re seeing some positive movements with respect to rankings; we just really need to start seeing this improve at a faster pace.
So, earnings are up, rankings are up.
I suppose we best take a look at traffic for the month…
It’s been another positive month in terms of traffic growth, with organic continuing to increase.
A 114.43% increase to be precise!
Let’s jump straight in.
So, again, another headline-grabbing achievement…
Increase your organic search traffic by 114.43% in just one month.
Sounds good, right?
In December, we managed to pull in 401 unique organic users, which is a 114.43% increase from November, which ended on 187 for the month.
Overall, traffic from all sources amounted to 2,643 uniques, which is a little less overall compared to November, which stood at 2,858.
This is to be expected, as most of that traffic is being driven from the Niche Affiliate Empires Facebook group at this point and will fluctuate depending on how many interim updates we provide in the group, linking to Survival Front.
More updates generally translate to more clicks.
We’re hoping that this steady increase in organic search traffic (the only traffic metric we’re paying any real attention to at this stage) continues to grow in January.
If we can hit 1,000 unique organic users for January, we’ll be very please with our progress.
Let’s wait and see.
Awesome Plans for the Very Near Future
Unfortunately, whilst Elementor and the various premium plugins you can get for it are great, it produces an extremely bloated codebase.
It has a particular problem with excessive DOM nodes (the number of elements and nested elements in the HTML).
This, in our opinion, impacts both performance and tech SEO (crawlability).
To that end, we made the decision to completely dump Elementor in favor of a completely custom-built, hand-coded affiliate theme!
A number of factors played into this decision, namely speed and performance, but also site maintainability.
We’re continuously testing and rolling out new features and we need the ability to run a test and, once we’re happy with its success, roll it out across our entire portfolio at the touch of a button and with as little manual input as possible.
Gareth has been working extremely hard on building an entirely new theme, from scratch, with a sharp focus on speed and performance. It’ll also include built-in CRO best practice straight out of the box and is going to convert amazingly well!
We hope to have this complete and live across all of our sites, including Survival Front, sometime in January.
Stay tuned for the next update to hear how we progress.
Exciting time ahead!
In December, we produced a pretty respectable 24,000 words of content, across 12 posts; not bad considering we were focusing heavily on outreach and promotion.
This month we focused purely on commercial content. In total, we produced:
- 12 Product Roundup Review Posts
Let’s dive in and take a detailed look at how content went down this month…
So, even though we had to account for the Christmas break and we’d decided to switch tac and focus heavily on outreach and promotion, we still managed to get a cool 24,000 words of content written and published in December.
Not too shabby.
Again, you’ll note from my list below that we focused predominantly on commercial content here, and the reasons for this remain the same…
We believe that if you’re ‘seen’ by search engines as being a money (product review) site, that you’re more inclined to rank for related search terms, all else being equal, against a majority info site.
Moreover, the speed at which an affiliate site makes money matters, generally speaking.
In this game, unless you’re extremely patient, experienced, or cash-rich, you’re probably looking for a pretty quick return on investment.
Nothing major, but just enough to fill you with that warm fuzzy feeling.
That ‘ah, everything is going to be ok’ kind of feeling.
Simply put, making money early on makes it less likely that you’ll get cold feet and pull out, and subsequently, this alone makes your project more likely to succeed.
Just think of all of the (would be) billion-dollar businesses that no longer exist because their founders pulled out too quickly. Ponder that thought.
In short – go heavy on commercial content!
Here’s everything we knocked off in December:
- Best Survival Slingshot – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-slingshot
- Best Survival Hatchet – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-hatchet
- Best Survival Clothing – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-clothing
- Best 8 Person Tent – https://survivalfront.com/best-8-person-tent
- Best Rechargeable Flashlight – https://survivalfront.com/best-rechargeable-flashlight
- Best Survival Folding Saw – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-folding-saw
- Best Winter Sleeping Bag – https://survivalfront.com/best-winter-sleeping-bag
- Best Kukri Machete – https://survivalfront.com/best-kukri-machete
- Best Survival Two Way Radio – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-two-way-radio
- Best 1 Person Tent – https://survivalfront.com/best-1-person-tent
- Top 5 Survival Items – https://survivalfront.com/top-5-survival-items
- Best Survival Boots – https://survivalfront.com/best-survival-boots
We’re not that sad – it was Christmas leave!
Generally, though, we’re pretty positive about the frequency of posts in December.
It’s not as much as we have been doing, but we’ve made a conscious decision to dial the content down a little, so it’s to be expected.
Everyone within the team is pretty happy that we’re there or thereabout when it comes to content; what we need more of is authority.
BONUS EXTRA: For those of you looking to seriously scale up your content production operations, sign up to the Niche Affiliate Empires newsletter where I’ll be sharing with you, the secrets to crafting a killer piece of commercial content.
Outreach & Promotion
In total, we acquired 12 links in December.
We also managed to publish a total of three, long-form informational Quora answers this month.
Let’s dive straight in and take a look…
All in all, a very busy period…
A total of 12 links, at approximately 4 links per week (for weeks 1-3).
Again, this isn’t too bad considering two things; firstly, we had one less week this month to build links (due to the Christmas break), and secondly, in the three weeks leading up to Christmas break we were unbelievably busy trying to get ahead of the, you guessed it, Christmas break.
These links were predominantly acquired via guest posting; something which can be extremely time consuming, but something that really can provide a good return on investment IF you ensure that your processes are watertight and efficient.
Personally, I think guest posting is one of the most valuable forms of outreach there is.
During my relatively short time in the SEO ‘game’, I’ve not yet seen a single project in which guest posting didn’t outperform other methods of ‘tired and tested’ link building; particularly mass link placement (Shotgun) and targetted link placement (Sniper).
Put simply, in my personal experience, a guest posting campaign always provides more opportunities.
For this reason, we tend to use it as a foundation for all our outreach operations, adding in Sniper and Shotgun link placement, where appropriate.
For some time now, we’ve been working hard to try and drive efficiencies in our outreach processes for both guest posting and link placement campaign types.
There’s no doubt that both of these campaign types work to varying degrees, but they can be extremely time and resource-intensive.
Here’s a basic list of the tasks that need doing:
- Topical Research/Brainstorming
- Target Prospecting
- Relevance & Criteria Checking
- Email Scraping/Finding
- Email Verification
- Negotiation & Email Management
- Content Production (if you’re using the guest posting campaign type)
There is a hell of a lot that goes into running a successful outreach campaign and, if not done well, you could be throwing time (and money) down the drain.
For some time now, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to try and improve our efficiencies with regards to outreach, not least because we provide link building as a client service and so being efficient pays for two primary reasons:
- Time is money and the longer it takes us to achieve results for clients, the more money it costs us.
- Client ROI matters to us and so when we can improve our efficiencies and drive a better service for our clients, it makes good business sense to do so.
So, what does ‘improving efficiencies’ actually mean?
Well, firstly, we had to work on making our internal processes watertight.
This meant testing, analyzing, adjusting, and repeating the entire process over and over again until we came to a point where we felt happy.
Then we created Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and trained our team on the most up to date approach.
We made sure we had input from the entire team and any ideas were taken on board, considered, and if appropriate, incorporated into the process.
It’s important to note that we’re nowhere near where we want to be, but have already come a long way.
We keep all of our internal processes under continuous review, so these will continually improve over time.
Another way in which we’re consistently looking to improve our processes is process automation.
That’s essentially what it says on the tin – automating our processes.
Now, while there are a whole bunch of marketing automation tools out there, we have not yet found any SINGLE system that meets all of our needs.
To the point where we’ve ended up in a situation where we have a ton of automation tool subscriptions, each working in a slightly different way, each adding another element to the complexity of our operations, each on a different billing cycle and some in different currencies, none of which are user-friendly or intuitive.
We had two very specific problems that we wanted to overcome:
- Save Time & Money
- Provide Simplicity & Unrivaled Functionality
It was clear that nothing on the market met our requirements and so there was only one option left on the table.
We had to build it.
I know what you’re thinking…
There are easier ways to solve a problem, right?
Well, not necessarily.
Remember, our CEO, Gareth Daine is a software engineer by trade with 20+ years of programming experience under his belt.
From someone who has sat next to him throughout huge coding sessions over the years (predominantly offering some sort of moral support and a second opinion on design elements), I can tell you first hand; what this man doesn’t know about development is not worth knowing.
I s**t you not, he’s nothing short of a programming genius!
So, we had the development capability, we just needed the affiliate marketing expertise…
I suppose the fact that we run a six-figure marketing agency helped here somewhat.
With all things considered (including Gareth’s time availability), we set off on our journey to build a state-of-the-art marketing automation suite, focusing predominantly on outreach and link building.
Since then, the project has evolved slightly…
And, after almost a year in the making, we’re excited to announce that the affiliate marketing automation suite will launch in May 2020.
If you’re interested in becoming a beta tester for the tool, make sure you’re signed up to the Niche Affiliate Empires newsletter…
More info on the release is coming out very, very soon!
In addition to making a start on the link building, in December we also started work on Quora; the question-and-answer platform where questions are asked, answered, and edited by its users.
As we discussed in our first month’s affiliate site case study update, the general concept behind Quora promotion is to identify topically relevant questions on the platform, provide the best answer to that question, and then, using all of the means at your disposal, push your answer to the number one position, thus driving more referral traffic.
Let’s break it down slightly:
- Identify topically relevant Quora questions that are ranking in positions 1-10 in Google.
- Provide the best answer to the question, ensuring it is; aesthetically pleasing, image-heavy, multi-format (bulleted and number lists, text, images, etc.) Your answer must be the most valuable and should contain a non-spammy link to your site.
- Promote your answer on social media and other platforms and ask people for upvotes. Engagement pods are also useful for this but can be extremely time-consuming if you’re properly reciprocating.
Essentially, you find a relevant, ranking Quora question, write the best answer, ask for upvotes, and take the top spot, thus driving referral traffic from Google and Quora to your site (via the link you inserted in your answer).
It’s as simple as that.
Although, it should be noted that this method won’t skyrocket your traffic overnight.
It takes time to ‘compound’.
As more and more questions are answered, more traffic is diverted to your site.
What you have to work out is, for your site, in your niche, and at your price point, is the traffic going to provide you with an ROI on the time it has taken you to build it?
I’ll emphasize again, this process is time-consuming and, although it used to work wonders, we only started testing it again this month.
Here’s how we got on.
In December, we answered a grand total of…wait for it…
Granted, it doesn’t sound like an awful lot but remember, we also wrote 24,000 words of content, built 12 backlinks, and had a week stand-down over Christmas.
Here are individual answers we wrote this month – if you have a couple of minutes spare, feel free to upvote 🙂 :
As you can see, these are some pretty in-depth answers, which take time to research and produce, and that’s before you’ve even promoted them on social and in engagement pods.
In December, we drove a jaw-dropping 3 users in total from Quora.
So, a lot of time and effort for what seems like little reward.
But, if we never test, we’ll never know.
That being said, we’re going to continue to test Quora promotion for at least another month to see how things progress.
It’s good to see some clear upward movement. 🙂
Let’s make January 2020 the best month ever.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments on what you’d like us to cover more in future posts.