However, can they still be profitable in 2015?
I decided to answer that question myself.
I will show you all of my:
- And everything else.
I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use my exact keywords to try and outrank me as it would cut into both of our profits, but if you want to do that I can’t really stop you, can I?
Before we start, here are some of the things I learned in the 4 months that my site has been live for.
What I Learned
- This takes a lot of work and it isn’t for everyone.
- Your site might not earn any money at all.
- If you don’t enjoy any part of making websites, don’t do it.
- If you plan on making your site bigger use WordPress. (Blogger works fine for smaller sites with less than 20 or 30 pages, but if you’re creating a bigger affiliate site then Worspress works much better. Also with WordPress you don’t have to worry about getting your blog deleted by Google which is a possibility when using Blogger. If you use WordPress, I recommend using A2Hosting as your hosting provider.)
- If you do proper keyword research (long tail, buying keywords) and create high quality pages you will barely have to do any link building. (I’m currently in the top 10 for 9 keywords and my SERPs are steadily increasing with only 1 link built to the site.)
- However, they take a long time to rank, so if your niche is seasonal, you should create the site at least 2 months before the peak purchases time. (I created my site only a month before the peak time, so my rankings weren’t as great as they could have been)
- Make sure your site is mobile optimized. (My first 2 sales came from a smartphone, and with the new Google Update if your site isn’t mobile optimized you’ll lose out on valuable traffic)
- The best way to learn is by doing. (I encountered multiple difficulties after my site went live that I did not read about, and creating one site made creating a couple more, much easier).
- It’s possible to make money by picking seasonal keywords instead of evergreen ones, as long as you start on the website at least 3 months before the season.
The Tools I Used
I decided to use Blogger for my journey as it’s completely free, I have a lot of experience with it, and it’s easier to follow along for people who don’t have the money to spend on hosting.
However if I do another case-study, I will be using WordPress.org and not Blogger.
I bought the domain through GoDaddy using one of their constant promotions for $4. (They always have 99 cent coupons for the first year for almost all domains, but I also bought privacy protection which was extra)
I love Market Samurai for keyword research, and they have a 7 day free trial on their website, so you can read what I did and use it before the trial runs out.
I did not outsource my writing as I don’t have the money to spend on quality writing and I didn’t want to waste money for crappy writing that I would have to rewrite anyway.
My Keyword And Product Research Rules
I created the following set of “rules” for myself when reading other people’s posts about Amazon niches.
Doing keyword and product research is incredibly important for Amazon sites so I didn’t want to go wrong here.
I wanted a niche that:
- Had some big products I could promote. ($100+)
- Had some small accessories I could promote. (<$10)
- Had many products on Amazon. (There’s no point in creating an Amazon Affiliate site if there are only a couple products from Amazon that you can sell)
- Had fairly low competition
- Is something that people would think about researching before buying, or something that people will want to find a good deal for. (Most people aren’t going to Google “best pencils 2015”, but they might Google “best calculators 2015”. It’s all about research)
After finding a couple possible niches and writing down possible keywords, I fired up Market Samurai and checked the SEO competition for the keywords I chose.
In this case I decided my keywords were fine if the top 10 sites:
- Didn’t have Exact Match Domains for the keyword. (EX: bestcalculators2015.com for the keyword “best calculators 2015”)
- Didn’t have exact match titles, decriptions, or headers.
- Didn’t have a high Trust Flow (If most of it is below 10, it’s fine)
- Had less than 10 backlinks to the specific page the content is on.
- Had 0 .edu and .gov backlinks. (If they have some, that’s fine, but if they have more than 10, I ran the other way)
My main keyword was best track spikes, and the niche had a couple of products in the $100-$200 range, and a ton of products in the lower range.
I was also knowledgeable on the topic and actually interested in it, so I decided that writing articles wouldn’t be that hard.
My Keyword Research Process
I inserted a couple of keywords into Market Samurai and then I generated some long tail keywords by going to keyword research, putting the phrase length 4-10, and clicking on generate keywords.
Some of the keywords might not make sense, but I usually don’t throw them out as they might have a high number of searches per month.
After that, I went to Keyword Analysis and changed the period to monthly to sort the keywords in order from the most searches to least searches per month.
Keep in mind that Market Samurai likes to make the numbers smaller than they are in reality, so if your keyword only gets 300 searches per month, it might actually get 350-400.
If you’re following along with me, make sure to check Title Comp, URL Comp, and Title & Anchor Comp before moving on to the next step. This is what my Samurai looked like:
At this point we have to figure out which keywords are good, which keywords are bad, and whether our main keyword is worth it.
For the main keyword: If it has less than 300 monthly searches, think of another one and repeat the above process.
If the MSEOTC is higher than 1000 or the MSEOUC is higher than 1000, I don’t recommend you use the keyword either. Ideally the TAcomp should be lower than 10, but if it’s 30 or less it should still be possible to rank for that keyword.
My keyword passed all of the above test so the next step was checking the rest of my keywords.
If you’re following along at home, click on the plus sign next to Url Comp and Title Comp and put 1000 in both of those boxes.
Next click on the plus next to Title and Anchor Comp and put the number 10 in there.
After that I had 57 keywords left. I quickly scanned them one by one, deleting the ones that would not work because they:
- Were too general
- Did not relate to the topic of my site
- Or were apparel instead of shoe/spike related
After that I had a total of 21 keywords I could use to write content for my site, including my main one.
21 articles is more than enough to start out with, but as you go further you might have to do more keyword research.
I also checked the SEO Competition for the main keyword.
Looking at the table, my chances of ranking might look somewhat bleak because of all the red and yellow, but none of the sites had the keyword in the title, URL, and description.
The trustflow and citation flow was also quite low for most of these sites, so I could’ve ranked easily with a couple of high quality backlinks.
Domain Purchase & Basic Site Creation
For this website I used a blogger blog and a domain from GoDaddy with privacy protection.
My blog name was my main keyword, and even though I bought a custom domain, I made my blogger domain besttrackspikes.blogspot.com for bonus cookie points.
I chose the Dynamic theme at first, but later on I got a custom theme called Temper and used that instead.
After creating the blog, I connected the domain to it right away. The process is quite long and Google has a couple of good articles on it, but here are the basics:
Go to Settings -> Basic -> Publishing and click on Setup a 3rd party URL for your blog. Enter your domain name and press save. Blogger should give you an error, and will give you 4 fields that you will need to put into the DNS file.
The www and ghs.google.com go into one of the CNAME (Alias) fields, and the random numbers (marked 1 and 2) go into another CNAME (Alias) field.
You also need to put the IP’s found on this page into 4 different @ Host fields.
It should look like this when you’re done:
Then you can press Save on GoDaddy, press Save on blogger, and then click on edit on Blogger and check the field that says Redirect yourdomain.com to www.yourdomain.com.
This should take care of the redirects, but what I also like to do is go to your domain on GoDaddy and create a 301 forward/redirect. That way you’re completely set on the redirects, and you don’t have to worry about it.
After that I added a search description to under Settings -> Search Preferences -> Description.
I also added the Google Analytics tracking ID to Settings -> Other -> Google Analytics, just so I can have more data about the people who visit my site, and what the bounce rate is.
I didn’t add my site to Google Webmasters at this point as I planned on adding it and the sitemap once all of my content was published and ready to be crawled.
I also created a custom Favicon by going to Layout -> Favicon -> Edit, and uploading a 32*32px or 16*16 px image.
This was the longest part of creating the site by far.
At first I wanted to have 20 articles before publishing the site, but I was at around 6 when I published it, and even now I have around 16 or so.
My plan was to write:
- 6 product reviews (2 cheap, 2 medium price, 2 expensive, 500 words each)
- 4 category pages (“best nike spikes”, “best middle distance spikes”, etc…, 1000 words each)
- 6 articles about running (How to increase your sprinting speed, winter track workouts, best track websites list, etc…, 1000-2000 words)
- 4 articles about spikes in general (choosing the right length, choosing the right shape/what’s the difference between the shapes, how much do spikes help your speed, etc…, 200-1000 words)
However, I ended up making less category pages and more general running articles.
My original plan was to post at least 1-2 articles per month to keep my blog alive, but at this point it’s more like 1 article every 2 months.
When writing on Blogger there are a couple things that are crucial for on-site SEO.
The first important thing is to go into Post Settings and add a Custom Permalink to your article.
Why a custom one?
The automatic one cuts off the end of the title if it’s too long, and we want to have our full title in the URL for SEO purposes. Just add on the rest of the title to the permalink with a dash between words.
The next important thing is writing a custom Search Description for every single article that goes up.
The search description should contain possible search keywords, but its main focus should be drawing in the user and making them click your link when it appears in a search.
I also created Labels to make sorting through my content easier.
For Off-Site SEO I created a Facebook page, and posted a link to my article on it every time I published something. I didn’t do any link-building except for one blog post, and I created one Web 2.0 blog, but Google Webmaster Tools still haven’t registered the backlink from my Web 2.0, and my rankings are improving without it anyway.
My original plan was to have a Web 2.0 article for each post on my site, and then to build trash backlinks to the Web 2.0s using GSA, which is still something I might do later on.
Don’t forget that this is a long term strategy! You can spam your money site with backlinks right away, but then the chances of getting penalized by Google are very high.
I started my journey on February 1st and my goal was to start posting articles before February 21st, and even though I had a couple of setbacks I was able to finish almost right on time!
High school track starts in the middle of March and I looked at search trends on Google and noticed that they are highest in March/April and they fell to nearly 0 in June and July.
Week 1 Pre-Launch (February 8th)
I only had 1.5 articles done with 2 more ideas.
One was about winter running, and the other one was about the best track and field blogs around.
My access to my laptop was limited so 1.5 articles was still pretty good.
Week 2 Pre-Launch (February 15th)
I finished 1.5 more posts and realized that this whole thing was way more work than I expected it to be.
I was dreading the review posts as I actually enjoy writing about running, but I have never written a review post before.
I also only had a week until launch and I only had 3 articles done. Oups…
Week 3 Pre-Launch (February 22nd)
I posted 4 of my articles on Friday and 2 more on Saturday and Sunday for a total of 6. I started posting early in hopes of capturing a bit of the traffic spike that happens in March.
I also copied all of my articles into a Word document so if Blogger bans my blog I would be able to easily recreate it in WordPress. (It’s still up after 4 months!)
One Week After Going Live (March 1st)
One week after going live, I have a total of 201 impressions and 23 clicks from Google search.
I received a total of 43 Amazon clicks, but still 0 sales, which isn’t that surprising considering
that most of my content is ranking on page 2 of Google or higher.
I was also searching for a rank tracker tool and I found an old one that worked, but it stopped working 2 days after I got it because of a Google Update so I started using Pro Rank Tracker. (You get unlimited urls with the free plan, but you can only have 50 keywords in total.)
My website was indexed for most keywords, and one page was even in the top 10!
I haven’t done any SEO up to this point except for posting about each post on my Facebook page, so the website ranked itself!
At this point I had no sales but I saw potential so I decided if I don’t get any sales I would hang it up and come back to it next January with the more aged domain and an already established Google position.
Two Weeks After Going Live (March 8th)
I was super busy so I didn’t write any articles.
However I got my first sale, so I was incredibly excited!
3 Weeks After Going Live (March 15th)
The SERPs were slowly moving up, but not fast enough.
I was starting to look for an expired domain in a related niche to 301 redirect to my site for extra backlink juice.
1 Month After Going Live (March 22nd)
Another unproductive, depressing week.
No domains to 301, no sales, and the SERPs were stationary.
5 Weeks After Going Live (March 29th)
I got 3 more sales, but all I was able to do is write another general article to dilute the amount of affiliate links on my site.
My rankings jumped up this week for some crazy reason.
It could’ve been because Google indexed my one blog comment from a couple of weeks ago or I just got out of the sandbox, but either way I was happy.
I also noticed that 2 of my sales came from a mobile lead which is quite surprising as my site looks terrible on mobile. The content is good, so that might be why!
I was starting to think about Web 2.0s, but as you might have already figured out I didn’t do much in terms of that.
6 Weeks After Going Live (April 5th)
I looked over my blog and realized that my posts were too short and didn’t provide real value to the visitor so I went over all of my posts and added in some new content for each.
I also created a Web 2.0, but it’s not indexed 1 month after the creation even with hundreds of GSA links thrown at it.
The Web 2.0 has 5 high-quality posts, and it looks just like any regular small blog.
3 Months After Going Live
The 2nd month brought in 0 sales, but halfway through month 3 I have already made $44 and sold 9 items from this site. (The other 2 are from another site).
I was incredibly surprised at the amount of sales from this site in May as high school track season is over, but maybe people are already buying up for next year or getting ready for summer.
My rankings are pretty solid and I have 9 keywords in the top 10, and 8 keywords in the top 20 with no link-building whatsoever. I’ll build some links to my site when I have time this summer and hopefully that will bump most of my keywords up into the top 3 slots.
I wrote one article this month, but the site seems to be doing quite well without any articles added to it. I’m getting to the point where adding new articles is a pain because I’m not sure how to categorize them and Blogger is a pain to use with bigger sites especially if you use a custom template.
Here is a summary of the amount of work put into the website, the amount of money I’ve made, and my future plans for the site.
Overall I think I spent around 12-16 hours of work on the website.
- 1-2 hours setting it up and making it look nice.
- 10-12 hours writing the 14 posts that are on the website
- 1-2 hours of miscellaneous work related to the site
I think the website has the potential to make $100+ for the months of March, April, and May of next year. (Conservative estimates considering that I made $45 in May with okay rankings)
Either way I’ve learned way a ton about Amazon Affiliate sites and this actually prompted me to create 2 more websites. I have an idea for another one, but that’s for this summer.
Originally my goal for this site was to learn as much as possible about affiliate site creation and to earn back the domain costs and I have more than done that.
This summer I will keep posting quality content on my site and I will probably build a couple quality backlinks to it and see where that takes the rankings.
I’m sure there are some things I didn’t cover in this blog post, so if you have any questions please ask me in the comments below!