On this episode I had the best conversation with Mark from Authority Hacker.
Discussed on the show:
- How Business Studies is just interesting words for what is mostly common sense
- How Mark got into entrepreneurship and how a random encounter at a bar turned into a great business partnership with Gael Breton launching an inbound marketing agency back in 2010 which grew to 80 clients and 30 staff in a big office in 2012 before google penguin hit and their techniques were no longer effective
- They decided to relearn white hat SEO from the ground up so to never suffer a penalty ever again rather than jump on the private blog network (PBN) bandwagon. They 2-3x the price and had to educate clients that this was a longer term strategy
- They decided to become their own client and build their own authority websites and started healthambition.com and authorityhacker.com and employed a full time writer
- Discuss whether you should start 2 sites or 10 sites as it takes 1-2 years for sites to take off in a big way
- Whether you should be public with the sites you are building in terms of copy cats or negative SEO
- How they are reinvesting significant part of their profits on building out new sites in their portfolio. They wait for a bit of income to happen before going full force with them. V1 of a site is where they spend $10k on content and link building in the first few months and then reassess to see if want to double down on it.
- Discuss whether there is a page size limit on the two main authority sites in terms of marginal returns on investing in content
- Talk about benefits of building authority sites vs niche sites where you can run out of content ideas
- Talk about silos and mapping site structure using mind maps and workflowy.com and how it’s difficult when could have multiple pages in different categories – it’s about building a niche sites within one authority site
- Talk about global targeting in google search console (great post on unlisted) vs country targeting
- Discuss reasons to exit authority sites in terms of overall investment strategy. Mark believes the compounded return of investing in content in their existing sites is far higher than can be achieved elsewhere whether that’s property or the stock market.
- They use Xero for their accounting and use basis or apportionment (tagging systems) for each income transaction and cost transaction to apportion to the different sites, with hosting it would be based on number of visitors.
- Going beyond just google analytics and setting up tag manager for page level tracking external monetisation such as Amazon, to find ROI from specific pieces of content
- Talk about investing generally, Mark recommends the book The Wealthy Barber which discussed compound interest
- [48m] Discuss building vs buying – Mark believes after 2 years onwards it’s always better to build your own in terms of ROI plus there are huge risks in buying websites in terms of hidden bad links or the keyword research has not been structured out well. If paying 30x monthly profit then for a 1/10 of that money you can build the site out yourself – it will take a year or two to get there but the return is infinitely better. i.e. for $1k/m site to purchase for $30k if you invested $3k in content you could recreate that success easily. It doesn’t make sense, as an owner / operator, to purchase new sites when can build yourself and be able to manage far less in your portfolio.
- Talking about the filters and analysis for entering high level niches, based on many variables such as competition, monetisation sources (Amazon, high paying affiliate, lot of people doing PPC, easy to promote on social, easy to build links to?), popular with customers who have money etc. Strategy is to look for and ride an exponential growth and ROI curve.
- Current strategy is to add additional business models to existing sites and get benefits of economies of scale, i.e. link building for health site contacts could be useful for another site – these numbers more qualitative and harder to put a number to.
- Mark believes one site making $100k/m is a lot easier to achieve than 100 sites making $1k/m as getting from $0 to $1000 is way harder than getting from $1000 to $2000. “It’s not difficult to double growth but it’s quite difficult to get it off the ground initially”.
- Makes sense to start more narrow in terms of the niche when starting out to get traction, to dominate a sub-niche, however longer term just a handful of sites is the way to go.
- There are investment companies that will purchase sites and have operators who will run them, however Mark’s core competency is as the operator and he doesn’t see why they need to raise money to do that; if the operators are great then the sites they run will generate enough money to invest in others.
- Can Mark see a time when he would exit from online business? Possibly when the team gets very large and he would step back to an advisory role but probably not due to the love for this online marketing game.
- The game of value investing vs online biz – shout out to the Invested Podcast
- Get onto talking about poker and online multiplayer games!
- How online marketing for Mark is the end rather than the means to the end, how he loves getting an additional 1% productivity out of a process.
- Talk about home working vs coworking spaces vs your own sick billions style office
- Finish with high level goals over next 3 years.
Authority Hacker Resources
From Getting 80 Sites Penalized to Scaling True White Hat Link Building
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