On this episode I talk with Doug Cunnington from nichesiteproject.com about moving a site from grey hat to white hat and selling for over $200k.
Doug got his start with the Four Hour Work Week approach working in management consulting where he got into project management for software companies where there was a lot of travel and enabled him to work from home ending up working from home full time. He then realised he could do that from anywhere so Doug and his wife decided to go do slow travelling around the US.
Doug got into niche sites by accident, through discovering the Smart Passive Income podcast. He started doing adsense sites back in 2013 and created nichesiteproject.com to sell an ebook info product.
In 2015 he got laid off by his company at the same time he realized he could make money online on his own as well as it being more enjoyable than working for someone else.
For a while he ran a small guest post services business but now Doug focusses on Amazon associates sites and builds some sites with partners. He was able to build up the skills that enabled him to achieve Project Go White Hat where he sold a site for over $200k in partnership with a reader of his blog that he had coached.
Doug turned a former grey hat PBN site into a white hat site built on guest posting as had been penalised in the past and did not want to be in violation of google webmaster guidelines. He also felt the multiple he would receive for a white hat site would be significantly larger than for grey hat plus the buyer pool would also be expanded with stronger offers with less of a payout period and more cash up front. Also it would be tricky to hand over PBN links to a new owner in terms of an ongoing link rental.
Doug also did a bit of blog commenting as a link building strategy but that was part of being able to get the guest posts in terms of relationship building . The site also had some web 2.0 links from The Hoth that needed to be removed.
As guest posts take more time to provide the push from links as they don’t have the authority of PBNs, the strategy was to get 10-15 guest posts published before removing any PBN links.
Through adding the guest posts and adding a lot more content they were able to 3x their traffic ands revenue and started to remove the PBN links.
Doug’s guest posting strategy is to link to your old guest post from your new guest post (such as a tiered link building approach) so that you build up old guest post authority and it looks more natural than linking to your own site.
Doug predicts that in 12-24 months guest posting is going to change and become way more about genuine relationships as currently there are people sending out 100 emails a day weeks on end spamming bloggers with really poor pitches.
Golden Keyword Ratio
Going forward Doug is continuing to work in partnership building up amazon affiliate content using his golden keyword ratio approach creating posts of 1000 words. To make real money you need to add at least 50 of these long tail keyword posts which rank without any backlinks due to tremendous inter-linking throughout the site (internal links). Doug never goes after links to the homepage and doesn’t care if it ranks at all, he goes after links to inner pages, even affiliate review pages as has built real relationships with guest post sites. This way he doesn’t need to create separate informational articles, separate to money pages, that will be able to get links and then redirect that link juice to the affiliate pages – instead he can link straight to the pages that will make money. You can still get links to information pages on your site that also contain affiliate links (or you could add them afterwards!).
Big pages vs smaller pages
Focussing on longer tail keywords means you can build a moat with a couple hundred posts each targeting a keyword vs being reliant on a small number of larger pages targeting head terms. A new site would find it a lot harder to replicate. Doug has found that about 5-20% of these smaller pages (such as review pages) don’t rank well, the big middle chunk ranks in top 5 or so (gets some traffic but nothing crazy), then there’s 2-5% that do exceptionally well and actually rank better than a larger page that tries to rank for everything and is not as specific. Doug also has long form pages, 12,000 words targeting a big term that he does link building to, then the remaining pages going after the longer tail KWs. On a site with 100 pages, 3-5 would be these big pages, the rest smaller pages.
Good strategy could be start with longer tail keywords that aren’t well served in Google, if they don’t rank, combine into a larger post and see if that works – this is in Doug’s Five Figure Niche Site course along with a strong project management backbone (opens 4 times a year).
Project management of niche sites
At the end we discuss how Doug has applied project management to niche sites and internet marketing in terms of how to prioritize the tasks and make it a more repeatable process through building teams.
Sign up on nichesiteproject.com to get a bunch of free resources including content templates.