When I first started dabbling with internet marketing, the potential of my efforts bearing fruit were generally met with doubt by my friends and family. Most people don’t seem to understand how a website can make enough money to sustain a livable income.
And in fairness, my friends and family have all been proven right to date – my last successful website was killed off by Google many months ago (just as it was starting to show promise), and since then I have spent far too long going about things in the wrong way.
But I digress. The project that I’m going to tell you about today originated whilst I was skiing with my family in Colorado. Seemingly out of the blue, my dad decided that he was very interested in investing in websites. And since I am involved in internet marketing, he wanted me to help him out. This came as rather a surprise, as last time I knew, the idea of investing in websites struck him as absurd.
I should probably tell you something about my dad. He is an extremely successful businessman, with an eight figure property portfolio spread over the UK, USA, and the Cayman Islands. But more than anything, he loves doing deals. It doesn’t really matter if it is $3,000 or $3,000,000 at stake – it is dealmaking that gets him out of bed in the morning. Which is the only way I can rationalize him spending a couple of grand on a website, when quite frankly, he has far better things to be doing.
For him, it’s just a fun experiment. For me, it’s an educational goldmine. I’m starting with an already-established site and need to take it to the next level. It’s going to be challenging. And if I manage to elevate the income, I will get a cut of the profit. So I have two incentives to make this a winner.
About The Site
Unfortunately, I am not going to be revealing the site itself. Unfortunately, there are plenty of unscrupulous people out there who like to scheme, plagiarize, and generally make a nuisance out of themselves. I hope you understand.
However, I can certainly tell you about the site. It is a review site for a common type of household appliance. As you might guess, it is monetized via the Amazon affiliates program, which is new to me. The site is pretty big, with nearly 150 pages (although I am not sure where they all are, as the navigation system leaves a little to be desired!).
Having said that, I think there is plenty more to be done.
Stumbling At The Starting Line
The first hurdle I had to overcome was transferring both ownership of the site, and the actual content itself. This turned out to be a bit of nightmare, but I eventually figured it out. The whole thing was such a hassle, I decided to document the process in a WPMU article, for others like me!
Once I had got that sorted, it was a case of adding the site to Clicky analytics and changing the Amazon affiliates links to point to my account. I quickly saw that there was a problem – the traffic numbers were about a third of what I expected (and what previous analytics data had indicated).
I now know that the backlinking strategy has been solely based upon the Postrunner private blog network – which I believe hasn’t been subject to one of Google’s manual culls (yet). So I am not immediately sure as to what has caused the dramatic drop in traffic. I am not going to do anything about this for the time being – I’ll just continue to gather more data and see if I can make any before and after rankings comparisons with the information I have available to me.
Although my plan to increase the earnings of this site has apparently taken a huge hit before I have even got started, there is no point in crying over spilt milk.
So What Next?
My provisional plan to increase the value of the site is threefold:
- Build a list
- Get more traffic
- Optimize monetization method(s)
Let’s take a look at each in turn.
1. Build A List
The previous owner made no effort to build an email list, yet most of us know that “the money is in the list”. With a site like this, I believe that an email list could be a relatively huge asset. You could use it to promote new reviews, send out “recommended products” emails…the sky is the limit.
I will probably just put a standard signup form in place to start with, but I would imagine that the conversion rate would increase dramatically if I included an incentive. My idea would be to have a monthly giveaway for all subscribers – perhaps one of the reviewed products. Something to keep in mind.
2. Get More Traffic
As for more increasing traffic, that can theoretically be achieved with more content and better link building. Building links is of course a touchy subject at the moment, so if I do choose to do anything, I will be pretty damn careful about it.
I think article marketing is out of the window, as there are so many different keywords to target (across all of the different review posts). Blog network link building in the vein of the now defunct Build My Rank (and of course Postrunner, which has been previously used for this site) would have been ideal, but I’m not sure that I want to touch that strategy with a barge pole right now.
Social bookmarking might be another option, but beyond that, I am not forming any concrete opinions.
3. Optimize Monetization Method(s)
As previously mentioned, the site is currently monetized with the Amazon affiliates program. It’s a perfect fit for the subject matter, but is there more I that can do? AdSense is an obvious choice, although implementing it may serve to reduce overall income (if potential commissions are lost to advertising clicks). That is something I could test.
Another idea is in-text advertising – this is something I know Chris Guthrie of Make Money On The Internet has used for his Copy Cat Crafts website. I don’t know a great deal about this option, but it is an idea I have in the back of my head.
Finally, I could simply look to better optimize how the Amazon affiliate links are presented and promoted on the website.
What Do YOU Think?
I’m sure that many of you have more experience than me in dealing with Amazon sites (a few names come to mind immediately), and I would like to open this up to anyone who would like to offer their comments and advice. What would you do in my shoes? Let me know in the comments section!
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver