This is Part #2 of a series. A list of all the other updates can be found at the bottom of this post.
I couldn’t have put it better myself George. No wait – that’s not true. I definitely could:
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
There we go – one of my favourite idioms, beautifully butchered by Dubya (as only he could). I’m more interested in the “traditional” wording, as it applies beautifully to the situation I find myself in regarding my authority site, Deal With Anxiety.
Any links to products on this page are not affiliate based – I do not get paid a commission if you buy any product that I recommend. If you would like to know why this is the case, check out my article: Why I Am NOT Trying To Make Money From This Blog.
I Am The Fool
I have just read through my previous posts regarding the site (here and here), and I can’t for the life of me figure out what I was thinking. The fact that the project started off as an experiment in white hat SEO, before evolving into a more typical niche site duel type affair, isn’t relevant. What is relevant is the fact that I targeted a set of keywords that are never likely to make me more than a few pennies.
And here’s the kicker – before I even started working on the site, I already knew. Here’s an excerpt from the post that introduced this project:
I did quite a lot of keyword research and found out that whilst keywords relating to anxiety and panic attacks offer some relatively low competition, high traffic potential, the commerciality of the niche is less convincing. Whilst the AdWords Cost Per Click (CPC) can be quite high, there seems to be a limited number of companies advertising for a lot of the related keywords.
So in terms of keyword research, it is a mixed bag. If I were approaching this niche cold, I would probably disregard it. But in spite of that, I have started work on Deal With Anxiety.
And here’s my justification:
Whilst I would love to make a good income from the site, I also feel like I can build something that is of value to people. That is a big driving force for me. I also think that the project will teach me a lot about what truly makes Google happy. And, it helps that I find it very easy to write about the topic– it is a piece of cake compared to writing about child modeling!
If you don’t mind, I’ll be the first call myself out here. What a dick move. I picked a niche with no commercial viability and probably spent 40 or so valuable hours on it. Whilst building something of intrinsic value is of course a noble endeavour, it was never going to be viable in the long term without an income to justify the man hours involved.
What Is The Problem With The Keywords?
As I have alluded to above, the problem is the competition (or lack thereof) for AdWords spots.
In my opinion, competition amongst advertisers is one of the least talked about factors when it comes to keyword research. From memory, Pat Flynn doesn’t even mention it in his niche site duel posts (please correct me if I am wrong). But when it comes to researching profitable keywords, advertiser competition is just as important as the level of traffic or CPC.
If you are building AdSense sites and the concept of advertiser competition is new to you, your keyword research strategy should accommodate it immediately. If you are a Market Samurai user, the field you are looking for is “AdWords Comp (AWC)”. If you use the Google Keyword Tool, the competitiveness of any given keyword is presented as either “Low”, “Medium”, or “High”. I am sure that whichever tool you are using, advertiser competition is featured somewhere (if not, you should think about finding a new tool).
So What Now?
Although I will be doing next to no work on this site once I have wrapped things up in the next few days, I’m not giving up on it making money just yet.
There is one keyword in the anxiety niche that is worth a look – “how to deal with anxiety”:
Those who aren’t familiar with Market Samurai’s interface should download my free keyword research and competition analysis guide, which explains it in detail.
Whilst these figures are far from great, they aren’t horrendous either. Both the competition and CPC are light (I would ideally want them to be above 50% and 65p respectively), but the number of searches (local US) is quite healthy. Let’s take a look at the competition:
Whilst it appears fairly heavy in terms of PR and domain age, the onsite optimization amongst the top 10 is atrocious. And most notably, an AdSense site has managed to make it to top spot.
That caught my attention. As Trent Dyrsmid says, an AdSense site in the top 10 is a good sign – it means that all you need to do in order to rank above them is have a better-optimized site. And whatever this guy is doing, he’s doing it well enough to rank 1st in Google.
Let’s take a look at the site’s backlinks portfolio first, using Market Samurai’s PR and Anchor Text Analysis tools:
The tool shows 121 links that are mainly targeting two keywords: “how to deal with anxiety” and “dealing with anxiety”. The fact that the two keywords have the exact same number of links leads me to assume that the site owner created 52 linksets (i.e. sets of two or more links leading from one page). Stinks of article marketing to me.
It is important to note that this data doesn’t match with the numbers produced in Market Samurai’s SEO Competition module. Effectively tracking all of the backlinks to a site or page is notoriously difficult, so I use the above data as a guideline only, rather than an assumed interpretation of reality.
We can also see that there are absolutely no pages linking to the site with a PR above 0. This tells us that the backlinking portfolio is extremely low-quality.
It only took a minute of poking through the linking sites to discover exactly what this guy’s backlinking strategy was – RSS feed subscriptions, article marketing, and private blog networks.
So What Next?
I think it would be prudent to just spent a little more time developing backlinks to this site. I can see no reason why, with a little bit of work, I can’t at least rank alongside this site, which seems to easily have the beating of all other sites in the top 10. I should also be able to rank for “dealing with anxiety”.
I have broken my strategy down into three steps:
Step 1 – Onsite SEO
Whilst the site is already fairly well-optimized, I need to adjust it so that it is really nailing the two keywords I want to rank for. I will go back and edit some articles and images, and add videos where appropriate.
Step 2 – Offsite SEO
I already have a backlinks portfolio made up of 9 web 2.0 properties and 89 private blog network posts (of which 10 are targeted to either of my keywords).
I am going to drip feed all the web 2.0 properties and the relevant private blog network posts using Unique Article Wizard via one of the many Fiverr services available (I hate manually spinning articles, and I hate using UAW!). That will give me 19 highly-relevant web pages, all funneling link juice through to the main site.
Step 3 – Wait
This is the important step. Once I have started drip feeding all of those articles, I will wait to see the effect. Once I am finished with the onsite SEO and have ordered the article submissions, I will sit back and leave the site for four weeks. At that time, I will re-assess the situation and decide whether or not I should do any further work.
Is It Worth It?
If this were a brand new niche site and you asked me that question, I would hesitate. However, given that the site infrastructure and content is already in place, I am pretty confident of my plan being worthwhile. Here is my monthly income estimate for the site:
£22 per month may not seem like a lot, but it needs to be put into perspective. There are three things to bear in mind.
My estimate should be conservative – it does not account for any long tail traffic, and the site has 23 posts, most targeting a specific keyword.
The income will be passive – once my ranking in Google has solidified, I will be doing no further work. Theoretically, the site will continue to make money for months and years to come.
3. Return On Investment (ROI)
You could (rightly) argue that my total ROI on this site is going to be awful, because £22 per month for my 40 hours of work equals an hourly rate of £6.60, when calculated over 12 months. However, what I have done in the past is irrelevant – it is the ROI on what I do from now that I need to take into account.
I will spend about £60 on UAW submissions, and I will probably spend a couple of hours taking care of the onsite optimization. For the purposes of this calculation, I am going to assume that I will not build any more private blog network posts.
I am currently not accepting freelance work for less than £30 per hour, so we can use that as my benchmark cost per hour. Therefore, I will be investing an estimated total of £120 at this stage.
If I manage to rank where I anticipate I can with my backlinking efforts, I will be making say £20 per month, or £240 per annum. A year’s worth of earnings would certainly pay off my investment (and then some).
You can take it even further by considering the annual return on income, which would be (using the figures above) 50%. A 50% return on almost any investment is considered excellent.
However, there is a problem with the above two methods – AdSense niche sites are extremely volatile assets. You could justifiably argue that using the annual income or yield as a basis for calculating the feasibility of an AdSense niche site is foolish.
Fortunately, there is one more way of calculating your return (and it is perhaps the best) – by the site’s perceived asset value. AdSense websites are regularly sold, and their value is typically determined by a multiple of the monthly income. I do not intend to get embroiled in a debate over the correct multiple, but for the purposes of this estimate, I will use 6x months earnings. In this case, the site would be worth £120 – which pays off my time and financial investment.
The Evolutionary Project
Deal With Anxiety is now entering its third stage of development. It started off as an experimentation in white hat SEO. It then evolved into a blundering attempt at making money where no money was to be made. Hopefully it is a case of third time lucky with my new strategy!
Edit: it seems rather silly that I didn’t include the most important piece of information in this article – my rankings! I am currently ranking 35th for “how to deal with anxiety” and 53rd for “dealing with anxiety”.
Read The Whole Series
- My First Authority Site: Deal With Anxiety
- Update #1 – The Value of Experience
- Update #2 – An Evolution