The following is part of an ongoing series, The One Hour Authority Site Project. If you’d like to read more about it then click here!
The launch of my guide to successful freelance writing online has pretty much taken over the past month of my working life.
As such, it’s been a few weeks since I have reported on my one hour authority site project. But now my guide has launched I have more time on my hands, which means I can dive back into the project with great gusto.
In fact, I plan for my authority site to be my main focus over the next few months. I believe that I can make it into a successful income generating site, and am prepared to put a great deal of work in to see that happen.
With the above in mind, today I want to detail the three stages of my authority site’s development and what I envisage the future to hold.
Authority Site Update
When I last updated you on the site there was very little to report. Since then I have done literally nothing in terms of content creation. Although my intention was to keep writing articles, when I planned out the launch of my guide, I realized that I simply didn’t have the time.
So I chose to go on authority site hiatus for a period. Google has not chosen to reward me in that time:
As you can see, very little has changed in the way of rankings. It is curious however to note that tag pages are ranking well (relatively speaking). In fact, two of the three URLs ranked above are tag pages. This is just a tiny bit of evidence that taking the time and effort to categorize and tag your content appropriately (as I have discussed previously) can yield positive results.
As you might expect from the dearth of rankings, traffic to my site has been all but non-existent:
So — no activity on my part has resulted in no positive movement in the rankings. I can hardly complain.
The Three Stages of My Authority Site’s Development
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results — Albert Einstein (tweet this)
You would be forgiven for thinking my project a failure. After all, the site has been live for nearly two months, and I have achieved almost nothing in terms of rankings.
Fortunately I am able to take a relaxed view about the site. I have an established freelancing income and now an information product as well as this blog, so I don’t need the site to make money. I don’t need to rush into anything, and I don’t need to take risks. In fact, I want this site to be as much an interesting case study in how Google treats new sites as anything else.
Having said that, I am keen to heed Einstein’s words, and do not intend to continue along the same path forever. I am nearing the end of stage 1 of my plans, and stage 2 is looming. Let’s take a closer look at each stage in turn.
Stage 1: Content Creation
If you have been following this series you may recall that the original idea for my authority site was based upon an article since taken offline, in which the author boasts that he built up a blog with 600 daily visits without doing any link building:
That was certainly an attractive claim, and I could see the logic behind the method. As such, I envisaged stage 1 of my authority site’s development to be pure content creation. No time wasted on any other aspects — just content, content, and more content. This was how I was able to knock out 41 quality posts, ranging from about 500 – 1,000 words each, in about as many days.
However, Google has not rewarded my efforts so far. Why? Well I suspect that search engine algorithms are far more weighted towards links (and/or perhaps domain age) than they have been in the past. I believe that the chances of a brand new site without backlinks getting ranked, even for incredibly low competition keywords, are very low. One could argue that my site’s lack of rankings is evidence enough of that.
On the flipside you could argue that 41 posts isn’t that high of a number, and that the site has only been in existence for around two months — hardly an age. However, I feel like I have taken this first stage far enough, and that my efforts are now best focused on a more rounded approach.
Stage 2: Link Building
The SEO world at large is finally coming around to the idea that spammy link building is no longer particularly effective. The recent introduction of Google’s Disavow Links tool was seen by many as the death knell of automated link building.
So although stage 2 of my authority site project does involve link building by necessity, my approach will be extremely conservative. I will go into more detail in the future, but my link building practices will be run through a simple filter — anything that could be “discovered” by Google as black hat will not be done.
Beyond that, I will work on link “curation” on a basic level. This will involve strategies such as sourcing links from a handful of high quality and relevant online directories, limited high quality article marketing, and so on.
The point of this stage is that I do not have to do anything to the site in terms of design or branding. It will remain a website, rather than transform into a blog. As such, my necessary time investment will be manageable.
I am hopeful that initial efforts along these lines will result in a relatively dramatic uptick in rankings. If that is the case I will simply continue to build more content and obtain more links.
I am hopeful that I will not have to move beyond this stage, but only time will tell.
Stage 3: Blog Conversion
If stage 2 does not prove to be effective in producing rankings and traffic I will move onto the final stage — “converting” the site into a blog. By “converting”, I mean rebranding and a complete design overhaul.
I would then begin networking with bloggers in and around my niche. Guest posting would follow in order to obtain relevant back links and drive direct referral traffic. I would set up social network profiles. I would also need to adjust my content strategy to focus less on SEO optimized posts and more on “blog-style” content. This would all involve a great deal of work and require an ongoing commitment. After all, once you have a blog on the go, people will take note if you don’t post for a month. The same issue does not really arise when I’m still in stage 1 or 2.
Because of the level of work involved and the relative inflexibility inherent in blogging, I am keen to avoid reaching this stage. Unless greater interests persuade me otherwise, I am keen for this site to be a relatively passive asset, in the same vein as Pat Flynn’s Security Guard Training HQ. That will not be possible if I head down the blog route.
What Next for My Authority Site?
I am on holiday next week, so I plan to get back into this project upon my return. At that time I will work on reaching the 60 post mark as I originally planned. That milestone will mark the end of stage 1, and will be reached around three months into the site’s existence.
I then plan on moving into stage 2, which will proceed for a minimum of three months thereafter. If I am seeing no results after that time I will have to seriously consider moving to stage 3, but I hope that I will be able to observe some positive rankings and traffic numbers by then.
As I have already mentioned, I would like to avoid the blog scenario as it is a relatively big commitment. Having said that, I am openminded as to where this project takes me. Ultimately, success is the goal — how I get there is less important.