Leaving Work Behind

Introducing the One Hour Authority Site Project

Written by Tom Ewer on September 14, 2012. 57 Comments

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!

Introducing the One Hour Authority Site ProjectI miss the good old days.

Creating content, building links, then checking my Google rankings every few hours to see if I had reached the promised land (otherwise known as the first page). It was exhilarating and frustrating, but perhaps most importantly, it held promise. As long as I was working at building websites and achieving rankings, the dream of creating passive income streams was alive.

In reality, those days were not good for me at all. I threw a huge amount of time and money (relative to my personal wealth) building out two authority sites and around fifteen niche sites, and achieved next to nothing in terms of income. I did however gain a lot of invaluable experience, and now I’m coming back for more.

Interested? Read on…

Learning and Developing

The best lesson my niche site mishaps taught me was simple — don’t mess with Google. Don’t piss them off, don’t do anything against their Webmaster Guidelines (or at least, if you’re going to, be 100% sure that they won’t be able to tell). Operate from a position of absolute conservativeness, and play the long game.

Whilst you can achieve quick rankings and build up an income-generating website with black hat techniques, you always run the risk of being wiped out by the next Google update. If I’m going to pour a whole load of time and effort into a site, I do not want that possibility hanging over my head.

Furthermore, I have always had a focus on quality content. I am a writer, and I hate the idea of pumping out average or poor content of little use to anyone. When I was developing my previous authority sites, I had a strong focus on quality content. That focus slipped with niche sites as I sought to systematize a passive income model, but I soon learned that it wasn’t for me.

Just a few weeks ago, all of the above was floating around in my head. I don’t like link building. I do like quality content. I love the idea of building an online asset with a basis of strong Google rankings, which I can than develop into a complete authority blog with varied traffic sources. I just needed a little impetus.

Enter Skelliewag

I wasn’t really thinking about starting up a new website that focused on obtaining rankings in Google until I received what initially seemed to be a rather innocuous email from one of my clients on 27th August.

That particular client is very interested in SEO, as a lot of his site’s traffic originates from Google. The email he sent was just a one-liner, with a link to this article: How to Launch a New Blog With (Already) High Search Traffic.

For those of you who haven’t read the article, the strategy explained within is pretty simple — build a website with content based upon long tail keywords suggested by Google instant autocomplete. So if I were to create a blog about dog training, I could grab some topic ideas by typing “dog training how to” into Google:

Google Autocomplete

Four article ideas, straight off the bat.

The ideas you can get from Google autocomplete are nearly endless. Take this search for “dog training how to u”:

Google Autocomplete

Another four ideas.

The logic behind this is pretty straightforward — such terms have historically been searched for, and are very specific and long tail. That means two things:

  1. The competition for these specific phrases is likely to be relatively low
  2. People who create such specific queries are likely to be highly targeted

In the original article, Skellie (the author) explains how he built out a blog with over 600 daily visits, without doing any link building, just by creating a lot of unique content based upon Google autocomplete search terms. That’s the kind of result that will catch my attention.

I did however have reservations. This article was written over a year ago, and the SEO world moves along at a rapid pace. Plus, it just doesn’t seem entirely plausible to me that you can create a website with good traffic numbers by creating a lot of content alone. That just seems too easy. But then, the easiest things I have done in business have often given me the greatest reward.

So I thought, what the hell — let’s give this a go.

The One Hour Authority Site Project

Whilst Skellie’s article served as the inspiration for my project, I knew that I wanted to create a more developed and customized strategy based both upon the time available to me, and my own experience with onsite and offsite SEO and content creation.

I quickly realized that this could become a great case study for LWB. So in my typical full disclosure style, I thought I’d kick off a new case study series, in which will reveal everything I do in terms of strategy as I try to develop my new authority site.

The initial rules in what is the “first stage” of the development of the site are as follows:

  1. I will spend one hour per weekday on the site
  2. A new 400+ word article must be published on the site every weekday
  3. I will not engage in link building until at least 60 articles are published on the site

Impatience is most certainly not a virtue when it comes to ranking in Google, and I am attempting to circumvent that by imposing a strict “no link building” policy for the first 12 weeks of the site’s life. After all, let’s consider that for a moment — if I am trying to build a solid long term asset, 12 weeks is an utterly inconsequential amount of time.

There is also a secondary aim to this 12 week link building ban — I am interested to see if I can build up a decent level of traffic with content alone. This is similar to what I tried with Deal With Anxiety, but involves a lot more content, and more specific keyword terms.

In a perfect world, I will never have to engage in link building of any type (even if it is “safe”, such as creating genuinely valuable web 2.0 properties). If the site has gathered momentum in those first 12 weeks, I may jump straight onto blog outreach, guest posting, and other “organic” link procurement strategies. Alternatively, I might choose to simply continue with producing as much content for the site as possible.

So What’s the Site?

I have made the decision to not reveal the identity of my site. I don’t think doing so would actually be of any practical help to anyone, as I will be revealing every step of my strategy in absolute detail anyway. The specifics of my site in question aren’t really relevant.

I will however be revealing all of the site’s vital statistics. By means of an introduction, I can confirm that the site has been live for just over two weeks, and has attracted nothing more than a handful of visits at this time.

However, what has been interesting to note is its rankings:

Google Rankings

I am currently keeping a record of my site’s rankings for each of the long tail queries I have written articles for (as well as a couple of higher traffic “short tail” keywords). I am currently ranking for eight long tail keywords.

Although they only offer a handful of traffic even when combined (the most searched-for keyword amongst the eight only attracts 260 searches per month), it is a pretty encouraging start — especially considering that Google hasn’t crawled my site in 9 days.

What Now?

In conclusion, I have a lot of ideas for this site, but I am not getting too far ahead of myself. My focus at the moment is just to keep pumping out content, and keep an eye on my rankings.

I do however have a lot more to reveal in terms of my process. In future posts, to be published in the coming weeks, I will be covering everything from choosing a topic, to site setup, to onsite SEO, to content production, and more!

Until then, I’d love to know what your thoughts are on this project. Do you think that it is an interesting idea? Or do you think that it is doomed to failure? Please feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section!

Creative Commons image courtesy of RLHyde

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57 Responses to “Introducing the One Hour Authority Site Project”

  1. Mike
    September 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    I am doing something similar. As I have ‘real’ job I can’t devote the time to it that you can so I am trying to crank out 3 or so articles a week with plans to do some videos, etc. I’ve got around eight articles so far. I’ll be interested to see how things proceed for you. How are you planning on monetizing?

    • Tom Ewer
      September 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      Hey Mike,

      I haven’t put a great deal of thought into monetizing (beyond an assessment of the commercial viability of the niche), but it lends itself to advertising, affiliate marketing, and product creation.



  2. Anabelle
    September 14, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Autocomplete can be a great tool! I look forward to reading your guide… I have a new blog project I have in mind and I would love to rank high into a certain niche that I think is definitely under-served.

    Thanks for the great intro!

  3. Steve
    September 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Awesome idea for a case study Tom! It would be a real eye opener if you can build traffic to a website based on pure content alone. Would you eventually try to scale it into an authority site like LWB? Or are you sticking to the one hour a day rule?

    • Tom Ewer
      September 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      Hey Steve,

      Thanks! It would be an eye opener…I’m not holding my breath 😉 I do expect to have to engage in link prospecting, but my aim is to keep it totally “clean”.

      As for the site’s long term future…I don’t know. One step at a time! One thing’s for sure — you can get quite a lot done with an hour a day 🙂



  4. Brandon
    September 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    Great stuff here, Tom. One request – can you give us an idea of how competitive the niche is overall without revealing your site? Are we talking ‘lose weight fast’ or ‘underwater sponge sharpening supplies for baby boomers with blue hair and chronic bunions’? For me it would be helpful to know just how competitive it is as I am excited to watch your results. Thanks for your transparency and diligence! It is truly refreshing.

    • Tom Ewer
      September 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm

      Hey Brandon,

      It would be the equivalent of say starting a site about running, which is obviously a subset of health and fitness. So a big niche in its own right, but not as huge as its parent.



  5. Rob Cubbon
    September 14, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Fantastic idea and I’m interested to hear how you get on. It’s a shame that you’re not revealing the identity of the site but probably a good thing that you aren’t.

    I really like the way you’ve set aside time for the site and set down a publishing schedule. But 60 articles before you do any link building? Couldn’t you use 3 or 4 of those articles as guest posts towards the end of the schedule?

    • Tom Ewer
      September 14, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      Hi Rob,

      Fair question. I will be getting into this in future posts, but the site is not “blog ready”, for want of a better expression. I wouldn’t be happy to do blog outreach link procurement without first doing work on the blog’s design, and writing more “blog-style” posts (rather than articles that are very search engine specific). If that doesn’t make total sense, I will be talking more about my approach soon 🙂

      The idea of this project (in part) is to waste no time on anything other than content. Get a basic theme laid down, then just pour everything into content. Build the audience first, worry about everything else afterwards.



  6. Joe Boyle
    September 14, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Can’t wait for the results. I’ve been trying to figure out some new Google tactics lately – I think newer stuff is something that needs to be introduced to the system. 🙂

  7. Cubicle Free Man
    September 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Tom, This is a fantastic project – I am very excited by the prospect this will do well. I have just built a site with a domain that is a partial match and after two weeks (no link building) it just started getting traffic and actually made its first affiliate sale this week. Out of interest the traffic I am getting is for long tail keywords. Based on this, I think your project has a very good chance of success and you can’t beat organic link percurement if that makes sense after 12 weeks. How are you writing so much content? What a great deal on Market Samurai. I already have a copy and use it a lot to. Hope this goes really well for you and like others here I really appreciate your sharing!

    • Tom Ewer
      September 14, 2012 at 8:44 pm


      Thanks 🙂 Great work on your site — it’s doing better than mine! I’m writing so much content by spending an hour a day writing content 😉



  8. Tracey - Life Changing Year
    September 14, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    It sounds completely logical to me that using the auto complete long tails should work well. Can’t wait to see how you go. I might implement this on another dormant site that I have too.

  9. Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon
    September 15, 2012 at 3:28 am

    This is really exciting! I love the idea of using the Google autocomplete to get post ideas! I never even thought to do that but in hindsight it seems so obvious 🙂

    Can’t wait to see what your results are!


  10. Alan | Life's Too Good
    September 15, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Nice Idea Tom,

    Personally I’m lazy when it comes to SEO – that plus a combination of being genuine for my readers.

    I know there’s a middle ground but despite reading about keyword research & SEO, I always end up just writing what I want to write, giving it the title I want that I think makes the most sense and structuring it the way that I think makes the most sense to my readers.

    I did know about the google instant idea and made a mental note to do that, but that was a few months ago and to be honest, I haven’t.

    I will keep an eye on your progress though as it’s a simple enough tip and probably combining something so simple with still delivering content for readers rather than robots is the way to go!

    take care & best wishes,

    • Tom Ewer
      September 15, 2012 at 11:17 am

      Hi Alan,

      I know where you’re coming from — I do nothing in terms of SEO for this site. Like you, I just write what I want. But like you say, there is a middle ground, and that is what I am looking to exploit with this new site!



  11. sam
    September 16, 2012 at 5:28 am

    Awesome post! can’t wait to see the results. i’ll have to check out market samurai as well.

  12. Henri
    September 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Interesting stuff, Tom.

    One thing that popped into my mind is … have you thought about writing longer posts? So instead of 400 words, do more resource-type stuff at 1,000 words+, which Google seems to favor these days.

    And they certainly don’t hurt when it comes to naturally attracting links.

    • Tom Ewer
      September 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Hi Henri,

      I will go into more depth about content creation in a later post, but my posts are 400+ words, rather than just 400. Some of the posts I have written are up around 1,000+ words.

      I’m totally with you on longer posts attracting more links, but I’m not sure about Google “favoring” longer posts — do you have evidence of this?



      • Henri
        September 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm

        Nopes, no real evidence I can point to. Remember reading about it, so poor choice of words on my part in my earlier comment.

        Should’ve said something like “which Google seems to maybe hypothetically favor, but probably not.” 😉

  13. Edward Smith
    September 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    This is good, how can I follow your progress? Ed

  14. Justice Wordlaw IV
    September 17, 2012 at 4:22 am

    It’s so interesting to see you doing this right now Tom because I’m doing the same thing with a new authority website haha. Congrats on your new project. Looking forward to your growth with it. We’re going to have to chat about our projects soon.

  15. Kathi
    September 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Tom, you’re spot on with this. It’s the approach that I’ve been taking with my sites. Yeah, it takes longer to get off the ground but I think it’s a far more direct route to the promised land than what so many lead us to believe. Honesty truly is the best policy. Good luck on your venture. I can’t wait to see your progress.

  16. Kate
    September 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    I think building on content alone is worth a try. That’s what I did subconsciously with my travel website, I just wanted to deliver quality content that people will find useful. Because of that without any link building or commenting on other blogs, people still go to my site because of Google. Good luck Tom and looking forward to your updates!

  17. Angel
    September 27, 2012 at 12:15 am

    What tool you use for check rank? (sorry for my bad english, i speak spanish :P)

  18. Servando Silva
    September 27, 2012 at 3:08 am

    Very interesting project indeed. I’ll follow your series. If it works, then i’m going for it, mostly because that would be the perfect world for content writers.

    I do enjoy writing content, but SEO, Marketing and the rest can take half the time of it, and it’s not funny at all.

    • Tom Ewer
      September 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      Hey Servando,

      Exactly. I want to circumvent all of the marketing fluff and stick to content. Only time will tell if I will be rewarded 🙂



  19. ben
    January 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Hi Tom – great article, I get this all the time – how do I get traffic to my site AND how do I figure out what to write – Two in One. Boom! Your post fits the bill perfectly. Thanks.

    FYI, I clicked in the original Skelliewag reference and he has taken the site offline. I found it OK using the waybackwhen google machine, you may want to change the reference!

    Keep up the great work,


  20. Darko
    January 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    This is really great article. I’ve bookmarked and since then, I’m using this strategy for all my wordpress sites. And do yo know the name of the folder where this post is bookmarked?

  21. shahida
    July 13, 2014 at 3:14 am

    If I’m going to pour a whole load of time and effort into a site, I do not want that possibility hanging over my head.

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