Authority Site Overhaul Case Study: What We’ve Been Working On

By Spencer Haws |

Welcome back to another update on the Authority Site Project!  The post below is another update from George Do and Hayden Miyamoto (recent buyers of the Authority Site Project site). 

As discussed recently, I sold 66% of my authority site.  George and Hayden on working on revamping the site and turning it into a bigger revenue source. 

So, with that quick intro…I’ll turn it over to George and Hayen!

The Authority Site Project was resurrected and has been going strong for about a month now. This post is meant to serve as a broad update about what we’ve done so far – and we’ll also go over what we plan to do over the next month or so as well.

Brief Recap

Here’s a recap of what we discussed in the previous post to jog your memory.

We talked about why we think website investing makes more sense than building a site from scratch, especially for those who already have some experience with online business. We went over the exact terms of the deal (Spencer still owns 34%, and we collectively own 66%).

We also discussed how this case study will be fully transparent (we’d reveal the domain of the site and all the strategies/plans that we have for it), but only for those who choose to follow along via email. This was the best way we could come up with to balance the need to protect our asset with the utility that comes with doing a fully public case study.

If you aren’t already following along with our email updates, you can do so by putting your email in at the bottom of this post. If you like reading about specific strategies with concrete real-world examples, you’ll probably get a lot of value out of following along via email. However, If you’re just interested in learning about the broad strokes of what we’re doing, you can just stay tuned to NichePursuits – we plan to do a broad update post about once a month here (this is one of them).

What We’ve Done in the Past Month

So far, we’ve mailed 4 updates to the people who’re following the case study.

Valuation & Due Diligence

In the first update, we briefly discussed website due diligence (although this was not as thorough as it might have been since we already know and trust Spencer). The main thrust of the post was about valuation – how we came up with what we thought was a fair price, and why we were willing to pay a slight premium.

In our valuation of the Authority Site project, we basically approached it as if it were two separate businesses – a reasonably profitable ebooks business (and the associated Amazon Author/Kindle accounts), and a minimally profitable website with a lot of growth potential.

The reason why we were comfortable separating the two and basically approaching the valuation with a sum-of-the-parts methodology is because the two actually don’t have a lot to do with each other. The website did have ads for the ebooks business in the sidebar, but our prior experience with the Kindle program showed that very few of the sales we see in Amazon actually come from the website – most book sales happen organically in the Amazon ecosystem itself. Our due diligence on the authority site project confirmed this.

We came up with a low-mid 5 figure valuation that worked for both parties based on a X multiple for the ebooks business and a asset-valuation X for the site itself.

Monetization Strategies

In our second update, we outlined our monetization strategies for the site (we’re focusing on improving the site as that’s where we specialize and where we feel there’s a ton of room to grow). We discussed the two monetization models that we like the most when investing in a website.

Plan A was the Monetization Overhaul – this strategy involves using the site’s traffic as a way to build an email list, then creating a product targeted at the audience of the site and building an appropriate funnel to sell to this list.

Plan B is something we call the Pareto Portfolio – basically, it means that don’t change the monetization, rather we apply the 80/20 rule to all aspects of the site. We’ll try to find ‘quick wins’ or obvious ways to improve the following: keyword research, content creation, adsense/affiliate conversions, on page SEO & site structure, and link building.

Plan A is the higher risk option because it requires a lot more work (probably 3 times the hours spent compared to Plan B), and it may not lead to any increase in profits at all. It’s also considerably more difficult (and expensive) to outsource. Fortunately, we have a way to partially mitigate this risk – we’re going to validate a couple of potential products before we create them.

While this costs a little bit of money upfront, it drastically reduces the chance that we’ll create a product that nobody wants to buy, which would be a bigger waste of money, and more importantly, a huge time sink for pretty much no return (we go over product validation later in this post).

Also, note that Plan A and Plan B aren’t exactly mutually exclusive – it’s entirely possible to work on Plan B while we’re verifying whether Plan A is worth pursuing or not, which is exactly what we’re doing.

Keyword Research & Content Creation

We also did an update about our keyword research and content creation process. This included two free Standard Operating Procedures that people really raved about. So rather than outlining the strategies we use vaguely, we decided to give these two SOPs away to you too. Here they are:

Keyword Research SOP

Content Creation SOP

These two SOPs are… absurdly thorough. We highly recommend you go through them and save your own copies for future reference. The two SOPs probably give a clear enough idea of how we approach KW Research and Content Creation, so we’ll be brief here and move on to the next thing.

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Product Validation

We actually brought in a funnel design expert to help us with product validation (and down the line, he’ll probably help us out with our email funnel as well). Our expert is Alex from and with his help, we pretty much went over product validation step-by-step in this update.

We strongly believe that creating a repeatable process is absolutely essential when it comes to product validation and creation. Instead of sitting around waiting for a ‘Eureka’ moment, you should be testing the potential ideas, throwing out the ones that don’t work, and working on the ones that do.

The reason why product validation (and by extension, product creation) is such a useful skill to have is because moving up the value chain is the most straightforward way of significantly improving site earnings.

Depending on your niche, there may also be a possibility for you to sell leads to other businesses – for example, if you’re in a health-related niche and you can generate leads who’re looking for solutions to chronic back pain, you might be able to sell leads to chiropractors.

This method is lower risk than full-on product creation and can still raise your visitor values pretty drastically. However, don’t just jump in – it’s still important to validate the lead generation model for your site, if only because it’s much easier reaching out to business owners or managers when you already have a few concrete leads on hand.

Broadly speaking, here are the steps you need to take to validate a product idea:

If you’re not sure how to do the math, Alex put together a calculator just for this purpose:

Upcoming updates

So – that’s more or less the stuff that we’ve covered so far in the Authority Site Overhaul case study. If you want to get access to our full transparent updates along with live examples, be sure to sign up to the case study newsletter to follow along.

This week (probably a couple of days after this post goes live), we’ll be covering site structure as well as site UI And adsense optimizations. A lot of people know about KW density and meta descriptions, but surprisingly few people understand proper the effect that optimizing site structure can have.

We’ll go over how you should set up your menu, your category pages, how you should make use of your sidebars, etc.

We’ll also cover what adsense placements we feel perform the best, and some straightforward UI changes that we can make to the site to make it more user friendly.

We also plan to cover the following topics in the next few updates to the case study (not necessarily in this order):

Using Contributor Accounts to drive traffic (and boost SEO)

Social Media Strategy

Kindle Optimization

If you want to get deep into the trenches with us on the Authority Site Overhaul, then make sure you sign up for the case study update newsletter below:

Thanks for your interest in the Authority Site Overhaul Case Study, and thanks to Spencer for allowing us to discuss it on NichePursuits.

If you don’t care so much about the practical aspects of the case study and you’re more interested in just the broad theory, You can look for our next broad update approximately a month from now.

Thanks for following along,
George and Hayden from

Stories & Projects | 9 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

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Love the updates here on Niche Pursuits and would like to follow the updates sent to email subscribers. However every time I have added my email I do not receive either a confirmation email to any updates. Checked spam folder also. I would appreciate if you could add me. Thanks and keep up the great work.

George Do

Hi Ray,

Sorry for the technical issues. If you email me at george [at] I’ll try to add you manually and I’ll also try to work out what’s wrong. Thanks for the heads up.

Prasad Rane

Dear Spencer, I am already signup with your blog, then also i can’t see authority blog url. Asking for signup again.

George Do

Hi Prasad, not sure if you saw my reply to Ray above –

“Sorry for the technical issues. If you email me at george [at] I’ll try to add you manually and I’ll also try to work out what’s wrong. Thanks for the heads up.”

Louie Luc

Hi George, Hayden and Spencer!

I’m enjoying following this project’s updates here and on WiredInvestors. Things are really starting to get even more interesting.

Can’t wait for the next updates. Mainly, that update where you are going to discuss improving site structure. That’ll be a real treat!

Keep up the awesome job!


Matthew Rohr

Great post! Lots of invaluable insights and tips, thanks guys!

I love the idea of Plan A! Creating a targeted product based off of the sites traffic and interest. I am already bursting with ideas on how I can use my own niche/authority sites for my next software product! What a great concept to validate those different ideas.

I have also been playing around with FB Ads and have found that my ads are either very hot or cold. Some get a tremendous amount of likes/shares/engagements while others don’t. This is a real eye opener for me since I thought some of the ads would be a sure fire hit, but ended up being total misses. This post has validated my own XP with these as another great way to gauge interest in different products and ideas.

I love it! Great post guys, thank you.


I liked the plan B, applying the Pareto 80/20 rule. I believe that is the strategy that will give more results with less effort and in less time.


Glad to hear you are starting another site.

Every time a read an article about building niche sites that’s older then 6 months or a year or so. I always wonder if anything has changed since the article has been written.

I got a questions for ya. Does it make more sense to go with a broader niche, since there are a lot more low competition keywords to build articles with. When ever I really niche down doing my keyword research, it seems there’s not as many low competition keywords and sometimes, not even enough to put together a small site.

Spencer Haws

I think it does make sense to target a somewhat broad niche (rather than just a few keywords). However, each article should still be very laser focused.

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