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The month of October was essentially the first full-month of my “Authority Site Project” website. There have been some interesting developments with this project that I wanted to share – and I will disclosing the earnings below. But first, I wanted to give a quick overview to both remind you “old dogs” and to inform the newer readers on my site what this Authority Site Project is all about.
I discuss in more depth how the authority site project began in this post. Essentially instead of building dozens of smaller niche sites (like I usually do), Iplanned to build one larger site that targets hundreds of different long tail keywords (a new keyword for each post added to the site essentially). Here is a quick breakdown of what I have done so far:
- Picked a keyword with between 12k and 17k exact match searches per month
- The keyword has a CPC between $5 to $10 according to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool
- My secondary keywords are targeting keywords with between 200 to 500 searches per month
- I have 24 post on the site so far
Authority Site Background and Rankings
However, there is a bit more to the story as well. The first site that I built was performing well initially, but then received some sort of penalty by Google (which I concluded had to do with some shady linkbuilding packages I purchased). You can read about the penalty on my authority site here.
Rather than sitting around and trying to overcome the penalty (which could have taken months if it ever happened at all), I decided to pick myself up and just start over. To make the project even more interesting, I purchased 3 new domains all targeting the exact same keyword. Based on my experience, sometimes sites perform better than others for no apparent reason, so I decided to test this out with 3 domains all targeting the same keyword. This essentially brings us up to date.
So, now I have 3 sites built all targeting the same keyword and one of them is definitely performing better as I suspected might happen. Here is a quick breakdown of where the sites have ranked over the past month:
Rankings on October 10, 2011
- Site 1 – 93
- Site 2 – 97
- Site 3 – 142
Rankings on October 17th, 2011
- Site 1 – 500+ (not ranking)
- Site 2 – 99
- Site 3 – 28
At this point, I decided to just make Site 3 the domain that I would focus on developing. However, before I did anything there was some further movement in the ranks.
Rankings on October 24th, 2011 (approximately)
- Site 1 – 190
- Site 2 – 21
- Site 3 – 20
Now, I had 2 sites on my hands that seemed like they could both perform well – I was pretty excited! However, over the past week the sites have all jumped all over the place, except for site 3. Here is what the rankings look like now:
Rankings on November 1st, 2011
- Site 1 – 167
- Site 2 – 25
- Site 3 – 17
So, the reality is that sites 1 and 2 continue to bounce up and down in the Google ranks, experiencing the “Google Dance”. I started adding additional articles to site 3 this week and it appears to be pretty stable at #17. So, what does all this jumping around in the ranks mean? Well, for newer sites this is often quite typical actually. Newer sites will bounce around for the first month or so of existence (sometimes) before they settle down and Google “figures out” where to rank these new sites. So, don't panic if some of your new sites drop in rank one day and then come back the next. Give it a month or so to settle down.
At this point, I have made a decision to fully focus on Site #3 that is currently ranking 17th. I will keep sites 1 and 2, but Site 3 will become my “authority site” that I plan to add hundreds of articles to. So, overall it appears that I could have gone with either site 2 or 3 and done just fine. But at this point, I feel like its time that I made a decision to focus my full attention on – which is what I have done.
As mentioned briefly above, I have now added 24 totals articles to Site #3. All of these articles are targeting keywords that receive between 200 to 500 exact match searches per month. I am choosing these lower volume keywords because they are typically easier to rank for. I did competition analysis on lots of these individual keywords (using the competitor analysis module in Long Tail Pro); however, I have to admit that some of the keywords I did not do this. I have essentially selected the hundreds of keywords that I want to target and some of these will be lower competition than others, but overall these related keywords will allow me to target lower competition words in a great niche.
How Did I Select Keywords to Target?
I felt like it was important to have a content strategy plan before I started adding dozens or hundreds of articles to my site. If I just started randomly and intermittently targeting various keywords, I could quickly forget which keywords I had written about or fail to execute according to plan. So, I essentially went into Long Tail Pro, and typed in several seed keywords that were related to my niche. I did this several times. Then I exported all the keywords that met my search volume criteria into an Excel spreadsheet. I then just went through the list quickly and highlighted the keywords that sounded like they would make a good contribution to my authority site. This spreadsheet probably has well over 500 different keywords that I hope to eventually write articles about on my site.
Now as I order articles, I simply go into my spreadsheet, find a keyword, then have my author write an article on that keyword. I mark that keyword as complete on my spreadsheet to keep track of what has been finished.
Is the Site Earning Any Money?
So now the site is a little less than 2 months old approximately, but is it making any money yet? As it turns out, yes it is! Okay, its not earning much, but it is earning a little bit which is always encouraging.
- September 2011 Earnings – $3.56
- October 2011 Earnings – $20.55
I am currently only monetizing the site with Google Adsense and this may perhaps be the only method I ever use to monetize the site. So, $20 isn't a fantastic number, but its encouraging as I am just really getting started with this site. I have been slow to add content up to this point, but I plan on ramping that up pretty quickly over the next couple of months. This month I hope to add between 30 and 50 posts to the site. At that point, I will re-evaluate and see if I want to ramp that up even more in the month of December.
So, overall I have picked my authority domain to focus on, I have started adding content, and the site is starting to bring in a little bit of money. I am encouraged enough that I feel like I should move forward on a larger scale, and will be doing that over the next few months.
Do you have any additional questions about my authority site project? I look forward to your thoughts, comments, and insights below!