How Dan Jackson Recovered from a Google Update To $4k Per Month Through Topical Authority
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Dan Jackson is an animal lover at heart. After many years in the animal care space, working with vets and private clients, he decided to add "website owner" to his skillset, buying a pre-existing site.
But taking over Pet Lover Guy hasn't always been smooth sailing; in fact, it's been quite the rollercoaster.
After ramping up content production for his site, he was hit by a Google update and lost 75% of his traffic and revenue overnight. It was a dark couple of weeks for Dan. But he didn't throw in the towel. With a true entrepreneurial spirit, he figured out how to fix it and shifted his strategy. And today he's back in the game, but with a different perspective.
Keep reading to find out:
- Who Ella is and why she's important
- How he acquired the website
- His initial website growth strategy
- What happened when he got hit by the update
- The steps he took to revive his website
- His current earnings
- Where his income is coming from
- His views on topical authority
- How he approaches SEO
- How he views link building
- His email list strategies
- The content creation process he follows
- His favorite resources and tools
- The biggest challenge he's faced
- His most important accomplishment
- His main mistake to date
- The advice he would give to other entrepreneurs
- Meet Dan Jackson
- Meet Ella
- How Pet Lover Guy Came to Be
- How Dan Jackson Grew the Site
- How He Revived His Site
- How Much Dan Jackson's Currently Making
- Dan Jackson’s Top Marketing Strategy
- The Importance of SEO
- Dan Jackson’s Email List
- Dan Jackson’s Content Creation Process
- Achieving Current Revenue Levels
- Dan’s Favorite Resources
- Dan Jackson’s Top 3 Tools
- His Biggest Challenge
- Dan Jackson’s Most Important Accomplishment
- What He Wishes He Knew When He Started
- Dan Jackson’s Biggest Mistake
- His Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Meet Dan Jackson
My name is Dan and I run the website Pet Lover Guy. I got involved with Pet Lover Guy because I love helping pet parents learn how to interact with their adopted and rescued pets and make the most of their time together. At Pet Lover Guy, we fact-check our articles with vets, pet nutritionists, pet trainers, and pet-owning authors that have over a decade working in the pet industry.
Ella is a chihuahua mix and our main dog model, training, and product tester. Though she can’t write, she’s vital to what we do!
How Pet Lover Guy Came to Be
An unknown site builder created Pet Lover Guy in 2016. They had sold it to Human Proof Designs, which continued to work on it and improve it, though they really only grew it to 40 articles, earning about $50 per month.
I had been looking for a side hustle, so we (some partners and I) bought it from them in the fall of 2019 and started aggressively adding articles and doing some minimal outreach, trying to connect with other pet writers.
In 2020, we got hit by the Amazon commission cut, but the site was only making a few hundred per month then, so it wasn't a big hit.
By the fall of 2020, we got it up to $1,000 per month by adding dozens of new articles on topics we had experience in and by adding Ezoic display ads.
A year later, in the fall of 2021, we 3xed it again and broke $3,000 per month. Keep in mind I was a part-time editor at this point with a full-time job, so I didn't have the time to really dive into things.
How Dan Jackson Grew the Site
Believing strongly in what we were doing, we ramped up article production with a goal of getting to 2,000 published articles. We hit that goal in early 2022, and a few months later, Google hit us.
In July of 2022, we got battered by the "product reviews" update and lost 75% of our traffic and revenue.
What was strange is that it really didn't hit our product reviews. It hit everything. Plus, most of our articles were just information questions that our writers had knowledge of.
I think we were hit by an early version of the "helpful content" update, part of which I believe but have no proof of, is to try and get rid of AI spammers.
We didn't use AI to write our articles. Writers with experience in the topics wrote those articles. However, we drastically increased our publishing rate, which triggered something.
Plus, we were only focused on writing great articles and answering all the questions. I always loved Matt Diggity's "do all the things" concept, and I wanted to apply that and "answer all the pet questions," but that seemed to backfire.
How He Revived His Site
After the hit, I kind of lost all motivation. It was a dark couple of weeks.
How did we solve it? I watched every YouTube video from trusted folks on how to recover from Google updates.
In the end, we also purchased Matt Diggity's Affiliate Lab course specifically to do all the things and recover.
The biggest thing we noticed is that we focused too hard on articles and did nothing for Pet Lover Guy’s online reputation. We weren't mentioned in any recognizable venues when you Googled our brand.
We made a concerted effort to get our expertise out there.
We started a HARO campaign to connect with journalists. We started doing guest posts and reaching out to help other pet owners.
We also did a content audit, deleting anything older than 12 months, that didn't rank. Many of those were actually really great articles, but they didn't work for Google, so we let them go.
We did a ton of other little things, too.
It appeared to have worked. At the end of September, another update came out, and we recovered a good deal, as you can see in the screenshot below.
So was it cleaning up the old articles, getting our name out there more, or some small technical update? I have no idea. Hence the "do all the things." The best we could do was clean up everything and keep moving forward.
How Much Dan Jackson's Currently Making
The average revenue for 2022 is $3,920.79 per month from ads and affiliate income.
The highest income in 2022 before being hit by updates was $5,794.56 monthly. Based on our past years of just publishing slowly, the expected income was $15,437.53 ($7.24 average monthly income per post x 2132 posts; since the update, we deleted a few hundred old non-performing posts).
We’re now down to 1,789 posts, and our goal is to keep testing and making improvements until those max out at $12,959.99 monthly income.
We mainly earn via Mediavine and Amazon affiliates, but we’re testing a few affiliate programs while learning email marketing.
The screenshots below for Mediavine earnings start in May. We only switched from Ezoic to Mediavine in late March, and it took a few weeks to stabilize.
You can also clearly see the revenue dip and recovery.
Here are the earnings year-to-date for Amazon. Commercial articles aren’t a huge push anymore.
Dan Jackson’s Top Marketing Strategy
Our main strategy is writing informational articles and getting visibility through organic search.
Like many others, we focus on informational articles, but we’re changing to a “total funnel” strategy.
I’m sure you’ve heard of building “topical authority” by answering all the questions on the topics.
Well, we’re trying to stay ahead of the game by talking readers on the full journey from their interest in getting a dog through finding one, all the startup needs (harness, bowls, bed), the healthiest foods, training, healthcare, all the way to comforting them at the end of their life.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is how we started, but we’re starting to branch out after feeling the effects of this last update.
Our SEO strategy remains the same: cover all the questions in a topic, then carry the reader on to the next part of their dog life journey through internal linking.
We use Ubersuggest and SEOminion to help us find all the topics, then we filter out semantic duplicates using KeyClusters.
Usually, each cluster will have a few commercial topics, for example, which dog harness is best for… We only add commercial articles essentially when people ask that within a cluster. We don’t focus only on commercial articles and never have really.
We also collect email addresses to redirect our readers to other content on their dog life journey.
Rather than link building, I’d call it networking.
How do we do that? Guest posting as a means of helping other blogs’ readers with the problems we understand and can help them with.
We also continue to do HARO outreach, which is the easiest way to help others and get your name out there. You help journalists with their questions, and they quote you.
That’s the core of it.
We’re also looking at buying other pet websites to help expand our topic coverage and reach new readers, just as any growing business would buy its smaller competitors to get its market share and customers. Typical merger and acquisition stuff, old-school techniques that have always worked.
Dan Jackson’s Email List
We have a small email following. It started as a tips newsletter with no lead magnet. I was surprised how many signed up for it as just a “newsletter” opt-in, but it was a way to get started.
We’re now developing new lead magnets on training and homemade dog food to help readers with those problems better.
It’s still in the testing phases. So far, our readers seem interested in tips and training emails, but we plan to test all phases of a dog owner's life (e.g. choosing insurance or not to, what foods to get, how to find a good breeder or rescue, etc.)
I’m curious to see which will do best for our current readers.
In the long run, once we figure that out, we’ll start using paid ads to reach similar readers on Facebook and other platforms, but we’re figuring out the funnels that best help our current readers.
Dan Jackson’s Content Creation Process
As described above, we use basic tools to figure out all the topics in a cluster and add them to our content writing calendar. Then we use both internal writers and others on other platforms (e.g. Upwork writers we have vetted) with expertise in the matter.
Achieving Current Revenue Levels
It took us about 3 years. We’re still probably more on the bottom regarding our SEO skills compared to many others, but it’s been a part-time learning game.
Dan’s Favorite Resources
As for the resources we use, our favorites are:
- Matt Diggity: Learn to “do all the things” and the importance of networking/link building
- Jon Dykstra: Publish information-only articles in bulk with no link building, I don’t recommend not networking though.
- Miles Beckler: Learn email marketing and help readers through funnels
- Niche Website Builders: Keep an eye on their youtube channel to see what experiments they’re doing
Dan Jackson’s Top 3 Tools
I can’t do 3. It takes more to make this business work.
- Google Search Console: Learn what articles are working and which one’s aren’t
- Ubersuggest (or Ahrefs): Find new topics to cover
- KeyClusters: Filter out repetitive topics
- AWeber: Build email lists and funnels to help your readers off Google
His Biggest Challenge
My biggest challenge is comparing myself to others. There are a ton of people on YouTube who pretty much only show success stories and never really talk about serious failures. That’s led to a lot of depression. Luckily I have a good support network that’s helped keep me on track.
It’s taken us years to go down the information article publishing path. And compared to others like Jon Dykstra and Matt Diggity, we kind of suck.
But even if we are slow, especially compared to others, what’s most important is to keep going, stay the course, and never give up, no matter how slow progress seems.
Dan Jackson’s Most Important Accomplishment
My greatest accomplishment is not giving up, continuing to pivot, and then diving deep into methods I truly like.
I’ve tried other part-time projects like Amazon arbitrage, selling on FBA, Kindle books, selling used books on Amazon, and now, finally, websites making money through display ads and affiliate commissions.
I can see a future where Pet Lover Guy develops its own pet products and uses some of these skills from failed experiments in the past. It’s a long road, and no one knows how it’ll all work out in the future. It can be surprising how failures in the past lead to future successes.
What He Wishes He Knew When He Started
I wish I had failed faster when I started back in 2012. Instead of just dipping my toes in the water, I wish I had pushed things hard, like when we did our big content push for the site that eventually backfired.
Ultimately, we’re slowly bringing it around and providing a better experience for our readers. We'd be much farther ahead if I had used that strategy in the past!
Dan Jackson’s Biggest Mistake
My main mistake was giving up when things got tough in the past. Based on our current experience bringing the pet site back, I feel I could’ve fixed similar issues in the past.
However, it was good to pivot because I wouldn’t say I liked a lot of those old business styles (e.g. dropshipping).
Answering questions and constantly learning has always been a lifelong passion of mine, and this information website model is much more suited to that than the other things we’ve tried.
His Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Look forward to failure and push through it. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Only go to them to find new things to test in your own business to move you forward.
Only compare your current self to your past self and know there’s no limit to how far you can go.
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