I am excited to officially announce that my public niche site has reached the #1 spot in Google! My niche site began ranking at the top spot in Google sometime yesterday for my primary keyword of best survival knife.
If you have been following along with my Niche Site Project, you know that I have gone to great lengths to explain my entire process along the way. In fact, before I even started the site, I recorded a webinar explaining what my strategy would be and how I would go about finding my primary keyword, launch the site, and more.
Obviously being a project for everyone to watch, I had high hopes that this site would reach the number one position in Google, but I also knew that having thousands of people watch along can sometimes impact results (positively or negatively). So, I’m thrilled (to say the least), that my site has performed to my highest expectations!
So, how did I get my niche site to the top of Google? In my post today, I am going to reveal more details on some of the tactics I’ve used, along with a complete overview of what has happened to my site – including earnings, rankings, and more. Ideally, you will be able to take some of this information and find success with it in your own niche site endeavors.
Going from Ranking Nowhere to #1 on Google
So, how long did it take from the creation of my site to reach number one on Google? Here is a timeline of the major movements in Google since I created my site:
- Feb. 7th, 2013 – Domain purchased
- Feb. 22nd, 2013 – First Article Published (62 days from this date, I ranked #1 in Google).
- Feb. 25th, 2013 – Not ranked in Google
- Feb. 26th, 2013 – 395 (position on Google)
- Feb. 27th, 2013 – 36
- Feb. 28th, 2013 – 34
- Mar. 1st, 2013 – 25
- Mar. 4th, 2013 – 29
- March 9th – 237 (See my explanation for this drop and recovery here).
- March 10th – 246
- March 11th – 225
- March 13th – 25
- March 15th – 21
- March 16th – 6
- March 17th – 7
- March 18th – 8
- March 19th – 4
- March 23rd – 11 (Its normal to bounce up and down for a young site)
- March 25th – 9
- March 26th – 3
- April 11th – 3
- April 14th – 2
- April 23rd – 2
- APRIL 24TH – #1 IN GOOGLE BABY!!
Now there were more minor movements up and down than what I’ve shown, but this gives you a general feel for its progression over time.
Current Earnings of My Niche Site
I will be doing a more full income report once the month of April is complete; however, here is where I stand right now (earnings through April 24th):
I am VERY happy with $254.10 in earnings for this month so far! In fact, you may remember that I just posted an earnings screenshot a few days ago…and it was $174 (through April 21st). Part of the increased earnings over the last few days is that I hit the 7% commission tier rate on Amazon!
The more items you ship, the more Amazon pays you. Here are the commission tiers on for the Amazon Associates program:
As you can see, I have shipped 112 items, so my commission rate was bumped to 7% retroactively on ALL the sales I’ve made in the month of April. So, I had a nice earnings increase…sweet! I expect things to get even better as I enjoy the increased traffic from being in position 1.
My Goal for May is to hit $500 in earnings…looks like it could be close…
The Most Important Step of ANY Niche Site
I wanted to take you back to the very beginning of the project when I began looking for a keyword to target. I have stressed over and over again that keyword research is by FAR the most important step in building niche websites. I think that I’ve proven that with this project.
If you find a keyword that is easy enough to rank for, you won’t need to build as many links to your site – and you will be much more likely to rank at the top of Google.
I wanted to target a keyword that had 5,000 exact match searches or more for this project and find one that had low competition in the top 10 spots of Google. I used my keyword research tool, Long Tail Pro, to brainstorm, research, and find my winning keyword.
I found the keyword “Best Survival Knife”, which had just under 5,000 exact match local searches, and also had very low competition in the top 10 results in Google. I felt strongly by analyzing those results (and using the built in Keyword Competitiveness function in the Platinum version of Long Tail Pro), that I could at least get on the first page of Google.
So, even though I am now going to explain below everything else I did to rank this site in Google, I want to strongly remind you that the keyword research is the real reason I am able to rank in google. If you fail this step, it doesn’t matter how much other “SEO” tactics you use.
Quality Content Really is Important
As I explained early on, I wanted my content to be super valuable to the end user of my survival knife site. To be honest, its very possible to still rank a site with less than stellar content – as long as you do great keyword research and some basic link building. However, I wanted to make this site something I could be proud to share and to truly be useful to those searching for survival knives.
So, I wrote the primary article myself (homepage) and created an in-depth knife comparison chart. The article is using my primary keyword in the title and is overall targeted the keyword I want to rank for. The article and chart took me several hours to complete, but as a result, I think my site REALLY is more useful than the other sites that are ranking in Google right now.
In addition, I’ve now hired (on Elance.com) a camping and survival expect to write lots of the content that you see on the site. This author is providing secondary articles that each target different keywords; mostly different knife makes and models. These articles are well written and provide a unique voice from someone that truly understands knives and what to look for (better than I could).
As a result of my quality chart and other quality content, users are spending more time on my site. This time on site, or more accurately “Dwell Time”, is providing a positive signal to Google. This helps my site do well.
The average user is spending 2 minutes and 38 seconds on my site.
A home for entrepreneurs turned investors
A hodgepodge of investing, startup, and online business discussions
- high-value email newsletters
- tips on sites for sale
- a podcast
- networking opportunities
- with more planned for the future
Link Building for My Niche Site
Now I come to the section that I suppose many of you have been waiting for. I’m going to give you a detailed look at the exact link building that has been done on this site. And yes, this has helped me rank #1 in Google.
I wrote a full post on the link building strategy that I would follow, and I have essentially done what I said I would do. But here is a recap (and this includes some details I have not discussed previously):
- I was ranking #25 in Google on March 1st…BEFORE I built a single link to the site. I mention this to just remind you how important my keyword research was. I was ranking purely on the fact that I was targeting a low competition keyword and built a site using a theme that I created.
- March 7th to around March 21st – I started making about 20 or so comments on related blogs. These comments were made by me, and were real comments (not spam). They were related to the blog post and were genuine. I didn’t use keyword anchor text other than my name or sometimes Spencer @ Survival Knife Guide (or something similar). Also during this time period I had my VA build between 10 to 20 (not sure how many got accepted) web directory links. These were just general web directories with high pagerank.
- You will see that around March 15th or 16th, my site started ranking on the first page of Google. I believe my keyword research, quality content, blog comments, and web directory links helped my site make the jump.
- On March 21st, I secured a quality in content link from an authoritative site related to weapons and knife reviews. This is the only link where I used my exact match anchor text of “Best Survival Knife”. I haven’t talked about this link up to this point, but I share more on this below. In a nutshell, I used a high PageRank expired domain to “trade” links. Was it this link that pushed me to #3 in Google on March 26th? Very possibly.
- On March 25th, I started noticing lots of links being built to my site that I DID NOT build! I wrote an entire post on what I believe is negative SEO from someone towards my site. The big question that everyone has (including me) is did these links help my site…or will they eventually hurt my site? I don’t know the answer, BUT I do know that I would have ranked without them just fine. You see, I was already on the first page of Google before they showed up (and position 25 before I ever built a link). And as I’ll show below, it was clearly my link building efforts that pushed me from just page 1, to Top position. I would have made it just fine without these links, so its unfortunately that I couldn’t prove that…because these links did indeed occur, and I have to acknowledge that. So, make your own call here.
- The fact that these spammy links have not hurt my site, gives me a bit more confidence that maybe Google really does know how to filter out these “bad” links; as Matt Cutts stated in this video here:
- I continued to make just a few more blog comments on related blogs through about the end of March. I only made another 5 or 6 more.
- On April 11th I hired someone to start building links for me that fit very close to my original plan as shared here. This link building job was completed on April 22nd. My site went from position 3 to position 1 during this timeframe…you be the judge! I want to share EXACTLY the links that were built during April 11th to April 22nd – and I’ve shared that below.
Links Built From April 11th to April 22nd
As explained, I hired someone to build some links for me. Below you will find a list of exactly the work that was done during this time period. Also as a note, I did not use the term “best survival knife” as my keyword anchor text on any of these, because of the negative SEO links I had received that overused my keyword anchor text. These links were various phrases to help diversify that anchor text.
- 1 Squidoo Lens
- 10 Web 2.0 Properties with 3 articles on each property
- 3 Wiki Properties with 3 articles on each property
- 1 Slideshare with 3 articles
- 1 DocStoc with 3 articles
- 3 GoArticles.com submissions
- 15 PageRank 4+ Blog Comments (DoFollow)
- 100 Social Bookmarks
- 7 Press Releases on quality web properties
Those are all the links pointing directly to my site. (Notice its not a HUGE number of links…other than the social bookmarks. And likely most of the social bookmarks won’t “stick” anyway).
However, I also had a second tier of links as I explained in my original link building guide. Here’s the kinds of links I got for my second tier links (links NOT pointing to my site, but pointing to my other links above).
- 200 Wiki links
- 2500 blog comments (yes these were probably automated and really crappy links. But the sole purpose is to just index and boost my other links).
- 50 Article links
Overall, those are the links built to my site in the past couple of weeks. The articles used were original; however, they were used over and over again. In other words, the 3 GoArticles.com articles may have been original, but a slightly spun version of these same articles were used on the Web 2.0 properties and other locations.
Using Expired Domains to “Trade” Links
As I mentioned above, on March 21st, I secured a high quality link from a great site about weapons, knives, and more. I was able to get in contact with the owner of the site and I basically offered him a high PageRank link from an existing domain I had access to (that had been an expired domain).
So, the owner of the site agreed and wrote me a “guest post”. I place this guest post along with links back to his blog that he created on the High PageRank domain.
In turn, this person placed an in content link from his site to my survival knife site. So, essentially it was a 3 way link. None of the links are pointing to each other. Hope that makes sense.
Overall, this is a great way to use Expired Domains to attract high quality links to any of your web properties. I actually could do this a lot more if I needed to. I currently have 2 webmasters interested in trading links, but I may not need to at this point.
How Are People REALLY finding My Site?
I am going to provide a more detailed report on traffic and earnings once the full month of April is over. However, I thought you would find it interesting to know how people are actually finding me on Google. Obviously lots of people are typing in “best survival knife” into Google and are finding me. But the exciting part is that I’m getting TONS of traffic from related long tail keywords!
This really is the beauty of niche websites and targeting great keywords. Because my site is doing well with the one keyword, its also naturally do well with lots of related keywords. So, here is a list of some of the top keywords people have been using to find my site:
However, the exciting part is that in JUST the month of April, I have received traffic from 848 different search queries! Check this out:
So, yes, I’m getting some traffic from my blog readers here at NichePursuits.com. Some of you are typing in “best survival knife guide” (as you can see from the top image), and that’s fine. However, I can see that most of the keywords used are NOT things that my blog readers here are typing in. This is natural search engine traffic from people performing real Google queries.
I currently have 22 articles on the niche site that are all being found by people using Google. I intend to continue to add more content throughout the month of May as well, so I only expect the number of long tail phrases used to find my site to increase with time.
Going Forward and Your Thoughts
I’ve done my very best to explain how I have achieved a number 1 ranking in Google after just 62 days with my niche site. If you still have further questions, you may be able to find some of those answers in the several updates I’ve posted specifically for this project right here.
I will continue to provide updates and future plans for this niche site. I’m currently building an email list and have plans to start monetizing with other affiliate products. I will be covering these plans and more in future posts, so I hope you will stick around for sure.
I fully understand that many of you will have further questions or comments in regards to this project, so I invite you to leave a comment below! Because this is a project that I’ve done publicly from the very beginning I’m fully aware that some of you will have positive comments and some of your may have negative reactions to what’s happened. But overall, I just want to state that what I’ve shown here is essentially what I’ve done “privately” with hundreds of other niche websites that I own.
I’ve ranked #1 in Google many times before, so the tactics that I’ve laid out work. I truly hope that some of the information that I’ve provided here and along the way will help some of you improve your own business and achieve the success you are looking for.
I look forward to hearing your comments and continuing the discussion below!