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The time has finally arrived for another income report for my site: BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com!
This site was started as the example site for my public Niche Site Project. I've documented every step including; brainstorming for keywords, analyzing the competition, creating content, ranking the site in Google, and more.
The purpose of this project has been to show you how an individual can take an idea from scratch and start ranking a niche site in Google and make money from those efforts.
So, lets jump right into the income report for June!
What Happened in June?
As far as work put into BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com, very little happened to the site. In fact, I was on vacation from June 15th to July 3rd and didn't do much work while I was gone. I spent a week in Utah visiting family and running a Ragnar Relay, and then spent another week in California going to Disneyland, the beach, seeing the Redwoods, and more.
I confess, it was a pretty sweet vacation! And because my business is 100% online and mostly automated, my overall income did not suffer because I was on vacation. I checked email for about 30 minutes a day, and that's about all I did.
So, my niche site only got one new article added during the month of June. The only other update (which I did before my vacation) to the site was a change in the comparison chart on the homepage. I basically moved the column with the names of the knives into the same column as the pictures of the knives. This was they can click either the knife name or knife picture in the same cell, and both are affiliate links to Amazon. (Previously I had not linked from the images for fear of having too many affiliate links).
June Rankings and Earnings
My site has been rankings 4th or 5th in Google for the keyword, “best survival knife” for the most part of June. As you will find below, this is why my earnings decreased slightly in June. Even though being #1 in Google is always the goal for your primary keyword, you will obviously see that its not critical to have a successful niche site.
My niche site is still earning very well thanks to lots of related long tail rankings for other phrases. This is the advantage of adding more content to a niche site…you will start getting hits from other queries.
Here is a screenshot of the June 2013 earnings for BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com:
So, overall I shipped 219 items and made $407.30! Yes, its a bit lower than last month, but to earn over $400 on a site that I did almost nothing to during the month of June is not bad at all.
Last month the site earned: $474.76. So, I saw a drop in earnings of $67.46 this month. Here's a screenshot of the earnings from May:
What I find interesting about the comparison of these screenshots is that you will see that I actually shipped 25 MORE items during June than I did in May! However, the items were worth less, so I didn't make as much income.
Does this mean I got more traffic to the site and sold more items? Or did I get less traffic, but the layout changes just converted better (sold more items)? Lets take a look at some of the traffic to see what happened.
During May (2 months ago), BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com, had a total of 23,704 visits. For June, the site had 18,149…a significant decrease 🙁 . However, a lot of this can be explained by the fact that I wasn't mentioning BestSurvivalKnifeGuide.com on my blog here, and so less people were checking up on it (I was on vacation and didn't write much about it here).
So, while the drop in overall visits hurts…what we should really be interested in is the change in search engine traffic. Did ranking 4th or 5th for my primary keyword have a major impact on the amount of natural search engine traffic? As it turns out, yes, it did.
So, during May, the site received 15,015 visits from Search Engines; during June that number was only 10,498. This tells me that more than just my ranking for “best survival knife” has slipped a little. So, it would appear that perhaps Google actually lowered my rankings by a few spots across several keywords rather than just my primary keyword.
During May, the site received traffic from 1,267 different keywords. During June, the site received traffic from 1,043. That still a significant amount of Long Tail traffic, but its always tough to see a number go down.
Here are just a few of the long tail keywords that drove traffic to my site in June:
So, overall despite a decrease in traffic, I was able to INCREASE the amount of products sold. I have to attribute this to the small change that I made in my survival knife chart of moving the knife names and images into the same column. At least that is a silver lining for this month.
Ranking #1 in Yahoo and Bing
I also found it significant that I am starting to get more and more traffic from Yahoo and Bing. In fact, I am now ranked #1 in both Yahoo and Bing for my primary keyword, “best survival knife”! Unfortunately, Yahoo and Bing only account for about 4% of my traffic. So, I do expect that this new #1 ranking in Yahoo and Bing will increase my traffic by a few hundred visitors per month, it likely will not have much of an overall impact on my site.
And just so you know, I did nothing special to rank in Yahoo and Bing. Most search engines use similar methods for ranking sites; so by ranking my site in Google, I will also tend to rank in other search engines as well. However, Google controls so much of the search market, that these search engines really won't make much of an impact on my site.
Now if only Yahoo and Bing could increase their search market share….
Plans Going Forward
I obviously would love to get back my #1 ranking in Google for my primary keyword. However, I also want to regain traffic from many of the long tail keywords that I appear to have missed out on this month. (I get way more traffic from long tail keywords than from my primary keyword).
So, here are a few steps that I plan to take during the month of July:
- Add my site to my Google+ page. This will let Google know that I am the author of the site, and my image will begin appearing in search engine results. Will having a Google+ author tied to the site impact the rankings? We'll find out.
- Add more content. I actually have several articles in the queue to be published. I expect to get close to 10 articles published during the month of July. (These articles are written by someone I hired on Elance.com).
- Test different ad placements. I may move around or add more contextual Amazon ads. I plan on leaving my comparison chart as it is, but I could add more banners in the sidebars, after content, and other locations. Different types of widgets or ads may perform better. I'll be testing this out.
- Add more links? I may try to secure some higher quality links from other survival blogs or perhaps find some expired domains to link from. I'll keep everyone posted on these plans.
Overall, the site is still performing very well – and almost all of the $407.30 earnings was pure net income. So, I'm VERY happy with this project! The site has essentially entered its “passive” stage, and most of the earnings go directly to my bottom line. I still have to pay for the content, but this is much less than the site is bringing in.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions. So far, I'm very happy with the way this project has turned out, and I really hope that many of you have gained significant value from what I've shared here.
If you have something that you would like clarification on or have something to add, please post a comment below.