NSP Update 7: Rankings, Earnings, and Strategy Review

By Spencer Haws |

Today I am giving nothing more and nothing less than a quick update on the progress of my public niche site project.

I’ve received lots of stellar feedback from this project from all of you, and I appreciate that!  I think as a community we have all learned (including me) different tactics, asked important questions, and felt a little more motivated.  Thank you for all of following along and making this project a success so far!

Overall, I am going to give some interesting updates on the rankings of my site, the earnings, and discuss my strategy going forward.

Ranking #1 in Google?!?

I actually wanted to write an entire post today announcing that I was ranking #1 in Google!  However, at the time of this writing, I am still currently ranked #2…which is still AWESOME!

I thought I was going to have a chance to write the “Ranking Number One in Google!” post, because I actually saw my niche site briefly hit the top spot on Saturday night!  I don’t know how long it was there, but sometime on Sunday (yesterday) it must have gone back to number 2.

I think its very possible that I’m ranking #1 in some locations because my traffic was WAY up on Saturday night and Sunday compared to previous days and weeks.

However, I am going to officially say that its currently bouncing between position 1 and 2…so we will see where Google ends up putting it!  Once I’m solidly at number one (how’s that for confidence?) for a few days, I’ll write the “I DID IT” post and give some more nitty-gritty details.

But for now, I’ll just say that I’m extremely happy with the ranking and traffic for my site!

Current Earnings

Last month my survival knife site earned $83.86.  A great start for its first full-month of being in existence (I started it part way through February).

Want To Build Smart & Relevant Internal Links...Quickly?

NichePursuits Rating

Link Whisper is a revolutionary tool that makes internal linking much faster, easier, and more effective.  It makes it simple to boost your site’s authority in the eyes of Google. You can use Link Whisper to:

  • Bring out your orphaned content that isn’t ranking
  • Create smart, relevant, and fast internal links
  • Simple yet effective internal links reporting: what has lots of links and what pages need more links? 

Click here to revolutionize your site’s way of doing internal links

Build better internal links with Link Whisper

As of yesterday (April 21st), the site has earned $177.03!  See the image below:


That’s alot of survival knife sales!  The best part is that the site is increasing in traffic and earnings in the later half of the month.  So, I fully expect to hit $250 in earnings this month.  Will I be able to hit $500 next month?  I don’t know, it will be exciting to watch though.

Strategy Going Forward

I’ve done some additional link building which is likely the reason its bouncing up near #1.  I’ll go into much more detail on this later, but I essentially followed the plan I laid out here.

In addition, I’ve continued to add content at a slow rate.  I’ve added about one article per week over the past few weeks.  I would actually add 2 to 3 per week, but my author writing the articles has been a little slow about getting them to me.  I’m not too concerned about this, because the articles that he does get to me are high quality, and that’s much more important.

I’ll continue to add 1 or 2 articles a week for a least the next month or so.  Then I’ll likely go back and do more knife reviews on more and more knives moving forward.  As long as the traffic and earnings continue, its worth the investment for additional content.

Your Thoughts

Overall, I just wanted to provide a quick update on my niche site project.  The earnings a great and so are the rankings!  At this point the site is mostly on auto-pilot for me.  I just have to read and edit an article about once a week and hit “Publish”.

I would love to hear any thoughts, comments, or questions that you might have below.

Stories & Projects | 81 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.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

Yes! I Love to Learn

You may also like

View all




Great job Spencer!

Alex @ DreamJobGuy

Congrats Spencer!

Certainly looks like you are on to something here! Thanks for all of the advice and tips! I have a couple keywords picked out that I plan to create Amazon Associate websites for. I can’t wait to see how I do!

Thanks again, and congrats bud!

All the best,


I have tried to keep up with Spencer, but either my keyword choice was bad or my SEO is terrible.

It’s not easy, and but I never thought it would be easy.

It is a lot of fun trying though. I know I will get it at some point.

Spencer has done an amazing job ranking his site. He definitely knows his stuff. It comes with time though.

Great job.

Dave Irwin

Congrats Spencer, and thanks for the quick jolt of motivation. When is a good time to stop producing or investing in new content? Is there a point of diminishing returns for you?

Spencer Haws

Obviously if you are spending more than you expect to make, then I wouldn’t add content. However, once I “complete” a sites topic, I may stop. So if I review 50 survival knives and feel like the site is “complete”, I may stop at that point. But if I continue to increase earnings each time I add more content, then maybe I’ll never stop.


So if I am not wrong, it clearly indicates the ROI (Return on Investment approach) approach for a site. If I am having marginal income for new contents added, I should continue adding quality contents regularly. If the return falls far behind my investment I should stop investing.

Am I right Spencer?

Spencer Haws

That’s correct.

Mike From Maine


I remember a few years ago Pat Flynn’s niche site duel was THE post on how to rank websites. Now you are producing the next version..well done.

Keep it up!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Mike!


Very nice Spencer. I would be interested in a post regarding current expenses to date with this site. This would help me know how to budget with some of my sites going forward. A nice list of all expense would be awesome:
Aweber membership
Elance author
Theme cost
I know you did a post on expenses previouisly, but an update would be awesome.

Spencer Haws

Good reminder, Jon. I’ll plan on doing this for my month in review report in early May.


Spencer,I would appreciate if you’ll add to your expenses report the cost of any service you paid for the SEO as well as specify which parts of the SEO tasks done by yourself


Sorry, just thought of another post or podcast (hint hint) that would be fun to read. A brief breakdown on what your daily/weekly schedule is like now that you have been doing online marketing full time for a year now. . .

How do you divide your time among so many ventures? How you decide where to invest in new ventures? How much you are able to and trust outsourcing? etc

Spencer Haws

Great questions…I’ll try to fit these in somewhere 🙂

Niche Sites For Small Businesses

Great Post Spencer, and congrats on floating at #1 for a little bit. Im sure that it wont take long for you to get there, and it sounds like your content strategy should keep you there.

Good luck and great work!

Tung Tran

Awesome Spencer. Hope that you will hit $250 this month.
I’ve learned a lot from you and great to tell you that my site is doing too.

I’ve just posted an update on my blog. As off today, the site earned nearly $100. Not bad for a 1 month old site 😉

How about your list building? Got any good result?

Spencer Haws

Yes, I’m getting people on the email list! As of now, I have 28 people on the email list. I could increase this by alot if I implement a popup form…which I just might starting soon…

Tung Tran

I’m trying to improve the earning on my site too as I hit #1 yesterday 🙂

What do you think about creating an information product? Because I think people who are looking for survival knife will be interted in a paid guide on how to use it :D.. just my piece of idea.


yes spencer according to my . you have been number one steady for more than a week now. i wonder why not in google US?

Spencer Haws

Google ranks sites differently in different countries.

[email protected] wheels unblocked

it’s very normal because the main reason is that most of the visitors come from USA that means the competition to rank high in Usa will be more difficult than other “googles” that don’t get traffic from that country
and that can be sometimes most of those webmasters are using Region Targeting in the webmaster tools so that they can rank high in Certain country that the other


No1 in the UK for best survival knife.


Hi Spencer – Thanks for the inspirational posts, I love reading them. Just a quick question – when you say you will implement a pop up form will you use Aweber or something else?

Oh & you are currently no.1 on Google UK!

Cheers, Kate.

Spencer Haws

I am using Aweber currently and will continue to do so. But I’ll likely use a popup plugin like Pop up Domination: to collect the email address via a popup form.


Right now (4/22/2013) at 4:12PM you are number one. Actually your “about us” is number two also.I saw you hit number one last week. I was very interested in your top competitor. Something seems strange about their backlinks. Maybe I am wrong. Anyway, awesome job, awesome blog!

Spencer Haws

I think this is just under your personalized Google searches. If you use a rank checker (more accurate), you won’t see these same results. I still show up as number 2 officially for most people.


Hi Spencer – Great job .

You always keep me motivated .

Would you tell me how many articles a niche site must contain before launching it ?

Spencer Haws

Just 1 :). You can start with one and just add more content as you go.


Good work Spencer, love these posts.

It’s almost worth buying these wholesale and selling direct. Not quite as passive eventually, but it looks like it could be a conventional business.


Hi Stuart I used to work for a large online store, you would be amazed at the lack of profits, particularly if your selling on Amazon. We sold a lot of knives and a lot of the sellers are selling the knives at cost or less. The other factor is, it is near impossible to get an account with say Gerber if your a small company, the only way is to buy from a wholesaler. When you add in the hands on work, been an affiliate is far better, if you can get your number of sales high enough you can make about the same as owning the goods. Plus you can sell stuff that is been sold at a loss and still make a profit 🙂

Spencer Haws

Thanks for sharing Neale!


Do you know where your conversions are coming from? I’m curious how well the table press plugin is working and if it is bringing in some sales or click-throughs?

My Money Design

Pretty impressive. I’m still trying to crack the Top 10 for my niche site, so I’ll be interested in seeing what more you’ve done specifically to reach this position.

I’m impressed to see you make that much with Amazon. Given the 24 hour cookie, that’s a lot of commission to bring in. It will be interesting to see in a few months if you have more lucrative income from Amazon than Google.


This is awesome Spencer, thanks for the extra motivation. I agree with Mike, this has taken the mantle from Pat’s Niche Site Challenge.

I’d be interested in knowing if once the site hit’s no 1 if the case study will then move to more of a conversion optimization exercise? I’d love to see your approach to testing different layouts, colors etc.

Spencer Haws

Very possibly. I think that’s a great idea for sure.


Hi Spencer,

Great post and nice to see you’re just about to hit No1 position.

I’ve been building niche sites as well for some time now however and I’m more and more concerned by the space google shopping takes on a page. Coupled with adwords, we can sometimes hardly see the first natural results.

Google is google, a money making machine and it just seems to me that they’re now focused on giving massive priority to paid ads. This is just no good for those relying on natural results and thus those building niche sites.

What do you think?



Spencer Haws

I think you are correct for certain keywords. But as you can see from my keyword choice, and many others. The natural results are being displayed very well.


From your experience, after building a niche site that ranks well (rank #1 to 3 for example), do you leave that on its own and it’ll be able to keep bringing in returns as you work on new sites, or will it need constant, regular work to maintain?

This got me curious because I remember you mentioning having hundreds of smaller sites. And I’ve heard others with that many too that I can’t figure out how to maintain them.

Spencer Haws

It will earn on its own. I typically leave my sites and move on…the ongoing maintenance is almost nothing.


Spencer, you’re joking right?

This whole case study is bogus. Since someone bombed your website with a bunch of blog network links, it’s completely pointless. The site is ranking number one-two because of the fact that someone sent all of those high pagerank links to the website, and it’ll probably get penalized soon when the Penguin algorithm sees what’s up.

There are FAR more than enough blog network links pointing at the case study website, so it’s not a case study at all; unless, of course, you change it to “what happens when you point hundreds of high pagerank blog network links at a small niche website. How can you lead all these people on and make them believe the website is ranking because of “great content” or whatever other reason you say.

This is a legitimate point. Although the blog network links pointed at the website didn’t hurt it (yet), the whole thing is still ruined because you basically saying that your few weak links and some “great content” got it to rank.

Spencer Haws

Actually Jacob, I think you must be the one that’s joking! Your comment is hilarious because of how absurd the premise is.

You somehow insinuate that I have HIDDEN the fact that lots of other links have been pointing to my case study site. You act like you are the one bringing this to the world’s attention. When in reality, I wrote an ENTIRE post on the links that are pointing to my site (that I didn’t create) here:

So, you ask, “How can you lead these people on…” As though I haven’t been COMPLETELY OPEN and told everyone EXACTLY what is going on! I actually can’t believe that I have to respond to something like this. I talked about this point about a MONTH ago…and for you to act like you are somehow revealing some deep dark secret is really quite ridiculous.

All along I’ve stated the importance of keyword research, and that is primarily why I’ve been able to rank a site so quickly (along with my own quality link building). You can re-read all my posts for a timeline of what I did and what happened. But the site was ranking in the 20s before I ever built a link. This was purely based on keyword research. Then I was on the first page of Google with the links that I built using this strategy here: The site was ranked on the first page of Google before any of the Negative SEO links showed up. (Again, re-read my posts for a timeline).

How much those links have helped or will hurt in the future? We don’t know. I’ve never claimed that they haven’t helped me, I’ve simply said I wished they never happened.

So, Jacob I’m going to leave your comment here for others to react to as well. But next time, I suggest you take a look at what I’ve done publicly and been totally open about. I could have hidden certain facts, but I never have; which I think makes this a very valuable case study.

If you have something positive to share in the future, please do. But if you are going to make unnecessary claims that I’ve already addressed publicly, please save us all some time and just go back and re-read my posts. Or if you really think there is no value in my case study, please stop reading.

Tung Tran

lol just ignore this absurd comment Spencer. Just an idiot behind a keyboard trying to behave like mr.know it all


We need a like button on here.




Well, you could say that is a bogus case study, but we can also call it a real-life ranking study. Negative SEO can happen, and that also can show how the “algorithm” reacts to that negative SEO.

Google have always said that they don’t let negative SEO affect legit sites, so this is a good way to know if that’s true.

Angellina @

As per the Ahref website , your website currently have following stats:

Referring Domains: 150
Referring Pages 6,794
dofollow links 6,406
6505 links that is 96% of anchor phrase is “best servival knife”

in your opinion is it a major factor (apart from good content and EMD) why your site is at #1 at this point ? if is it a big (if not main factor) then i afraid Google penguin will devalue your website in future for this (?) and push your site out of first page of SERP (?)

also out of these 6,794 links how many links are build by you ? and can you be open enough to put the legitimate sites list from where you get the links ? just to put the bad one out of any link building tactics.

Tung Tran

the reason why Spencer’s site is at #1 right now is mainly because of his solid keyword research from the beginning.
Of course link building has a large impact but in this case I think just a few links are enough to get #1 ranking for this low competition keyword.

Spencer has a in-depth tutorial on link building here:

Spencer Haws

No, I think most of these links have not helped me. I wrote a post on this, and will follow up in the future. I have many sites ranking near the top of Google, and you don’t need this many links if you pick the right keywords.


Hey Spencer,

Nice work, this is really helpful for newbies. You are very good at writing posts and doing podcast & webinars.

Keep up the good work, don’t mind those who try to discourage you.

Thanks a lot.


Damn…. I’ve read all your stuff, and tried to pick up on tips so I can apply it to my own stuff, but I’m in awe of your success. Thanks for showing us everything you do. I guess it’s cause you’re successful enough to do so, and not worry about those exact copy websites that cropped up. And I know you’re trying to make money online, but you provide VERY good content and I think deserve your success! Keep up the great work. I’ll keep reading and hope that with my effort, I can be a bit successful.

Spencer Haws

Thank you, I really appreciate that.


Hi Spencer,

Hope you break the 250 dollar mark this month. Along with the updates, it would be great if you can also come up with a post that goes into link building details (list of sites, anchor text percentage etc etc).


Spencer Haws

Yes, I will most certainly provide this kind of update down the road.

Gus @

Hey Spencer,
just wanted to add that you’re currently ranking #12 in google for “survival knives” which should be a pretty good keyword (5,400 searches per month). Once you break into the first page for that keyword your traffic may jump even more.

Spencer Haws

Yes, I noticed I was on the second page for “survival knives”. I’m getting a small amount of traffic from this and similar keywords…still lots of upside potential.

Brian Dean

Awesome to see that the site’s cracked the top 2 (and in an insanely short period of time). Again, this case study has got me to take keyword research more seriously. Thanks for sharing your progress with everyone, Spencer.


I must say I’m starting to wonder how those thousands of backlinks are impacting Spencer’s site. It’s a shame these exist because it somewhat skews the results of this case study and it can no longer be looked at objectively.

I’m not saying it’s Spencer’s fault or doing but it’s just a shame. Like me, many others are trying to emulate what he is doing and they are not seeing their site anywhere near the first ten pages let alone number #1. Sites that have great content, great keywords, low competition but little to no backlinks.

Still, I do appreciate Spencer sharing all this with us. My own site has been live since April 10 and I have a couple of subpages ranking but the homepage is nowhere. I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel but will stick it out a while longer! I guess many of us are too impatient to see results 🙂


I have a site ranking on the 1st page #10 within 10 days not a single link. The KW is not as competitive as Spencer’s though.

I would also add that I did not just rip Spencer’s site and change a few KW’s as many have done. My site is 100% unique I don’t even use W. Just changing a few KW’s will get a site flagged for dupe content, good luck with ranking that.


Was thinking about what I wrote, actually my KW is more competitive than Spencer’s just a lot less searches. I can also add the site only had one very deep home page, when it first appeared on the 1st page of Google. “I don’t even use W” should read I don’t even use word press.


Nice job Spencer ! My amazon site I started at the end of February just hit #1 for its two main keywords yesterday and has already made $391 this month 🙂 Can’t wait to see how the rest of the month goes now the traffic is up 60%.

Spencer Haws

Greg…that is FANTASTIC! Congrats man…sounds like you should have a really big May.


Hi spencer , Thank you so much for these great articles .
Keep up the hard work .

Please , I’d like to know if ranking #25 (using my primary keyword ) on google without any backlinks made to my blog (Only the content got me up there) Is a good sign of a good keyword and less competition ?

Thank you Spencer . Please let me know ASAP.

Spencer Haws

Yes, I would say that is a good sign.

Darren Boland


Hey great job mate… Question though with your amazon total items shipped being 47, how many clicks did you get ??

I have played around with a few amazon sites, and I seem to be able to get click by but little or no items being shipped…

Just wondering what it would be so I can compare…

Spencer Haws

I’ll post a full report in a few days with all of that information for the month of April.


Great job on getting the quick ranking in Google.

This was a great keyword choice.

I’m wondering if a lot of the reason it shot up to the top so quickly might be due to the fact that you have so many of us following this thread visiting that website?

In Google’s eye it makes it look like a highly authoritative site because it continues getting so many of us returning to see the latest updates.

Spencer Haws

Sure, that could have added to it. I don’t think its due to the number of visitors, but possibly the dwell time on the site was a positive factor. Its hard to say for sure.


I think that “survival knives” is a good kw for traffic, but not so good for conversion. While “best survival knife” surely comes with more people with a “buying intention”.


This might be a noob question but how did you setup your site so that it shows “Home” on the navigation bar but the title displayed is “Discover the Best Survival Knife: Ultimate Knife Comparison Guide!”?
I’ve googled it and tried everything I can find on WordPress but can’t figure it out.
I’m using Niche Website Theme as well. Thanks!

Toni Rizzuto

Hi Jason

ditto (using Niche Website Theme too)

The suggested ways didn’t work for me either but got it to work in the end here are the related posts but still not sure if my way is good:

April 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm
If I understand your question, the solution is simple. Edit your home page (by going through the standard WordPress menus). At the top of the page it will say “Edit Page” and below that will be a one line edit box that says “Home”. Change the word “Home” to whatever you want it to say and click the Update button.

Spencer Haws
April 5, 2013 at 10:26 pm
Yes, you change the navigation bar using wordpress MENUS. So go to “Appearance” and then “Menus”, then create or change your top menu. Just edit the name of the page to whatever you want as Rick explained. Hope that helps Toni.

“Sorry Spencer & Rick but this didn’t work. I did get it to work but like this?
Create Page – Home
Create Post – Desired Title
Settings – Reading
Select Static Page
Front Page drop down set to ‘Select’
Post Page drop down set to ‘Home’
Could you let me know if this is ok to do like this for SEO and in general?”

Spencer hope you can clarify for us both.



Thanks Toni.
I have manged to get the Navigation Menu to show HOME and the page title in the article content area to “How to ……”
Your post led me to try some things based on Spencer’s reply to go to the Appearance->Menus.
Here’s what I did:
1. In Pages, name the page title to what you want it to show in the content area which is also my main long tail keyword. Click Update or Publish.
2. In Appearance>Menus, add a New Menu named Top Menu (or whatever you want)
3. Staying in Menus, select the Pages>View All tab (note this is not the Pages option in the main WordPress sidebar!)
4. Check the pages you want to show up in the Top Menu and click Add to Menu.
5. Back at top and center, click on the little arrow to open the menu for your home page.
6. Change to Navigation Label to HOME.
7. Change the Title Attribute to the title or whatever keyword phrase you are targeting. The Title Attribute does NOT change the title displayed in the article content area. I’m guessing it might be used by some search engines.

So now the Navigation Label in the newly created Top Menu will show HOME for the homepage and the Article Title in the page content area will be whatever you set under the Page Title.

Hope this is helpful for you and thanks again Toni!

Toni Rizzuto

Thanks Jason

It worked but then made all my other Nav titles disappear??



Just a throw out there in the right field question.

Do you add Gravatar to all your niche sites?

What makes you decide whether to or not?


Fantastic progress. Thank you for sharing – it is very motivational.


Hi Spencer. Thanks for sharing some much information on your niche site – I’m leraning so much!

I have a couple of questions though you may be able to help with:

1) I have built several niche site but my last one was targeting a US audience (I’m based in the UK). The site has a .com domain but is UK hosted. I have started to build links and the site is fully SEO optimised but I’m failing to get the site ranked (anywhere) after 1 month. Any thoughts? When I have targeted the UK with other sites I usually rank okay.

2) Listened to your podcast. Great by the way! You mentioned about twitter following – will you be sharing more on this in the future?

Many thanks!


Codrut Turcanu

hey Spencer, one quick question — not sure if others asked you this before… how does Google weights back-links that go to home page/root domain vs. other internal pages…

How did you build your back-links, just to home page, or a mix?

Thank you.

Spencer Haws

Its mostly to the hompepage right now, but I do throw in other pages into the mix.


Hi, Spencer

One simple question regarding your niche site project.

I’m seeing many links within site content. The links are interlinking, affiliate links and wiki links.

Is there any strategies or guidelines to do this?

TJ McCue

Will you avoid going after a long tail keyword if Wikipedia is in the number 1 spot? What about if Yelp and other directory/review type services are there? With Yelp, my keyword is around food/restaurant type site.

Spencer Haws

Not necessarily. I look at the total top 10; if I believe I can outrank a couple of them, I go for it. I don’t try to predict if I will get to #1, just on the first page is usually sufficient. (Same with Yelp and other sites).

Eric Evans


Thank you very much for this post. Congratulations on your earnings. I hope that my blog will also rank #1 in Google. 🙂 Keep up the good work!


Recent Posts

View all