Success Story: Making $250 a Month with a Website After 2 Months

By Spencer Haws |

Last week, I posted a request for niche site success stories.  I wanted others to have a chance to share their own accomplishments that they've had building and ranking sites in Google.

I have been pleasantly surprised with the great stories sent in to me so far; and today I am going to share the very first one sent in by Mark N. from Poland.

Mark's Success Story

What I love about Mark's story below is how quickly he has been able to get up and running after just 2 months!  Now Mark isn't making a huge amount of income just yet, but the ball is rolling in the right direction…and he's tasted that first piece of success.

In addition, he shares lots of great link building and other tips that are sure to motivate you as you seek to build and profit from niche sites.

So, here are Mark's answers to my 10 questions:

Hi Spencer, this is Mark. I'd like to send in my own story, I've only been
at this for 2 months but I'm already seeing very promising results, and
while I'm not seeing hundreds of dollars of income yet, I think it's just a
matter of 1-2 months tops before this happens, and from there things will
snowball pretty heavily. Onto your questions:

1. What is your name and current job/profession?

My name is Mark, I live in Poland. I don't have a job at all right now;
used to be a professional poker player but stopped around 6 months ago due
to some online gambling legal issues in my country. I have some money put
away, and decided that rather than finding a new job I would give the niche
website thing a go, working on it full time for at least 5 months to see
what I can achieve, and after that I would see if I need to get a job or if
I can continue building websites full time. Keep in mind that here in
Poland it's enough to make $700 a month to have a pretty decent life.

2. How did you get started building niche websites?  How long have you
been building websites?

I got started not two months ago (April 30th 2013), when I discovered your
Public Niche Site project. I had some experience building websites
previously, however these were only for fun and I never built any of them
with the intention of monetizing, nor did I do any SEO work for any of

So I felt comfortable with WordPress and general content management,
but everything else I had to learn. I made it a goal to only learn from
your website and not visit any other similar sites because I didn't want to
get distracted – granted I could learn some extra stuff by hearing what
other professionals have to say, however I was worried that doing so would
cause some doubts to build up in my mind due to different people having
different opinions on what works and what doesn't. So I simply decided to
stick with your site exclusively and not waste unnecessary time on
“information hoarding,” if that makes sense.

3. Tell us about one (preferred) or multiple of your successful websites.
What is the URL and what niche are you targeting?   If you are not willing
to publicly share your domain or niche, that’s just fine.

After what happened to your Public Niche Site (the negative SEO), I'm
definitely not comfortable sharing the URL nor the niche that I started
with. However, I can say that it is related to the survival industry, and
the items sold are in the $50 – $200 price range.

This is my first niche site and is being monetized through Amazon Associates (a “best” and
“reviews” type of site), however I do have 8 other sites that I'm working
on right now as well, some of which will be monetized through Amazon while
others through AdSense. Right now, I'm only making money from the first
site as I've put a lot of time into it while neglecting the other ones, but
I'm correcting this mistake as we “speak.”

4. How much money do you make from this successful website(s) each month?

The website went “live” in the first week of May 2013, started seeing some
search engine traffic around a week later. In May 2013, the website made
$30. This month (June 2013), it has already made $110, and there is still a
full week to go before the month is over (it's June 23rd as I write this).

Looking at how my traffic is growing, I expect the site to make a minimum
of $250 in July 2013, in addition to what the remaining sites I'm working
on will start to earn.

5. What is the reason for this website’s success?

a) I found a decent niche
b) I put a lot of time into making this website THE online resource for
anyone looking for information on the subject. I'm 100% confident that no
other website on the web is as valuable on the topic as mine is. Below are
some screenshots showcasing the site's performance:

This demonstrates my dwell time / bounce rate over the past 10 days:

This demonstrates the growth in traffic since the launch of the site:

c) great internal linking between articles. If you look at my Bounce Rate
in the screenshot above, you'll see what kind of difference this makes.

6. Please briefly share your overall strategy for finding a niche, getting
traffic to your site, ranking in Google, and making money from niche sites.

I found the niche by taking a look at titles of some Hobby books on Amazon,
and based on that came up with a list of a few interesting hobbies that
would form good seed keywords. It took me around 30 minutes to find the
first keyword. It was a very low traffic keyword (720 local monthly
searches in Google), but I wanted to get started small. The top 5 results
in Google for that keyword were all forum threads and one super-thin
affiliate site with an exact match domain that had 0 backlinks, spun
content, and was nothing more than a gateway site to eBay – zero value.

The other keywords that I'm working with right now have 2000 to 6000
monthly local searches and are also quite low competition. I currently have
a list of over 40 keywords which are all potential winners, just don't have
the time to handle them all yet, especially since I'm not willing to
outsource anything yet (I want to learn the ropes by doing everything by
myself first). Once you find the first few keywords and build a few sites,
finding new keywords becomes really, really easy – you have some much data
to work with from Google Analytics, Amazon sales etc. that the keywords
basically start knocking on your door.

This main site is similar in concept to your Best Survival Knife Guide,and
it's being monetized through Amazon Affiliates. However, since I had a lot
of time to work on it exclusively I've made it as close to perfect as
possible. I used to do some A/B testing and come up with
different content positioning and such, with the hope that what I learn
will benefit all my other sites. Right now the website has 40 articles. The
front page is a “mega” article with 3200 words (excluding words from
comments at the bottom of the page).

As for link building – since I don't want to make this section too long,
I'll answer this one in the next question.

7. What link-building tips can you offer?

Apart from choosing a low competition keyword (which is a concept we've all
had hammered into our heads by Spencer, and for good reason), I think the
most important thing is diversity.

The way I see it, web 2.0 properties, decent Wiki links and relevant forum
comments are the staple. However, I like to diversify things as much as
possible, but also make sure that each of my links is accompanied by high
quality content. For instance, I don't spin my articles as I find a good
spin takes way too much time (at least by my definition of “good”). I make
sure that even if one of my backlinks was manually reviewed by a Google
Spam Prevention person then they would not find the source of the link
questionable. So rather than spin, I just do solid by-hand re-writes of
good articles I find online. I'm a fast typist, so I can re-write a 500-600
word article in 6-7 minutes. I make sure my Web 2.0's have at least 2
articles each – most have 3. Some have 4.

My goal is also to try and get at least one link from What I
did was went quickly through articles relevant to my niche on Wikipedia,
found some sort of information that was missing or which could benefit from
more elaboration, and then wrote and posted an article on my site
exclusively for that purpose. I've done this for 2 sites so far and in both
cases my link has stuck on Wikipedia for 6 weeks now and has not been
removed, despite the articles being high traffic ones with lots of
attention. I don't really care that these links are nofollow; I might not
know if this helps my Google rankings, but I do know that each of those
links is bringing me approximately 10 unique visitors per day, some of whom
are Social Sharing my content etc. It's worth it no matter what the SEO
benefits of such a link might be.

As for other Wiki's, I basically search for this in Google:* inurl:wiki
[keyword_here] -wikipedia*
This let's me find some relevant wikis where I drop a few links where

Apart from Web 2.0 and Wikis, I get some other backlikns for diversity
(usually a few links per source). Here are the other sources that I use:

1) Niche-related blog comments
2) Non-Niche-Related DoFollow blog comments (just a few)
3) RSS feed submissions
4) Doc submissions
5) Image submissions
6) Video submissions (I make a simple slideshow that quickly answers a
niche-related question and post it onto YouTube and such, with a link to my
site in the description – takes 5 minute sto make the video)
7) A few article directory posts
8) A few Website Directory submissions (only high quality directories)
9) One submission to a niche-related Website Directory (if I manage to find
10) One or two Forum Posts (not forum profile links, but an actual link in
the forum thread). Forums often have “DoFollow” on outbound links within
the post itself and I try to find a forum thread that appears in Google for
my targeted keyword (even if it's not on the first page), and that's where
I attempt to add my link.
11) Around 40 Social Bookmarking Submissions (only high quality sites)

This looks like a lot I know, but once you get the hang of how all these
platforms work you can do it all pretty quickly. It took me around 15 hours
total to do all the backlinking for my first niche site manually, including
the time it took me to re-write articles for the Web 2.0's.

One thing I also do is I will sometimes post more than one backlink on the
same domain. I know that it “doesn't count” from a purely ranking
perspective, however I think it's more natural this way. Most SEO's are
trying to get only 1 link from each domain and I think that in the case of
a manual review this might look strange, especially where more popular
domains are concerned. So for example, I might get two different properties
on WordPress, and submit my Bookmark more than once to the more popular
bookmarking services (reddit, digg etc.). That's just a personal preference

I make sure my website includes extra content that is of extremely high
quality to the end user, even if it's not going to directly convert into
sales. This type of content has the chance to generate natural backlinks
(and it's already happening for me), so it's definitely worth it.

Don't worry about on-page keyword density. Make sure your main keyword
appears a few times (especially in the Title / meta description /
subheadings), but that's about it. Also, don't worry about having too high
of a keyword density as I don't believe this can be an issue if your
content is written naturally. If you want proof, take a look at any
Wikipedia page that is ranking #1 for Google.

Finally, make sure your articles are dense with keywords related to your
niche. To illustrate what I mean, here is a random paragraph from a
Wikipedia article on survival knives, followed by a random paragraph from
another website on survival knives (not Spencer's site). I have highlighted
in *bold *in each case the words which are related to the main keyword:


*Wikipedia Example:*

*Survival knives* are designed for work such as *setting traps*, *cutting
branches* and *skinning animals*. Most *survival knives* have *blades *that
are *10cm to 20cm long* with a *full thick tang*. *Survival knives*
made by*Aitor
*, *Lile*, *Parrish*, *Randall*, or *Reeve *have *hollow handles*, which
allow the user to store additional *equipment in the handle*. Some of these
*knives *feature a *compass *in the *cap*.

*Other Example:
*I have the privilege of *strapping a survival knife* to my hip on almost a
daily basis here at Willow Haven. I completely understand, though, that
this isn’t practical for most. At a minimum, a *survival knife* should be
kept accessible. You might be surprised how often you’ll use it–even if not
in a *survival *situation. I never travel without my *survival knife*. I
pack it in my checked baggage on the plane.*

See the difference between the two? Guess which of the two articles will
carry more relevancy to the subject of “survival knives” in the “eyes” of
the search engines? I see this all too often with niche sites – the person
writing the article has so little knowledge of the subject at hand, that he
is only capable of using the main keyword within the article, while almost
everything else in the article is “filler” text not related to the subject
at hand.

Actually if you take a closer look at Wikipedia articles, they are all
jam-packed with such related keywords. No filler text AT ALL.

8. How has the success from this website impacted your life?

It's too early to answer this one yet, but I can say that it has made me
confident that I can make a living out of building websites. It's just a
matter of time.

9. Do you have any additional tips or advice for others that would like to
replicate your success with their own websites?

One piece of advice that I'd like to give for people who are building an
affiliate-based website is to try and go for items that do not require a
lot of researching on the part of the end-user. I made the mistake of not
paying attention to this, and as a result I believe I'm making far less
money with this first niche website than I actually could be making.

Here's an example of what I mean:

*Good Example: Survival Knifes* – a great choice. A knife is a knife, it
has a fairly simple construction, there isn't much to consider other than
the length/material/price. A buying decision can be reached relatively
quickly, often on the spot.

*Not So Good Example: Fishing Rod.* even though the item itself is cheap, a
person interested in fishing likely isn't going to reach a buying decision
quickly. Other than the rod, he must research what kind of reel to buy to
go with the rod, how the different materials of the rod will impact his
fishing experience, what size should the rod be, what hooks to get etc.
(and he would probably like to buy all of these things at the same time,
which might not be possible on Amazon in some cases due to lack of certain
items, so he'll go to a different store).

Of course, you can provide all of
this information on your website, but this will require a ton of work (and
it's actually what I had to do for my own niche website), and even then the
customer will still probably have a lot of questions in his mind that will
need answering before he finally buys. All of this can be avoided by simply
choosing a “simpler” item.

And one more thing: don't be afraid to start an affiliate niche site that
sells very cheap items (like $1-$2 a piece). While you probably won't make
any decent money from such a website, it will still increase your number of
monthly sold items on Amazon, thereby giving you a higher commission rate
on the other, more expensive items that you sell on other sites.

10. Do you have a blog or other place that people can following along with
what you are doing?

No, and I don't plan on starting one. But thanks for asking 🙂

*Closing Thought*

I'd like to add that you really should focus on the quality of your website
/ content / reviews. It really does make a difference, and to illustrate
this, here is a copy/paste of an e-mail that I've received from a visitor
who came to my site. Sorry about the censoring, but I needed to make sure
that no information identifying my niche would be available:

*I have been researching [[keyword-related]] for about a month now. I was
having a real hard time finding a good website with solid, useful
information. Most of the info I found were just simple customer reviews,
usually a sentence or two and usually written by novices with little
experience. I found your site a breath of fresh air, you give good,
insightful comments with a lot of “meat”. I now feel confident throwing
down the $350 for the [[keyword-related]]. I was originally going to
purchase an inexpensive [[keyword-related]] and then upgrade later but I
changed my mind after reading your reviews. The [[keyword-related]] has
everything going for it and I wont need to upgrade in the future. I can
learn and get good a product that will last for years and years! Thank you
again for the great information and for your insightful comments. I will be
sure to tell everyone I know about your site. I also frequent a lot of
[[keyword-related]] online forums. I will be sure to post links to your
site along with a message informing everyone about the wealth of info
available from your site and your helpful professional attitude.

In short, this person trusted the content on my website so much that he
decided to purchase a $350 item instead of a $120 item (in the end he
didn't actually purchase it through my affiliate link, but that's

Don't let all the link building and “monetization strategies” distract you
from creating useful content that can't be found anywhere else.

This took quite a long time to write, so I better get back to writing
content for my sites 🙂


Thank you Mark for sharing your story!  If anyone has any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Success Stories | 340 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

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Wolfe Ryan

Glad to see you’re starting to have some success. I just started with my very first niche site and I was wondering if you could expand on your social bookmark submissions and maybe give some examples? I’m trying to build some links and I don’t really know how to do anything besides get low-quality links from forums and blogs. (Although worth mentioning that despite the low amount of bad links my site took about 2-3 weeks to be on the 17th spot on google for my keyword which is pretty good I’d say, but of course I want to be #1 🙂 )

Ryan Kaufman

hi Wolfe,

Before Mark replies, I’d like to also take this chance…

I’ve noticed you’re in the “gaming mouse” niche… how does that work for you?

Anyway, I just wanted to emphasize the blog commenting method… where are you leaving comments on?

I’ve seen success with some of my niche sites (or should I say with all for whom I do blog commenting) simply by posting relevant feedback (answers and questions – like you’d do in a forum) to targeted and less targeted sites…

For example, your site is in the “computer & technology” industry, you can find relevant forums and blogs, but at the same time, you could also comment on self-help related sites, health blogs, and even online marketing properties like Spencer’s… all links count, whether they’re do follow or no follow, niche-relevant or less relevant.

I’m talking from personal experience, thus, you should not worry that your forum marketing and blog commenting approach is not working – just find better properties – research them, just as you’d research your niche keywords – put in the right effort and time will prove you did a good job!

Hope it helps?

P.S. I have nothing to say about bookmark submissions… I don’t use them, but see some of my visitors bring this type of traffic, so it may be worth trying. I let Mark share his view on this.

Wolfe Ryan

Well my site is still young (exactly one month old as of now), it’s only getting about 7-12 unique visitors a day. So I haven’t actually made any money yet if that’s what you’re asking 🙂

About the blog comments, I think some of them were vaguely related to gaming, some of them not at all. All I did was look for high-ish PR do-follow .edu blogs and post relevant comments with my link in the “site” entry on some of those (not too many of course.) I don’t have a real link building strategy yet, I’m just sorting trying it out to see what happens. My site did suddenly jump up from 28 to 17 a few days after the comments, so I assume they did something.

The keyword I chose has pretty low competition, so I don’t think I’ll have to put it too much work in back linking, but I’m still kind of wary of doing nothing but comments, don’t want google to penalize me or something because i got all my links from two types of sources.

And completely unrelated, can somebody tell me if I did something horribly wrong in the design my of site or anything like that? I am still completely new to this so it wouldn’t surprise me if I messed something up. Not only that but I’m not a writer, so my copy is probably poor as well. I monetize my site through Amazon Affiliates only by the way. (and yes I did take the chart idea from Spencer, no reason to hide that)

Mark N.

Regarding specific tips for your site, here is something I would consider:

1. Move the chart on the front page a little further to the top, so that a part of it is visible without the need for scrolling down. You want them to see that there is a chart immediately, as soon as they visit your site. You can achieve that by moving the Column Explanation section to the bottom of the chart.

2. Use this tool: to check how your site looks for users with different screen resolutions; smaller resolutions tend to eat up the right-hand part of TablePress tables, so you want to make sure to enable horizontal scrolling for the table in case someone needs to scroll.

3. Make the images in your chart an affiliate link. If you do some testing with a Click Heat Map, you’ll probably notice that a lot more people click on the images on your site than the actual call to action links.

4. Move the content you want most exposed further up the site. So your #1 mouse should be in my opinion at the top of the list of the five mice, not at the bottom. Put a small image next to that mouse to distinguish it from the rest, something like a “Top Pick!” image or something.

5. Add more content. I would include a “gaming mouse buyer’s guide” on the front page below your top 5 picks. This will help the front page attract a lot of additional relevant long tail keyword visits.

6. Include text call-to-actions in your mouse reviews near the top of the page; that is where the majority of links are clicked according to the tests I’ve done on my sites.

7. Add more subheadings to the mice reviews (stuff related to the mouse). Also, add the word “Review” in the titles of those reviews. Right now it’s just the name of the mouse 🙂

8. Add a social sharing widget.

These should get you started.

Mark N.

Hi Wolfe,

It’s really simple with the bookmarking thing. You register an account at a site like, etc. (there are many of them out there), and just submit a liknk to your site with a title. You need to make sure that the link is “Public” (sometimes they are private by default so only you can see the link, which isn’t what you want).

With that said, so far I’ve found that the bookmarks do not make much of a difference for rankings, at least in my short experience. I do them just for the diversity, but the real “power” comes from links in web 2.0 properties (wordpress blogs you create and post your own link to etc.).

There’s tons of info on all of this here on 🙂

Mark N.

I wanted to share a small update with you guys.

When I wrote the post above for Spencer, this is what my traffic looked like (it’s the same link as in the original post, I’m just putting it here for convenience):

That was on June 23rd.

Right now, this is what the numbers look like as of June 26th (yesterday):

As you can see, there’s been a huge spike. This is also reflected in earnings; over the past 3 days I’ve generated $110 in advertising revenue on Amazon Associates (I’m still waiting for the items to be shipped of course before my account is credited with the amount).

Also, one of my other sites that I started to work on two weeks ago just generated it’s first $12 in revenue.


Mark, do you also build backlinks to your backlinks?

Mark N.

No, I don’t. I only ping them.

That’s because I don’t pay any company to do my backlinking, and I myself don’t have the tools to properly build “backlinks to backlinks” (doing it by hand would take up way too much time). I do have my eye on a certain tool, it costs $99 and I’ve made a pledge to myself to buy it once I make my first $1,000 out of niche websites. I’ll start building “tier 2 links” then.


What tool is that out of interest Mark?

Mark N.



Hey Mark,

thank you for sharing this great story and for the amazing in-depth look into your backlink strategy. I like to see how other people do this stuff, also I’m experimenting a lot myself.From time to time it’s useful not only to concentrate on your own niche sites or case studies, but to also see how other marketers work.

I like your approach to go step by step and do one site first and then the next. This helps to ensure quality and value for your visitors. I’m concentrating on my main blog right now, but I think this will help me and motivated me to jump into Pat Flynns Niche Site Duell 🙂


Mark N.

Hey Phil,

Yeah I like that approach myself. The more I do this, the more I realize that I do not want to build 30+ small websites per month. Rather, I’d prefer to build only 1-3 websites a month but each with the potential of making hundreds of dollars a month. I will of course still build small niche sites, but that’s mostly to test out the waters and see which websites are worth pursuing. That’s my plan for now at least 🙂

Here’s something extra I did a few days ago for some more backlinks and it’s worked out great (it won’t work for any type of site, keep that in mind).

Basically I provided a niche-related giveaway worth $40 and contacted a few niche-related websites with good standing and authority, and told them that I would like them to promote the free giveaway – simply put, only their readers would be able to apply to the giveaway (if a reader comes from another place on the net other than one of my partners’ sites, they cannot apply). Also, I made it a requirement for anyone who wants to apply that they need to share my site through Facebook/Twitter/Google+.

Not only did I get 4 links from quality niche-related website, but also quite a few social shares from people interested in my products. The promo is still going and I’m still acquiring partner sites 😉 (I just sent out an e-mail template to around 25+ websites, and the replies are still coming in).

Just some extra food for thought.


Hello Mark,

I really like your idea of the niche giveaway. That could be really interesting.

I wonder how small of a prize you could get away with before people say it’s not worth it.

$40 isn’t too bad for a giveaway, but it does add to your bottom line when you start a site.

Great story.

Mark N.

Hey Iain

I think the price doesn’t matter as much as the item being given away – if it’s a quality and “respected” item, it’ll be fine. That’s my theory 🙂


Hey Mark,

I agree. It makes a world of difference.

What do you think would be a cheap beneficial prize then ?

Of course this is all in theory right.

Mark N.

It’s impossible to say without knowing exactly what niche it is.

Ndy Wills

Very inspiring! Thanks so much!!


Great article. Thank you to Mark for sharing.

I think that bounce rate might be an error caused by you having your Google Analytics key in multiple places (eg, in your theme AND your analytics plug in). This also artificially increases the pageviews (1 pageview = 2, hence not a bounce).

I didn’t pick this up for months on my site and was really pleased with the statistics… until I corrected it and they returned to more normal levels!

Still, there’s no getting away from the $ numbers, so it clearly isn’t a problem. But you might want to have accurate numbers both for yourself and if you come to sell it.


Mark N.

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the input, I will look into it. To be perfectly transparent though: the website had a bounce rate of around 30%, then I made some very strong internal-linking tweaks, and the bounce rate dropped literally overnight to the number you see on the screenshot – no other changes to the site were made during that time, no plugins installed etc; just a lot of extra internal linking in places that seemed to work best according to CrazyEgg.

But again, I will look into it – thanks a lot 🙂

Ryan Kaufman

Hi Mark

I like your command of English language, congrats for that! Did you take any English classes or how did a guy from Poland learn it that well? 

And congrats for your first Amazon niche site success, you deserve it!

I see you recommend people to create quality content and quality links…

As a niche site broker myself, I always tell my clients to revamp their content and back-links before they decide to sell their web property – you won’t believe, but this approach gives them a new perspective and some tend to keep the site for two or three months… then come back at me, and we sell it for double or triple of the initial sum.

It’s interesting to note that you don’t have a blog to share your niche experiments on (as in Spencer’s case) but rather you like to focus on growing your site empire and what you do best…

I wish you success with your sites, and hope you would come back here 3 months later or so, with a sequel post, and share more words of wisdom from your niche experiments, what do you think?

Mark N.

Hey Ryan,

I watched a lot of Cartoon Network when I was 3-6 years old and I learned all of my English from there (serious) 🙂

Yes, I do not have a blog and I don’t plan on starting one. The whole reason why I like this type of business is because it allows me to be relatively free of obligations (at least I will be once things get rolling). Having a personal blog would make me somewhat too “accountable” on a daily basis for my particular taste and I would have too many extra responsibilities. I couldn’t, for example, outsource a post if I didn’t have the time / feel like writing it. 🙂

Right now I’m leaning more towards creating review-based websites and making earnings through affiliate programs – feel more natural for me personally than AdSense. My long-term plan is to wait until I have 20-30 review sites, and then attempt to consolidate them all into one domain (301 redirects), kind of like TopTenReviews dot com, and work from there. In addition to other sites of course.

Just a plan for now though.

As for a sequel post – if Spencer would have it, I’ll gladly send it through

Naveen Kulkarni

Great Story Mark,

Really important takeaways here, especially the wiki- thing. Seems you are doing it right way and I am sure you will prosper in your efforts since within such small frame of time, traffic is picking up for your site.

Thanks Spencer for bringing Mark. As usual, inspiration continues 🙂

Naveen Kulkarni

One more thing to add here. Succeeding in Amazon seems tougher than succeeding with Ad sense, because in Amazon, you are persuading people to “buy” something. It means your post should be high quality and a proper call to action is must.

Spencer, correct me if I am wrong here.

Wolfe Ryan

All of that is correct, but the thing is should choose a keyword where people are already predisposed to buy something, they’re just looking for information on what to actually, for example Spencer’s “best survival knife” keyword. It would probably be much more difficult to try and sell stuff in a specific article on a general blog as opposed to having a content site (I don’t have a blog so I can’t help much with that)


Thanks for the inspire story:)


låna direkt


Thanks Mark & Spencer.

These stories are what keep me motivated when I’m down 🙂

Mark N.

“Marks and Spencer”

Isn’t that the name of a giant clothing chain store? 😀


Ha ha. Yes it is.


This is really inspiring. I feel so excited after this and pat flynn site (10 minutes ago). I am ready to get started on my niche domination together with you guys.

Thank you Mark for this awesome story.


Really inspiring story Mark, keep them coming Spencer!

I have a few questions. Do you write the articles yourself? I’m taking the high quality route for articles too, but I’m not confident in writing the content myself since English is not my primary language, and therefore the result might not be that good. I ordered a long article on (level 4) so we’ll see how that turns out.

Regarding the link building you’ve done so far, what link velocity are you using?

And this one is not only for Mark. Do you use the same accounts for Web 2.0 properties, article directories, blogs, etc for each site you do link building? I mean, creating new accounts for each site is certainly time consuming, but I guess it should be done this way to avoid leaving footprints for the other sites you’re working with.

BTW, loved your Wikipedia and wikis strategy. My only concern would be what happens if they remove the link from Wikipedia, but despite that it might be a great strategy to get your content shared while the link is still up there.

Mark N.

Yes, for now I write the articles myself because I want to learn as much as I can before I begin outsourcing stuff.

Regarding quality articles, I think that there is a prevailing misconception of what a quality article actually is. A real quality article is NOT one that is written using fancy language / by someone with a degree in English literature. Of course it must read properly and there should be no spelling mistakes etc.

A quality article is about the VALUE it provides to the reader. Just take a look at the two side-by-side article excerpt comparisons I provided in the original post on the subject of survival knives (Wikipedia paragraph vs Paragraph from another source).

The second paragraph (not the Wikipedia one) is written properly, reads well etc. However to me it’s NOT a quality article, it’s just filler text. Read the Wikipedia paragraph again and see how much you learn. Then read the paragraph from the other source and you’ll only learn that the guy who wrote that paragraph carries a survival knife with him often. Good for him, but that’s not quality content and it’s pretty much useless talk for someone who wants to actually learn something about survival knives.

In other words, don’t worry about producing content that sounds like if it was written by Shakespeare 🙂 If the content reads properly (and looking at your comment I can tell your command of English is solid), the only thing that will matter is how well you research the subject and how much valuable, niche-related details you provide. That’s how you make “quality content.”

Regarding link velocity, I post a few links per day per website. I focus mainly on Web 2.0 and Wiki’s while treating all other link types as just an addition for diversity’s sake.

As for the Wikipedia link; it doesn’t really matter if they remove it. Every link can be removed at one point or another. To be honest I’m more confident about my Wikipedia links sticking than about any other links I have, simply because my Wiki link provides great value for the main Wiki article.

Finally regarding Web 2.0 properties – I never use the same Wiki property for more than one of my sites. What I did is went on a spree and spent 2 hours creating Web 2.0 accounts on around 50 high quality blogging / free web hosting services. Now whenever I need a web 2.0 I just go back to that list of accounts and pick one.


Another great and easy way to get a wikipedia link is to contribute a UNIQUE image to the page. I just did that and my wikipedia links seem to have stuck! Plus I’ve noticed its a lot easier to have an image link stick than a regular contextual one.


I see what you mean Mark, you definitely explain things very clear. Anyway I’ll wait to see how these articles turnout, but I’m also seeking for authors that know they way in my niches.

Regarding the articles you write for wikipedia, do they also include affiliate links? I wonder if Wikipedia allows those type of articles, otherwise it might be good to stick with just an informative article.

And what I meant with Web 2.0 accounts is if you use for example the same squidoo account for site A, B and C or do you create new ones for each site.

Mark how can I contact in private? Would like to exchange some ideas, maybe spencer can get us in touch via our emails in the comments?

Mark N.

Hi Javier,

No, the wikipedia articles include no affiliate links nor any adsense. The nature of the articles would make it impossible to generate any meaningful conversions from it anyway, so I just keep it a clean and informative article with no advertising at all to make the link’s chances of sticking on Wikipedia as long as possible.

Regarding Web 2.0 accounts – yes this is what I meant. I never use the same account for more than one site. So I would create one Squidoo account for site A, another one for site B, another for site C etc.

As for contact in private; I’d prefer if you asked any questions you have here in the comments. The only reason I sent in this story was to try and “return the favor” for all the great info that Spencer has provided and all the help he’s been giving. Please don’t take this the wrong way – I simply don’t want to be distracted by online chats and want to focus as much as I can on actual work and trying different things out.

So if you have any questions, feel free to post them here – I will be checking this thread daily.


Hi Mark,

I’ve been browsing articles in Wikipedia about my niche and a doubt arised. Do you seek the article trying to find a missing reference or do you just pick a section of the article and add the reference yourself?

Mark N.

Whichever works. In one case I even added a whole new paragraph to the article that I thought should have been there in the first place, and then added that link to the paragraph.


Hi Mark,

So, granted, I’m not a Wiki expert, but let me see if I understand this…

You’re saying that, in order to get a Wiki link, you go into Wikipedia, search for your target keyword, and add a link somewhere to that established Wiki page? Do you usually just link from a word or two that’s already written, or do you maybe add your full link to the reference section at the bottom?

And then you publish it, and it’s official (at least until someone possibly removes it in the future)?

Do you think this truly helps you rank well? It sounds great, but it’s one of those things where I think, “Well, if you’re doing it and it’s working well, wouldn’t every other person with a niche site be doing the same thing?”

And also, again, I’m not an expert by any means, but when you add or remove stuff from Wiki, isn’t there some sort of footprint in doing so? Meaning, would it become obvious to someone–a site competitor, Google, whoever–that you’re essentially just promoting your own site(s) by editing established Wiki pages?


Mark N.

“You’re saying that, in order to get a Wiki link, you go into Wikipedia, search for your target keyword, and add a link somewhere to that established Wiki page? Do you usually just link from a word or two that’s already written, or do you maybe add your full link to the reference section at the bottom?”


It’s a reference link. Sometimes added to an already existing paragraph, sometimes I have to create my own paragraph to add more context to the reference.

“And then you publish it, and it’s official (at least until someone possibly removes it in the future)?”


“Do you think this truly helps you rank well?”

I don’t know if it helps with my search engine rankings. I do know it helps with my traffic though. And I have an awesome, share’able article on my site which I created for this purpose and which will benefit my site / attract long tail keywords / attract natural back-links with time as it is awesome by definition (it has to be, otherwise it would not stick on Wikipedia in a high-traffic article).

” It sounds great, but it’s one of those things where I think, “Well, if you’re doing it and it’s working well, wouldn’t every other person with a niche site be doing the same thing?”

I don’t know much about what others are doing. I’m sure there are some (many?) doing it, but to get an article to stick on Wikipedia it has to be very informative and high quality, so it’s quite likely you wouldn’t even recognize that it was created “artificially” if you were to see one.

Also, it seems to me most niche site builders have a “build quickly, move on to the next” type of approach. Creating an article good enough to stick on Wikipedia requires many hours of work (and some decent amount of creativity as well), so I would imagine that many wouldn’t even consider it.

And perhaps it simply does nothing at all for search engine ranking and so none of the experienced guys are doing it. I don’t particularly care which one it is, as these links (and the article that is created as part of acquiring this link) is worth a lot to me, and I would be creating it even if search engines did not exist.

“And also, again, I’m not an expert by any means, but when you add or remove stuff from Wiki, isn’t there some sort of footprint in doing so? Meaning, would it become obvious to someone–a site competitor, Google, whoever–that you’re essentially just promoting your own site(s) by editing established Wiki pages?”

I just create a different user account on Wikipedia for each link that I add.

But even if they were to find out, it doesn’t matter. You see, this is not a “trick” that I’m doing, and I would be perfectly fine with letting the Wikipedia community know that this link points to my own site, if it was necessary. I’m adding really great value to the Wikipedia article at hand – it’s nothing that I feel the need to hide. The only reason I create a new account each time is what you mentioned – so competitors can’t easily locate all of my niches with a few clicks.


Nice article. I remember that this is how i started my online business and still apply the same principles. It’s a good read and i recommend this as well.


Hi Mark,
Congrats on your success. One question though.

How long did you wait before adding the affiliate links to your site?

Mark N.

I added them before the site was even “live.”

Will Griffiths

Hey Mark (If that is your real name :P),

Good work man. I’m an Aussie living in Krakow just starting to do the same thing as you’ve done.

I’m stuck on finding a niche at the moment. I have two options but they just don’t seem like they tick all the boxes.

I’ll keep searching.

Ps. Let me know if you end up in Krakow. We could have a grill or something. 🙂

Mark N.

Hi Will 🙂

I like certain parts of Kraków, though personally I don’t enjoy the pre World War II architecture 🙂 It’s definitely a great city to live in though, especially for students on a budget 🙂

Regarding keywords not much advice I can give because everything I know is what Spencer teaches on this site, which you probably already know yourself. Only thing I would add is to try and go for a niche that has the potential to generate a lot of ADDITIONAL long tail traffic that you aren’t targeting directly. So for example:

Best 8 Inch Survival Knife is a little too narrow of a target keyword for my taste, even if it were to have more than 1,000+ local monthly searches and a decent CPC (if you’re going for adsense). You won’t generate that much additional long tail traffic on this one.

“Best Survival Knife” on the other hand is great. You’ll get tons of extra traffic from people searching for different variations of that keyword, such as:

1. The Best Survival Knife
2. Best Beginner Survival Knife
3. What’s the best Survival Knife
4. Best Cheap Survival Knife

etc. etc…

In other words, I don’t look at only the metrics of my main keyword. I also look at the metrics of various other “deeper” keywords for my main keyword. Right now my site (the one mentioned in the original post) generates around 90% of it’s traffic from keywords I never targeted directly.

Will Griffiths

Thanks for the tip, Mark. Unfortunately I’m still in the same place as I was when I wrote the first comment. Although I’m about to pull the trigger now. I feel that if I wait until I have all the boxes ticked I’ll never get anywhere.

Traffic is only about 2900 local for the main kw but there is a very similar variation that is another 2200. My kw is something like ‘best first aid kit’ and so maybe not as much long tail potential as ‘best survival knife’ but I’m going for it any way. I think the first site is the hardest… 😛

I have three months until I go back to Australia… (mostly because I’m running out of money) and so I hope I can get something profitable before then. Thanks again for your story.

Will Griffiths

PS. Krakow architecture is a nice change from the sameness of Australia!

You’re moving to Warsaw? What for? My guess is that your not going for the architecture. 😛

Marc Possoff

The story is great but Mark doesn’t sound like a rooky.

Mark N.

I am a rookie. I just pick up on things a little faster than most.

Marc Possoff

I found a niche in which the main keyword which I have the exact match domain is low search volume but very easy competition. The related product keywords get alot of search volume and very easy competition.

I understand with Spencer’s criteria we are first focusing on home page which is main keyword hopefully with an EMD.

But I’m going to build a site around the particular product reviews because there are lots of them with high search volumes and easy competition.


I don’t know if its just me but I’ve noticed that going with an emd is not a good idea because google seems to be really cracking down on them. For example, Spencer’s site is ranking somewhere near the 3rd or 4th position now and he’s using an emd, wheareas the competing site is a pmd and is ranking 1st.


There could be a million variables that moved him down to 3-4.

I personally don’t think that Google is punishing sites that have good content with EMDs…it’s more likely that they are not rewarding EMDs with low quality content, higher positions.

I think Matt Cutts said something about this shortly after the EMD update…can’t remember exactly.

Marc Possoff

I’ve been chatting with a person who bought an expired domain name that is a PR3. The domain name has nothing to do with his product reviews. I’m wondering about this myself.


Hello Mark,

it’s like I’m reading about myself 🙂 I also quit poker due to the legal issues in Poland and some time ago I started working on the niche websites. If you are Warsaw based, it would be great to share some thoughts over the beer or two!

All the best and thanks for the story!

Mark N.

Siema Maciej 🙂

I’m currently based in Poznań, though I might be moving permanently to Warsaw next year. Stay around and we might chat soon 🙂


Awesome post! It’s great to see what other people are doing, what issues they’re running into, and how they’ve overcome them. It’s tough starting out, and it’s good to know that you can succeed with these things so long as you keep at it and take care to work hard on your site.


What incredible growth and absolutely astounding bounce rate, Mark; congrats!

I recommend you DO start a blog/site because to already know so much about backlinking and building an authority site, you are a great resource to others. A site would be a great way to document what’s working and what’s not working for you…and there are ways to monetize the information (as you know).

Especially loved the wikipedia backlinking strategy…I’ll have to try that one.

Mark N.

Thanks Benji. Link building is actually something I feel personally quite creative with (if I may say so) – I like to think out of the box.

For instance… at first when thinking where do I get content for my Web 2.0’s I was asking myself the following questions:

1) how do I quickly spin an article, and
2) how do I cheaply re-write an article, and
3) how do I quickly re-write the articles myself

This has evolved a bit, and right now the question I’m asking myself is:

1) how do I get content that has never been indexed by Google?

I won’t say much more than that, but it’s some extra food for thought 🙂 Try to get out of the box – I think it’s much easier to do if one does not read about building websites online the whole time and simply just builds them – which is also another reason why I don’t want to start a blog; it’s an unnecessary distraction, at least at this point. Just want to work, as it is there were all the good stuff can happen, not in the head.

Donald W

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Spencer, thank you for giving him the opportunity to share our stories via your blog. Mark I don’t know what it is about reading your story in particular but I have been dabbling with building sites for a few months now and while I’m seeing success I have not been doing any back linking because it didn’t “click” until I read this. Not that I haven’t known how to do it all along but I fell into the trap of over thinking it then looking for how everyone else was doing it to make sure I was doing it right then over thinking that. Thank you for setting me back on solid ground 🙂 I wish you the best of luck and congrats on your first successes. Spencer has given us all the key to the goldmine next door. Or the one he cannot mine alone. Thank you both!!!


Donald, I agree, there’s something about the simplicity of what Mark says that makes me say ‘I can do this too!’
Huge thanks again Mark!


Great stuff Mark! Nice to hear that you’re doing very well.

I have 2 questions:

1. Can you elaborate more on which web 2.0 sites you are using (or which ones you recommend if you’re not comfortable telling us which ones you use).

2. You mentioned you have 8 sites up, some amazon, some adsense. Are all the sites in one hosting account, or did you split them across different web hosts?

Mark N.

Hi Winston,

1) All the popular ones really, there’s no secret to which one these are 🙂 Simply do a quick google search for “Top Web 2.0 sites” or “best free blogging platforms” etc. and you’ll find a ton. All of the ones I’m using are PR5 and above (the home page). I use around 50 different ones, and I randomly use them for my sites (meaning I don’t use the exact same Web 2.0’s for each site, but I choose some randomly for each site).

2) I have all the 8 sites on one hosting service, I see no reason why I wouldn’t do that as I’m not planning to inter-link these websites. Is there a reason for you to think that it would be better to have each site on a different host?


Winston, it’s always better to diversify your hostin accounts, but I guess that you should do that when you have lots of sites or a high earner.

Following your question, and this is both for Spencer and Mark or anyone: do you have a list of high PR directories worth to submit our sites or can you point us a resource?

Mark N.

Yeah I agree, I just don’t feel like 8 sites is a number that deserves hosting diversity 🙂 Perhaps once more than one of those sites is a solid earner I might move it somewhere else simply because I wouldn’t want the downtime of one server to affect all my sites. Other than that though, I’ll probably host around 20 sites per hosting. Only thing is I diversify my Google Analytics / Webmaster Tools accounts – I don’t add more than 2-3 sites per each of those accounts as I don’t wnat Google to have too much direct information about what I’m doing. I use different IP’s to login to each Analytics / Webmaster Tools account.

As for directories; I do have a list but I prefer not to share it. This is really the type of stuff that can be easily found through a simple Google search involving the word “list” or “best” in the query. They are not secret directories or anything you’d need to dig deep to find.

Personally I stick with PR4+ directories that have been up for at least a few years and which seem like they employ some sort of editorial discretion (you’ll recognize that they don’t if they have tens of thousands of links per category, despite being a pretty small and unknown site). Just check a few of the links in their directory and see if they point to quality sites and/or if the descriptions of the sites don’t read like they’ve been auto-generated by a bot or a poor spin.


Thanks for the info Mark and Javier.

BTW, Mark, when building the articles for your backlinks, how do the content/quality of these articles differ from the actual content in your site?

Also, you mentioned, you open one account (be it squidoo, wordpress, etc) per site, do you just leave 1 article there or do you post a group of related articles all linking to your site?

Props to your work… just goes to show that even with 720 monthly searches you can really extend it with long tail KWs. Based on your latest graph you’re almost seeing that volume daily. Wow!

Mark N.

Hi Winston,

The content for the Web 2.0’s is definitely much poorer quality than the articles on my site. When I say “quality” I mean it as mentioned in my comment here:

In other words; these articles are perfectly readable and they look/read nothing like the majority of spun content out there, but they are not as packed with quality information as the posts on my sites. They read somewhat similar to my comments in this thread I would say (the articles on my actual sites are written with much more attention to detail than what I write here, obviously). Actually, if think about eat, almost every single comment I’ve written in this thread could serve as a perfectly fine Web 2.0 post if I was in the internet marketing niche 🙂 The goal with those articles is to basically write them as fast and quick as possible, while still keeping them informative.

RE: how many articles I put per Web 2.0. If it’s a Squidoo / hubpages type site, then it’s just one article. If it’s a blog-type page, then it’s a random number between 2 and 4 articles (the majority have 3 articles).

Thanks for the recognition btw, I’m quite happy with the numbers and I hope they will stay where they are and not plummet for no specific reason 🙂 actually, I’m almost ranking on page 1 for a very closely related keyword for my niche with 18,000 local monthly searches. Think targeting “best survival knife” and appearing on page 1 for “survival knife.” I think I’ll be able to reach top 5 for that keyword pretty easily (though I never intended for it when I started this site), and I expect I’ll see a major increase in traffic then (whether that will translate to increase in revenue remains to be seen).

Mark N.

sorry it’s 4:30 AM here and I’m starting to make a lot of typo’s, I hope the last comment was understandable, LOL!


When I read “Actually, if think about eat” it made me hungry LOL

Mark N.

Hahaha! That was the part I had in mind when I wrote my “excuse” comment, lol!

Time to go to sleep… seriously this time.



From your experience, how important would you say your backlinking efforts are in the overall scheme of things. And do you think you would be ranking well without it?

I’ve heard some people get away without doing backlinking so I’m asking.

Mark N.

In my particular case and for this particular site, no – I don’t think I would have had any meaningful traffic without the backlinks.

It’s possible to get away with it yes, but I think that can only happen in two cases:

1) you are targeting an extremely low-competition keyword, and/or
2) you have so much content on your site that you will naturally attract a ton of long tail traffic without ever having to build backlinks

I’m looking at my other sites though, which have been up and with content (8-10 articles each) for over a month now, but I haven’t started building backlinks to them because I was busy with the main site, and none of those other sites got any traffic from search engines (except for one site which was getting 1-2 hits daily, mainly from Bing).

I started building backlinks to all those sites a few weeks (or maybe a week ago) and that was about when I started to slowly notice an increase in traffic for those sites. I doubt it’s a coincidence 🙂


Congrats Mark on your great success! What theme are you using for your site, because I’m trying to improve the design of my site.

Also, how many articles do you think a site needs to perform well in the search engines?

Mark N.

Hi Mike,

It’s the one of the default WordPress themes, Twenty Twelve I think it’s called, however I remade it a little (can add a header image, the menu is a little different and the colors are different).

As for how many articles a site needs, I don’t have enough experience to answer that.


Being a photographer and somewhat artistic, I struggle with sites that are plain. Maybe I’m spending too much time worrying about the design of the site.

joe smith

What types of anchor text and diversity are you using?

Mark N.

I try to keep it random. If I were to count or use a specific ratio, it would no longer be random. For my main keyword though that I was targeting, I used it less than 10% of the time. What I did was took a quick look at the anchor “portfolio” of my top competitors and took my ques from there – for instance, over half their backlinks turned out to be without any anchor text (the domain name was the anchor), so I did something similar… the rest was random.


Mark I laid in bed last night reading this article and couldn’t wait to get up this morning and start analyzing it and breaking down all the amazing advice you’ve offered.
To be honest, the most helpful advice you’ve given me (and it’s almost incidental) is to stick with one voice, or Guru, and I agree Spencer is one of my favorites too. I’ve been desperately trying to get going with Niche sites for a few months now and using Nicheprofitclassroom I knocked up a couple of quick sites but I just cant see that 5 page sites that look made for the keyword can really work. I have become an exper on ‘how to do things’ by reading and listening to everyone and I need to follow your example and just get focused and turn away all the distractions.
I love your idea of going for something small in searches and was encouraged to see 90% of your traffic isn’t coming from that one phrase anyway.

Can I ask for advice from all – I’m actually thinking that in stead of building a niche site within photography (I am a photographer by day) I might build a bigger, more general
blog about my world (parenting, my faith, tech stuff, gadgets) and aim long tail keywords at articles within these categories. My thinking is that the blog as a whole would get more traffic and look more natural. What do people think, am I totally barking up the wrong tree?

Sorry to ramble, I’m very excited about this giving me such a boost. I wish you every success and look forward to hearing more from you, the mysterious ‘Mark from Poland’!

Mark N.

Hi Adrian!

Regarding starting a blog instead of niche sites, keep in mind that your traffic will likely not be the converting type on a blog with such diversified topics. If your goal is to make money as soon as possible, I don’t think this is the best idea.


Of course, yes that makes total sense. I guess the whole idea of a photography tips site is building a longer relationship rather than a quick sale and yes, I’d like to be achieving that too.
Maybe I do as you have and go for a review type site on a hobby initially as the ‘money site’ and build up a longer term relational site that I guess would work more like this one of Spencers. Does that make sense?


Spencer, you seem to be missing the party over here!?!

Spencer Haws

Nope,just reading along and enjoying. All the comments are directed towards Mark…so I’m letting him respond.


Hope you don’t mind Mark but I’ve been so impressed I’ve written an article about this on my own new blog.

Mark N.

Mind? Not at all – I’m honored. Good post too 🙂


Credit where it’s due, you’ve helped a lot of people in the last 24hrs.

Mark N.

One thing I’d like to elaborate on, and it’s this part from your post:

“he believes his content is better than anything else out there in his niche. ”

Just to make it clear: I’m not saying that each article in and by itself is better than any other article out there on the same topic. So for instance, say I have a review about X. There is a high chance that there is another review of product X out there that is better than mine (not by much, but definitely comparable /a little better).

Where my site shines (and that was my goal) is when its considered as a _whole_. In other words, if someone was interested in the specific product I’m advertising, they are going to find more helpful “buying” information on my site than on any other single website on the web. So while one of my reviews might not be THE best review out there, it will still be more helpful in general as the review links from within it to additional resources such as “how to use this product,” “how to determine if this product is right for YOU,” and other similar information that is very helpful to the person interested.

In short: my site gives an overall far better experience to interested parties about the niche.

You don’t need to look far to find an example of what I mean. Take as a “for instance.” Spencer has some excellent articles about building niche sites, but he doesn’t talk too much about exactly how he _writes_ the content for his site, does he? He has a few articles about the subject, but I’m sure you might be able to find another article or two out there which address the subject of content writing more in depth.

Despite that, is still the site you’d go to if you’re interested in building niche sites. You might check out other articles somewhere else to find a bit of extra very specific information (as no site can provide answers to every possible conceivable question), but in the end you’ll always land right back here to actually “get this done.”

That’s the kind of thing I’ve done with my site. Hope this makes sense.


Makes sense to me and that’s what I had in mind, the resource is better than anything else as it satisfies the user’s search and stops them needing to go back to another result on the serp. I know that’s certainly measured by Google.


I’m not sure if I missed it Mark, but how many backlinks per site do you propose to do initially, then build over time?

Mark N.

What I did with my first site was I built a few links each day until I saw myself getting to the first page of Google. Once that happened, I slowed down considerably (built maybe 1 link a day tops) and just ranked first – I let my content / dwelling time / low bounce rate / natural social shares do the work from there.

Once I started getting decent traffic I was no longer building links because my site is good enough I believe that it will generate natural backlinks slowly (it’s already happening). If it wasn’t generating backlinks naturally then I believe I would only build a few links per week once I ranked #1 for my spot (though I have not been in this type of situation yet so can’t say for sure).


Mark, I’ve just set up my first ever squidoo profile and hubpages profile as web 2.0 backlinks. I realize it’s all new but it’s still taken about 4 hours to set them up and write a decent article on each of them.
I’m curious about the type of articles you write, and what sort of length they are.

I just want to pick your brains while I have your ear 😉

Mark N.

Regarding the type of article, I’ve went over it a bit in one of the earlier comments:

Keep in mind that articles on HugPages and Squidoo go through somewhat more rigid editorial reviewing than a WordPress blog for example, so the articles on these two Web 2.0’s should be of somewhat higher quality than the ones on your online blogs

As for the length of the articles, it’s completely differs and they range from 350 words to 800 words. That’s for the Web 2.0’s (I think that’s what you were asking about). For my own sites though, I never publish an article that isn’t at least 1,000 words.


You’re right about squidoo being more rigorous, they came back with a load of improvements I need to make before they’ll add it. Is it worth it?

Donald W

The squidoo lens I created for a site a month or two ago even with all of the improvements (I did make the improvements) doesn’t seem to have helped as far as traffic to it. It is great for the diversity like Mark stated but as far as the improvements I cant say that it helped (traffic wise). I do know that it will probably help the link not get removed though because it will then meet squidoo’s criteria. Don’t go crazy spending a lot of time on it though just make it good enough to stay there and move on. Worse comes to worse you can always create another one if it were to get removed.


Inspiring story. I too started about the same time with zero prior knowledge. I also took a survival related niche with about 2000 exact match per month on the main keyword. Average Amazon product price is $50-$150. Things were slow in the first month but picked up in the latter half and I made about $200. In the second month I’m up to over $500 in commissions. I’m pretty happy. Traffic ranges from 200 to 400 a day.

Here are some theories I subscribe to:
– Quality content won’t help your SERP. You have to remember that Google is really just a math program. It doesn’t have feelings and won’t be saying “Aww…that article was SO well written and I feel really good inside now…!” No, it’s just running it through the algorithm and if it sees certain things like related keywords you will win.

– Don’t waste too much time with blog comments, directories, web 2.0 articles, etc. These are now way undervalued by Google. What matters is getting dofollow links on high PR sites (related if possible). Spencer got to #1 because he managed to get a PR4 link (or whatever it was) from that expired domain trick (see his post). Put your energy into finding those priceless links instead of the cheap ones.

– Be prepared for competition. About a month ago I see all these copycats basically spinning my whole site. At first I was like “WTF!” but I guess it’s just part of the business. Thanks to Spencer the whole internet is now littered with “Best [product]” sites and the lovely little comparison tables that all look the same 🙂

Good luck to you all!

Mark N.

“- Quality content won’t help your SERP. You have to remember that Google is really just a math program. It doesn’t have feelings and won’t be saying “Aww…that article was SO well written and I feel really good inside now…!” No, it’s just running it through the algorithm and if it sees certain things like related keywords you will win.”

That’s because you misunderstand what “Quality” content mean. Quality content is not the type that is written beautifully (though it’s important that it reads well, of course). Quality content is about having a very informative article.

-> if your article is very informative, this means it has lots of related keywords in it (it has to, otherwise it won’t be informative)

-> if it has lots of related keywords in it, your website will attract much more traffic from extra long tail keywords

-> if the article is informative, your website will be more valuable to readers (and you will have more readers since you will be attracting far more traffic from long tail keywords), which means you will generate natural backlinks / social shares over time.

The prevailing definition of “quality content” needs to change because it seems to be generating tons of confusion.


Yes, probably better to refer to it as Keyword Rich Content.

Mark N.

Yeah, though that is also dangerous because people might think that it simply means that you need to randomly stuff your articles with related keywords 🙂

I think the best term would be “Informative articles.”

Chris R Jensen

Great story!
I agree 100% with sticking with one influencer and I too have chosen Spencer.
I am curious – is your market the Polish with this site or have you made it for a more international audience?

Congratulations on your success


Mark N.

Hi Chris

It’s mostly for the US market.

Adam Roseland

Spencer, you must love all the comments piling up and you don’t even need to reply 🙂

Really great post, though I would agree with the person that said Mark isn’t a newbie. He clearly knows what he is doing.

Mark, get yourself a virtual assistant on the cheap and they can do a lot of the work for you.

Mark N.

Depends on your definition of “newbie” I guess. If it means someone who started recently, then I am most certainly a newbie. If by newbie you mean someone who has no idea what their doing then I guess I’m not a newbie, otherwise Spencer wouldn’t have featured my story (or so I’d like to believe). 🙂 Like I said – I learn faster than the average person and have almost a photographic memory (almost). I often manage to accomplish in 2-3 months things that take other people a year or a few years. I’m not saying this to brag, just so that people don’t think that I’m hiding something and/or that I’ve been secretly building websites for years now. What’s important to keep in mind is that EVERYTHING I’ve learned was right here on NichePursuits – I had no access to “secret” resources or whatever else. So it can most definitely be done – if not in 2 months, then in 6. But it can be done.

As for a VA; I will get one soon enough. I’m actually starting a trial run on oDesk this week.

Spencer Haws

Thanks Adam…you are right! Im enjoying all the great comments, and Mark’s responses. Its great because I’ve actually been on vacation for the past week or so…makes my “job” a bit easier…


You definitely chose a great person to showcase what you can do with what you learn here.

It must be pretty awesome to see what one can accomplish when they put action behind what they learn eh.


Wow, what an inspiring story and thank you so much Mark, for all the good tips and also commenting on almost every question here although you could be sleeping instead.

I have one question for you since I’m also just started to build a review site:
I’m looking for a Price Comparison Plugin, that will allow me to display the best prices from different merchants plus using my affiliate links for those.
I googled it and there are a few, but I was wondering if you already tried some and have a favorite.

Thanks again for all your great advice!!


Mark N.

I did a search for that as well but the only ones I found were paid, unfortunately. So ultimately I started building these charts myself using TablePress + some simple CSS tweaks (by following the TablePress FAQ and asking the plugin creator a few questions).

Right now my site follows a TopTenReviews pattern; meaning I don’t list products horizontally, but vertically. I am getting higher CTR this way and longer dwell time.


And does your TablePress solution pull prices from the merchants automatically?

Mark N.

Ah, no it doesn’t – didn’t know that is what you meant, sorry. I’m only using Amazon Associates right now so didn’t really need anything like that.



I was looking through the list of web 2.0 and other types of possible backlinking sources. I noticed many were nofollow and some dofollow.

When you build your web 2.0, do you only build them on dofollow sites?

Mark N.

No — I never even checked if it’s “follow” or nofollow. I find that sometimes not knowing something leads the most natural results (and “natural” is definitely something I’m going for here).



I’m new to backlinking want to know when you create a new web 2.0 property for a site, do you use a new email address for each time you make a backlink?

Mark N.

I use one e-mail address for all properties that point to the same website. So if I have 15 properties pointing to site A, then all of these 15 properties will have been created using one e-mail account (though the actual Web 2.0 names / usernames will be 100% different).


I was registering some web 2.0 accounts and got a bit confused about how to make them look natural.

1. When building backlinks, do you use a web 2.0 account to link to site A, and site B (since you can build more than 1 site in wordpress for example), or just limit each web 2.0 account to a specific niche site?

2. When backlinking for site A, do you use different email accounts to register for the web 2.0, bookmarks, rss, etc… So if you plan to make 20 web 2.0 properties, you also make 20 email accounts?

Mark N.

I’m not sure if this question was for me, but here is what I did:

1) Each web 2.0 account is just one website. If I want to link to a new website from that same Web 2.0 DOMAIN, then that’s a new e-mail address, and a new Web 2.0 property.

2) See my comment right above yours for a reply to this one.

Ajay Kumar


You don’t have to create a new email id every time you signup for web 2.0 sites for creating backlinks. You can signup the web 2.0 sites for one email for site A.

Mark N.

Spencer, I have a question for you.

Do you happen to know if Google is itself a domain registrar? I’m thinking of starting a small private website network (not calling it “blog network” because they won’t actually be blogs), and I’m wondering if Privacy Protection actually does anything for hiding your details from Google; if they are a registrar, then they can see everything even if it’s hidden right? You can register domains through some of Google’s services so I was wondering.

Wolfe Ryan

I know this is unrelated to the post, but I checked the backlinks of Spencer’s knife site and noticed a lot of links in unrelated blogrolls. How did Spencer get his link there with no reciprocal links on his own site? Did he just ask the owners?

Mark N.

Someone wanting to most likely harm Spencer’s sites built these links to hist site. This was covered many times on this website, and it’s even linked to from the original post above these comments (the negative SEO thing).

Aloe Vera Headquarters

@ Mark N Congrats on your success! and Thank you for all the excellent tips!!!

A couple quick questions for anyone who can answer?

How long should it typically take for Google to give a site a page rank?

Should you be worried if your site is stuck as N/A or a 0 PR for a long time?

Is MOZ rank more important?

I’m a total newbie at this!


Mark N.

1. For my site it took around a month to move from N/A to 0 Page Rank. I have no clue what it depends on, nor have I paid much attention to it.

2. If it was for a very long (like 6 months) then yes I would be worried for sure as it probably means you are getting extremely low quality backlinks that Google does not trust (that’s my understanding of PR at least).

3. I don’t know about the importance of MozRank, just be aware that MozRank is not a metric developed by Google.

Aloe Vera Headquarters

@ Mark N

Is there any perticular advice you could give me on wordpress settings and general setup for the best advantage with SEO for my Niche site.

Example: The best list for pings, best plugins to use, All in one SEO plugin etc. etc.

I know its an indept question and you could probably talk all night about it but is there even 5 things you would definately recommend? Or must Do’s?

I’m always afraid I’m doing something obviously wrong as a newbie.

Dziękuję bardzo


Mark N.

Sorry but I don’t have any advice on this, as the settings will be entirely different depending on the site I’m running. The only thing that all sites have in common is that I set a meta Title and Description (duh). Other than that, it’s on a case-by-case basis. All of my settings though are made with one goal in mind: to help my visitor find what they are looking for, depending on where they landed on my site. That’s the only thing I think of when changing stuff around in WordPress.


Hope someone can clarify the comments by Matt and Mark on quality content.

Based on the comments I’m getting that quality content for google is more quantitative, meaning it counts more on keywords used and related phrases/words to see which is more ‘relevant’. Then it uses indicators like links, social media likes, etc to decide the ranking.

Whereas quality content that google doesn’t get is the information and usefulness of the article. Instead it gets this indirectly from how readers react to the article (via linking, liking, tweeting, etc.)

Is my understanding correct?

This might be a reason why every now and then I see some sites that rank high on google but really just list down all the features/specs of products.

Mark N.

If you write informative content, it will include tons of related keywords. This will help you:

1) showcase higher relevancy for the main topic (main keyword)
2) gain a lot of extra long tail keyword traffic
3) gain a lot more visitors, who will be exposed to your informative content, increasing the chances of your site developing some natural backlinks

That’s pretty much all there is to it; that and link building.


Sorry to trouble you again, but I have one more question.

How long do you wait before starting your link building?

Mark N.

For my main site, I started building links the same day I published the front page on my site (when I had no other content except what was on the front page).

For the other pages, I’ve started building links a month after they went “live,” as I was too busy with the main site to treat them properly.


Thanks a lot Mark for taking out time to answer all these questions.

Mark N.

You are welcome. Take what I say for whatever it’s worth though, and remember that I’m still new to this. What I say is based on a pretty small “sample size” so don’t take it as gospel.


Got it. Even I am somewhat new to building niche sites so its always good to learn from someone who has actually done it rather than people who just preach. That is why Niche Pursuits stands apart from other so called learn affiliate marketing sites.

I am already getting good results from just commenting, now your story inspired me to try out Web 2.0. Maybe it will work, maybe not, but I am going to give it a try.

On your Web 2.0 articles, how many links do you put back to your website? 2 links per article or 3?

Mark N.

Just one per Web 2.0 to my own site.


Wow, Mark, thanks for taking the time and sharing all this valuable information!


Thanks for sharing your story Mark. It’s inspiring and great to hear success stories. Especially from someone who is obviously building sites with value and doesn’t just have the commissions in mind. As such I’m sure you’ll do well out of your sites for years to come.

Well done and keep up the good work. 😉

Mark N.

Thank you 🙂


Thanks for your story here.
I want to know how do you handle your link building process.
could you mind show me some details about this process, because i found it is too hard for me to manage the link process efficiency.

Mark N.

There is no “handling” involved, really – it’s a very simple process. I simply go through the different sources that I mentioned in my story and add my links to relevant categories / create Web 2.0’s. Not exactly sure what else I could say.

It might help to organize your work. Before you start building links for a site, prepare an Office/Open Office spreadsheet with all the link sources you want to take advantage of, and then just check them off one by one as you are finished.


hi Mark. I posted this message yesterday but it did not appear for some reason so i am trying again.

regarding adding your link to wikipedia I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it and coming up with a way to do it for my own site. which is why i have a request: could you give an example of how you would go about this if you wanted to get a wikipedia link for Spencer’s knife site? just as an example. perhaps once you tell me it might open up my mind a little because right now frankly I dont know how to go about it. Thank you very much and please keep posting here.

Mark N.

Well, this is off the top of my head and I haven’t actually researched if it is feasible or not, but my first attempt would be this:

I’d create a separate page on my site with a repository of Survival Camps / Schools / whatever that you can sign up to for a fee to learn something. Perhaps I’d group them by State or something like that to make browsing easier.

Then I’d go to Wikipedia and find a relevant article about survival and/or survival knives etc. and add a new section about Survival schools (if there isn’t one yet) and somewhere in that paragraph mention something about there being many such schools in the US when compared to other countries, and therein I’d add a reference to the page I created.

Or… I might create a page with a list of all the top survival knife manufacturers, including a short history about each of them (with links to relevant, authority sources). Then go to a Survival Knife page on Wikipedia and add this link within a section that mentions different manufacturers of Survival knives.

Something like that.


Hi, Mark–

Congratulations on all your success! It sounds like you have a really solid understanding of niche sites, and you’re very generous to share your knowledge so generously.

I was hoping you could answer a few things for me…

When you make a post in a wiki or in a forum, you put the URL directly into the post, correct? You wrote that you’ll post to only one or two forums—how many wikis do you post to?

Also, where do you post image submissions? And how do you make your video submissions?

Wolfe Ryan mentioned that he looked “for high-ish PR do-follow .edu blogs” … Where did you find these blogs? I did a Google search for “dofollow .edu blogs” but all I found were blogs that used to be dofollow, and had been changed to nofollow.

I’m also curious what you would say to Matt’s comment, when he said “Don’t waste too much time with blog comments, directories, web 2.0 articles, etc. These are now way undervalued by Google.”

Spencer—I’m also curious to hear your opinion on pinging backlinks. Some people swear by it, and others don’t bother. What are your thoughts?

Thank you, Mark, for sharing so freely, and thanks, Spencer, for hosting! Niche Pursuits is, without a doubt, the best place on the web to learn how to make a site. All killer, no filler.

Thanks, guys!


Mark N.

Hi Matt,

When you make a post in a wiki or in a forum, you put the URL directly into the post, correct? You wrote that you’ll post to only one or two forums—how many wikis do you post to?

The link is a reference. It makes that little number in the bracket appear at the end of the sentence. [1] When the number is clicked, the page scrolls down to the actual, nofollow link to my page.

I only post to quality Wiki’s that I find, which are related to the niche. There aren’t many of those out there, so on average it’s around 3-6 Wiki links per site (excluding Wikipedia). Keep in mind I’m talking about adding my link to a Wiki, not about creating a Web 2.0 property on a Wiki-based platform.

Also, where do you post image submissions? And how do you make your video submissions?

Google “Alternatives to Flickr,” that will get you started.

Regarding the video — I have a copy of Sony Vegas from a few years back. But there are tons of free programs out there that can be used to create movies from pictures/frames. Basically an .avi slideshow.

Wolfe Ryan mentioned that he looked “for high-ish PR do-follow .edu blogs” … Where did you find these blogs? I did a Google search for “dofollow .edu blogs” but all I found were blogs that used to be dofollow, and had been changed to nofollow.

I don’t look at the domain extension when searching for backlink sources, so can’t help you here.

I’m also curious what you would say to Matt’s comment, when he said “Don’t waste too much time with blog comments, directories, web 2.0 articles, etc. These are now way undervalued by Google.”

Don’t have any comments really. I’m ranking my site (and others are starting to rank) based solely on the things Matt said you shouldn’t bother with. So is Spencer. Not meaning to be rude towards Matt, but he said that he’s only been doing this for 2 months (around as long as I have been). So how can he even know what worked before that and what didn’t?

Things like this are exactly the reason why I have limited myself to NichePursuits only – if you read what everyone has to say, you’ll get a case of “analysis paralysis.” I don’t care what someone says works and what they say doesn’t work – I prefer to try it out myself.



Ah, ok. This reply cleared it up for me:

“Keep in mind I’m talking about adding my link to a Wiki, not about creating a Web 2.0 property on a Wiki-based platform.”

A few of the sites I found that I thought were wikis were actually Web 2.0 properties on a wiki-based platform.

Thank you again, Mark! All the best!



Hey Mark,

Can you also explain this quote you wrote about backlinking and Wikipedia:

“so on average it’s around 3-6 Wiki links per site (excluding Wikipedia).”

I’m confused–you say 3-6 Wiki links, but that excludes Wikipedia.

Aren’t they one in the same (Wiki = Wikipedia, right)? I’m unclear, when you say “Wiki”, do you mean a different site (or maybe a sister site?) than the major Wikipedia website everyone knows and uses?

Also, overall, do you stick to a strict rule of, say, this many social book marks or this many blog comments? Do you stick to a strict structure of accomplishing X amount of backlinks one week, and X amount of backlinks another week?

Or, is it more like, whenever you have time is when you do it, so one week you might create 5 backlinks, and the next week you might for 25 because maybe you had more free time.


Mark N.

No, “Wiki” does not mean Wikipedia. Wikipedia is .There are many different sites similar to Wikipedia which ahve nothing to do with I get 1 link from and around 3-6 links from other Wiki’s.

“Also, overall, do you stick to a strict rule of, say, this many social book marks or this many blog comments? Do you stick to a strict structure of accomplishing X amount of backlinks one week, and X amount of backlinks another week?”

No, never. It’s quite random, though I usually get just a few links from most sources, except for Web 2.0′s and Wiki sites – on these I get more, depending on how difficult the keyword is. Once I reach relatively high rankings I’m confident that my website(s) will generate natural backlinks, so I dial down the link building volume considerably (and even bring it to a halt), long before I reach #1 position.

“Or, is it more like, whenever you have time is when you do it, so one week you might create 5 backlinks, and the next week you might for 25 because maybe you had more free time.”

No, I have lots of free time and I’m building websites full time right now. I add links daily (this has already been discussed in one comment earlier).


Thanks Mark. That helps clear things up, although I admittedly am still confused about the Wiki vs. Wikipedia topic.

Do you have a random example, because I can’t tell if you’re saying that you find sites that are *like* Wikipedia, and you post your links to them….or, if you’re saying you literally add links to your niche sites from pages listed on

Mark N.

Step one: I post a link to my site at

Step two: I find 3-6 different Wiki sites related to my niche and add one link to my website from each of them. Here is an example of a random Wiki site I found on Google right now:

There are hundreds and maybe thousands of other similar Wikis online.


Hi, Mark–

Thanks again for all your answers. To follow up to my own question—I asked about a good screen-capture and video-capture software—I found “Jing,” and it’s very easy to use, well-built, and (most importantly) free.

Thanks again for all your contributed to this discussion—you went above and beyond.


Mark N.

Below is a screenshot with my Amazon Associates earnings for June, from that main site:

There is actually an extra $120 in advertising fees, but unfortunately some of the items sold have a 1 week shipping period, so they will “register” in July.

Next month I expect to hit the 7.00% referral rate very easily.

I’ll post a similar update on July 31st for those who are interested.



If you don’t mind my asking. What changes did you do on the site and away from it to achieve the improvement in the conversion % referral rate.

It was 2.5% last time and is going to be 7%.

Mark N.

“Referral” rate is not the same as “conversion” rate. Referral rate is simply the percentage Amazon pays you in advertising fees. On that screenshot, my “Referral” rate was 6.50%.

Arwin Adriano

What I love about the story is the guts that Mark shared. It’s not that easy for newbies to understand everything about earning online but Mark proves that if you are willing to learn you’ll be able to achieve your goal. From the looks of Mark’s story I think he’ll be one of the online guru that every newbie will look up to on no time.


This was a surprisingly good interview/story.

I totally agree about the content thing. I think the future of successful niche sites is all about who can produce the most epic and share-worthy content.

In this day and age, filling a niche site with content, particularly if you don’t know much about the niche, requires lots and lots of diligent, thorough research. I don’t think filler content with keywords is going to cut it much longer.

Anyway, great share Mark. Enjoyed it.

Mr Astrum

Great story!

Quick question (maybe another poster might be able to respond)

Is it beneficial to ‘spread’ my niche sites over different hosting accounts? Most of my niche domains have been registered with one company, but I have been unsure whether to keep my hosting within.

What experience have you had with this?

mohamed elhosary

how much time Wikipedia take to delete my link
im speaking about very relevant link
for example the wiki page is about types of hd tvs and i add link on it about my hd tvs page

Mark N.

It depends on how active the article is. You can take a look at how often it is being edited – if just once every few weeks or so, then it is probably not getting a lot of attention. If it is being updated many times in a month, then the link could be removed even in 10 minutes from your adding it.

Also, keep in mind that “relevancy” is not enough to have your link hold on Wikipedia. The link has to both relevant AND very informative at the same time – the kind of thing that people take a look at and think “oh wow, I need to bookmark this for the future.” Relevancy alone won’t cut it with Wikipedia.


Hi Mark

Great story – very inspiring.

I have a couple of questions that I would love you to answer please.

1 – When you built the web 2.0 sites how did you ensure that you were using a unique ip address?

2 – Where did you get the unique email accounts from to use for web 2.0 account creation?

3 – Did you do anything to ensure that the web 2.0 articles got indexed?

Thank you

Mark N.

Hey Robbie

1) I don’t change the IP address when creating Web 2.0 properties. Keep in mind however that I don’t have a Static IP, so it changes quite often.


3) Just pinged them


Oh sorry. I just checked your earlier comment and noticed that you said that you logged into different Webmaster tools accounts with different Ip addresses. How do you ensure that you are logging in under a different ip address?

Mark N.

I use a proxy changer for that with some free, slow proxies. I barely ever log in to Webmaster tools anyway (I just have it there in case Google sends me any notifications). As for Analytics, I’m trying out some other great alternatives. I’ve found Piwik which seems awesome – you host it on your own server so no one except you has access to the data. I’m moving all my sites there right now 🙂 Plus, I like it more than Google Analytics (although it takes a few days to get used to the new interface).



When putting new posts, what steps do you take on finding the topic of the next post? Is it just based on what I think is useful, or using low keyword search?

Would like to know the thought process in adding posts to the site.

Mark N.

Hi Winston,

It varies a lot. Sometimes I see a new keyword appear in Google Analytics, at which point I might write a separate article related to this keyword if:

1. The keyword has some monthly traffic — anything above 50 a month is good enough reason for me to write a new article about, particularly since a lot of extra visits will come through different long tails.

2. The keyword might have very lower traffic (or even show “zero” according to Google), but I will still write the article if I think it makes sense and will be useful for the user.

Sometimes I will simply come up with an idea for an article and just write it without doing any traffic research.

A lot will probably depend on the niche you choose. I try to choose niches where I can easily write at least a few dozen articles; if I find myself struggling to come up with even 10 ideas for articles around a keyword, I will not build a site around it. The only exception is for keywords which seem to have a very high potential for converting into Amazon sales; in that case I will build a site around it even if I can’t come up with more than a few articles around that keyword.

Donald W

Maybe this is a newbie question and actually another question comes to mind which is also probably dumb lol. But I would like to know so here goes. What is a ping? is this like a command prompt ping with an url or ip address? Or is this a wordpress ping and if so how is that done ? Also whenever I post something new or create a backlink to my site I see it come to my comments. Is that a ping? and if so do we approve those or trash them ? Sorry if these don’t make sense or if they are really bad questions but they are some of the few questions I have! Like I said before I still really appreciate all the information you have given us. Truly inspirational.

Mark N.

Hi Donald

Here is an example of a pinging tool.

I don’t know much about those WordPress pings. I see them all the time but I trash them – they are useless and I don’t want my readers seeing them.

Mark N.

Sorry, forgot the link in the last message 🙂

Donald W

🙂 It’s all good. I appreciate this because I see everyone saying “I just ping them” and that made me think me trashing those comments, because I too don’t want visitors seeing them, was a bad thing. Then I got as you say “analysis paralysis” thinking well how do they hide those comments if they are approving them. You have the cure for analysis paralysis at least on the topic of niche sites. Personally I was stuck on link building instead of just doing what Spencer taught us and not thinking about it so much. I really appreciate your help and your posts. GREAT information. Thanks again and best of luck.

Mark N.

You are very welcome 🙂


Would you know any free click heatmap service that will help improve click rate / link positioning?

Mark N.

I don’t know any of any that are completely free, however there are many that offer a free 30 day trial. One of them is even mentioned in the story.


I’m glad you mentioned this in your reply:

“1. The keyword has some monthly traffic — anything above 50 a month is good enough reason for me to write a new article about, particularly since a lot of extra visits will come through different long tails.”

This is something I’ve had real difficulty with. I still can’t figure out how to get article to get a lot of long tail visits. Can you offer some tips?

Mark N.

Just look at any decent Wikipedia article and try to imitate the same level of informativeness they have, while making it read a little bit less encyclopedia-like and a little bit more friendly-like 🙂

The article needs to be long, and jam-packed with related terms (you can’t just “squeeze” in related terms though, they have to be there as a direct result of the article being very informative). Keep in mind that for some niches it will be more difficult to attract a lot of additional long-term traffic – so far I’m finding that the more “complicated” a product, the more long tail keywords you are likely to attract, assuming the article is written well.

So an article about a jewelry box for example (off the top of my head), will probably attract less long tail traffic than an article about an iPhone, assuming both articles were equally long and both were equally informative and related-keyword-rich. Simply because someone looking for a jewelry box probably isn’t going have a lot of questions about it, and so most queries will be related to “jewelry box” or “cheap jewelry box” etc. For the iphone though, there are so many different things a user could be looking for (related to screen size, electronics, software, etc. etc) that you’re chances of picking up some long tail traffic are much higher.

This is just an example though, but hopefully it illustrates what I mean.


Mark – I’m just getting started with niche sites myself. Your story was very helpful and inspirational. Thanks for sharing.


Hi Spencer – I found you on Pat Flynn’s podcast and now I’ve started listening to your podcast and reading your blog. I’ve taken the step off the diving board and I’m creating a niche site of my own – but in an area I’m passionate about and I hope to see it grow. Thank you for all the great information and thank you also to Mark for sharing his story. Very inspiring!

Vic Dorfman

Sounds like a lot of work for such a low-volume search term…I can imagine what you’ll accomplish on your bigger projects. 🙂

I agree with diversifying your links for sure. But is it really necessary to rewrite every article for every link source? Google just considers that syndication. Or am I missing something?


Mark N.

It is a lot of work, but not nearly as much as it might seem. It can be duplicated for a bigger number of sites (even if just one person is doing it) than might be inferred; what I do is actually very simple, it just might seem more time consuming than it actually is because I used a lot of words to explain what I do.

A re-written article (at least the way I re-write it) is over 95% unique; each one is pretty much entirely original and they have nothing to do with syndication.



You mentioned trying out Piwik for analytics. How’s it been doing so far and how do you go about installing it?

I’ve done a search on it and noticed some people having difficulty installing. I’m looking to give it a try on hostgator but aren’t sure how to install (not a techie person here).

Mark N.

It works great, way better than Google analytics in so many ways I can’t believe I didn’t find it earlier. Installation is simple although if you are as you say “not techie,” it can seem a little complicated. You’ll need to create an mysql database in your server’s cPanel, for instance.

All instructions are here

in short it goes like this:

1) create an mysql database in cPanel (takes one minute, google a guide on that if you don’t know how to do it)
2) create a folder on your server (name it whatever you like) and drop the Piwik files there after you download them
3) type the address of the folder with the Piwik files into the browser and this will start the installation procedure. You’ll need to input the database detailed (name, login, password) during the installation. In the “database server” field, type “localhost” (without the quotes).
4) once installation is finished you can add as many sites to track as you wish
5) a code will be generated for you, which you should paste into the footer of the website you want to track, right before the tag.

that’s it. you can manage all of your websites’ analytics by opening the folder where you installed Piwik in your browser.

Mark N.

right before the tag (the tag was removed in the above comment – remove the spaces from this tag I just gave you in this comment.

Tomek M.

Hi Mark,
Is there any possibility to contact you personally – by skype for example?
I’d like to ask you about sites on polish market.

p.s.I see there are similarities between us (były hazardzista) 😛

Mark N.

Cześć Tomek 🙂 hazardzista to trochę za mocne słowo, powiedzmy raczej “analityk finansowy” :))

Sorry Tomek, but I prefer to keep all contact right here on NichePursuits; Skype and IM chats in general distract me from work too much. I check back here everyday so if you ask something, I will answer.

With that said, I don’t have experience building sites in the Polish market. I’ll definitely be expanding to include that market as well one day, just for fun. But right now I’m as clueless as anyone 🙂


Hi Mark,

Thanks for taking the time to give out so much information. It is really inspirational and full of useful advice.

Are you using a EMD? I have checked through all the comments and can’t see it has been asked before – apologies if it has already.

Mark N.

Hi Kate,

Not, it wasn’t asked 🙂 And no, I’m not using an EMD, though the domain is of course related.

Think going after the keyword “best survival knife” and getting a domain like



Do you take photos of the products that you’re reviewing on your niche sites or do you just pull the ones on the manufacturer’s websites to post into your site?

I’m wondering if there might be any legal issues, although all you really do is promote the product for them.

Mark N.

Hi Dan,

I pull them directly from Amazon.


Mark, hope you’re still answering questions here.

When building web 2.0 sites to link to your main site you mentioned you make about 2 to 4 posts in each site. Do you post all the 2 to 4 at the same time or what time frame do you take in putting them up (ex. 1 post every x days and 10 days before putting the link, etc or just put them on the day you register on the web 2.0 sites).

Do you also use the same ‘timing’ for bookmarking and others?

Mark N.

Hey Winston, first time I checked the comments here in 2 weeks 🙂

I don’t have specific timings at all. Sometimes I post all posts at the same time (I just write and post as soon as I’m finished writing), other times I just create the blog with one post and get back to it later. There is completely no system to it and that was exactly my point – to make it random. I don’t really think it matters to be honest; I think people give Google far more credit for its intelligence than it deserves.


Talk about lucky timing! While you’re here I hope I can run something by you because it has something to do with what you mentioned about ‘quality content’.

You mentioned quality content is informative and google sees it as that through good keyword usage (keyword rich used properly w/in the article). And that google can’t really tell if your content is better than another site’s content based on ‘human quality’ aside from the presence of the keywords.

This seems to jive with an interview I just read by a guy who used to work with Matt Cutts at google, he said Google isn’t able to tell you if the quality is good or bad (based on human understanding), but it only compares to see if it is original (not copied), and via the use of relevant keywords.

What I’d like to know is why are there some sites that rank well quickly, like in 2 weeks their in the top 10 w/o backlinks and others in the same presumably weak kw niche unable to rank. How does google tell the difference?

Mark N.

Depending on the site, I think dwell time could be the reason. While Google obviously can’t tell if your content is “good” from a human perspective (and like you said, it will only see if it’s duplicate + how much related keywords there are), it can measure how much time users spend on a site. So all things being equal, if someone were to click your page in the google results and spend 1 minute, then go to another site targeting the same keyword and spend 2 minutes, I can imagine this affecting the rankings.

Also keep in mind that those backlink tools are by no means perfect. The site could have one or two great links and which still have not showed up in the popular tools like Moz or ahrefs. So just because you don’t see a link there, doesn’t mean it has no links.

Finally, I’ve recently seen a patent filed by Google a bunch of years ago (with Matt Cutts being one of those filing the patent), where it was clear that google’s algorithm isn’t “global” – meaning it works differently depending on the niche. So for example if all the sites in a particular niche get a LOT of social shares but very few backlinks, then social shares will likely matter for more for your ranking than backlinks, in that particular niche. So could be a site has no backlinks but is doing well on some other metric which applies to that specific niche.

Mark N.

“then social shares will likely matter far** more for your ranking”

Mark N.

And here’s something else to consider: on June 24th I acquired two solid, contextual links from two authority sites in my niche. It’s July 18th now and those two links are still not showing up – neither in Moz nor in ahrefs. They do show up in Google Webmaster Tools though.


Thanks Mark. You sound like a seasoned veteran in this, definitely well beyond your years (um.. months) in doing this.

I’m starting out doing some links that you mentioned but feel a bit awkward do so at the moment (not sure why? maybe feel spammy or something, again not sure why.) Hope you’d spare the time for a couple more.

1. I’ve been looking for forums to post on related to my niche, but am finding either the threads are really old and other others don’t fit me putting my link there. How many of these in your experience is needed? and how can you find more posts to contribute to?

2. What kind of web 2.0 articles do you put. I’ve seen some of the backlinks of others using web 2.0 / own high PR sites, and they seem to just put topics all over the place, not related to the content, also the articles are often informational. Is it better to use informational type of articles as opposed to personal / blog style or any will do?

Thanks again.

Mark N.

#1: I don’t have enough experience to say how many are needed, and I guess it can’t be answered because it will depend on many things, like:

1) how good is the domain you are commenting on
2) how good is the page you are commenting on
3) how relevant the domain/page you are commenting on
4) how competitive your keyword is
5) how many are nofollowed comment links

etc. etc. no one can give you a clear-cut answer. You will just have to try it for yourself and see how many you need and what works.

#2: I put up articles that are very closely related to my niche. Some of them are “informational,” some of them are blog-style rant posts, some of them are lists, etc. I’m not sure if any style makes a difference, I really don’t think so. Just post those damn links. 🙂

Mark N.

I woke up today with a certain realization. You are trying too much to find some form of “perfect blueprint” that you can use on all your sites, and that’s why you are procrastinating so much. You are basically looking to find a “no-brainer” type of approach that you could later follow blindly and have success with it.

Such a thing does not exist, and it never will. The web is constantly evolving, Google is making a crapload of changes, and you will constantly need to be adapting. You’re doing yourself a disservice by looking for “the perfect blueprint” because you will never find it and hence you will fail, as you have apparently conditioned yourself that without such a blueprint, you can’t move forward (and since there is no such blue-print, you will never move forward).

You can compare it to a fighter or a boxer. You know how to land a punch, how to dodge punches, and you have some sort of fight coming up. And what you are basically trying to do is figure out an EXACT sequence of movements that you can do in order to win the fight. So basically what you are looking for (as far as SEO goes) can be compared to the following (as far as fighting goes)


1. Swing with your right fist
2. Lean backwards by 34 degrees to avoid a counter-punch
3. Swing with your left
4. Take four side-way steps to the left
5. do a left-handed upper-cut
6. Lean sideways to the right
7. swing with your right


That’s pretty much what you’re looking for… no matter how experienced the fighter who might have given you this advice, you know it’s useless crap because a real-life fight is 100% unpredictable and you can never plan for it ahead.

So you can either go ahead and jump right into the fight, get a bleeding nose and a broken rib and learn how to actually fight, or you can just stay in the back trying to figure out the blueprint.


Mark, just wanted to thank you for bringing up the Wikipedia link strategy!

I was able to find something for one of my sites, wrote an article about something that was missing on Wikipedia’s page and placed a reference on Wikipedia to my site.
I was actually surprised that this info was missing on Wikipedia, so I totally took advantage of your tip.

Got quite a bit of traffic from it 🙂

Thanks again

Mark N.

You are welcome. The cool thing is that people put a lot of trust into links they find on Wikipedia, so one day, when some editor of an authority site is doing research about an article he is writing and which is related to your particular niche, he might just find your link through Wikipedia while doing his research and link to it from the post he is writing. You can’t depend on that happening of course, but it’s an extra “bonus” 🙂

Mark N.

Anyone still checking back here? Not sure if it makes any sense for me to post an income screenshot for July if no one is checking back here. If anyone is still interested, just leave a message below and I’ll post a screenshot on August 1st.

Loris I.

Here I am Mark!
I check almost every day your comments. I am curios to know, how the two solid and contextual links worked out.
Thank you for all your sharing.

Mark N.

Hi Loris

Hard to say how those 2 links helped as Google has been doing some major changes in their algorithm over the last month or so, and a lot of rankings (especially for young sites) are jumping like crazy; I’ll be able to say more when the rankings stabilize. Right now getting between 650 and 900 unique visitors per day on the main site, and about 200 unique visitors per day for the other sites I’m working on, combined.

Here are July’s earnings from all four sites combined (main site + 3 newer sites I’m working on):

Look to the “Advertising Fees” column, not the “Revenue” column. 🙂



$30 in May, more than 100 in June and now, even if it were maybe 600/700 … it’s snowing heavely!

Actually, now you can write the how-to blueprint:
1. your skills
2. Spencer’s coaching
3. full-time
4. few bucks

Congratulations Mark and thank you. Hope to read you again here and there.
Thank you Spencer.

Mark N.

You are welcome 🙂 Check back here on September 1st, I’ll make another update then, just for you.


Hi Mark,

I’m a bit late to the party but I thoroughly enjoyed reading through your story so far, along with all the follow up comments. Looks like you are very close to a $1000 month – are you still going to invest in the tool you mentioned?

It’s such a boost to see people that are relatively new to IM have great starts like this. Hasn’t seemed to work for me yet, but I’m going to keep at it 🙂

Mark N.

Hi Alice

No I actually haven’t invested in the tool (I assume you mean the one for building tier 2 links), and the more experienced I become the less interested I am in doing any Tier 2 building. I’m leaning more towards higher quality links and even less towards volume than I have so far.

I actually made a little over $1000 this month; there is around $90 of extra income not accounted for in the screenshot above (two clickbank CPA sales + around $50 from adsense) 🙂

Loris I.

I am honored, man.
Be sure I’ll be there. I am already collecting bets on incomes and unique visitors 🙂

Mark N.

Good luck.

If there’s any advice I would give from my own experience so far it would be to build somewhat larger pages than the average niche site. I had a few sites that I built 3 months ago when I started, which had around 5-10 pages each + a handful of links (I didn’t do anything with those pages for a while, as you probably know since you’ve read the comments). Then I went back to those sites and all I did was add around 10-15 pieces of content to a few of them, and the sites rankings for the main keywords suddenly jumped up, even though the new articles I added were not directly related in any way or form to that keyword. So it does seem to me that Google does “favor” sites with somewhat more content (unless you are trying to rank for extremely super-easy keywords where there is pretty much zero competition, in which case I don’t think it matters).

Also, pay attention to keyword research. I run into a LOT of sites made by people who follow Spencer’s advice, and I can see that they have picked keywords which are too competitive, despite them knowing of Spencer’s site (I can tell that because they are using Spencer’s theme + the characteristic comparison tables + overall layout like with the survival knives site).

I do not own Long Tail Pro so can’t really say how accurate the tool is in terms of judging the difficulty of ranking for a specific keyword, but it does seem like a lot of people are doing the keyword research part wrong, so if you are having troubles ranking despite knowing that you’ve done all the off-site and on-site SEO right, then I would re-evaluate my process of choosing a keyword, regardless of how certain you are that you are doing it right.

Finally, I believe ranking outside of the Top 4 on the first page is far less profitable than people online make it out to be. I’ve seen a few experienced people mention that their primary goal is to get to the first page, but it has not been my experience so far. Actually, I find that even when I rank on the first page (but outside of the top 4) for a keyword with as much as 20,000 local monthly search volume, I still receive pretty negligible traffic (and yes, my meta title/description are well thought-out, and definitely not worse than those of my competition). It is only once I get into the top 4 that I start seeing solid traffic from that particular movement. Plus, it’s about that time (when I get into the top 4) that I start noticing a significant number of long tail traffic related to that main keyword coming through…

So for example if I’m trying to rank for “Best Blue Widgets,” which has say 20,000 local monthly exact searches, and I am ranking for example number 7-8, I might be getting 10-15 unique daily visits from that keyword, and that’s about it. But once I rank say #3, not only will I start getting closer to 50 unique visitors per day, but I’ll also start getting a ton of long tail traffic derived from that main keyword, like

Best Blue Widgets For Women
Best Blue Widgets For Men
The Best Blue Widgets
The Best Blue Widget
The Greatest Blue Widgets
What Is The Best Blue Widget

Etc. etc…..

So in other words, my experience so far shows that the value of being ranked #4 and up, as opposed to being ranked just anywhere on the first page, is MUCH larger than simply having more traffic coming from that main keyword… I want to make this even clearer because I think it’s very important, so here is another example based on imaginary numbers.

Suppose the keyword has 10,000 local monthly exacts. Now suppose position #10 will get you 1% of that traffic (100 uniques a month), while position #3 will get you 10% of that traffic (1,000 per month). It would be a mistake to believe that in the second case (rank #3) you are getting “only” 10 times as much traffic as in the first case (rank #10); due to all the extra related long tail traffic you will get, you will probably be receiving closer to 30 or 40 times more traffic in the second case compared to the first one.

Loris I.

Hi Mark,

I’ll be online with my first site in a couple of weeks. I spend more time and more money (x50) than you because my English lack.

I understand, more contents. I saw this while analyzing some common characteristics among niche sites ranking well. As well the Spencer’s seems to me had benefit from that. Could be that three months of latency helped? Did you add new contents at once or did you drip it?

You are true! Around there are tons of Spencer’s concept websites. My keyword has a couple of them in the top 10. One is 1st the other at the bottom. The rest is poor. Maybe I had to move on another one, anyway I feel I can outrank because their overall strategy vs mine. True, I had preferred less crowd! Anyway if they are ranking I guess I can do as well. What do you think?

You confirm a suspect I had. In my conservative evaluation, I believed that just the first three gained (because of more unique visitors and longtail kw). And I believe than even from the first to the others there is a sensible difference in unique visitors. I remember an old Spencer’s post about that even if it was related to adsense. Recently he experienced a decline in earning with his public site due to small drops (it seems to me he had always been in the first 4). Now he has added more contents as he explained recently. I didn’t check if he also worked on links. His next public niche site project report will say how all that worked out.

You’ve been very clear about the extra related long tail traffic. One more question please. Do this extra long tail traffic come from the main page or the secondary articles? Or both?

Thank you.

Mark N.

1. Could be latency helped, though it would have to be a hell of a coincidence.

2. If you chose the keyword right I’m sure you (and anyone) can rank high enough.

3. Yes, it happens in the same way for secondary articles (which are often based around keywords that are so easy to rank for that they automatically rank in top 5.

Loris I.

Sorry, I didn’t explain myself in last question.

Surely your “informative” and high quality main article is attracting long tail kw.
I assume this happens in the same way for the secondary. Does it or is it something very low?


Good jumps in income Mark. Two questions I have from your latest comment.

1. you mentioned, the “new articles I added were not directly related in any way or form to that keyword”. I don’t get exactly what this means. Can you give an example? just use any sample KW so you don’t reveal any of your sites.

2. the other is on keyword research. You mentioned you don’t use long tail pro. If you don’t mind my asking what tools do you use for KW research?

Thanks for all the tips.

Mark N.

Re #1:

– I have an article about “Best Blue Widgets For Women” (front page)
– The website has 10 articles in total.
– My ranking for “Best Blue Widgets For Women” is #15 and I stick there for almost 2 months.
– I add 10-15 new pieces of content to the website, which are not related to “Best Blue Widgets For Women” (though they are related to “Blue Widgets” in general)
– Few days later my rankings for “Best Blue Widgets For Women” moves from #15 to #6.

This should explain it.

Re #2:

– For KW research I use the free Google tool.
– Competition analysis I do manually mostly, with the help of

I don’t use tools for now for two reasons:

1) I don’t trust them, in general. I can’t know if the software doesn’t have a backdoor which sends all decent keywords I find back to the author of the software, providing them with a massive number of free awesome niches to build sites around. I generally don’t trust people easily online, though I am contemplating purchasing LTP because if there’s anyone I could justify trusting online, it would be Spencer.

2) I like to know what I’m doing. Simply trusting a few numbers spit out by a piece of software doesn’t teach me anything, and it means I’m basically just doing what everyone else is doing. I like to have an edge.

Donald W


I am still here also. In fact I re-read this article from time to time for motivation. To be honest I still haven’t found anything I enjoy reading more about niche sites (with the exception of Spencer’s articles) than this one. Congrats on your earnings for July! I agree completely that more content is what Google is looking for. Also the potential long tail traffic from more content is very nice!

A question I have for you is regarding link building. I have followed what you have discussed as far as your link building strategy and its awesome cause it works. But the time it takes for me to build this way is pretty significant. What do you think about the layered links building service? Also will you hire anyone in the future to do link building for you ?

Mark N.

Hi Don

Can’t really think of a reason why layered links wouldn’t work; I just consider the cost to be rather steep so I won’t be using them, as I can get exactly what their service offers (apart from the Press Release, as it would require a paid account) for around $60-$70 by using my own team of link builders and providing them with a strategy; and yes I’ll probably be hiring someone to do link building for me, though some parts of link building I will still need to do myself (the high quality links) as I wouldn’t trust anyone else to do them but me; plus if I had to find someone reliable enough to do it I’m sure they would charge way more than your average $3/h VA.

I also type very fast (around 130 words a minute), so personally I can write a crapload of average quality content for Web 2.0’s, as I don’t need to stop and think while writing as the quality doesn’t matter that much, though I understand that it might be more time consuming for others.

Donald W

By quality links you are referring to the links and that type of higher quality link correct ?

Ok so maybe my issue comes from making the web 2.0s (and other links) higher quality than they need to be as I am a decent typist myself. I do stop to think about what I’m typing though pretty often. I am most likely writing stuff that I should be writing for my actual site. Here’s an example of a generic sentence.

Buying a hat with a team logo on it gives that team monetary support. Doing this will also give you the chance to show off the team that you like. The money earned for these hats goes to pay for equipment, refreshments, and salaries for the members on the team.


Buying a hat with a team logo on it is great because you show that team you support them while also giving them the monetary support they need for games and equipment. You can also show off your favorite team by buying a hat with their logo on it so people know what team you like.

The first I actually though about the second I just typed. Also this is going on the assumption the site is about “why to buy a logo hat”.

Also a side not I know that hats alone don’t pay for those things for real teams lol. 🙂

Mark N.

Hi Don

Yes, the Wikipedia is an example, although I am coming up with other ways for getting very good (free) backlinks as well, which require some solid thinking and research for them to work properly, though I’m not willing to share the details on those.

As for the two paragraphs you typed; I actually liked the second one better (serious) 😀 yeah for me personally, if it takes me anything more than 5 minutes TOPS to write a 500-600 word article for a web 2.0, I consider it too much time and I think less while writing the next one. It’s gotten to the point where I can write these web 2.0 posts that read decently well (pretty much just like my comments here) and which provide at least some value, while watching a movie or something else on my second monitor simultaneously 🙂

My personal strategy is this: rather than create one article, post it (or save it to my HDD), then write another one etc., I basically just open up a notepad and keep typing away for 2-3 hours while watching a movie or something – kind of like telling a very long and detailed (though made up) story about a certain niche. Then when I’m done, I split that article into dozens of articles and I have content for all my Web 2.0’s for one site populated. Obviously to do this properly you can’t be outsourcing the content for your main site, as you wouldn’t know the subject well enough to make up that long of a story (well beyond 10k+ words) on the subject. Since I write all of my money site articles myself, by the time I’m done publishing 20+ articles on my site, I can write forever on the subject as far as Web 2.0’s go.

I’m also experimenting with a new way for getting web 2.0 content, which seems to be working very well. I touched upon it earlier in one of the comments giving a tip, something to the tune of “find content that has never been and likely never will be indexed by google” and use that for your web 2.0. This is however as far as I’m willing to go – you’ll need to do your own thinking and figure out how to use this information, if you want to 🙂

Mark N.

Actually, regarding the “find content that has never been indexed by google,” I’ll give one example, as it is something that I feel does not work for my particular niches, though maybe it will work for yours (it’s also obviously not the best way to go about things, otherwise I’d be using it, but I hope it will inspire you).

Here is what I did:

1. I installed a copy of the phpbb forum on one of my domains in a sub-folder.

2. I posted a few random “bla bla bla” threads in the forum, just to populate it a bit.

3. I went into the settings and checked an option that blocked the contents of the forum to be displayed to anyone (including search engines) without being logged in as a user. So basically you need to create a user account and login to see the content.

4. Once the settings were changed, I figured out a blueprint (some text, message, etc. that distinguishes phpbb forums that do not allow visitors to view content without logging in, fro other, regular, open phpbb forums) and used that blueprint in conjunction with a keyword to find forums related to a niche and which blog users from viewing content without logging in.

5. Created an account at a few forums, got approved after 1-2 days (those forums usually manually approve members), logged in, and voila – I had access to tons of pretty high quality content related to a niche and which has never been indexed by Google – from the search engine’s point of view, it’s unique and original content.

Hope this will get your brain wheels spinning 🙂 I understand some might have moral concerns about stuff like that – though I’m not interested in discussing that.

Mark N.

“conjunction with a keyword to find forums related to a niche and which blog users”

“block” users; not blog 🙂

Mark N.

“fingerprint,” not “blueprint”… 🙂

it’s 06:41 am here… going to sleep, see you tomorrow

Donald W

Ok so yes I am definately putting too much thought into the web 2.0 content. I will dumb it down and that will be a huge time saver. It seems when I think about it, it comes out worse anyway lol. It makes complete sense to just type out content without much thought because I know about the topic my sites are on and can add slight value without going overboard.

For the getting content that google hasn’t and probably wont index, your example is a good one and I’m not going to discuss the morality of it either 🙂 I don’t mind 🙂 I have actaully been using that sentence as my thought process for content also and have a few good ideas myself.

All in all I really appreciate your help here and I think you just saved me $ because I still know I can get the same things layered links provided by doing it myself I was just spend too much time on each backlink article.

Thanks again it is much appreciated.

Donald W

Another thing if I may…

Regarding pictures, do you only have pictures of the products on your site or any pictures at all? I ask because I read something in webmaster guidelines about having images on a site makes it more likable. I have a few posts that I’m testing to see how they do with minimal pictures and context amazon links and others with pictures as the links! What do you think is the best type of link to make for amazon? Content links? Pictures? Widgets? You may have answered these questions already but I was curious what you thought about these links!

Thanks again!

Spencer Haws

I pretty much only have pictures of the products; yes, images makes a site better.

Best type of amazon link really depends; my comparison chart works well that has contextual links and image links.

Donald W

Thanks for the response.

How did you get the text and the picture to all be one single affiliate link? Is that from the easy azon plugin?

I kind of thought the pictures thing was true and a site just looks strange with only text on it. The current site I’m building basically gives value by giving information about why a product will work for you where other types of the same product may not. Which in turn gives you what your looking for without having to guess which is the right one. All of the others in my niche just say here they all are and go no further. I completely agree that the comparison chart works great I just don’t feel there is a need for it in my niche. The product does not have features like your knives to compare. It’s pretty straight forward except how and what you use it for. That’s where my value is and why I was curious about the pictures.
Sorry about the rant 🙂

Mark N.

just use one a href tag to surround both the text and the image.

Donald W

Perfect. Thanks again!

Spencer Haws

I just structured the an image/URL together. If you google for “html image link” or something similar, you will see how. Its not specifically built into the easy azon plugin.

Mark N.

I have pictures of different things; if there’s a comparison table, then it obviously only contains product images. I also include lots of images describing how things work / the breakdown of the parts of a product etc. – sometimes I make my own diagrams in paint (nothing fancy) and add those to the site as well.

I don’t use widgets at all as I hate what they look like – they make my page look like just one giant advertisement billboard. Even if it were to get me a few extra sales, I’ll pass; I’d rather have a better looking and more user friendly site, where my real content is not pushed down half a screen by a widget.

Pictures convert great in terms of click through rates, though, though I don’t “bait” my readers with image links. If an image needs to be enlarged for its contents to be discernible, then clicking the image will enlarge it rather than send you through to Amazon. As far as sales though, contextual links are the best in my short experience. When I say contextual though, I actually mean it. So take this part of an imaginary article as an example:

“Blue widgets are a beginner programmer’s best friend; they make his work easier, provide for easier code debugging, and help reduce the time spent repeating the same C++ code over and over.

click here to see the best deal on blue widgets!

The best blue widgets for programmers require 100 MB of free disk space and a CPU speed of 2 GHz minimum”

The above amazon link is not a contextual link in my book. It’s just an advertisement, out of nowhere, smack dab in the middle of the text and out of immediate context – just like an adsense banner. And while of course it will definitely convert well decently (and I do place one such link in my reviews and what not), I find that what converts far better is the following:

“Blue widgets are a beginner programmer’s best friend; they make his work easier, provide for easier code debugging, and help reduce the time spent repeating the same C++ code over and over – all while being exceptionally affordable and easy to configure.

The best blue widgets for programmers require 100 MB of free disk space and a CPU speed of 2 GHz minimum”

Mark N.

In the second example, the words “exceptionally affordable” are the amazon link btw.

Donald W

Ok that’s what I thought also. I was referring to the real contextual links as well. Not the BUY HERE NOW TODAY CHEAP EASY QUICK FREE links lol. I was using a carousel widget but I am thinking you are right that it does look kind of like a sales pitch. I suppose just text and pictures is best. I appreciate it!


You mentioned in one of your latest comments that you can quickly pound out a lot of web 2.0 content because you know the topic well and have written 20+ pages on your site.

Does this mean that you only do sites wherein you know about the topic? Or does this mean that you do a lot of research before building out the site?

Also, what kind of time frame do you allocate from start (right after you setup WP on your blog) to finish (finish the last of the initial batch of posts) making the first 20+ blog articles.

Thanks, you’re posts are one of the most informational comments around.

Mark N.

Hey Winston

I never knew anything about any of the sites I have right now (before I started making the site), so yeah doing a lot of research is what I had in mind.

I don’t use time frames when writing content for my own sites, that would be counter-productive as it depends entirely on the niche, plus my idea on what the articles should look like evolves as I write the article. Sometimes writing the 20 articles can take me as little as 15 hours if it’s an “easy” niche. Other times (such as one site I’m working on right now) I had to write for 12 hours a day, 8 days a week, to complete the 20 articles (close to 5 hours per article).

There are really no rules here, except this one: if there is an article in the top 10 results of Google that is better than mine on that subject, it means mine is not good enough and I will keep improving upon it until mine is the most informative, detailed, to-the-point, well-presented resource on the first page of the results.

Mark N.

not 8 days a week, but 8 days straight. LOL!


As an add on question, when starting out the initial set of ‘base’ articles, how/where do you get the topics/titles from?

This is train of thought/thought process type of question to hopefully help me get into how you think a little. Hope you don’t mind.

Mark N.

I don’t mind at all. (Otherwise this post wouldn’t have 225 comments :D).

A few comments earlier I mentioned that I do not use any tools right now when conducting competition analysis. One of the perks of my approach is that I have to do a lot (yes, it does take some time) of digging into competitors’ websites manually so that I can determine if the keyword is worth going after or not. A “side effect” of this relatively thorough manual investigation is that I come across a huge number of ideas for other content/articles related to the subject – that’s where I get almost all of my ideas for the “base” content (the 20-or-so articles I start with), though I do use the Google keyword tool to choose the most “SEO-appropriate” title for the articles.

When researching a keyword, I actually imagine myself wanting to learn about the subject myself (it comes relatively easily to me as I have a personality that makes me become very excited whenever I discover anything new that I know nothing about). After doing some reading on the subject, I determine what type of information I would have like to have available to give me as thorough an understanding of the subject as possible and without having to navigate through many websites to get that info. I also sort of “map” the flow of information in my head, trying to guess the sequence in which I’d like to learn about the subject at hand. So if it were a website targeting as a primary keyword something like “Scuba Diving Training,” and if I were interested in scuba diving, I’d probably want to land on a website that does the following:

1. Introduces me to scuba diving, then
2. Teaches me on the subject of how difficult it is to become a SCUBA diver, then
3. What does the training exactly consist of, then
4. How much does it cost, then
5. How long might it take, then
6. What are ways I can make training go easier for myself, then
7. Where to locate scuba training facilities, then
8. What type of scuba diving facilities to avoid so that I don’t waste my time, then


I will then create the website in such a way that each article “flows” into the other naturally, ie. making sure that when someone is reading Step #3 that they can easily locate Step #4, and if they are reading Step #6 that they can easily locate Step #7, etc. – this gives me good dwell time / low bounce rate.

Once the basic outline is prepared, I will go back to each of the articles I’ve written and see where I can provide more information. So for example in step #7 (Where to locate SCUBA diving facilities), I would locate the 10 most popular facilities in the USA and write a review about them (that’s 10 extra articles)

For step #3 (what does training consist of exactly), I will create a separate article regarding each of the things I’ve listed; so I’ll create an article regarding diving safety, how to properly use breathing apparatus, how to communicate with other divers, etc. – I will use YouTube videos, official .gov or .edu PDF files with information on the subject etc. to learn as much as I can. It’s relatively easy to take even a very tiny subject and write a 700+ word article about it, if you do enough research.

Generally, the harder I find it is to locate information for the articles I am writing, the more excited I am about the niche – if I am having trouble locating the info for the articles, then I’m sure almost everyone else is having the same problem, justifying the existence of my new website even further.


Mark, I hope you can help me out. I’m on my third site and all 3 were doing well until late July when the newest site fell in the rankings, from around #12 to 95.

I’ve been reading a number of blogs regarding Google’s algorithm penalties and started experimenting. Two days ago I tested by unpublishing 3 posts (these were in the 100s in rankings), and today the ranking came back a bit to 44.

I’m guessing that it is either low content or duplicate. I did check copyscape and no duplicates but I don’t know if Google uses different parameters for duplicates.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m triggering but did notice that in the last few posts I’ve done it takes Google longer to index it (before posts get indexed within 3 days max), and the rankings get pushed back slightly (maybe 3 to 5 places) when I make some posts.

I don’t do much backlinking, each site has less than 10 comments, and about 5 social bookmarks.

1. Do you have any ideas on what is happening or suggestions that I do?

2. I’m starting to get conscious of low content but am not sure what is really means. Most of my posts are like Spencer’s individual product posts and noticed that the ‘specs’ I use are often based on the same specs written on product details. What are your thoughts on low content and what things should I look out for or change in my style to avoid this?

Mark N.

Hi Melissa,

Unfortunately I do not have any experience with fixing issues with Google rankings, so I’d rather not pretend like I know what I’m talking about as I would simply be repeating what I’ve read someone else say, while having no way of confirming whether what they said was right or wrong. Maybe Spencer can be of better help to you.

Only piece of advice I could give is that you should really focus on the quality of your content. Not because “Google says so” or because “Content is king.” Just because it makes sense and it’s after all the only thing you are really offering to those whom you intend to make money from.

Mark N.

I’ve finally hired two people to help me out with link building (I’m training them right now). Overall, it will cost me $65 to get exactly what LayeredLinks offers (only of better quality because non of the web 2.0 content is spun), minus their Press Release and plus 20 blog comments / 20 social bookmarks, all manual and relevant.

I have also started a website last month which is based around providing a simple service, and it’s doing well. The way it works is I use the website to get clients to find me, they order something from me, pay for it via PayPal, and then I have the job done by someone else found on eLance for 35% of what the client paid. A lot of the orders are coming through referrals rather than Google traffic, which I’m very happy about; although it’s a semi-seasonal business (as in it’s definitely possible that earnings from this site can vary significantly from month to month, despite there being no changes to the actual traffic).

I’ll make an update on the earnings of that site on September 1st as well.

Mark N.

Oh the only thing I won’t be getting as part of the work done by those two guys, are the Tier 2 links. I need to do a test to see if those actually make a difference in terms of rankings (and I mean actual rankings, not how fast I can rank). If there is a difference I will just buy the GSA tool for $100 and do all Tier 2’s myself.


Nice update. Looks like you’re expanding your online business. Just out of curiosity as I’ve never tried anything regarding online commerce. How you can provide some info:

1. From your experience what’s the best place/s to find people to do the work (like backlinking, outsourcing, etc)?

2. In your system, do the 2 people write the articles also or do you do the writing and their sole task is to set up the links?

3. How do you set up paypal on a website to accept payments?

Thanks. Sorry if some of the questions are amateur. I’m just starting out and really never created a blog until a couple of months ago.

Mark N.

1. I use only eLance and oDesk. The latter is nicer due to better control over your contractors, but the former has somewhat lower fees. I prefer elance ultimately though, seems like there are more contractors there.

2. They do everything. One person prepares the articles, the other does the posting and actual SEO.

3. I didn’t set up anything; it’s just a regular PayPal transfer – upon placing an order they receive my PayPal address to their email inbox and make the payment.


Thanks for the responses Mark. I re-read this post every so often to see if I can learn more and I somehow do each time. Here are 2 questions that I hope don’t sound naive.

1. you mentioned you research on the topics (I assume from the web/online) for articles to write on. From doing so, how to you do it so that you are able to come up with a page/post that contains better value, if the info is from already online (and also avoid just ‘repeating/rephrasing’ the content w/c google doesn’t like)… trying to figure out what’s the best way to do this.

2. another quote from you: “if there is an article in the top 10 results of Google that is better than mine on that subject,” then you’ll fix your article till it’s better that them. From that am I correct in assuming that for each of the article/post you write you, you compare w/ the top 10 before publishing? You do this for all the articles? Or did I misunderstand the statement.

Mark N.

Hi Winston

Re #1: I probably go over 10-15 videos/PDF files/videos for each article I write, and from each of those sources I take the most awesome information, then combine all that information (using my own words of course and simplifying the process for “noobs”) into an article. That’s how I create better value. Not by coming up with something new, but by providing the information in a better way and only providing what is truly important.

Re #2: Yes, exactly. I do this for almost all the articles, with the exception of a few (the ones where there obviously is no competition at all).

Mark N.

“videos/pdf files/articles” is what I wanted to say in the last comment.


Thanks Dude!

Thanks for the corrections and sorry you have to answer late at night/early in the morning (which I know is what’s causing your typos, been following you a while now hope you don’t get tired of my asking thanks so much!)

Mark N.

Don’t apologize. Just ask your questions 🙂


Here’s another curiosity question that stemmed out from your last answer.

I remember you mentioning earlier that you write additional articles based on keywords that lead users to your site (analytics) and some topics that just make sense/useful for the visitors.

When creating your initial base 20 articles do these topics need to have good amount of monthly searches (this came out from you just mentioning that you compare topics to the top 10 before publishing each article), or are they just based on the initial outline you feel is most useful (and it doesn’t matter if no monthly searches in google)?

Mark N.

Out of those ~20 initial articles there are probably 8-10 on average that are created as a direct result of keyword research. The remaining ones are articles that it makes sense to have on the website, but I will do my best to make them target a specific keyword that gets some traffic, if possible.

Also, those keyword research tools are not entirely accurate. I get a lot of traffic from small keywords (say for example 300 long tails which generate 1 visitor a day each) and keyword tools will show that these keywords get 0 traffic each, when in fact they are generating 300 unique visitors a day for me combined. I’m aware of that and so I’m not particularly worried if a keyword seems to have ZERO local monthly searches, although of course if possible I prefer keywords that do get traffic.


Hi Mark,

this post is becoming a blog!

I assume that after 7/8 months you are convinced that niche sites are the right way to make ends meet (btw, do you still have some pocker to distract yuorself?).

I ask you: what monetization way do you like? We know you already have experiences with affiliation (amazon) and site which provides a simple service. Which one of the two has the best ROI in terms of time and money? I ask for your point of view at the net of the fact that maybe you have not chosen the best product in your amazon site (a complex one instead of a simple).

I think I understand from some Spencer’s comments that he mainly is on adsense (as far as niche sites). Do you like adsense?


Mark N.

Hi Loris

I have been at this for less than 4 months so can’t really comment on the long-term potential of the business. I don’t play poker anymore, and I don’t like distractions 🙂

I like Amazon the best so far, but I have only 1 Adsense site so not much room for me to compare. Adsense is probably cool too. I just find it easier to find low-competition niches for sites that are better monetized through Amazon than Adsense, so I’m using Amazon mostly.

The services site is a one time thing and I definitely can’t replicate it on demand (maybe once in a while when I get a great idea), so it’s impossible to compare its ROI with that of my other niche sites.


Mark, hope you’re still entertaining queries.

I’ve got 2 things I wanted to ask:

1. what is a good negotiating price (a range would do) for the eLance/oDesk VA who’s writing the web 2.0 articles?

2. you mentioned way back that you open a google analytics & webmaster tools and keep maybe 2 sites per account. I noticed that google asks for mobile # each time, how do you get around this? Yahoo mail seems to require it now also for new mail accounts.

Thanks as always.

Mark N.

Hi Winston

1. I pay $1 per article. Takes time to find someone who will do it for the price, but now I have a suitable writer from Africa with above average English who’s willing to work long term.

2. Over here in Poland cellphone pre-paid Sim cards can be acquired pretty much for free (as long as you only want to receive calls and not make them). I use a different card for each account.

I no longer use google analytics by the way. I’ve completely switched over to Piwik.


Hi there,

about point 2 here my way to protect my privacy when I login to google:

– clean my cookies in pc (CCleaner)
– start a new internet connection with proxies or dynamic IP
– do only my works (kw planner, webmaster) in google for the account and then logout
– end connection
– clean cookies
– restart connection with different IP


I forgot. Firefox browser, not Chrome (I be sure it’s closed).

Mark N.

Looks good. I recommend using the “Incognito Browser” when logging into the Webmaster tools in this case. CCleaner is known for not removing certain cookies in some cases. The absolute best way to make sure no cookies or anything are left is to run the browser in a Sandbox (like Sandboxie) and then delete the contents of the sandbox when you’re done browsing – nothing will survive this. This might be a bit overkill for some though (it’s not for me as I use Sandboxie on a regular basis anyway to defend against viruses and trojans).


Sandboxie. I didn’t know it. It seems a great tool, thank you.


Cool! I love your creativity Mark… you keep coming up with really ‘out of the box’ methods. No wonder you’re succeeding greatly.

BTW, am I correct in assuming that the $1 per article is for 500 words?

Mark N.

Hi Wiston

It’s for 450-650 words actually; I ask for the articles to be of random length within that range.

Mark N.


Sorry about that


No worries Mark. I knew what you meant, just mistyped the name.

Hey, wanted to run something by you. When you already rank in page 1, do you have to continue to add backllinks over time (even if at a slow/slower pace)? (in order to maintain the rank or can you just leave it)

The question popped into my head as I was looking at some of the top ranking sites in majestic seo, and it was showing gained and lost backlinks. My understanding is if you lose enough it may harm your rank?

Mark N.

I haven’t been doing this long enough to know so can’t really answer. So far none of my rankings have suffered, but my sites are getting natural links slowly from small relevant websites, so can’t really say what would have happened if I had no new links coming in at all.

And yes of course if you lose enough links it WILL (not “may”) harm your rankings.

Mark N.

There’s still a day to go this month but I’m posting the income report early as I might not have time to do it tomorrow, so rather do it too early than too late.

Amazon image 1:
Amazon image 2:
PayPal image 1:
Neteller image 1:

The PayPal and Neteller payments are related to the services site that I mentioned a few weeks earlier. I had to do a lot of censoring on the Neteller screenshot as there are some transactions there that have nothing to do with my websites (payments to and from friends that have to do with real life).


Amazon: $2305
Paypal: $2436 total. $1583 my share after deducting freelancer fees
Neteller: 315 total – $204 my share after deducting freelancer costs

There’s also $50 in adsense that I won’t bother screenshot-ing.

So total for August is $4142, plus whatever I make today (most likely only Amazon sales, probably $70-$80 or so).

I no longer feel comfortable posting income reports, so this will be the last one I add. I actually wasn’t going to post this one but figured a few of you were already expecting it, so here it is. I’ll still be checking this thread to answer questions though 🙂


Thank you Mark. You said you were going to post incomes and you did it.
One request if you can otherwise it’s ok, I understand. How much from the only first website? I am interested in it because it’s related to the most important thing I’ve learned from you: keyword selection.

Mark N.

Hi Loris

Aroun $1,200 is from the first website (Amazon).


You’re doing great!

Just a few questions about the split on Amazon, if you don’t mind.

1. How many sites do you currently have now? And do you need to rank like #1 in all/most of them to achieve that type of ROI/site?

2. To get a site making $1200, I assume its #1, how many pages does it currently have?

I hope this isn’t too intruding. I just want to have an idea on how many sites, and what sizes to build (I have a target amount I need to make to cover monthly bills and a bit of extra savings).


Mark N.

Hi Winston

1. I am focusing on a smaller number of sites. I had 14 total but I’m selling some of them (already sold 1) as I don’t want to focus on any sites that are so narrowly targeted that I can only have 20-30 articles on them. I’m focusing mostly on growing bigger sites. Right now I have 4 sites making money + the services site. Whether you need to rank #1 will vary – I have a site ranking #17 for the main keyword but it made $400 last month.

2. My main site has about 85 articles right now.

Mark N.

My plan for the next few months is to start 2 sites with huge growth potential. Think but somewhat more targeted. These are sites that can potentially have thousands of articles or tens of thousands, and I already know the market and how much can be made in it because all of my current sites making money are related to the subject of these two sites.

Also, I’m probably going to start a site that teaches people how to make money building sites, though that will be 6+ months from now once I gain more experience. However, it will not be targeting the US market, as I feel it would be difficult and would take time to differentiate myself from the competition. Instead, I’m going to target the Polish audience. There is virtually no competition (and whatever competition exists is very weak, with the “gurus” making less than $700 a month) and the market is huge; over half the country has access to the internet and making even $1,000 “passively” a month would be the achievement of a lifetime for most. So I think I could really quickly and easily establish myself as an authority and swallow the whole market.

Mark N.

Oh and I’m also likely starting a “copy” of my main site. I’m very curious to see how much a second, very similar (though with a “twist”) site can make when targeting the same keywords / same sub-niche exactly.


Thanks for the help Mark. I really appreciate you’re being so open and willing to help. I’ve got 2 questions.

1. This one is regarding the site at #17 making good money.

a. From what you know, what features/characteristics make it successful even if it’s not doing great for the main KW (is it lots of articles, large mix of kw, etc.)

b. How would you compare it to your other sites that are ranking better, why do you think it’s not doing as well?

2. This is a question about the individual review type of articles. I was looking back at Spencer’s knife blog and it seems almost all (maybe 80+%) is individual review.

a. do you do these types of reviews on your site, and if so how much of a % of the articles are they (just a ballpark)? I ask because you mentioned that you won’t go for smaller ones that max out at 20-30 articles. If you do a lot of these they easily go over 20+. So am I right in assuming these don’t make a bulk of your site?

b. With regards to these types of individual product reviews, do you have tips on how to go about making them so the result has better value than everyone else’s reviews?

Thanks. Sorry lot’s of questions this time… it just came to me. Great you’re starting a site. Sadly, I don’t know Polish so won’t be able to read it. It would be great to be able to.

Looks like you’re doing a lot to expand. You really seem to know how to organize/manage time to get all that done.

Mark N.

Hi Winston

1a: lots of long tails + well-priced products + the market seems willing to buy online very easily

1b: it’s younger than the other sites, and doesn’t have as many links, so this is probably the reason.

2a: reviews are my converting pages – they are the ones that make me money, so I have as many of them as possible. There are tons of other articles as well which do not make me money directly at all, but teach my readers more about the product and how to use it. I probably have a 50:50 split between reviews and non-reviews.

2b: no fancy tips really, it’s all about the amount of work you put into it. You must take what the competitors made and do it better. What they did not do because it takes too much time, you put in the time and do it. What they did not include because the article would have been too long, you include that and make your article as long as possible. Where they were too lazy or ignorant to break the text into small, easily-readable chunks of information, you do that to make your reviews easier to dissect.


You make it sound so easy. I can see where all the work is going into, and it’s paying off.

Here are some other questions that popped up from the last few comments here I re-read:

1. Do you go back and update the web 2.0 properties that you build for backlinks? I remember just reading recently that some of these sites make your account dormant or something like that if they’re not logged into or any post has been made for a while. Some 3 months, some 6 months, I think.

2.You mentioned just a few posts ago you’re moving into toptenreview style sites.

a. When you mention like toptenreviews are you talking about one category of theirs for example, top blenders, where they list the blenders and make reviews, or are you talking about like best kitchen appliances and make one best list for each item? (w/ the latter having potential to go 100 articles or more but less specific KW)

b. I’m having some difficulty picturing what a “good value larger site” is, can you give a couple of examples of those you feel fall under this definition (relative to what we’re doing — affiliate)?

3. I went back to looking into KW research yesterday and noticed that a lot of old ‘easier’ KWs I found are now a lot more difficult. After that I seemed to have a bit of a problem finding new KW. Do you have any hints to get ideas that help in finding new KW ideas?

Thanks so much for you help Mark.

Mark N.

Hi mate

1) No, I haven’t went back to any web 2.0 site that I’ve created so far. Yes you are right, some platforms do block your account if you don’t log in to your account in a while. But they do send you an e-mail with a link and if you click that link, the counter is reset and you have another 30 / 60 / 90 or whatever days before your account is blocked. The way I’ve solved this is that for each e-mail account I use to create blogs, I enable a redirect which sends all incoming emails to one e-mail account. This way all such emails come into just one e-mail box that I log into once or twice a week and re-activate any blogs that are about to expire by just clicking a link.

2a: It’s definitely much closer to the second option. I don’t want to focus around just one product. As an example: imagine having the Best Survival Knife Guide site and a Best Survival Canned Food sites and seeing them both do well, and then starting a site about survival gear in general. Something like that.

2b: unfortunately I can’t give any examples here without revealing more info about my sites than I would like. Again though, refer to my “survival gear” website above. It’s basically a site that covers a lot of closely related subjects, without going TOO broad though.

3: I can’t really say because like I mentioned, I don’t use competition difficulty analysis tools. So if the difficulty of a keyword went up from 30 to 45 according to some tool, I wouldn’t even know that. I doubt in real life the difficulty of a keyword would ever suddenly jump like that. Unless a few pages in the Top 10 suddenly got a huge boost of inbound links and/pr significantly improved their content (which I really don’t think can happen quickly), it must be some sort of glitch/delay related to the tool(s) you are using.

As far as finding new keywords go, it’s all about volume. It’s not about trying to find that one perfect way that will always yield you good keywords. It’s about running through as many keywords as possible, as quickly as possible, until you find something you like. The only real advice I can give is to try and use different approaches than most people do to find the keywords. This will increase your chances of finding stuff that other people have not found yet.

Personally my approach right now is not to keep looking for new keywords, but rather to expand on and build around what I ALREADY see is working. I see no reason why (even though this was initially my plan, as it seems to be what everyone is doing) I should be content with a website making $1200 a month and then just go and look for new keywords. Rather, I’d prefer to build more sites around those main keywords, expand on the niche with a more authority-type site, target the same niche but from a different angle, etc.

The way it’s evolving right now is that I’m kind of slowly becoming an expert on a certain segment of the market. So I’d rather do as much as I can to squeeze the market for all its worth, rather than spread myself too thin across many different markets.


Thanks for the reply Mark.

Am I understanding the structure of the toptenreviews-like site correctly? What you’re doing is building a few similar sites then later putting them all together as one instead of building one massive site at the beginning covering for example, survival knife, gear, canned foods, etc.

Sorry, when I asked about the couple of example of the sites I didn’t intend for you to reveal your sites (you mentioned that in your answers to Spencer)… it was more of are there some similar ones out there worth looking at as a ‘guide’ to a certain degree?

Thanks again.

Mark N.

No, I see no reason to connect them together (I used to want to do that but I don’t anymore). I’d rather leave the smaller sites alone and making money, and then build a much bigger site (from scratch) to earn even more money. No need to limit myself.

As for examples yeah I understood you well. What I meant is that the only example sites I know of are very closely related to my niche, so I can’t reveal them. I don’t unfortunately know of any examples from outside of my niches. It’s just a large website, no mystery to it really. Just a big, solid, kick-ass website covering an entire sub-market, with thousands of content.

Donald W

Hello Again Mark,

If during your work you come across the result building tier 2 links to your back links has on your site (from a previous comment) would you be obliged to post it here. Pinging my back links is working well just re-reading this post and all of the new comments had gotten me curious about the results doing that will have when/if you start.

I also want to say some of your later ideas just get better and better. Keep up the great thinking out-of-the-box.

Thanks again for the idea of content that Google hasn’t indexed yet.

I don’t know if this will help you but you’ve given me so much I figured I’d throw this one out there for you. If your site has something that you know stores or places your sites products are sold have pamphlets on, I found that I can pick a bunch of these up and type them up. These pamphlets are not yet indexed by Google because most are only on paper not online. I re-write them a bit too so if they do get put online mine are different. Just helped a lot with more content ideas for back links. I actually even found one or two I re-wrote for my site that there wasn’t much info online about.

Just a thought! Keep it up and I appreciate everything you have done!

Mark N.

Thanks Donald, a solid idea with the pamphlets and it kind of reflects the way I’m getting my web 2.0 content (not exactly, but fairly similar) 🙂



1. With the larger you’re building does that mean that you aren’t using a keyword domain name like Spencer’s *Best Survival Knife* Guide, or at least only one of the keywords will used in the domain?

2. If this is correct, do you find that ranking the other “Best of” pages harder or it doesn’t matter?

3. I have a question on mixing amazon affiliate with other brand/retailer affiliate programs. Is this okay with amazon’s terms and conditions, and if so does it work well or is it better to use just amazon? I’m asking because I found a keyword where amazon doesn’t have too much products, so I’m looking at affiliate programs by the manufacturer themselves and other retailers. Though having 3 to 4 different manufactuerer’s + amazon could be a bit troublesome to manage.

Mark N.

Hey mate

1. I don’t use exact match domain names even for my smaller sites, let alone for the larger ones 🙂 I do use a partial match though as it just makes sense. So like my Best Survival Knife Guide domain would have been something like And the larger site would probably be something like or something similar. It’s very important to have a decent domain name, mostly because when getting in touch with other site owners with a link request, I’d rather ask them to link to than 😛

2. I’m not sure I understand this question.

3. Can’t offer any advice here unfortunately as I haven’t combined different revenue sources on one site so far. I do think there was something in’s Associates Agreement about it being against their rules to link to other affiliates sites on the same PAGE where you link to Amazon (but it’s fine to link from a different page on the same domain, as long as that page doesn’t contain an link). I’m really not sure about this one and didn’t care because I was planning to link to Amazon exclusively anyway. Best thing you can do is e-mail their Associates customer service – they are super fast to reply and very helpful.


I agree with your answer to #1, having words like “best”, “onsale”,”cheap” on the domain name does sound spamming and will quickly turn off many people. For larger more “reputable” sites it does make more sense to not use those words and just partial KW.

As for question #2, I’ll try to clarify. This is in relation to you mentioning that after building successful smaller sites (thus, testing if the niche is viable), you’ll build a bigger site combining the different smaller site’s KWs (w/ the survival example). The question mainly comes from the fact that I’ve noticed that most of sites’ main ranking ability is with the home page (I could be wrong and do correct me if I’m mistaken).

So if you combine survival knife, survival gear, survival food for example into one bigger site, you’d want to rank individual pages for each of these ‘major’ keywords. Do you find it harder to rank these major KW pages if they’re located internally as opposed to being the home page of the site? (which is what happens to some major KWs when combined into a larger site).

Mark N.

I don’t think there is any difficulty difference between ranking the front page or an inner page on the domain. For my bigger sites though I don’t plan to do the same type of link building as I do for the smaller sites (there will be no Web 2.0’s etc). Rather, it will be done purely through outreach. Basically I’ll be going for less but far higher quality links, and I’m sure I won’t have any problem getting those given the quality my bigger sites will have (they’ll be much better than my current smaller sites, but I guess that’s obvious).

Let me give you an example (imaginary, but it should be illustrative) of what I mean when I say you need to go beyond what your competitors do.

Again let’s assume Best Survival Knife Guide as an example, and that I’m reviewing a certain survival knife. My review will not only include all the best info you can find on it online (including what users of this knife say about it in forums, YouTube videos, etc.), but I would also go a step further and do the following (again, this is just an example of my thinking process, not what I’m actually doing because I don’t have a site about survival knives):

1. I’d go to a physics / industrial materials online forum and post a few threads until I figure out the properties of the material used in manufacturing the blade of the knife.

2. Again using Google/Forums/Yahoo! Ask, I’ll roughly figure out how to calculate the friction cause when a blade made from this material comes in contact with different surfaces.

3. Then I’d make calculations and include in my review of that knife a chart that might go something like this:

[How long before the knife needs to be re-sharpened]

1. If cutting branches: approximately 10,000 cuts
2. If cutting rope: approximately 30,000 cuts
3. If cutting and preparing meat from wild game: approximately 25,000 cuts

Etc. Takes a lot of time to figure this out initially, but once I go through the process once for one knife, I can easily and quickly repeat it for other knife reviews.

So right now the reader has found some VERY unique and helpful information that he won’t find anywhere else on the web. Not only that, but any other interesting information to be found online about the knife is available in my review as well, only explained in simpler terms so that even a newbie will understand everything . (Reviews are often written in a way that assumes the buyer knows industry-specific jargon etc.)


Great info as always. You never seem to amaze me with your inventiveness. I think you’re correct with moving to the bigger sites which is safer from Google’s changes.

Something that came across my mind as I was conceptualizing the ‘shift’ from the smaller niche site that looked more like an affiliate site to one that’s bigger, more informational (authoritative) site.

1. Do you use a similar style of home page as Spencer’s knife blog where you have a table and the reviews. While thinking things through I felt (I could be wrong) this style looked a bit more spammy (not overly, but still a little) compared to many bigger sites which had a more ‘elegant’ informational front page.

2. I’d really be interested in your thoughts about (if there is any) the approach to be taken building content (or the outline of the content/articles to be covered) when building the smaller sites and the bigger sites.

As always, thanks.

Mark N.

First of all, I wouldn’t use the word “shift” here. I think both have their place and I will definitely be using both. Regarding your questions:

1. No, for the bigger site I won’t use a comparison chart on the front page simply because it wouldn’t make sense (not because it is “spammy” as I don’t think it is). A big site like would be about tons of survival gear – I wouldn’t know what to compare on the front page as there are too many different items, and I definitely wouldn’t want to have 10 different comparison charts on the front page, one for each type of items. So the front page would simply be a gateway towards the inner pages. Also, I’m slowly moving away from the “comparison chart” model and more towards a very detailed and user-friendly product filtering system. So if I had a Best Survival Knife Guide site for example, I wouldn’t just have a “Best survival knives” chart. Rather, I’d have a few options to choose from like:

[ Blade size ]
+ 2-3″
+ 4-5″
+ 6-7″

[Handle type]
+ type 1
+ type 2
+ type 3

[Price range]
+ range 1
+ range 2
+ range 3

[Blade material

+ material 1
+ material 2
+ material 3


This way I don’t have to limit myself to just a list of 10 or 15 or 20 different items on the front page, makes it easier to organize content, and also much easier for the reader to find what they are looking for (I think it’s way better than the comparison chart model).

2) I’d rather not go into it because it varies significantly depending on the niche / type of articles. There is no “blueprint” here to follow. You just have to take a look at your competition and figure out how to make your articles better than what they have. It’s that easy (and that hard) 🙂

Mark N.

I should have made it a little clearer regarding the product filtering system above.

So basically next to each of these many different options there would be a check-box. The user would check the options they are interested in, click “filter,” and only then will a comparison chart (like the one used by Spencer) be displayed, listing the products that match the filtering criteria.


The chart you’re doing sounds like a real cool interactive feature that visitors will appreciate. Nice idea.

Wanted to get some info by you Mark.

1. When outsourcing the cheap web 2.0 content how do you check if if the articles they write are unique? Do you run them through Copyscape or some free duplicate checker?

2. I wanted to ask you how many larger sites do you think is manageable? I know small sites can be made and left alone, but bigger sites can they be managed simultaneously as easily or after 3 or 4 it starts getting difficult to handle? Or am I getting this all wrong?

Mark N.

1) Yes, I have paid Copyscape credits (comes out to I think 5 cents per check)

2) I have no clue yet, time will tell.


Mark, hope all is going well and according to plan. I was wondering how do you structure the pricing & rates for the VAs who post the outsourced articles for the web 2.0 and other backlink sites?

Mark N.

Hi Winston

The tasks you mentioned are the least demanding ones. The VA does not need to do anything complicated nor anything that requires knowledge or even decent English writing skills (they basically just copy/paste and follow instructions). As such, I can hire very cheap VA’s for this job – 50-60 cents per hour.


Hi Mark,

you said for your first site you didn’t use EMD. After first article published, how long did it take to be ranked? First Spencer’s project (EMD) took 4 days.
Thank you

Mark N.

What exactly do you mean by “rank”? You mean appear in the top 500 results of Google?

At any rate – I really don’t remember exactly. But I think it was a few days before I was able to find myself in Google (though far away from the top 5 pages for sure).

There’s really no rule here unfortunately in my opinion. It will likely vary by:

1. Niche
2. Keyword competitiveness
3. How you structured your site
4. The Google Algorithm’s current mood

Here’s an example:

I had a site that was an exact match .com domain name for a relatively low volume (1500 / mo.), VERY low competition keyword. The site had 16 articles in total (front page + 15 reviews). I built links to it just like I did for all my other sites. After 3 months, I couldn’t find myself anywhere in the top 500 results of Google and the site was getting 1-2 unique visitors a day. I figured the site was not worth my time and that it wouldn’t generate decent money anyway even if it ranked well, so I sold it for the value of the content available on it.

I have another site that’s targeting a keyword with 3,000 / mo. searches, and which is low competition but more competitive than the keyword in the earlier example.It’s only a partial match domain, with a .biz extension. I built less links to that site than I did for the previous site. 9 weeks later it’s getting 100 unique visitors a month, I’m ranking on the first page for my primary terms and the site is making $70 a week.

None of the sites above targeted e-commerce keywords (pretty much zero e-commerce results on the first few pages of Google results). I don’t think there’s a real pattern to be found, and if there is – I have no clue what it is 🙂

Mark N.

Sorry; in the second example it should have said “it’s getting 100 unique visitors a day” not a month.

Mark N.

Oh and someone asked earlier about tier 2 links (I forgot who it was and I forgot to reply to that).

Ultimately, I’ve decided against doing it. My thinking is this:

If building a mass number of automated links for your money site is a really bad idea, why should it be a good idea to build them for my tier 1 links? It doesn’t make much sense to me. I can see it working a bit for the short term but don’t see it working in the long term, so I’ll pass.


Hey Mark,

It’s been a while. Hope things are going well in your ventures.

I outsourced the backlinking tasks for one of my sites similar to what you’ve described and am at the middle of page 1 for the keyword with it after a few weeks. I wanted to run things by you on what I did to see what you thought about the costs I took.

Basically, I spent $80, I tried to stay at a limit because I know I’ll need to replicate this type of system over and over (at least to a certain degree) for other sites in the future. And also I’ll need to add some every so often to keep the rankings up just in case.

The breakdown is $45 for article writing (at $1 each), $10 for commenting on PR+ blogs, and $25 for someone to post the articles on web 2.0 as well as other type of links you listed above for diversity. Not sure if this is expensive of “low cost” enough.

I’d like some of your insights as well as suggestions based on the things you’ve learned recently. I’d also be interested in what you’ve been up to.

Thanks for all the help.

Mark N.

I think the costs were fine. You can probably reduce that to $60 if you look for cheaper freelancers, but $80 is definitely a very good deal.

You should make sure your content is good enough for it to draw natural links. If you do that, you won’t need to build any extra links to “keep the rankings up.”

As for what I’ve been up to:

1) I’m launching more sites in the niches that have proven to work for me.

2) I’m focusing far less on SEO and more on the content. As far as link building goes, I’m doing much less of it now than I used to, but instead focusing on higher quality links. 2-3 links from decent related websites seem to be stronger than dozens of Web 2.0 properties, and the time/costs required to get those 2-3 links are much less than what’s required to build lots of web 2.0’s. I’m still building blogs/blog comments/etc., but right now it’s almost solely for diversity’s sake and I’m not spending more than $20 on it all. The rest of my “SEO budget” will now be spent on VA’s who will be researching and finding prospects I can contact about links; then I do the contacting personally.


Thanks for the input Mark.

Yes, I believe you’re correct. Excellent content will help get better links (which are far more powerful) and also means less manual work. I’m going to work towards that and I think you have the right mindset as far as approach is concerned.

The other thing I was wondering was for the $80, I got around 70 links, this was the amount I set out based on simple estimates so I have no idea if this figure is high or low. For the $60 you mentioned what kind of ballpark figure as far as # of total links does that come out to?

Great hearing from you and that things are going well.

Mark N.

Hi Winston

I haven’t exactly counted, but I’d say it’s in the same range – 60 to 70, but definitely not more than 70.


Thanks Mark.

This is an extra question I forgot to ask last time. When I outsourced the linking work, I had to send the links/posts to be done every few days (in fear that they might just post them all in one or two days if I gave them the entire list and articles to be posted). This was done over a span of slightly over 2 weeks, which after a while became an added ‘hassle’ considering you’re paying them to do the work. I guess I’m too overly careful.

Do you have any suggestions as to how to do it so it’s less taxing (having to resend lists,etc. regularly) and more on autopilot then you just check the daily reports they send?

Thanks again for all the info and help.

Mark N.

I had the same concerns when I started outsourcing. Basically I told my VA’s that they need to add the articles/comments/links very slowly, over the course of 3-4 weeks. I gave them some basic guidelines (like no more than 1 blog a day, no more than 2 comments a day, etc.). Told them that they need to follow that because otherwise their work is not only worthless to me, but it will also damage me, and basically made it absolutely clear that I would not pay for their work if they failed to follow this guidelines. Haven’t had any issues so far.


That’s good to know. So selection of someone trustworthy with a good track record really counts.

I’m currently trying to start a larger type of niche site like you mentioned before and in the process of making the outline the article/subtopics that I’ll be targeting to write about.

A question that crossed my mind when it comes to building links for the pages/posts (since they’ll be internal pages) do you build to the specific pages also to ‘push’ them up the rankings?

For example, let’s take best survival knife and hypothetically, the subcategories like bowie knife, fixed blade knife, hunting knife, machete, tactical knife, etc. have high enough monthly searches that each of them could warrant their own ‘smaller’ niche site. But in this case we put them into a large site that can make 100s of articles.

When it comes time you want to rank the sub categories like tactical knife, bowie knife, hunting knife, etc., do you build links to each of the subcategories to get them up the rankings? Or is there a way to get them to rank without making a campaign for each of the categories.

Hope my question is clear.

Mark N.

Hi Winston,

No, for the bigger sites I’m taking a completely different approach. I will only be building a handful of links (mostly from a few expired domains I bought, and will also link from my other niche sites on the topic.

So going back to your hypothetical example, I already have separate niche sites for: Hunting Knife, Fixed Blade Knife, Machete, etc. And now on the bigger site each of those smaller sites will link to the appropriate category page on my bigger site, plus a few expired domains, plus a few links from outreach to other website owners in the industry.

After that, I’m completely relying on natural links.


Cool! You must really have excellent content. I’ve been able to get some backlinks from the content but not as much as I’d hope for and not enough to keep things sustained.

Funny you should mention them, I’ve been mulling over getting some expired domains over the past couple weeks but haven’t taken the plunge because the entire process seems a bit daunting (lots of things to do to get it right, I may be wrong here since I’m not entirely sure how to do this yet). On that topic:

1. how much do you suggest on spending on a domain? I understand this varies on numerous factors like PR, # of links, quality of links, citation flow, trust flow, etc. but in general what do you think is a threshold so as not to be ‘overspending’ on one since we’re probably talking of having to get a few expired domains over time.

2. One of the things that have kept me back from purchasing an expired domain is I’m not exactly sure how do you do it such that over time, the domain keeps its ‘power’, and doesn’t lose its PR, juice, etc. Is it by adding content over time, adding more links or something else? It would really be wasteful to get a high PR quality domain only to lose that value over the next 6 months/ 1 year.

3. The other main question with these are how to use them. I understand the best is to use 1 expired domain for a site, or maybe one for a few sites in a similar industry/niche. But doing so would be more expensive right? So I’m not sure what the balance is between cost and efficient use of the expired domain. Would like to hear your thoughts. I’ve seen people use an expired domain in a ‘star’ formation where it links to all their niche sites, which seems dangerous to a degree (but less costly).

Mark N.

1. I buy expired domains that I find online by looking for dead links, hence I only pay for the cost of the domain (it’s not a domain auction). So it costs me $10 per domain. I don’t look at PR, citation flow or trust flow – just the links pointing to the site and their quality (I assess it subjectively; if the links look natural, and look like something I’d be happy to have pointing directly to my money site, then I don’t care what other metrics have to say about the site).

2. I don’t worry about that much because I get the domains so cheap. I add one piece of content ever 3-4 weeks to each domain and that’s all I do to maintain them. Whether this will be enough in the long term – we’ll see.

3. I only use the domain to link to the sites that are very closely related to the topic. So if I have an expired domain about survival, I will use it to link to my sites about Machetes, Knives, etc. Right now each of my expired domains is directly pointing to 3-4 of my main sites.

Mark N.

One interesting thing to note:

In the niche of my main website, there’s this online store that’s very high quality, respected, and considered THE authority when it comes to products in that niche (let’s call them X store). I would much rather point my readers to them than to Amazon, as they have fantastic customer support for those specific products, a HUGE inventory of related items, and basically are in every way better than Amazon when it comes to that specific product. In fact, I often get e-mails from my readers to the tune of “Thank you so much for your excellent reviews, I have just bought [product] from [X store] and can’t wait for it to arrive!”

The problem is that this website does not have an affiliate program.

So I contacted their support, asked them for an e-mail address of the person responsible for marketing, and started discussing things with him. I presented her with an outline of my traffic, sales volume at Amazon, etc., and right now they are seriously considering launching an affiliate program just for me, or setting up a PPC partnership with my site – according to my rough calculations, I stand to make at least 70% more with them as I can with Amazon.

This hasn’t panned out yet, but regardless of which way it goes – it’s worth stepping outside the box and making things happen for yourself.


Thanks Mark, you’re inexhaustible.

The same happens in my niche and maybe later I will follow you even in this.


Great move! I love the way you always think outside the box.

On that concern I’ve also seen a number of other sites that carry a wider collection of products in some of my niches but have always wondered if it is okay to mix Amazon’s affilate program with others. Say for example Amazon if doesn’t carry as much running shoes because they don’t specialize in this, can you have other shops like nike, zappos or eastbay and have them all on your site? Does this violate any Amazon rules?

The other question I have has to do with an earlier reply you gave on the expired domains. How do you host these purchase expired domains so they look natural and don’t look like they’re ‘related’ to one another in any way in Google’s eyes (in terms of who owns them)?

Mark N.

1) I’m not sure; I do remember reading something about this in Amazon’s terms of service. You’re better off asking their Associates support.

2) Each domain is hosted at a different hosting provider (I find an use ones that charge no more than $1.50 a month for hosting).


Hey Mark,

Just got off a chat with Amazon support, they said that a site can mix other affiliate programs with Amazon since out agreement with Amazon affiliate isn’t exclusive.

Just FYI in case you ever bump into a niche where you may want to use Amazon with other programs.

Mark N.

Thanks a lot for the info, definitely useful stuff to know.

P.S. 300 comments! 🙂


Woohoo! 301 now, oops including the spammer above me, this is comment #302. Don’t know if Spencer will delete that spammy comment.

Anyways, here are some things I wanted to get your opinion on.

1. When outsourcing with oDesk and Elance, did you have to verify by give them your credit card? I kind of didn’t want to and if there’s a way not to do this I’d prefer that. When I did the Elance thing, even though I’m using paypal, they still asked for the credit card. I’m getting a bit wary because by doing all these things, paying different services I’m starting to leave my credit card number in more places than I’m comfortable with.

2. Here’s a somewhat silly question, when you have articles written do you check if the original articles (these are for the main sites, ie. quality original contents, not web 2.0) aren’t ‘re-writes’ (ie. they pass copyscape but were ‘exact’ articles on sites that were just paraphrased/rewritten, you’ll be able to spot them easily if the articles are side by side but they’re totally worded differently)?

I tried out a few and some came out okay but there were a couple that I realized were just ‘rewritten/paraphrased’ from another website’s page (I knew them because I was writing some articles on the topic also and saw those sites while doing the research).

By rewrites I meant, same paragraphs blocks mostly but totally reworded to mean exactly the same thing, sometimes just different phrases or terms, etc. So they sound high quality because they chose good posts, but to me seem like ‘duplicates’.

Mark N.

1. No, I don’t believe I had to provide my credit card number at oDesk, just PayPal. Then again I’m not sure, and I don’t pay much attention to it because I don’t have a credit card (only a card that “mimics” a credit card, but I get to control the monthly payment limits via an online account, which is currently set to $1 a month. So I can provide the card number for verification purposes but no money can be charged to the card.)

2. That’s not possible in my case, as my instructions for the articles to be written are extremely detailed and unique. I don’t just tell a writer to prepare an article on “xyz” ; I give them very specific instructions on what the article should include, what it shouldn’t include, etc. There are no articles online that could be re-written to include the information I want to have in my articles. They have to do the research and write themselves from scratch, there’s no way around it.

Mark N.

And as far as outsourcing content for your main website (not web 2.0’s etc.) goes, it’s FAR cheaper to get a hard-working, driven writer who’s not afraid of doing extensive research, but who’s English isn’t perfect, and then have a native proofreader fix the text.

For instance, if I wanted a writer who was both a great researcher and had FLAWLESS English writing skills, I’d need to pay $50+ per 1000 words to get the quality that I’m after (I’ve researched this and could not come up with anything lower, most actually wanted $60+).

On the other hand, you can find a really great researcher with decent English, have him write the 1000 words for $10-$15, then have a native proofreader fix the article for $5. This way you get an article of the same quality for $20, rather than paying $50 or much more.

Mark N.

And another tip: I use It’s a free system for project management; you can create new tasks, assign them to writers/proofreaders with deadlines etc. – everything is awesomely streamlined. It makes coordinating writers/proofreaders MUCH easier.


Great tip Mark, thank you.

I pay $60 per 1000 words so if there’s a way to get them cheaper …

However, the assumption is that the material to be searched, although in a extensively way, it has to be online. I’m currently building a nichesite about a product whose details are only offline (by calling the producers, talking with users, etc.).
And here I find myself to pay $60. In my case I have to include that they are written in perfect english.

Mark N.

I understand perfectly. While my niche does have information available online, it’s similar in that my writers also need to contact producers and get in touch with users. There’s also a different approach that you can use:

1. Hire a VA for $3/h to collect all the information you need
2. Provide that information to a decent writer who will prepare an article based on the collected information; since they wont need to do any research at this point, you can likely find a writer with very solid English who will do it for $10.

This would of course require some work on your part (you’d need to provide your VA with precise instructions on how to conduct their research so that the data they collect can be later used to write an article). It’s only time consuming the first time though – you should reap the benefits later.


Super! Thank you.

I hope on day to repay you.

Mark N.

Just had a record day – 107 items sold in a day, $350 affiliate revenues (yes, I’ve calculated them for each item manually :).


Chapeau! 🙂

Mark N.

Merci 🙂


That’s great to hear! Congrats! Here’s to continued success.


Hey Mark, just thought about this and hope you don’t mind shedding some light on the income (it’s not direct but more an estimate of how to make that amount).

How many sites do you think does one need to make that kind of daily income, and how large do you think those sites need to be on average (just an estimate so I have an idea, I know there are tons of variables but some indication would be nice even if you count conservatively)?

Thanks as always. Congrats again! Here’s to more.

Mark N.

This question is incredibly difficult to answer, even if I were to speak conservatively or give only a rough estimate. You could make it with just one site having 50 articles, or it might require 20 sites each with a few dozen articles. No way to answer this unfortunately. It depends on way too many variables for anyone to be able to give you even a ballpark estimate.

Mark N.

And just so you understand – that 107 / $350 day isn’t the norm – it was a record day, not a daily occurrence. I probably average around ~40 items on most days, but I do get 3-4 days a month where it’s much more than that. My best day so far revenue wise was a $420 day, and ironically I only sold around 15 items that day, though a few of them cost more than $1000. So this last record was in terms of the number of items sold in a single day, not in terms of income. Hope this clears it up a bit.

Mark N.

And to further clarify: the number of items you can sell is very niche-specific. The type of niches I am in have LOTS of related items, that you need to buy along with the main item. So imagine having a site that focuses on selling fishing rods, but then the person who buys a fishing rod also buys 2 packs of bait, 2 packs of hooks, a cable, a reel, and maybe a book or two about fishing. So when I say I have sold 107 items it doesn’t at all mean that I had 107 different buyers – it could have been only 10 people who made purchases, but the nature of my niches makes it very likely that the one person will buy much more than just one item.

If you have a website about survival knives though, this isn’t necessarily the case – most people will just get a knife and that’s all they really need. So you shouldn’t compare the number of items someone sells on their site to your own performance, because without knowing the nature of the niche it’s worthless information. Still, I liked having more than 100 items in one day and it took me completely by surprise (since I had “only” 30 items the previous day), so I immediately posted about it here 🙂

Mark N.

Random thought: you know you’re doing something right when someone finds your site by typing the phrase “amazon [product name]” (just happened to me) 😀 a bit of a joke, but probably there’s some truth there.


Haha! But that’s true. When you’re site is being directly ‘linked’ by Google’s algo then you know you’ve hit something in their code that’s right.

Hey Mark, I was looking at some of the keywords and the top ranking niche sites on them and wanted to your thoughts. Here’s what’s been bothering me.

I noticed that a lot of the top ranking niche sites (not all, but a good % of them) are small, like less than 15 pages usually under 10, though some at 10-15 and only a handful over that.

So they’re strategy is to put few posts and link/SEO the hell out of their site to get up there.

Here’s my question to you since you have some real good performers and I know you put tons of useful info on them.

I you have a large, useful site that doesn’t rank, (hate to do this but let’s use Spencer’s knife site). It’s content trounces those ranking above it but it’s out of the top 10 whereas the less content ones are high up there. Is it still worth the effort?

To put it in brief, you work harder, longer and will pay more to build a larger site. The question is, is it worth building large, content filled sites (that end up not getting to the top 10 for example) since it can still end up earning good monthly income even not ranking on the main KWs? (I can’t tell because I don’t really know how much those non-ranking larger, useful sites are. I know some do well without ranking in top 10 but am not sure).

My question stems from what I’ve seen in the top 10s, and also because I’m starting to build bigger ones (so more time invested). So doubts are starting to creep in if this will pay off.

Wanted to know if you know of non-ranking large KW sites that earn well.

Thanks as always.

Mark N.

Hi Winston

If you don’t rank for the main, large keywords, then you will need a lot of content to earn good money from all the possible long tails. However, just because you don’t find yourself in the top 10 results for the main keywords after 2 or 3 months doesn’t mean you won’t get there. For instance there are two smaller sites (~20 articles on one, ~30 articles on the other) that I built in June this year and completely ignored as they did not rank well and were getting 5-10 unique visitors a day tops. Two weeks ago they suddenly started ranking (even though I did not do anything with them) and now one is making $5 a day and the other is making $20 a day. I think you need to give a site at least 4-5 months before you actually know where it stands in the rankings (could be faster, but doesn’t have to be).

If even after that time frame you don’t rank at all, I’d go back to the keyword and try to figure out if you didn’t mess up your keyword research, or if due to some recent Google updates some new authority sites haven’t suddenly emerged in the top 10 results, making the keyword considerably more competitive.

Donald W


I’m not Mark but I wanted to chime in here. I have a site currently that targets a main keyword that is Average competetiveness and average searchs a month. While im not ranking on page one for that term (yet) I have alot of related content about the niche on all of my other pages (about 15). While this is not a huge number those seperate 15 pages earn and get way more traffic than my main keyword ever has. My hope is that in time it will rank higher as time passes on and will start to earn but for now my strategy is to keep building pages on helpful related niche topics and keep earning from those pages while letting my main keyword build up as I go.

I only say this because I came here to give a HUGE THANKS to Mark because following his strategy (and to give credit where its largely due Spencers strategy) my site is finally becoming successful. I want to say thank you Mark because of all of the help you have given me and answers to questions I had. I also feel like I am evolving away from the initial stratgey as I go, similar to how you are evolving. An example is in regards to building links. I am now looking for those links that are just one link with power and related to my niche vs. the 100 web 2.0s. One good link drives my site higher than any web 2.0 ever has. I now only need them for diversity.

Another thing Mark was able to get through to me with, where for some reason I never understood it before, is in regards to building the site for the people you are trying to help and worry less about search engines. I still use SEO to help my site rank but the content I provide now is the highest quality online and in my niche. So all in all I stopped over analyzing everything to the finest details and just let it be what it will be.

AWESOME record month too congrats! Ill be there someday !

Mark N.

Nice one 🙂

Mark N.

I figured out a way to pay taxes (really low ones too, just a few percent) on my affiliate earnings, so I’m no longer worried about posting income reports here. Here are some October numbers:

There’s also around $1200 from my “services” site (the one I mentioned earlier) and around $130 in Adsense sales.

That totals to more or less 10 times the average salary here in Poland; this money is pretty much enough for me to live a whole year without any worries 🙂 Still feels though like it’s only crumbs falling off of the e-commerce table, and I’d like to triple this number before the end of 2014, which should be possible if no unexpected Google changes hit severely hit my sites.


Way to go Mark! Your efforts are bearing fruit (very large ones I may add)!

It seems every month or month and a half you earnings double! Great work.

I remember you mentioned in an earlier comment that 4 sites made up the income. Is that still the case (the sites have gotten larger) or you’ve added more large sites?

Mark N.

Same sites, only earning more. My main BIG site (the one I’m building right now) hasn’t started earning yet.

Donald W

Congratulations Mark thats really awesome. The thing I like about reading your updates is that every time I feel like Im getting somewhere I see what your doing and it pushes me to do better! Thanks again and congrats!

Mark N.

Thanks for the kind words Donald. Keep on movin’ 🙂

Donald W

Hey Mark,

Quick few questions for ya if ya dont mind.

I noticed in spencers latest post you said you had a small PBN did you follow hadens methods or did you find a process elsewhere ?

I ask because im looking into this method also but am wondering if your using scrapebox and xenu or if your using (which I dont like).

Also curious about if these are the higher quality links your were referring to previously. And if these links are what has boosted your earnings!

And did you find queries recently that resulted in better results than other. (this question you don’t have to answer if ya dont want to and I’ll understand the reason for not wanting to.

Also I understand if you dont want to answer any of these questions. I was just curious as Im procuring a very small number for a small PBN of my own for only my own sites. Nothing public at all ever. Too Risky!

Thanks again.

Mark N.

Hi Donald

No, I actually have my own method for finding the expired domains. Hayden’s method works as well (I tried it), it’s just that mine is more targeted, meaning it lets me find domains very relevant to my niche without wasting much time going through thousands of domains before I find what I need. I won’t share the method here though as it’s very unique and can be abused very easily.

No, the higher quality links I was referring to previously are something else; I basically have a way to actually make other webmasters in my niche contact me by themselves (out of their own free will) and request from me to list their business details (without even a link, just business contact) on my website in a special directory. Once that is done, I ask them if they would consider linking to one of my other websites in the same niche, and they agree 100% of the time. So basically I don’t even need to go out looking for quality links anymore (although I still do it sometimes) – other webmasters do the work for me.

And no these links are not what has increased my earnings recently, at least I don’t believe so. My websites are getting natural links and I’m assuming those are the ones that made the biggest difference.

“And did you find queries recently that resulted in better results than other.” <— I don't understand this question unfortunately.


Love the way you think out of the box Mark. I guess that’s one of the reasons you’re so successful so fast.

I noticed that I get a lot of spam comments and also from the contact us sections. How do you manage these things?

Donald W

Winston I believe there is a default plugin called askinet or something like that that comes with the default wordpress install. It works pretty well. I just delete that junk myself but then again spammers don’t seem to come to my niches arena much.

Donald W


Ok cool I didn’t think that’s what you were referring to as far as the higher quality links go.

Now there’s an idea! as far as giving webmasters something that would make them want to contact you and have you list their business information. Then you can just kindly ask hey would you mind linking to me since I did this for you and BAM instant,easy, relevant, high quality backlinks. Another HUGE benefit of that is that you get their info and get to pick out where and who you want to ask for links from.

Good stuff Mark always a pleasure speaking with you.

My last question was in regards to finding expired domains and what were some things you might search for to find them. I don’t however need that answer too much now though. After I asked I thought about it for a bit and hit some pay dirt.
And I apologize about the question. I didn’t even understand it when I first read it back!

Keep up the great work, I still feel like your a few years ahead of me though! I’ll catch up one day!


The success stories are the different thing is a every different users and all.

Mark N.

Hi guys

Anyone notice a spike in sales yesterday due to Black Friday?


Hi Mark,

I can’t help because there’s no Black Friday in my country …

Donald W

Hey Mark,

I noticed an increase. Also an increase in unrelated item sales too.

Mark N.

Exactly the same here. Triple the average sale volume (with lots of unrelated items) and double the income. Wish it was like that everyday lol 🙂

Mark N.

Happy 2014 everybody!

December was a great month due to the holidays:

There’s also around $1k from the services website and $180 in adsense, so overall a little shy of 20k total.

Mark N.

BTW I did almost no work in December, other than uploading a few articles that I had written in November. So in total I worked maybe 2 hours in December and the money was just rolling in.

Spencer Haws

Congrats Mark! Whenever you want to do an official update (on a new post) to your success story, let me know 🙂

Mark N.

Thanks Spencer, will keep it in mind 🙂


Maestro Mark N. I am stunned! 🙂

Thanks for the great teachings and happy 2014 cin cin

Mark N.

Wish it would be the same every month, lol. Tho my sites are still gaining traffic month by month, so if Google does not make any crazy moves in the immediate future I should be able to make this a regular income within the next 3-4 months.

I can live off of that $20k for a good 20 months over here, comfortably. It almost feels like winning a tiny lottery 🙂

Donald W

WOW Mark CONGRATS that a huge income for december. Completely awesome.


Hallo Mark,

can you explain me how you write your articles?

Do you first think and make a structure or do you just start writing?


Hi Mark! Wow, your december earnings are excellent! You should probably think about updating this post as Spencer suggested 🙂
Anyway, greetings from Slovakia! 🙂

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