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EXECUTION Building an Authority Site in a hobby niche- on an expired domain.

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Genius01

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I'm currently in the process of building an authority site in a hobby niche, using an expired domain.

It's in an evergreen hobby niche that is likely to be around even in the next 100 years and beyond (I hope, lol).

****************
For those that don't know,
An expired domain is an aged domain name that was previously used by another company before allowing it to expire for whatever reasons they had, and a good one would have acquired some useful backlinks while it was being used. It's believed that its age and those backlinks may help it rank better in search engines, compared to starting from scratch with a brand new domain name.
This is absolutely whitehat and recognized and accepted by Google (provided it's done correctly), as companies may change domain names or buy and sell domain names as they desire.
It's controversial whether this actually works for SEO or not, a lot depends on the domain name and what it was used for, the nature of its backlinks (whether good or bad), and the relationship to what it's being used for currently.
This thread will shed more light on it, based on my experience from my own project.
*********************

GENERAL OVERVIEW:

Overall Aim:
To create a site that will become a major authority site in that hobby niche, and a dominant brand in that niche, by being a major resource for the enthusiasts in that niche, with high quality content.

How:
I'll outsource the content creation to qualified writers in the niche. Don't have the time or the inclination to write articles there myself.

I'll also hire link builders to help me generate backlinks (strictly whitehat) by reaching out to other blogs and high authority sites in the niche for guest posting opportunities, and other link building strategies, to help rank higher in the search engines.
Everything that will be done on this site is strictly whitehat, as I plan for it to be around for a long time, possibly as long as the niche exists, so I wouldn't want to jeopardize its chances by doing something as stupid as using blackhat techniques.



Sources of Traffic:
Will generate traffic from SEO, and social media, as well as niche forums, groups and email lists.
I plan to do this by creating quality content, as well as organizing contests and giveaways and other things that attract some attention in the niche.

I fully understand the risks of relying solely on SEO and Google's mercurial updates for traffic. So to mitigate that, I plan to diversify the traffic sources by building a strong social media following, as well as as large email lists and push notifications to keep people coming back. And all the while, building a strong brand in people's mind to keep them coming back by direct type-in traffic.

Sources of revenue:
Affiliate partnerships majorly initially, then later on diversify to ecommerce and possibly subscriptions.

I also recognize the inherent risk in relying solely on affiliate income, so I'll mitigate that by joining as many high quality affiliate programs as I can (so that if one goes belly up, the impact is less), rather than relying on one major affiliate program like Amazon. I'll also later diversify into ecommerce and possibly subscriptions later on down the line.




I have no idea whether this project will be successful or not, but I reasonably believe it has good chances of success, based on my research.

Either way, Win or lose, I would have learnt a lot.

And you guys will have a front seat watching it play out.


I decided to create this thread to document the journey and process, so others that are interested can benefit from it.
And also to help keep me accountable.
 

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Looking forward to your updates!
 

Genius01

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MORE DETAILS:

I acquired the domain name around mid last year, for 3,000 dollars, in an installmental payment plan over a year.
I paid that much for it because it was already generating an average of $100 monthly from the existing traffic to the domain, with absolutely nothing on the domain, just a few parked ads. So just the revenue on the empty domain name alone made it worth at least $3,000 (at a 30x monthly profits multiple which is the online industry standard).
In addition it had existing reasonably good looking backlinks, good age of the domain (around 15 years or so, never dropped), and a brandable domain name.

However, I didn't do anything on the domain name until ending of last year, (not even parked ads), as I was busy with other things.
(I suspect this long period of lying fallow may have a significant negative effects on Google's perception of the site and initial rankings, but I'm not sure how significant it is and to what extent).

I hired my first writers in December last year.
I posted 5 posts in December last year, and then started posting more actively from beginning of this year.

Currently, I've published 36 posts, ranging from 1,500-2,000 words in length, and plan to keep publishing at least 20 posts a month, preferably 24 posts monthly. Or I may use some of those posts to improve existing posts, to enable them rank higher.


Current situation (mid March 2021):
Total posts- 36
Traffic- 1,500/month
Income- $0 (yet to monetize the site, will start placing affiliate links today to start some monetization).
I've created no external backlinks yet of my own, all the domain has is it's old existing backlinks.

It's SEO profile currently (for those interested)-
Moz:
DA- 34,
Referring domains- 297
Ranking keywords- 36
(2 on page 1, those are the domain name and a closely related keyword; 2 on page 2,
13 on page 3,
15 on page 4.)

Ahrefs:
DR- 36
Referring domains- 209 (76% dofollow)
Backlinks- 4,758 (86% dofollow)




Goals for the site:

Long term goal:
Make at least $50,000 monthly in profit by end of second year.
And at least $100,000 monthly in profits by end of 3-4 years.


Goal for this year:
Make $15,000/month in profits


Goals for this month March 2021 (ending in 2 weeks time):
-Publish 20 posts this month (currently only 4 so far, as 2 of my writers left ending of last month).
-Hire 2-3 new writers
-Hire link builders/link prospectors to help generate guest posting opportunities and other backlinks. (Strictly whitehat methods only).
-Organize a contest this month (I plan to organize monthly contests to help drive traffic and engagement and links).





Goals for this week:
Add affiliate links to my site
Hire 2-3 writers and create 8 posts this week.
Hire link builders and let them start work right away with outreach for guest posting opportunities.
Create my contest.




I'll update this thread weekly, at the end of each week to summarize the updates, wins, losses and lessons of each week.
Unless something unusual or spectacular happens.

So that's about it for now.

Let's roll and see how things go.
 

alord

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Good luck buddy!

I actually experimented with this about 8 months ago, in 6 months my dropped domain bought on Godaddy action was already making money, while my other projects built on fresh domains were still not getting any good results.

If you have any questions feel free to ask, happy to help, I just bought two new domains and have many friends banking over 10k a month with just expired/dropped domains.

1615807479386.png

But yeah, it's definitely a hit or miss strategy. Where have you got your domain?
 

Genius01

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Looking forward to your updates!
Thanks. Good to have you around, do have a seat and have a drink...lol.

I did get a ton of inspiration from your Kindle publishing thread when I joined the forum, I must say.
Was a really good one. :cool: :thumbsup:



Good luck buddy!

I actually experimented with this about 8 months ago, in 6 months my dropped domain bought on Godaddy action was already making money, while my other projects built on fresh domains were still not getting any good results.

If you have any questions feel free to ask, happy to help, I just bought two new domains and have many friends banking over 10k a month with just expired/dropped domains.

View attachment 37195

But yeah, it's definitely a hit or miss strategy. Where have you got your domain?

Thanks. I'll be sure to reach out if I have any issues.
Yes, a number of people report earning faster when building on an expired domain, than on a brand new domain, mainly because Google recognizes an expired domain much faster and so ranks it faster.
And yes, it can be hit or miss, though I suspect the "miss" part is largely due to undetected issues with the domain name that the new owner did not discover, or is yet to discover.

I saw the domain mentioned on a domain trading forum, that's the most popular domain trading forum- Namepros.com, contacted the seller and negotiated a deal.
 

alord

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Thanks. Good to have you around, do have a seat and have a drink...lol.

I did get a ton of inspiration from your Kindle publishing thread when I joined the forum, I must say.
Was a really good one. :cool: :thumbsup:





Thanks. I'll be sure to reach out if I have any issues.
Yes, a number of people report earning faster when building on an expired domain, than on a brand new domain, mainly because Google recognizes an expired domain much faster and so ranks it faster.
And yes, it can be hit or miss, though I suspect the "miss" part is largely due to undetected issues with the domain name that the new owner did not discover, or is yet to discover.

I saw the domain mentioned on a domain trading forum, that's the most popular domain trading forum- Namepros.com, contacted the seller and negotiated a deal.

Awesome man, good luck. I have no idea how skilled you are already with this, but this guide helped me a ton to get started: Expired Domains SEO Guide 2019: The Rebirth Technique II suggest you check it out
 

Wolves

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Hey @Genius01, how did it go so far? I'm planning to start a nieche site too, just to learn SEO skills since I have a natural talent for writing in good quality very fast, and I'm wondering what's possible with good execution.
 

Genius01

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UPDATE (LONG READ AHEAD):
So it's been 6 months since I created this thread, and 9 months since I started the site.
Apologies for not updating so far, sort of got sidetracked along the way.

So what's happened so far?

OVERVIEW:
First off, a confession- I haven't done half as much work on the site as I would have liked, or planned to do. Probably not even a quarter of what I planned to do.

More due to my lack of deep commitment than any other thing, though I also got sidetracked by other life events, lost a job so funding the project was an issue, and lost a very close family member in quick succession.
Though that's not a truly acceptable excuse in my mind as I feel if I were more committed and focused, I should still have found a way to work around those challenges.

The initial plan was to publish 20-24 posts per month.
However I ended up publishing like 10-15 posts per month.
By June I had published 65 articles in total on the site, before I got sidetracked and haven't done much on the site since then.

So basically I have about 65 articles currently published, length averages about 1,500 words per article, but ranging from 1,200-3,000 words per article depending on the requirements of the article topic.

The articles consist mainly of a mix of helpful informational articles (How-Tos and the likes) interspersed with "money" articles- review articles that review a round up of various equipment and tools in the niche, that are monetized with affiliate links to the product pages.

I deliberately kept the ratio of informational articles more than the review articles, for 2 reasons:
1. I want to play the long term game, so I want to develop a resource that will be truly useful for learning things in the niche, and a central reference point for hobbyists in the niche in future.
Think of it like a Nerdwallet in the niche, to answer any and every question in the niche eventually.

2. Google has been penalizing sites that are strictly full of money articles, those with a high ratio of money pages to purely information pages. That's the review sites, as it feels they're just out to grab money and not to deliver value.

I haven't done anything else on the site other than publish the articles on the site, though that in itself requires some work to be honest.
"What work"?....as some may wonder.
It includes having to do keyword research, give out article topics to writers, receive the articles, review them, make corrections and some "back n forths" till it's acceptable, then to edit, add or optimize images, and finally publish the articles, and then add your affiliate links after some months.
And do this for each article that gets published.
So it actually involves some work upfront, but the work usually pays off later when you have a huge stock of articles and the site is generating huge incomes on almost autopilot mode, with relatively little or no effort by that time. And it can also be outsourced if you have the resources.


EFFECT OF USING AN EXPIRED DOMAIN ON SEO:
One of the reasons why I started this project was to see if there is truly an effect on SEO and speed of ranking when you're creating a site on an aged or expired domain, compared to starting with a brand new domain.
The general feeling is that it does, but there was a lot of debate and controversy about it, with some people maintaining that it does not have a significant effect and that they hadn't seen any appreciable results.
So I wanted to find out for myself.

Findings so far:
Using an expired domain has a HUGE effect on your rankings, both on the speed at which you rank and how high you rank, IF you get the right domain.
Normally, a new domain takes 6 months to start ranking because of the Google sandbox for new domains, and 1 year to start gaining traction and appreciable rankings if you do things right.
And even then, it starts lower down, and gradually climbs over time till it starts ranking at page 1.
In my own case,
My site shot up the rankings once it was 3 months old, once the articles posted were about 3 months old, almost on the clock.
It was literally ranking position 1-5 on some articles, over sites that had been around for much longer, established sites that started several years before mine with similar articles.
I noticed that it particularly ranked higher in those articles that were directly on the exact topic the old site was about, claiming the number 1 spot easily and in some cases, the Google featured answer at the top.
And this was over heavyweight sites like Amazon and some of the major authority sites in the niche.

How I even got to realize it the first time was funny. I wasn't really monitoring my rankings at the time.

One day I was adding links to an article I was about to publish, and was wondering whether to use a particular style of call to action button or not, and was curious about what sites that were ranking in the niche were doing in that regard.
So I typed in a random keyword in the niche, which was a moderately competitive keyword, to see what the sites that were ranking on page 1 of Google were doing.
And to my surprise, I saw my own site sitting pretty at the top! (Had an article for the keyword in my site).
Then I typed in another keyword that was a main keyword I was targeting for my site, and saw my site sitting at the top again, claiming the Google Featured answer at the very top of the page, ahead of even the number 1 in the regular search results!
And these were commercial, buyer intent keywords, not just informational How-Tos.
And this was ranking over very well established sites.
And this happened right about the 3 month mark.

And from there other articles I've published have continued to rank reasonably well, though the best rankings are those that are tightly related to what the domain was used for previously.

And also worthy of note,
This is without any form of formal SEO optimization whatsoever!

I have done zero real SEO optimization so far, other than creating reasonably high quality articles of good length, and ensuring that the keyword appears one or two times in the body of the article, sometimes none in its exact form in some articles, instead including LSI keywords, which are variations of the target keywords.
And then optimizing some of the images for SEO in some of the posts.

No internal linking, no backlinks, no guest posting, no silo strategy, nothing.
I must say that these are not the absolutely most competitive keywords in the niche, but they were at least mild to moderate competitiveness, judging from the pages ranking for them.

So having an aged domain name definitely helps in ranking, if it's a good domain name with good quality backlinks and you're using it in the niche for which it was used before.
No point in using a domain name that was previously used for a gaming site for example, to build a site for cosmetics.
So I suspect those that said it didn't work for them probably used them to develop sites in other unrelated niches, or the domain had some undetected issues with it eg having being used for spam or porn or terrible backlinks or stuff like that. So you must check the domain you want to use thoroughly if you wish to use one.
Cos it could also be a double-edged sword if you use one with a terrible history, it would probably make all your efforts at ranking null and void.


So that said, any underperformance of this site that occurs is likely going to be my fault, due to my actions or inactions, as the domain has proven itself to be a good one.
It's like sitting in a Ferrari on a highway and cruising at camel speed.
Though I'm picking up back now and activating the steps to utilize it to it's full potential.

Guess I'll break the post here and continue below to avoid it getting too long... I hate overly long posts too.


PS: edited for better formatting.
 
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Genius01

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CURRENT STANDING:

Compared to the last time I updated the stats, in March 2021, I've added 30 more posts to make a total of 65 posts, traffic has grown almost 6 times to 8.5k monthly pageviews, all organic as I've done zero promotion of the site in any form so far.

Current situation (as at September 20, 2021):
Total posts- 65
Traffic- 8,514 pageviews/month (5,948 unique users, 6,619 sessions).

Users and Pageviews last 30 days as at Sept 19, 2021.png


Its SEO profile currently (for those interested).
The numbers in brackets are the changes compared to last time reported in March, 6 months ago-
Moz:
DA- 33, (-1)
Referring domains- 325 (+28)
Ranking keywords- 772 (+736)
Ranking positions:
Position 1-3: 40 keywords
Position 4-10: 100 keywords
Page 2 (11-20): 170 keywords
Page 3 (21-30): 165 keywords

Ahrefs:
DR- 35 (-1)
Referring domains- 286 (+79), 66% dofollow (-10%)
Backlinks- 2,239 (-2,000), 83% dofollow (-3%)

Note:
I've still not actively created any backlinks on my own. Any changes in its backlinks so far would consist of the new backlinks the site and its new content acquired on its own, balanced by other sites removing some of it's old existing backlinks.



INCOME:
Started like raindrops and is gradually growing slowly.
Added Amazon affiliate links for the first time at the tail end of April (last 2 days of April), and even then was just to 2 money articles alone, and subsequently slowly added to others, and the income has been slowly growing from raindrops to little trickles and then hopefully to little streams and then large streams.

Hers the monthly income so far:

April 2021: $8
May 2021: $42
June 2021: $191
July 2021: $217
August 2021: $355
September 2021: on course to make $500 this month, has made $350 as at September 20th which is exactly 2/3rd of the month, so will likely hit $500 by the end of this month.
See screenshot below.
Amazon earnings as at September 20, 2021.png


TOTAL REVENUE SO FAR:
Has made over $1,000 in revenue so far since I monetized it, crossed the $1,000 total revenue mark sometime earlier this month, in its 9th month of life.
Definitely nowhere near profitable yet, as I've invested over $5,500 in total into this so far, but it's growing and coming up.
It's the natural history of content sites for its revenue to grow slowly in its first year, and then start growing rapidly, and finally start snowballing by the end of its second year such that one month's income may even exceed all you've spent to get the site to that point. And by then it's cruising on autopilot mode where it needs relatively little maintenance and expenditure.
So I'll keep at it.

That said,
I feel the site is still seriously undermonetized, as the only form of monetization currently is Amazon affiliate program, and that is limited to only the money pages.
And we all know Amazon pays peanuts since they slashed their commission rates early this year.
Most content sites that do well in income don't depend on Amazon anymore, and use other affiliate programs, and this is an area I'll be exploring strongly soonest.

I haven't used the other affiliate programs up till now because when I tried Shareasale (a major center for physical products affiliate programs) several months back, they rejected my application, and when I researched why, I found it was likely due to the fact that my site was very young, about 3 months old at the time, and had little traffic, less than 2,500 pageviews at the time. So I learnt that it was better to wait till the site is at least 6 months old and has traffic above 3-5k monthly before applying to them.

So now that the site has come of age, I can now reapply to them and other large affiliate program aggregators like CJ, and can then monetize with higher paying programs.

I have other plans up my sleeve to grow the income of the site as well, and that will be discussed later on as we proceed.
I honestly feel the site has strong potential to become a dominant force in its niche, sort of like how Nerdwallet is in finance.
I only need to push myself hard to execute my plans for it and bring them to fruition.

It also encourages me when I learnt that Nerdwallet made only $75 in its entire first year when it started 12 years ago in 2009, and is now worth over $500 million.
It's stated somewhere in this CNBC article-

So I'll just keep pushing.
You just never know where you'll get to if you keep pushing.

Thanks for reading.
 
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Genius01

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Awesome man, good luck. I have no idea how skilled you are already with this, but this guide helped me a ton to get started: Expired Domains SEO Guide 2019: The Rebirth Technique II suggest you check it out

Thanks, will check it out. Though the link is not opening currently for some reason, guess the site may be down at the moment.

Hey @Genius01, how did it go so far? I'm planning to start a nieche site too, just to learn SEO skills since I have a natural talent for writing in good quality very fast, and I'm wondering what's possible with good execution.

It's not going too badly so far, I've not just been doing as much as I should have been doing on it.
But I'm picking up again now.
I've just dropped the current updates.
I think you should go for it, it's a useful skill to have IMHO, and can be applied in many businesses.
I'm learning about it in detail as well.
 

Genius01

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PLANS GOING FORWARD:

These are the things I'm doing to grow the site actively going forward.
They all need to be done as a matter urgency.
I'll be going after them one by one and be ticking them off as soon as I'm done.

  • Get content creation going on immediately:
-Get my old writers back on board and actively creating content weekly, to create the money articles and review articles.
-Get new passion-driven hobbyists as hobby writers to contribute added content for free or a little token. Since I currently cannot afford to create quality content at the volume I would like currently, I'm looking at exploring ways to boost content by getting hobbyists who are passionate about the niche to contribute content they naturally enjoy writing about to the site for a little token or for free, things they would normally write and post on forums and groups for fun, not to get paid.

  • Join other affiliate programs immediately and improve my monetization.
  • Do proper onsite SEO ASAP for the site, internal linking, silos, etc.
  • Get my social media channels up and running and active.
  • Start actively trying to build a brand in Google's eyes and in the eyes of my site visitors.
  • Start driving traffic through alternative sources as the various social media platforms, particularly Tiktok, IG and Pinterest.
  • Create a Deals section for my site to showcase deals on tools and equipment that might pop up from time to time, and a Black Friday page.
  • Create a monthly contest to create attention and drive traffic to the site. Not sure whether to start it this month or next month (as this month is almost gone and it may take some time to work out the details of how the contest will hold and be judged, and also promote it. Will probably start next month while I use the last week of this month to finetune the details.)
  • Do a monthly interview of a prominent person in the niche each month and feature the person as the Personality of the month.
  • Start actively developing backlinks, all whitehat techniques. Anything blackhat is a no-go area, even grey hat, in the long term interest of the site.
  • Start specifically trying to get media mentions, as they significantly help with SEO and traffic.
  • Get my site's Youtube channel up and running, and get a content creator to help me create youtube videos in the niche. I envisage Youtube could become a significant source of traffic and branding for the site in the long run.
  • Start actively promoting my site's already existing articles to audiences that may benefit from it, not just waiting for Google to drive traffic to them.
  • Start building an email list.
  • Possibly add an ecommerce section to my site, either now or in the long run.
  • Finally, relearn how to build an authority site in 2021 afresh (refresh my mind on its core principles in case there are strategies I'm missing out), and learn the nitty gritty of SEO.

So these are the strategies I have outlined to help me take the site from where it is now to where I want it to be.
They're arranged in no particular order, but the ones at the top are closer to the top of my mind, so looking at it, it's probably in descending order of priority.
But I'll tackle them in any order that makes sense me at each point in time.
And cross them off my list as they're done.
And I'll discuss the details of each part more when I'm working on it or done with it.
I'll probably update this thread weekly, probably at the end of each week.
We'll see how it goes.

I know exactly what I need to do, it's getting myself to do it that has been the problem and executing it as well as I planned (the devil is in the details as always).
Thankfully, the issue of getting myself to do it is now in the past, as I'm hell-bent on making this site a success.
It's basically a function of how well I execute now.

I've also seriously considered raising funds for this site and growing it at scale superfast. As I think the site has massive potential based on some fundamentals.
And can reach huge scale if powered right with the right funds and executed right. Like 8 figures scale at the minimum or more. Maybe like close to a Nerdwallet in size and scale ultimately, or bigger.
Basically the Go big or Go home concept that Kak talks about sometimes.
And do so either by taking on investors or taking a loan.

Or alternatively to just grow slowly and gradually by reinvesting the profits.
But there are major pros and cons to both sides, maybe I'll discuss them in a later post sometime.
For now, I'll keep ruminating on it and doing the things at the top of my list.

So I think that's about that.
We'll see how everything goes.
But one thing you can be sure of, I'll never stop till it becomes fully successful and I'll keep you guys all updated however it goes, good or bad.

Cheers!
 

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