In this video, I interview my friend Duke, who has an awesome success story using the Keyword Golden Ratio.
He recently hit $1,000 per month and has some serious trajectory since he’s publishing a lot of content!
- How he got into niche sites
- How he accidentally used the KGR
- Writing Viral Style Headlines
- Tips for beginners
- Duke was featured on the Humanproof Designs Podcast
- Authority Hacker – https://www.authorityhacker.com/
- Niche Pursuits – https://www.nichepursuits.com/
HERE IS THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW
Doug: This is another success story on the Keyword Golden Ratio. Today, I talked to a pastor named Duke. Duke has a site that made $967 in March of 2018, with just about 200 visitors a day.
We’re going to go over all the details. If you want to hear from Duke in the future and get an update, please be sure to leave a comment. So, here are a couple things that Duke shares with us.
His tips on viral type titles to help name all your blog posts, to hopefully get a higher click-through rate, and his tips for beginners, which is a little counterintuitive, and I find it pretty interesting and very helpful. I actually agree with him. So let’s get to the interview right now.
Doug: Hey. I’m Doug Cunnington. I’m sitting here with Duke. Welcome, Duke. How are you today?
Duke: I’m doing wonderfully. How about yourself?
Doug: Doing really well. Thanks. It’s sunny here in Montana, and at least for the next 24 hours, it’s not supposed to snow, so I’m happy about that.
Duke: Yeah, I’m glad I left coal country. We were in Gillette, Wyoming, so don’t they get it.
- 1 How Duke Got Started
- 2 The Keyword Golden Ratio For Early Traffic
- 3 Why Low Search Volume Keywords are GREAT
- 4 Getting Started with Blogging
- 5 The Viral Component of Blogging
- 6 Getting Out of the Google Sandbox
- 7 Launch a Niche Site with 10 Posts, then Add More
- 8 Viral Ideas For Niche Sites
- 9 Duke’s Advice to Beginners
How Duke Got Started
Doug: Got you. I want to hear about your site, Duke. I want to know a little bit about the earnings and just the traffic right now. Then we’ll back into the story and hear how you got to that point.
Duke: Okay. Well, I have two sites now, but the first site I did, that was a niche site. Amazon-affiliate type site. Actually, it was born out of frustration. I was searching for a project that I was trying to get accomplished for live streaming, and I could not find the information that I needed to get it going. And so, I was using it for a specific purpose. I had started out trying to use an old camera and how do you get the old camera to actually send you real video to a computer. So then, you can put it over on the Internet.
And what I was looking for that I didn’t know at the time was an HDMI-to-USB converter. Actually, that’s what I ended up with. But I needed an AV out of that camera to convert to USB to go to the computer. I searched and searched and searched, couldn’t find it. Finally, stumbled upon something in a forum and got what I needed, and I went, “Man, there has to be a website that deals with these types of technology issues that I deal with.” I mean, there was a couple of them, but they were not Amazon-affiliate sites. They were just blogs, and they were not even SEO-optimized or anything, and I thought, “This would make a great niche for an Amazon site.”
I had been searching for a different type of website because advertising websites, like with AdSense or with ad networks, the return on investment is continuing to drop, and the revenues are continuing to drop, and it’s becoming a lot of work for little money.
Doug: Right. I’m sorry to interrupt you before we go on. So what is your revenue at right now that we’re looking at? Just so people can quickly get a sense of why we’re talking.
Duke: Well I just came in under $1,000 in March.
Doug: Cool. Congratulations.
Duke: It was like $967.
Doug: Okay, so, maybe this next month coming up.
Duke: Very good.
Doug: What’s the traffic at? Just to give people an idea right now, like the last month?
Duke: In March, it was right around 200 visitors a day.
Doug: Got you, okay.
Duke: So 6,000 people for the month.
Doug: Nice. So that’s really … I mean, that’s a great amount of revenue for that many visitors. I think I cut you off. I’m sorry, Duke.
Duke: That’s all right.
Doug: So you’re about close to a thousand, about 200 unique visitors a day, and you were telling us that you were basically trying to find a solution to a problem and you ended up with a bunch of sites with maybe not great information. Did you eventually … you know, so we have a conclusion to your story. Did you eventually find the right cable?
Duke: Yes, I found the right converter. It actually is 120 bucks or whatever, and I have a whole article on how you do it now.
Doug: You could help others.
Duke: Yes, and that’s how I started, and the niche has actually proven to be fairly popular. It’ll never be a large site because it is so narrow in focus. But it’ll definitely be profitable.
The Keyword Golden Ratio For Early Traffic
Doug: Very cool, very cool. I’m going to toot my own horn here. So the Keyword Golden Ratio played in some role in what you were able to accomplish. Can you just describe maybe like when you heard of the Keyword Golden Ratio and then how you implemented it personally?
Duke: I had stumbled across Human Proof Designs, Authority Hacker and Niche Pursuits. In there somewhere, either you did an article, or they referenced you. And so, then I found you on YouTube. At that point, you were talking about Keyword Golden Ratio, so I started looking. About 40% of the articles I have on the first site is Keyword Golden Ratio articles.
Doug: Cool. You did that without knowing. You just were very minutely focused, or did you intentionally write those with the Keyword Golden Ratio? Or you just discovered that you already followed it?
Duke: 50/50. I went back and looked at some of them that I was already targeting, and they were Keyword Golden Ratio compliant. But then I specifically went looking for more.
Doug: Got you.
Duke: So about 40% of the articles, it’s like, I’m going to give a different niche because I’m not going to out my niche.
Doug: Yeah, just use ballpoint pen just to-
Duke: Okay. They would be like, “Best ballpoint pen for greenhouse workers.”
Doug: That’s a great format, by the way, for people that are just getting started. It’s like product type for a user type or a specific application. That’s a great way to look at it, yeah. Basically, it sounds like there is a lot of Keyword Golden Ratio content. You stumbled upon it by accident. And then after you realized that that is actually where your site was getting a lot of traction, you doubled down on it, and now, you’re intentional about what you’re publishing.
Doug: Got it.
Why Low Search Volume Keywords are GREAT
Duke: I have one article that is the best ballpoint pen for writing essays, say. It showed 10 searches and I get 100-
Duke: … visitors a month off of that one article.
Doug: It’s so misleading because when we first get started, we believe the tools, right? We think the tools are … I mean, they give exact numbers, so we expect there’s an amount of precision and/or accuracy. If you’re a science nerd, you know the difference. It’s really an estimate. There are just estimates. So I hear basically everyone has a story of like, “Yeah, I went after something with 10 or zero searches.” Now, it’s like the most trafficked page on their site. It’s like really against intuition. So interesting. Now, let’s go back further, Duke.
Doug: Can you tell us a little bit about your day job just to get to know you? What do you … I mean, you don’t have to share if you don’t want to, but your day job, like what you used to do. How’d you get into internet stuff?
Duke: Well my day job is I’m a pastor. I pastor a small church here in the Bay Area. I actually started doing that, I started a church in 1988.
Getting Started with Blogging
Duke: So been doing it a while. I’ve also driven trucks. That was my secondary income for a lot of years, because contrary to popular opinion, most people don’t go into being a pastor to get rich. I shouldn’t say this, but most salary committees pray that “God, you keep him humble and we’ll keep him poor.” And so, you just don’t make a lot of money. So, I was bi-vocational almost my entire life. It just got to be too much back in 2011. My mom had been bugging me to start writing for the local newspaper. So I decided, “Okay, fine.” I mean, I was never good at English.
In fact, I’m a pastor, and I flunked speech in high school. I was never good in English, but I said, “Okay, fine. You’ve been bugging me for years.” I wrote for the local newspaper and it was really popular. So at that point, I thought, “Well why don’t I put it on the Internet?” So I did what every dummy does and went and started a Blogger blog. You know?
Duke: It was ugly.
Doug: What year was that? 2011?
Duke: So I started doing that and had a little bit of success. And then, I ran across a guy that ran a Christian personal finance website and was teaching about blogging. He did an article on keyword research. At that time, he was recommending Market Samurai, and that dates me a little bit.
Duke: I thought, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.” And so, I did an actual article that was based on search and what people are searching for and it took off, and I thought I had hit the holy grail. And so, I started doing everything. I switched over to WordPress. I had lists upon lists and different things that people were searching for. In my first year, I had a half a million people coming to the website, half a million uniques.
Duke: Yeah, that was quite awesome. I got written up in papers and everything because it was highly unique. Anyways, and I started doing some of the tactics that you’ve talked about that everybody else was doing at the time in order to gain rankings, including that gray hat PBN links from BuildMyRank and some of those. And at a certain point, I never got a manual penalty, but I did get an algorithmic penalty and everything tanked.
Doug: Got you. All internet marketers usually have some story, like this.
Duke: Yeah. I was still focusing on just getting traffic and doing display ads, not any affiliate stuff. At that point, I got really irritated at Google because there was a lot of work and a lot of effort. It’s like, “Man, I’m just not smart enough.” So I switched over to viral type websites, and I started a viral video type website, and it took off. In fact, it took off to the point that I went viral on Facebook and had 1.3 million visitors in a week.
Doug: That’s staggering. What year was that by the way?
Duke: Let’s see. Where was I? I think that was 2015.
Doug: Okay. So not too, too long ago.
Duke: Not too long. Maybe ’14, maybe ’15. I’d have to go look. Anyways, I would on Media Temple hosting at the time, and it broke Media Temple. Their selling point at the time is, “We can scale no matter what happens.”
Doug: You found the breaking point.
Duke: I found the breaking point.
Doug: What was the video? Just curious.
Duke: It was a video of this news report where there was this horrible accident, and this girl was feeling like she was going to die. She was trapped in the thing, and this priest came and went and prayed with her and then disappeared. Everybody was speculating, “Was it an angel?”
Duke: So it just went viral.
Doug: How about that?
Doug: Interesting, interesting. Okay, so, you did the viral site, and then those are really hard, right? It’s a treadmill. You can’t get off.
Duke: You got to feed the beast.
Duke: I saw the handwriting on the wall, as Facebook kept on tightening up its reach. On the Facebook pages, you got less and less return, less and less people coming. And so, I saw the writing on the wall. I went back to SEO, took all my old articles that I ranked previously, upgraded them, put them on a different website, did all the right things and built zero backlinks to it. And now, it gets about 40,000 to 45,000 visitors a month.
Doug: Wow, okay. Great. This was the site that you had from back in the day, 2011, the blogger days?
Duke: Yeah, yeah.
Doug: Okay. Wow, great. So, I’m going to jump around a little bit, and I want to go back to the site that is making almost $1,000 a month. Is that the one for 2011? Or the new one?
Duke: No, it’s a brand new site. The one that’s making $1,000 a month. It makes more money than the site that gets between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors a month.
Doug: Okay, got you. How old is that site then?
Duke: The new one?
Doug: Yeah, the new one.
Duke: It’s 10 months old. I started it back in July, I think. June or July. Into June, 1st of July of last year.
Doug: Okay, got you. I know you won’t remember exactly, but can you kind of tell us about the trajectory of the earnings in traffic over time? Just to hopefully illustrate a little bit of the, like, the Google Sandbox and what it’s like the first six months you were starting your site?
Getting Out of the Google Sandbox
Duke: Okay. I’ve made my first sale in six weeks. It was a decent product, about $300. I target between $100 and $500 products. So it made its first sale. It took three months almost to the day to come out of the sandbox, but I did things to get it to come out of the sandbox early.
Doug: Okay. Can you share any of those?
Duke: Yeah, because none of it’s hard. I started off. As soon as I launched it, I did a press release because the new site, being launched, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s genuine news, so it works. Then I did … I don’t know … about 20 blog comments. Right in there someplace, I did 20 Quora answers-
Duke: … that pointed to the site, and I did four guest posts. One of those came from your tactic of establishing the relationship with blog comments.
Doug: Sure, okay.
Duke: And then I share on Pinterest and on Scoop.it. I don’t know if you’re available or familiar with Scoop.it, but you actually get a backlink from it. So, Pinterest backlinks, Scoop.it backlinks just to give social-
Doug: Some presence.
Doug: Got it.
Duke: And that’s what I did. It took three months. It was obvious. It came out because it jumped … It was languishing at five to 10 visitors a day. The first jump was up to between 50 and 75.
Doug: Got you. Basically overnight, right?
Doug: Okay, and just to recap, so press release, 20 blog comments, four guest posts and some sharing, Scoop.it and Pinterest. Is that right?
Duke: Yeah, and Quora.
Doug: And Quora. 20 answers on Quora. Nice. Now for the press release, I’ve never done that. I’ve heard it’s a piece of an early launch strategy like you described. Is there anyone that you would recommend? It’s okay if you don’t because I don’t know who they are or anything.
Duke: Don’t go for the $5 press release on Fiverr. You get what you pay for.
Duke: I went with Human Proof Designs, their press release service. You can find a little bit better pricing, but their press release was good and I got over 300 backlinks from different news, websites that have good authority. So they’re nofollow, but nofollow helps too.
Doug: Right, and I believe that as well. Plus, I mean, at that point, it’s brandable, right?
Doug: It’s the brand name. That’s great to have early on because that’s what a real website would have.
Doug: Okay, great. Thanks for sharing that because of that … I mean, some people do ask about the Sandbox, and I’ve heard different formulas, and I’ve also heard like, “I did the formula on this side, it didn’t work, and then I did it on these two and it did work.” So I think there may be some variances and other factors.
Duke: It is various. I did exactly the same thing on my second site, and it’s just now looking like it’s coming out of the Sandbox and it’s been over four months.
Doug: Got you. Okay. How many posts did you have on the site within that three-month period? What’d you launch with and …
Launch a Niche Site with 10 Posts, then Add More
Duke: I launched immediately because I knew I was going to have the posts. Within two weeks, I’d have over 10. Writing is not hard. It’s just it’s gotten kind of mind-numbing, so I’m learning how to delegate that. But in a three-month period, I probably had 30 to 40 posts on the site.
Doug: Got you. Okay, perfect. See, once you got out of the Sandbox, you were making a little bit more money because you were obviously getting 10 times more traffic than you were. So, from like months three through 10, can you kind of you remember like a couple of the milestone points? Basically, did it grow like really fast? Or what was the situation?
Duke: It was kind of interesting. I still find it interesting today because the traffic jumped, and the first traffic jumped, we broke our $100 mark and that was a milestone, you know, a $100 month, and that was probably in month three, maybe month four. Then it jumped up to the $500 range fairly quickly. It was by month six for sure, because it went into November … November and December were $500 months. Since I’m not targeting general consumers, I’m targeting a business, I did not see a big Christmas bounce.
Doug: Good to know. Interesting.
Duke: I found that interesting as well because I was kind of expecting, “Yeah, all right. Come on Christmas.”
Doug: And it was flat, okay.
Duke: It was flat. But then, January, where in this niche, new budgets are figured out and released and what they’re going to spend on different products. In January and February, it jumped up again. And so, January was like 700; February was 800; and March was 967.
Doug: Got you. I take it traffic is growing and you’re still adding content?
Duke: Actually, I’m just now getting back to it. In January or December, December, I went to another site to start building a second site. And so, from December until now, I have been building the second site and it’s a huge site. It’s not just a small one. From December until today, we have posted 378 posts, I think, articles.
Doug: Wow. That’s a lot.
Duke: We got another 60 to go, and then we will be done with phase one.
Doug: Wow, yeah, that’s a huge site. Any tips for people that are looking or thinking about doing that type of sprint of work?
Duke: You can’t write it yourself?
Doug: Even if it’s easy to write, yes, it’s too much.
Duke: Yeah, you can’t write it yourself. That’s another thing I learned from you is how to figure out, how to hire writers what I’m looking for, how to do a template so a writer will put it into a format that then, I can just pretty well copy and paste into my template and it’s done. And so, I paid … I think it’s around $360 for 220. Plus I’ve been doing the best lists and buying guides, some of the buying guides. I just recently found somebody who did a really good job with buying guides.
Doug: Got you. You can get him to double down. Now do you have a content editor who does the formatting as well? That’s something I haven’t … like, when I do that similar work, team of writers, one content manager to do the formatting and stuff and editing, and that sort of just takes me out of the mechanics in a lot of ways. So do you have that same type of role?
Duke: No. Well, my wife does the editing for spelling errors and grammar and that kind of stuff. So she cleans up the articles a little bit, if they need a little cleaning up. I finally found a real English-speaking writer that it’s obvious; they grew up speaking American English and I don’t have to worry about it as much. I do the formatting on the website, but that’s because I actually kind of like that. I’m kind of a geek when it comes to making things look pretty.
Doug: Yeah, I mean, that’s a key thing to understand what you like doing and it drives me crazy. So, I need to stay out of it. I mean, actually, I don’t mind it. It’s just I do it so much slower than anyone else. So I [crosstalk 00:20:19]-
Duke: Right. I can format. Of course, I got systems in place that just work for me, but I can format a 2,000-word article in about a half an hour.
Doug: Got you, okay. Now, it sounds like you use some of the templates that I give out for free. By the way, if people are interested in the templates, there’s a link below probably for niche type project, and basically, I give away all the templates. So if you just go there and sign up for the email list, you can get it. So you use my templates primarily, right? The ultimate Amazon review template.
Duke: Got it. I tweaked it some just for what I’m trying to do, but every piece that is in your template is in mine.
Doug: Okay, and that … Actually, you answered or started to answer the question that I was going to ask, which is, when you’re starting with like someone else’s templates, how do you modify it for your own use? Because basically, if you just take the templates, it’s a great starting point. But if people just use and copy things directly, they’re kind of missing the point. So how do you customize things?
Duke: For me, what I do is I go looking around. I take the template and I know I want all this content. But how do I want to present it? And so, I went to the Wirecutter. I went to OutdoorGearLab. I went actually … and I liked it. I went to the top-five-lawnmowers site that you did a breakdown on, and he had this little box at the top that gave the bullet point ratings and stuff, and I went and I stole it. I go find things that I like that I can add into the template, so that it is unique to my site.
Doug: Okay. And to summarize, so, if people have a template that they’ve gotten from somewhere else, it’s great to use as a starting point. But then, one should investigate, see what they like, put their own spin on it and customize it for their own site, basically.
Duke: Right, like the Wirecutter. The Wirecutter has the little box with an hour pic and just a little bit of customization that they put in that content. Well I went and I have a box that says Editors Choice and First Runner-Up and Honorable Mention, just a little bit different but unique to my site.
Doug: Couple other questions. This one, it’s referring back to the viral site. So, I’m curious. Did you learn anything on the viral project that you were on that you can now apply to niche sites as you’re doing them now?
Duke: First of all, get over the thought that it’s clickbait, because the reason clickbait is clickbait is because it works, okay? You can think it’s horrible or whatever, but your purpose as a business owner is to get people to come and view your site. So then it’s okay if you have clicked baby headlines, as long as you give them good content and it’s not just garbage. For instance, I have one headline on my newer site, and it’s about a smaller-sized guitar. So I said, it’s something to the effect of, “Brand name, model name, review. The only time size doesn’t matter.”
Doug: That’s pretty good. That’s clever. It makes people smile. I didn’t even know what you were going to say. That’s a good one.
Duke: That headline gets clicks.
Doug: Yeah, and I mean, it’ll pay off if … You know, it originated, right? This question originated with the viral sharing on social. But I mean, when you’re looking at the SERPs, if you’re targeting a keyword, a more interesting title that’s going to get more clicks no matter what and that helps the rankings.
Duke: Once you’re on page one, they start judging which one is getting the most clicks, and you can beat some big sites if yours gets more clicks than the top spot.
Doug: Very cool. Awesome tip. Now, do you have any tips for people that are just getting started? And maybe launched a site before, but they haven’t really made any money. What would you tell them?
Duke’s Advice to Beginners
Duke: That some very ugly sites can still rank. I know from my first sites, they were pretty ugly. They can still rank. I say that not because I want you to have an ugly site, but I want you to stop stressing over whether you have everything perfect and get your feet wet. You can learn that, “Oh that was a dumb mistake,” six months later and fix it. But if you wait until you have everything, all the knowledge you need, you’re never going to get started. If you don’t get started, you’re never going to learn, because guess what? Even if you’ve spent the next six months watching video after video and reading blog post after blog post, until you actually do it, you’re not going to learn what works and doesn’t work.
Doug: Well said, Duke. Really appreciate it and thanks for the time today.
Duke: Oh not a problem. My pleasure.
Doug: Awesome. All right. Thanks, Duke. Really appreciate it, and I’ll give Duke another shoutout. He’s actually one of the moderators that helps out all the time on the livestream. So Duke, I really appreciate it. I couldn’t do the live streams without help from moderators like you. So, again, if you want to hear more, from Duke, be sure to leave a comment. If you have specific questions, feel free to ask. I can always bug Duke to help me answer some of the questions about his site. So thanks for watching. Be sure to check out some of the interviews with other successful niche site owners, like Ellen Wesley and Jaron. I’ll put some links for those interviews below and be sure to check them out. Thanks.