Project Go White Hat – Selling a Niche Site For Over $500,000 (pt 3)

In life, people tend to wait for good things to come to them. And by waiting, they miss out. Usually, what you wish for doesn’t fall in your lap; it falls somewhere nearby, and you have to recognize it, stand up, and put in the time and work it takes to get to it. This isn’t because the universe is cruel. It’s because the universe is smart.

-Neil Strauss, The Game

Last time in part 2, the project started getting off track..

  • The content team hit a rough patch and went from publishing 30 to 7 articles a week.
  • The traffic dropped after we changed the content on the top pages.
  • The guest posting team also hit a rough patch and couldn’t seem to get guest posts published at an acceptable rate.

When it rains, it pours. But the earnings are still up due to the 40% increase in traffic from the first 60 days. That’s due to the content improvement on the most profitable page of the site.

The site exceeded all expectations in November ($19,208) and December ($32,767) in spite of the three issues noted above.

amazon Nov 2016 Earnings 6 2

amazon Dec 2016 Earnings 5

HOW and WHY did the site totally crush the expectations? This post is about the Hows and Whys.

If you are just joining us on the case study, you should check out part 1 and part 2. You should go do that now. (Okay, done?)

Remember this:

The goal is to sell a niche site for over $500,000 after transforming it from Gray Hat backlinking to a White Hat site.

Of course, we have 3 looming problems staring us down during the retail season, potentially losing HUNDREDS of dollars per day.

Using Project Management

In my old corporate job, no project went as expected. Things change. Problems show up and surprise you. Everything is going fine until the universe wakes up and knocks the breath out of you.

This isn’t because the universe is cruel. It’s because the universe is smart.

It’s all about how you react and what you do. If you expect the project to follow your carefully orchestrated plan, you’ll be disappointed.

We have 3 major issues going on and here’s what we did:

Guest Posting

The outreach team in charge of guest posting needed a kick in the butt. The problem was me: I wasn’t being a good manager for the team.

I let them direct their tasks, which was a mistake. I set new goals around success, namely I wanted the team to send out a certain number of emails each week.

Before the goal of sending out emails, they were focused on publishing 35 more guest posts, an overwhelming task that encouraged inaction.

My new goal for the team was attainable and easy to do since the team was comfortable sending out emails. Within 7 days, 4 new guest posts were published so they saw the value of trusting the process, too.

We are still way behind schedule but things are slowly improving.

Traffic Drop

We didn’t know what caused the drop in rankings which impacted the revenue. But since it was the week before Christmas, my partner took action even while he was on vacation.

500k niche site traffic drop per page

500k niche site traffic drop 2

He reverted the updated content back to the original content. The new content was definitely better and written by more qualified writers, so it’s disappointing to have worse content published and driving a higher traffic volume.

Content Team

My content team was still struggling to write and not able to write more than 1 article per day. That delay cost us in December since those posts are Keyword Golden Ratio Compliant and would have ranked immediately. (Wonder what the KGR is? Watch this video and it’ll blow your mind.)

After stalling for weeks, I finally hired more writers to supplement the team which wasn’t easy to do around the holidays. I hired 3 new writers to write the articles that were pending in our list.

The Results

Guest Posting

The shift from goal-focused tasks to system-focused improved the output of the team right away. Unfortunately, we are still massively behind schedule and it will be impossible to catch up.

We have a problem because we need to do something to speed up the guest posting process even more, because we decided we want more guest posts than in the original plan.

Instead of 40 to 50 guest posts, we need to get 60 to 80 guest posts. There’s no guide, no formula, to take a niche site from Gray Hat to White Hat. This is unknown territory.

My partner and I made an assumption about the number of guest posts needed. After some heated debate, we agreed that increasing the target number of guest posts would ensure the rankings are stable after removing 45 powerful PBN backlinks.

Unfortunately, we needed to extend the timeframe of the project so the guest posts can be accepted and published. How are we going to get 20 to 40 more guest posts? I don’t know, but I know it won’t be a problem that’s solved overnight.

Traffic Drop

The traffic stabilized, but we can’t actually confirm that reverting to the original content caused it. I have another site where the rankings and traffic dropped over the same time period. However, the rankings and traffic returned without changing the content.

We’re unsure about what the long term impacts are from changing the content and reverting it back. Also, we need to republish the better, longer content no matter what.

Content

The additional writers took care of the issue with content. All the planned articles were written and published. Over the next few weeks, I expect each of the articles to get a few visitors a day due to top 10 rankings.

The problems are still not 100% resolved

Guest posting is way behind and we need more links than called for in the original plan. Removing the PBN links might be one of the things hurting rankings, traffic, and revenue.

The whole project is dependent on getting the guest posts published to replace the PBN links. The power of aged PBN links is greater than brand new guest post links, so we need to replace the PBN links at more than a 1:1 ratio to make sure rankings aren’t affected.

Removing 15 Powerful Private Blog Network Links

We removed 15 links and held our breath. That’s a lot of backlinks to get rid of in a 31 day period, and represents about 33% of the total referring domains to the site.

Removing the PBN links may have affected the rankings, traffic, and revenue, but we have no way of knowing! Too many factors were changing at the same time so there’s no way to know. The common knowledge says it takes weeks or months for the impact of links to show up in rankings, both for adding or removing links. Common knowledge is wrong all the time, so who knows for sure.

In Part 4, I’ll:

  • Reveal my partner!. A lot of people want to know so we’ll be doing a “Behind the Scenes” discussion.
  • Get his perspective on our progress so far
  • Detail our next steps in Project White Hat
  • Go to Part 4 now

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8 comments… add one
  • Would likt to have apeek of the site. Could you please let me know the uel of this site that you are talking about.
    Thanks

  • Great case study to follow along with Doug, Looking forward to reading every update!

  • oiza

    Awesome. I think selling it will be a good option then set out for a new niche site

  • David

    Hi Doug.

    What’s your opinion on blogger outreach services? Two that I’m looking at now are The Hoth and FatJoe.co.

    I’ve used The Hoth before but unfortunately they’re pretty expensive ($200 for a DA 30+ guest post!).

    FatJoe.co seems to have more competitive pricing, but I have NO experience with them. They have a big fan base, and seem legit, I just can’t vouch for their services (yet).

    What say you? Yay or nay? 🙂

    Thanks Doug. Great post BTW!

    • David,
      I haven’t used either of them. But you get what you pay for and I know the guys & gals at the HOTH are good people.

      So, I’d go with the HOTH between the two.

      But, I’m WAY too paranoid to outsource that work unless it’s my own in house team.

      Glad you liked the post!

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