Recently, I have been spending some time researching SEO and building some SEO properties for a couple reasons. First, researching for new niches and new topics is very interesting, and the understanding that an endless supply of niches is still available is intriguing. On top of that, the idea of building potentially long-term, low-maintenance income streams to supplement any other projects is exciting as well.

My initial plans for the case study took a turn south after my entire monetization structure was demolished, but I decided to build it regardless. Here is what I have learned throughout the case study, and a few tips I believe will help you.

If you have not read through the entire case study, take a look at the previous posts:

SEO Case Study – Lessons Learned

My initial plans for the case study included building a site with quite a bit of content on it and then building a variety of backlinks to help rank the site well. After building most of the content for my site, I started building backlinks relatively slowly. With just a few links to the site, I started to see promising rankings. Here are a few of the statistical results for this niche site.

SEO Niche Site Results

  • Primary keyword rank: Anywhere from 3-6
  • Traffic level: 10-20 uniques per day
  • SEO strategy: A few articles/mini-sites working on a single anchor text (primary keyword)
  • Total revenue: $0

While it is nice being on page 1 for my primary keyword and starting to see some consistent traffic, not making any money is frustrating. I do plan to re-structure the site to help make it easier to rank for a variety of keywords as well as start generating some revenue from this site.

Here are a few of the lessons I learned:

1. Exact match hyphenated domains are fairly easy to rank – I have read a number of discussions about the effectiveness of using hyphens in a domain name. Personally, I found using a hyphen to be very effective and was able to rank the site very easily. My site is currently hovering between rank 3-6 on page 1.

My suggestion: I am definitely a fan of domains without hyphens (I think they look cleaner), but if it is unavailable and the keyword is worth it – use a hyphen.

2. Ranking for terms that show Google News and Google Shopping results can be a pain – Google News displays a few news articles based on keywords if they are available. Sometimes they show and other times they are gone. The same thing with shopping results. The annoying part: News/Shopping results show in the #1 or #2 spot for this keyword, moving rankings down, and moving the page location down significantly in most cases.

My suggestion: Look through the SERPs for your keyword and related keywords to see how the News/Shopping results are displayed (if any) and keep that in mind when building your site. Not a show-stopper, but can be irritating to see the drastic differences in traffic when/if the Google products display.

3. Have some kind of monetization strategy in mind (as well as alternatives) prior to developing your site – My initial plan was to use Amazon on this site, but the tax laws killed my account. I have since been using eBay Partner Network and am having a hard time generating income.

My suggestion: If you plan to build smaller sites, using a product that automatically matches ads based on your content can be a quick and easy hands-free solution. If you plan to build a larger site, a list may be an effective method for generating long-term income from your site.

The most interesting thing for me about Internet marketing (or any sub-set of it), is how quickly it evolves, and more importantly, how little I actually know. At the start of this case study, I put together a decent idea for a smaller site I could rank well and monetize easily. Now as I am building new sites, I look back at this one and have a list of ways to improve the idea.

Whether this shows how much I learned from the case study or how quickly Internet marketing changes, either way it has been well worth my time and effort.

Closing recommendation: Just because you are killing a niche/traffic source/offer does not mean you cannot learn more. I do not mean you shouldn’t celebrate your successes. What I do encourage is continuing to build on them and think of ways to improve. Becoming complacent can be devastating to your business.

Keep learning, keep growing, and keep profiting!