[Case Study] Affiliate Site Making $7,000/mo In 11 Months!

By Sumit Kumar Bansal
November 5, 2019

Hey there, Sumit here again…

The last time I published an article, I talked about the detailed guide on expired domain SEO.

Now I’m back with our very first case study on SerpNames for The Rebirth Technique. First, I would like to ask something...

Does this sound like you?

  • I never tried expired domain before, so I am a bit scared to use it as a money site…
  • I am interested in testing it out as a strategy to rank quicker and better in Google...
  • I’ve already bought some seem powerful ones but can’t make them rank well on SERP...

If you’re looking for the exact expired domain strategy that’ll give you a better chance of ranking in Google, then this one’s for you!

This case study will walk you through the overall process of how my client revived our expired domain in the health niche and...

  • Received over 60,000 monthly visitors in 11 months
  • Got around $40,000 ROI so far for a $1,000 domain
  • Took at least two months to get keywords ranked
  • Survived the Google medic updates for a YMYL site

Excited? Well, what you'll see in a bit is his actual strategy 😉

But first, let me start this with his journey.

The Background Story

Last year, one affiliate marketer reached out to me, asking for an expired domain.

According to him, he heard about utilizing expired domains from a specific FB group he’s in, so he thought to give it a try. But he’s a little skeptical about it, so he wanted to do a little experiment from it.

“The reason I bought several domains from SerpNames is because I’ve researched and read about other affiliates using expired domains to kickstart their affiliate sites. That’s why I wanted to test it out for myself with this domain.”

A few months later, he came back to me, asking for MORE and MORE domains! And in exchange for a case study, I gave him a huge discount.

But that’s not the end of the story!

Little did you know, this case study has almost become an empty promise because of the unexpected turn of events.

This was supposed to be published three months ago, but this client (a good friend of mine), had gone missing.

He’s not replying to our emails and chats anymore, so I really thought it was the end of our story.

But then last month, I saw him bought a domain from us using another account (which was a surprise) and on the second purchase this month, I just thought to send him an email...

Then he responded!!! True enough, he has his personal reasons why he ignored me for months.

Here’s his honest reply...

You're probably thinking that I am not able to share the actual website in this case study, and you would be right.

If you're not comfortable or accepting of that, I totally understand. It's tough to talk about case studies at times without potentially hurting the results of the site in question.

But for you who wants to see the actual strategy, then let’s get started, shall we?

Note: This client wasn’t able to note all things from the start, so this will not be a step-by-step case study of what he did but rather a Q&A setup. I asked him several questions about his strategies to give you ideas. But should you be asking for more details about his approach, then feel free to share that one in the comments below 🙂

The Expired Domain Strategy

What goal and budget did you have in mind for the site?

My initial budget was $5,000, including the domain purchase, publishing content, and link building. But because of the success, I decided to invest more than expected in the site after a couple of months.

What are your criteria for buying expired domains? Metrics, process, etc.

I mostly look at RD's (authority sites), and I do a Wayback of the expired domain. I always try to buy expired domains from companies or start-ups that went broke. These are former companies that received fund capital but failed their business model. These websites have high authority in Google's eyes and also have some legit business citations.

(The site has 200+ powerful RD’s from high authority sites as shown above)

One major criterion to watch out for is always to focus on topical relevance. So if you buy a former health site -> make a health site out of it.

In the last few months, I've seen people using expired domains in a completely irrelevant niche trying to build a health site out of it. They rank very fast, but after a while, they get caught in Google's eyes.

A good example is this:

RULE #1 ALWAYS STICK TO THE NICHE 

That site used irrelevant expired domain, so even if it has a strong backlink profile, they got punished by Google because they clearly messed up by building a site not relevant to its former niche.

How did you go about reviving this expired domain? How did you maximize all of the “link juice” of the expired domain?

I have around eight money pages, which make me the most money. I redirected the old RD's to these pages to mix up the link juice. This way, these pages get high-authority backlinks with generic anchor text.

After that, I ordered niche edits, Guest posts, and some PBN links to these pages. This way, you have a good mix of safe, natural-looking backlinks.

When did you start working on it?

November 2018

How many months did it take you to see keywords and traffic start coming?

It took at least two months to get keywords ranked and starting to get traffic.

How did you plan the site structure?

I use a silo structure for this site, so basically domainname.com/category/post-name.

On-Page SEO Strategy

What’s your on-page strategy?

I use Surfer SEO to optimize every post. Highly recommended. Just follow their audit tutorial. They will give you recommendations on how to optimize the keyword density of your article, the ideal length (if you add/remove some words), etc...

What was your keyword strategy?

I own a large health site that used to have 150k visitors monthly before the Medic Update on August 2018. The site got hammered, so that’s why I also launched other health sites. I knew which keywords were low-medium competitive, so I focused on those same keywords. After a couple of months, I scraped another top-ranking health sites in Ahrefs and Kwfinder to find additional keywords.

Can you explain how do you go with your KW research? What’s your requirement in picking certain KWs? 

I use kwfinder.com. I scrape the first ten sites ranking for a certain keyword. Then I check the sites in Ahrefs to see which keywords have an OK search volume and how they can be monetized.

Can you tell us your content creation strategy?

I have a team of writers that I trust, and they know how to write quality content. I used to have an authority site in health (200k+ traffic), which got destroyed in the Medic update, so I knew which keywords were profitable once I rank them.

I started with a batch of 60 keywords (1,500 words). 

What's the ratio of commercial vs. info content for your content planning?

90% commercial (money pages) and 10% informative articles (for interlinking purposes).

What's the average length of the article you go for?

Between 1,000-1,500 words. I don't focus anymore on "the longer, the better." Google wants relevant information in your article. So if you can give all the information in a 1,000-word article, no need to make it 2,000. Google will know when it's stuffed with non-relevant topics.

Do you ever spend time updating the content? Are you worried about your pages not being as good as they could be?

I own 15 sites, and I use the same team for all of the content. The last Google updates all of my sites improved in rankings because my writers know how to follow Google's guidelines for content. I don't really update content after publishing (only if Surferseo tells me to).

How many articles did you publish so far? And at what frequency?

160 in total, as of now, we add around 40 articles monthly right now.

Any internal linking tips for the content?

Rather aggressive on this, let's say 80% exact match anchor text.

What's your anchor text strategy for links? What kind of anchors did you use for links and the ratio between brandable, keyword-rich, and naked URLs? Idea.

Rather aggressive, I start with a 50% exact match - 50% generic. The reason for this is because the money pages already have the expired generic RD's pointing to them.

Off-Page SEO Strategy

What was your link building strategy?

After publishing content, I waited for at least three months before link building. I used some PBN’s to test the site. When it took off, I added around 60 high-quality guest posts, niche edits, and some PBN rentals to increase rankings.

When did you start with link building, and with what frequency?

Started two to three months after publishing the content, 30 links monthly.

What are the average metrics of links you buy?

I look mostly at traffic, the most important factor for links. I rather have a site with 2,000 traffic and a few links than 500 traffic and more RD's.

How many total links did you build so far? 

150 links.

What's the ratio of guest posts, PBN, and niche edits for this website? 

35% guest posts, 30% PBN, 35% niche edits.

When it comes to your link building strategy, how do you decide whether niche edits, guest posts, and PBN rentals will be pointed to what pages? (Money pages, homepage, info articles)

90% money pages and 10% informative.

The Results

So you have an idea on how to best use expired domain to also get data like this:

Now, based on the strategy discussed, let’s see the actual numbers behind this successful site.

What is the breakdown of your $5k initial budget? How much have you spent on content and link building before you decide that you're going to invest more?

$2,000 on content writing and $2,000 on links. After this investment, the site took off, so I decided to invest more in content creation and link building.

At the time of the $5,000 investment, the site was making around $500-700/month, so a breakeven point after ten months.

But of course, I know the niche I'm in and how profitable it is, so it was an easy decision for me to invest more.

What's your ROI from the website so far? Screenshots of traffic and revenue.

I would say around $40k so far, although I have lifetime commissions with my affiliate partners, so every customer that I refer has a Lifetime Customer Value of $400+

Total investment for this website:

  • Domain purchase $1,000
  • Content $2,500
  • Link-building $8,000 (Guest posts, niche edits, PBN rentals)

This is the traffic from the last 28 days, Ahrefs indication is a bit off.

(Ahrefs’ traffic details)

(Actual site traffic)

If you’re wondering about the performance of his keywords, here’s the screenshot:

How much is the site’s monthly revenue right now? Can you share the screenshot of your income as well? 

These are the lifetime commissions so far for the niche I'm in. For this site, I'm at 7k/month now. 90% of commissions are for a certain health niche, the other 10% are other affiliate programs.

Wrap Up:

What are the A-Z online tools that you used to rank this website successfully

What are the mistakes you made and what did you learn from them?

I wasted some money on link building for keywords, which gave me wrong monthly search volumes. These keywords are ranking good but don’t get a lot of traffic anymore because the “hype” of these products is already over.

In the health niche, products get launched every week. Some products get 50k monthly search volume and four months after the hype is over, and it gets like 500 searches. For these new products, I don't rely on kw tools because they are inaccurate.

What's your next plan to grow this website?

Publishing high-quality content and some white hat link building.

What do you think is the risk of using expired domain based on your experience? 

I don't see much risks, as long as you play by the book. I saw sites redirecting multiple expired domains to one target site, this is of course a red flag, in my opinion.

As long as it looks like you rebranded a former authority site, I think you will fly under the radar.

What would you say to other affiliate marketers who are on the fence of using an expired domain but is afraid of the risk? Or currently not seeing success? 

Today it takes longer and longer to build sites from scratch from new domains. Time is money in this business, so I personally don't build any more sites from new domains, I always use expired domains. 

The benefits outweigh the advantages. Time is money in this business. You can buy strong expired domains starting at $500. That's a small investment you can easily make for an ROI after three months in a profitable niche.

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The Takeaways:

I hope with this case study, you’ve gotten a better picture of how to best use expired domains.

And before I end this, I’d like to share a few of my best takeaways for this discussion that I want you to keep in mind...

  1. Buy expired domains of previous companies as they have high authority in Google's eyes and also have some legit business citations.
  2. Always focus on topical relevance, so buy expired domains in the same niche, like buying a former health site and making a health site out of it.
  3. Redirect old RD's of the expired domain to your money pages, so they get high-authority backlinks with generic anchor text.
  4. Rather aggressive, go with 50% exact match and 50% generic anchors on link building and internal linking with 80%+ exact match anchors.
  5. Focus more on commercial content, rather than informational articles.
  6. Focus on writing concise quality content instead of writing unnecessary long articles. Google can find irrelevant contents easily.
  7. For the first few months, focus on publishing lots of articles before starting with link building. Building one link a day is safe in this case.
  8. Don't go for products if the hype is over. Use Google trends to find if they’re still in trend or not.

But that’s not all!

I reached out to a few SEOs for their insights about the website’s performance and fortunately, two of them responded 🙂

First is a newfound friend whom I discovered to be a generous guy!

And we have another take from my good old friend 🙂

So that’s it.

If you have questions in mind, feel free to ask in the comments below. I don’t think my client would join in the discussion, so I'll do my best to answer them. But we’ll compile all your questions for him and will ask him directly.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Rooting for your own success,

Sumit

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20 comments on “[Case Study] Affiliate Site Making $7,000/mo In 11 Months!”

  1. "How many articles did you publish so far? And at what frequency?

    160 in total, as of now, we add around 40 articles monthly right now."

    on all 15 sites or just the case study of 1 site

    1. When you buy an expired domain then most likely, you'd find its backlinks pointed to deep pages as well. So to recover the link juice, you should redirect those deep pages either to your homepage or money pages. You can find those pages by checking your domain on ahrefs -> top pages -> best by links. Hope that makes sense.

  2. Hi Summit,

    Love the fact one can redirect to internal pages as well as home page from single expired domain. But how?

    If I edit .htaccess I can only redirect to one page or homepage. Let's assume am targeting homepage or category page. But need to redirect 2-3 pages on the expired domain to inner page how do I accomplish it? Use plugin like redirection?

    1. Hi Patrick, you can use redirection plugin but it may create multiple chain redirections which lose the link juice and doesn't work in every hosting. For the best option, you can use htaccess and use this code:
      Redirect 301 /blog/link-to-old-url /link-to-new-url

  3. Hi Sumit, read all your article with much interest... One question do you have experience ranking let's say an expired domain in english language in the same exact niche but in another language (for example Italian)?

    Thanks

  4. Thanks for such quality post.What are the guidelines that should be given to the writers to write perfect content? And is it possible for you to mention some life time recurring commissions network?

    1. Hi Saad, glad you enjoyed reading it. 🙂

      The guidelines are easy to read content (grade 5-7), no fluff, interactive with the readers and to the point content. Sorry, but the client don't want to share the commission network.

  5. Hi sumit,
    Thanks for your case study. It's really amazing. Have one questions:
    from where can I get good quality expired domain, in past I'm trying GoDaddy auction.

    1. Hi Musfiq, sorry for my late reply.

      You can try hunting at GoDaddy, Flippa, Namejet, NameSilo, etc. I get my domains from every auction.

  6. Nice article Sumit! Finally I got Time today to read this.

    I am using expired domains from past few months. And its working pretty Good for Me.

    I am just stuck with one question. Your client said he is doing link building like "1 link per day is safe". Is this after 2-3 months or Right after publishing content? I mean like 7-10 days after?

    I assume it to be after 2-3 months, correct me If I am wrong!

    Regards
    Maneesh

    1. Hi Maneesh, I'm happy that you loved it. I'm sorry for my late reply though.

      Yes, he started link building after a few months. The basic strategy of the expired domain is to publish lots of content for the first three-four months and then begin with targeted match anchors link building.

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