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From $40 to $5031/mo in 9 Months: Niche Site Aged Domain Case Study

In 2019, a client reached out to SerpNames to buy an aged domain. She waited for three months for the right one to become available. In November 2019, this client finally purchased an aged domain with the intent to build a niche site.

Given her lack of experience in SEO content strategy, she did not attract a lot of traffic. Therefore, she could not generate the income she wanted.

Fast forward to August 2021, she hired Tessah from The SEO Mama agency to help her grow her business site.

Within 9 months:

  • Revenue increased to $5031 per month
  • Monthly traffic reached 126,827 visitors
  • The site ranked for hundreds of keywords on the first page of Google search results

This case study will lay out:

  • Tessah's primary strategy for growing traffic and revenue
  • How she refined the monetization strategy of the site and built fresh backlinks
  • How she redirected the backlinks coming from the aged domain
  • How to select the right aged domain to build on

You will see how much our client invested in her site, how she took up a second job to afford SEO services, and how her sacrifices paid off fast because of the pre-built authority of the aged domain.

P.S: For privacy concerns, we are keeping this client anonymous.

Are you ready? Let's begin.

Who is our client?

Our client is a full-time physical therapist based in the United States. 

She first heard about SEO in 2018 in a lead generation course. Later, she was introduced to using aged domains to speed up rankings and get traffic faster. 

In 2019, she bought her first aged domain from SerpNames. The niche site is the first website she has ever owned.

The beginning

As I mentioned, this client bought a domain from SerpNames in November 2019. She was looking to build her digital portfolio and bring in enough revenue to replace her 9 to 5. 

Of course, she could have bought a completely new domain and built a brand from scratch. Doing so would mean she would have to build authority from ground zero and pass the sandbox stage before being able to generate high income from the website. 

The sandbox is a Google feature that prevents new sites from ranking in search results because they are not as authoritative as older domains. It lasts 3 months to 8 months. Your Money Your Life (YMYL) niches can be in the sandbox for one year.

So, our client bought an aged domain because she understood that ranking is easier with them.  Aged domains have pre-built authority.

But she did not buy any domain available. You must be careful when choosing an aged domain because selecting the wrong one may mean wasting time and money building a website that Google penalizes later.

To select the right domain, our client paid attention to 3 essential factors:

  1. The aged domain had to be in her niche.
  2. The domain name had to closely resemble the business as she did not want to mislead visitors.
  3. The site had to have a good backlink profile; that is, many backlinks from reputable brands must be pointing to the domain.

TL;DR

  • It is not necessary to have any prior SEO experience to get started
  • Select an aged domain in a relevant niche
  • Select an aged domain that has many backlinks from reputable brands

First Steps

After buying the domain, our client started to work on the website. She hired web developers from Upwork to redesign the site. She also re-created a page about spaying and neutering animals to add accurate information.

Our client initially wrote all the articles for the site (about 50 articles on animal rescue) but reached out to paid writers to flesh out the content for the website. By the end of 2020, there were 131 articles on the blog. Her revenue streams were Amazon affiliate and Ezoic ads

But she saw minimal improvement in ranking and income. She made $4 to $10 daily with Amazon Affiliate and very little with Ezoic because she had a small number of page views.

Her main problem during this time was a lack of strategy. But she didn’t know better because she was not familiar with SEO.

TL;DR

  • Aged domains don’t work like magic. You need an SEO strategy.

Our client hires Tessah.

After more than one year of trying to get the website to take off, our client still achieved very little result. The site was not attracting any significant revenue or traffic.

In August 2021, she hired Tessah. Tessah is the founder and CEO of The SEO Mama

Tessah has more than 10 years of SEO experience building and flipping niche sites. She built a craft website on an aged domain and sold it for $143,000 in 2017.

Tessah is our client’s friend. She was the one who encouraged our client to buy the domain. Our client hired Tessah to work on the website and deliver results within 3 months.

To work with Tessah, our client had to agree to fund consistent content creation for the website in the next six months. The SEO Mama has consistently published at least 16 articles per month since September 2021.

When our client hired Tessah, the website was doing 7,052 page views every month and was bringing in less than a hundred dollars per month.

TL;DR

  • Invest in SEO

After Tessah came on board

After Tessah became our client’s SEO manager, she executed a website audit. An audit helps you find out how to improve SEO in areas like content quality and content gaps.

Tessah changed the site’s structure to look like an authority website. Previously, the domain was a company website, so Tessah published resources and how-to guides.

301 redirects

Redirects are an essential part of setting up an aged domain. 

People buy aged domains mainly because of the domain’s old backlinks. If backlinks are pointing to the old pages of the domain, people either rebuild those pages or redirect them to the homepage or new content. 

Why do they do that? So that backlinks don't get lost. Site owners preserve old links to maintain their domain's authority.

Our client redirected the old pages when she first purchased the aged domain because of Tessah’s advice.

All backlinks pointing to the old pages were redirected to the homepage. Tessah advised that they should be sent to the homepage because the old pages did not rank for money keywords (commercial keywords).

Keyword research

Our client hired Tessah in August 2021. She did competition and keyword gap analysis to create a list of short-term keywords to target.

At the end of September, Tessah published the first batch of 16 articles. It continued at 16 blog posts per month and increased to 25 per month after 6 months.

These were the first steps Tessah took when our client hired her. And these steps made it possible for the site to see massive growth within 9 months.

TL;DR

  • Begin with a website audit
  • Redirect old backlinks to your homepage or important new pages
  • Publish a good number of posts per month

As you know, ranking on Google is only one part of running a successful brand. You must build genuine connections with your audience to increase click-through rates, lower bounce rates, and boost ad views. 

We’ll discuss the content strategy and how it contributed to the site's massive growth.

Tessah's Content Strategy

Let’s dive into Tessah’s content strategy and how it helped her grow the business site to $5031 per month.

Keyword research, short-term vs. long-term

Remember Tessah asked our client to give her 3 months to deliver results. She knew she had to focus on keywords likely to rank fast.

To rapidly increase the website’s traffic, Tessah analyzed direct competitors and made a list of keywords grouped into short-term and long-term keywords. She only targeted short-term keywords, which usually improve rankings within three months.

For a site to qualify as a competitor, it had to:

  • Be a business site in the same niche 
  • Have a lower Ahrefs DR rating than our client’s website

Then, she found keywords these competitors were ranking for on page one. 

She figured that if lower DR sites were ranking on page one for a particular keyword, chances were that our client’s website would also rank for that exact keyword. Google ranks web pages based on their authority on a search term.

Tessah only published content optimized for short-term keywords for the first few months. As a result, she saw significant growth in little time. Some articles began to rank on page one within 1 month, and the site quickly grew to 25,000 visitors.

To replicate this, you don’t need to target many competitors. Tessah only analyzed two or three at a time.

Content publishing

During the first six months, Tessah published 16 articles per month. Then she advised our client to increase the content order to 25 posts a month. 

The reason for publishing more posts was to increase authority as quickly as possible, rank higher, and attract more traffic.

She has focused on publishing articles optimized for niche keywords. Most conversions have come from articles optimized for money keywords, which is unsurprising because readers click on affiliate links to purchase Amazon products. All reviews are roundup reviews. 

The number of informational articles is higher than commercial articles on the website. It is a good thing because:

  1. Informative posts drive more traffic
  2. They bring in the most revenue because of Mediavine display ads

Content updates rarely happen on our client’s niche site. The previous posts are still ranking for their keywords, and Tessah is currently focused on publishing new content. According to Tessah, a niche business site should aim to publish 50 to 100 posts a month.

The last content update happened some months back when readers gave a negative feedback about a particular post. Our client rewrote it to include more accurate info. 

Tessah’s SEO agency has now published about 270 posts on the business site. It brings the total number of live articles to 400. 

Hiring and Managing Writers

Tessah uses Workello to recruit and manage an in-house writing team. Workello allows her to filter out bad writers by including a test project of 300 words during recruitment. The agency matched our client with the writer who now works with her. The writer is paid about 3c per word.

Tessah does not require her writers to do any SEO. Her team uses Ahrefs and Thruuu to create content briefs that contain the number of words to write, the h2 and h3s, and relevant questions to include in the article.

For on-page SEO, writers focus on optimizing an article for a target keyword – creating optimized  URLs, titles, and meta descriptions to maximize click-through rates. Articles match search intent to keep readers for a longer time on the posts. High CTRs (Click-Through-Rates) and low bounce rates increase a site’s authority and ranking in search results.

According to Tessah, this is the process she has followed since 2009 to optimize traffic.

Internal Linking and anchor texts

The SEO Mama’s internal linking-building strategy follows two rules:

  • It must make sense
  • It must not be spammy

She prefers to use anchor texts related to the target keyword and naked URLs. She avoids using exact match anchor texts more than two times in an article because too many of them are spammy and unnatural. They add at least three internal links per post.

TL;DR

  • Target short-term keywords to drive fast traffic
  • Target direct competitors with lower Ahrefs DR ratings
  • Publish at least 25 posts a month, and ideally between 50 to 100 per month
  • Focus on creating posts that match search intent
  • Don’t use too many direct match anchor texts

Tessah's Link Building Method (HARO)

The SEO Mama offers digital PR services. The team leveraged thought leadership to build high-quality backlinks for the site. They have been pitching our client’s expertise to many journalists using  HARO.

In case you don’t know, HARO is a platform where reporters and writers ask for expert quotes on a specific topic. They select the best quotes, include them in articles, and include backlinks to the expert’s website.

Tessah’s team targeted getting 3 links per month from HARO. Their PR Specialist started giving quotes on HARO in August 2021, and the first placements went live in September.

To get the best results from HARO, you must be careful about the kinds of websites that you prospect and pitch. Tessah’s team only responds to a HARO query if the publishing site:

  • Is a real brand
  • Has an Ahrefs DR score rating of 50+
  • Has more than 10k organic traffic/month (to eliminate fake sites using bots)
  • Is not a direct competitor

To date, The SEO Mama has built 15 backlinks from DR70 websites to our client’s niche site. All of the new backlinks point to the homepage.

TL;DR

  • Build high-quality links from high DR sites to your aged domain
  • Level up your link-building strategy through HARO thought leadership

Monetization

Let’s talk about money. 

Our client’s niche site currently generates revenue in two ways: Amazon affiliate marketing and Mediavine.

When our client managed the site herself, she used affiliate marketing and Google Adsense to generate revenue. But they weren’t making a lot because:

  • Amazon doesn’t pay high commissions
  • Traffic was low

Tessah came on board and advised our client to apply to Ezoic and Mediavine once traffic increased to 50,000 a month. 

To date, the site brings in money from both Amazon and Mediavine. For Amazon, Tessah targets products that cost at least $50.

TL;DR

  • Use multiple monetization strategies

Results

The moment of truth.

Our client has invested about $3,500 per month since she hired Tessah in August 2021. Note that this rate was for just the agency fees at a discount, excluding content.

The monthly retainer was for an SEO specialist, an on-page specialist, and a project manager. Our client had to take on two to three side jobs apart from her 9 to 5 to be able to afford the price.

We will present the results generated since Tessah started working on the site. Judge by yourself whether it has been a good investment. 

After 1 month (September 2021):

Tessah was hired in August 2021. At that time, page views were at 7,052, and user sessions were at 6,166. Our client was making $4 to $10 daily.

After one month, by the end of September, Tessah published the first batch of 16 posts. At that point, it was too early to see any major results.

After 4 months (December 2021):

By December, 16 posts had been published monthly for three months. Several posts were already ranking on Google’s page one. The agency had acquired new HARO backlinks. 

Unique sessions increased to 20,091, and monthly page views reached 22,640.

After 6 months (February 2022):

February is the sixth month that Tessah has been working with the site. At that point, Mediavine had been added to the website, and traffic plus revenue had increased significantly.

Traffic had reached almost 75,000 page views, and earnings were $483. In March, page views jumped to 100,000, and Amazon earnings reached $572.

In April, the niche site hit 126,827 page views. Amazon affiliate revenue was $982. 

Total Mediavine earnings from the time the website was approved reached $3566.

By April, our client’s business website reached 398,747 page views and 11,800,000 impressions. Monthly traffic reached 126,000.

9 months later (May 2022):

In May, our client earned $120 to $140 every day from Mediavine. She made up to $80 daily with Amazon. By that time, 300+ articles had been published. 

Monthly Amazon revenue reached an all-time high of $1525, and Mediavine earnings hit $3505. 

In May 2022, our client generated $5,031 in site revenue. In 2022 alone, the website has made $20,000.

Google Update Hit in May 2022

Towards the end of May,  a Google update hit our client’s niche site. For many sites, this would have been the end. But, the website quickly bounced back.

Our client lost 70% of website traffic during the update. With Tessah’s help and the established authority of the aged domain, the site has since almost fully recovered. The traffic loss has gone from 70% to 10%.

In June 2022, our client made $2,100 from Amazon and $2,600 from Mediavine. Despite the hit, the site still generated $4,700.

Major Takeaways and Actionable Insights

Choose a profitable niche.

According to Tessah, almost any niche is profitable. You just have to put in enough effort and be patient to make it happen. 

An extremely competitive niche requires you to have a big budget and to build links aggressively. You must also be willing to wait for a long time, perhaps a few years, to generate revenue.

Look for a relatively easy niche to profit from. Consider one with many evergreen keywords. 

A blog post ranking for an evergreen keyword can continue attracting thousands of visitors for several months or even years. Also, people spend a lot of money on things that matter to them.

Our client chose her niche because she was passionate about the topic and saw the potential growth.

According to Tessah, an easily profitable niche is one in which:

  • People are driven to buy online
  • People read about products and services
  • There are several competitors to analyze
  • There are low competition keywords to target

Mistakes/Regrets

No project is perfect. Our client and Tessah would do a few things differently to generate better results. 

Our client wishes she had hired an SEO agency from the beginning instead of trying to wing it on her own.

Tessah wishes she started with 50 posts per month from the beginning.

Future Plans

Our client is currently planning to flip the niche site soon. 

Website flipping involves purchasing a website, increasing its market value, and then selling it for profit. Given the current revenue and traffic of the website, I believe our client will make a nice six-figure exit.

Wrapping Up

Are you thinking of buying an aged domain? Both our client and Tessah from The SEO Mama have similar advice for you.

They say you should select an aged domain that is super relevant to your niche and has no spammy or low-quality backlinks. This increases your chances of succeeding with the domain.

Our client also says to invest as much as possible into an aged domain worth the price. In her own words, ”If you’re starting out, $500 to $1K is good, but if you have deep pockets, don’t hesitate to invest in a site worth $5K that’s calling out your name, in a niche you’re passionate about.”

She says she will only use aged domains from now on because the growth potential they offer is amazing.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Ask any questions you have.

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