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Niche Site Case Study: Waiting for the Google Sandbox to End!


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This month I have been trying to wait patiently for my niche sites to age and hopefully start earning more money. I am finding the patience aspect harder and harder as it gets closer to the time where hopefully my sites will exit the Google sandbox and start earning me some money. It has been great to see that my search rankings and page views are all moving in the right direction.

This is my fifth update in my case study about building three Amazon affiliate sites. You can also read my last update about starting to make money.

PBN and Link Building

Like I stated last time, my PBN is going well, but I do not plan on building it further. It is enough work to maintain how it is.

I have been link building by exchanging links with bloggers and niche site builders that I know. I often write a guest post for them, so all this is time consuming but does mean that I am getting some quality links. I am building one every week or two to each site. I am taking a very cautious approach and never linking to both of my niche sites from the same site.

Site 1

In the last month, I have only added one extra article, as well as a couple of links.

At the moment I am ranking for:

  • 572 queries with 26,274 impressions (these are just for web searches up from 203 queries with 2,429 impressions last month)
  • Main keywords average positions are 13 and 25 (36 last month).
  • Secondary keywords: 21 (9.6), 9.2, 4.0 (9.6), 9.2 (28)

I am ranking on the first page for many key terms which is good to see. It does have me worried that my earlier fears were correct – that I didn’t pick good keywords to start with as I am not earning much money or getting far even with these reasonable search rankings.

When I chose these keywords, I had just watched a video on an internet marketer’s blog which urged picking keywords where eCommerce sites rank well. After I had built this site, I learned this was bad advice. I am still frustrated by this, and I have certainly learned to be very skeptical of all advice I receive. Anyway, I decided to still go with it since it was already built. I guess time will tell!

Page Views: 1564 (up from 656)
Earnings: $53 (up from $38)

Site 3

I added a series of review articles that I outsourced and am adding an extra one every week. I also added an article that I wrote specifically so I could link to it from Wikipedia to replace a dead link that existed on there on a topic related to my niche. This worked out well and it has stuck. I have worked on optimising my use of keywords and adding a lot more to my main articles which appears to be working well.

At the moment I am ranking for:

  • 811 queries with 10,348 impressions (these are just for web searches – up from 173 queries with 1,349 impressions last month)
  • Main keyword average position is 23 (up from 39).
  • All my main secondary keywords are now ranking between 29 – 50 (last month was 60 – 120).
  • Some of the longtail keywords I have targeted in articles are ranking at 14 (19), 11 (26), 19 (32), 35 (41), 31 (78) and 13(46).

Page Views: 1067 (up from 470)
Earnings: $9 (down from $15)

Next steps?

I will continue to try to be patient as these websites continue to age. I will keep gradually building links and adding articles. I am also gradually going through every article on Site 3 and optimising keyword use and adding many more using the techniques I learned from NoHat Digital. I really hope to find a big boost in income in the next month.

Any questions or advice?

Find more posts on my case studies and niche sites here.

About the Author

Sharon Gourlay is passionate about working online and helping others to follow in her footsteps. She left Australia with her young family at the end of 2014 determined to grow an online business. She succeeded and now supports her family of 5 to live their dream lifestyle.

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