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How to Get an Affiliate Website from 0 to 100 as Fast as Possible




Craig: Today's webinar we're going to be talking about how to get affiliate websites from zero to 100 in the fastest time possible. Someone who has many years of experience in doing that is Mr. Matt, who's going to be giving us a presentation. 

Julie, you are someone I've not actually met, I know we've spoken briefly on the webinar test. For anyone who doesn't know anything about yourself, I know you've came from an agency, recently went to affiliate. Where are you based currently, and could you give us a bit of a background on what you're doing?

Julie: Thanks, Craig. I am based out of Orlando, Florida, so in the US. I've been doing SEO total for about seven years, six of that was spent at the agency that I worked for where I started off managing content. Then I worked my way up to become the manager of their entire SEO department. Just about a year ago, actually a year ago next week, is my one year anniversary of leaving and doing affiliate full time.

Craig: Olesia, thank you for coming on today, but for anyone who doesn't know you, give us a background about what you do on a daily basis.

Olesia: I'm mostly in the lead generation business and SEO. Besides that, I accumulate leads and also doing this.

Craig: And back to Mr. Matt. I'm sure you don't really need much of an introduction, but Matt, for anyone who doesn't know what you do, can you give us a brief background of how you're killing it out in Thailand?

Matt: In a nutshell, I'm an ex-engineer that started doing affiliate SEO and found freedom with affiliate and started traveling full time. Currently living out in Thailand where I've been for the last six or seven years and loving it.

Craig: Excellent. And guys in the live chat, give us a shout and let us know where you're from. We will be going over to Matt for his presentation in just a minute and then we will be getting feedback from Julie and Olesia. 

Matt: This presentation is completely about the techniques and strategies that we use when we first get a hold of an affiliate website, when we first started an affiliate website, and we're trying to scale it up as fast as possible. That's what the focus of today's presentation will be. 

If we go, look for the left to right here, this is a basic high-level overview of the process you might go through when you first start working on an affiliate website. We start with acquisition. After that, you're going to do a major audit to figure out what you need to do to get this website up to your own standards. 

And then we start to do an overhaul on the on-site SEO, tweaking content messing with content, stuff like that. After that, we get into content flow. How do I set up my keyword research process and how do I start producing content? And then we lay out a backlink strategy. Eventually you keep that up for long enough and then your website just starts to become an authority site. 

Lastly, when you feel like you maxed out the niche, or you're ready to move on, you can prepare for an exit. What we're going to be talking about today, because this is a quite brief presentation, and this is obviously a very big process, we're going to be talking about what you do in the first 30 days. 

We're focusing on the first two phases, acquiring the website, and the super audit. We're just talking about on-page SEO here. We're not even getting into backlinks here. All I want to do right now is just show you what all is possible as fast as possible, with a website, an affiliate website, okay?

Why Buy an Affiliate Website?

Let's start off with why you would purchase a website instead of building one from scratch. And I'm also going to give you some criteria to use whenever you're buying a website. 

First, you get to know the minimum earnings that this niche could make. I've been doing affiliate SEO for over 10 years, and I would say I'm better than most people at figuring out how much money a niche could make. 

That said, I'm wrong more than I'm right. I'm definitely wrong more than right. It's a very challenging thing to figure out if a website can rank in a certain niche and also how much money that will earn. 

But if you're buying a website, you get to see the profit and loss sheet from whoever's selling it. You get to see all the numbers up front. You know, even if I did nothing, this is the bare minimum this niche can make. 

Second, you get to avoid the damn Google sandbox. No one likes to work on a site that's not moving. And then lastly, it's efficient use of resources. At my agency LeadSpring, my most expensive resource is human resource. 

We like to hire A players, we like to hire the best of the best. And the worst thing I could do is waste their time on a website that's not moving along, that's in the sandbox. I'd rather get them moving on a project that's going to get results quickly. 

Building an Affiliate Website vs Buying One

We'll compare two different timelines. One is we're building a website from scratch and the other one is we're buying a website from scratch. They're both going to end up at the same place, $500 per month. 

Imagine we're building from scratch and we want to take this brand new website from zero to $500 a month. Let's do some cost estimations here. Let's start with content. I'm estimating this would take at least $4,500 in content. We can start with 50 articles in content, something like that. 

We'll say average 1500 words per article, and we'll say six cents per word. So that's 4.5K. And this is pretty lenient, it could definitely go more expensive than that. 

For backlinks, I'm going to give a large range here, I would say, on the low end, you could pay as little as $1,000. If you're doing all the work yourself, you're doing outreach yourself, you're spending all your time building links, and only going for the free ones. It's going to take a long time, though. 

And for those of you that are thinking like, "Okay, well, I don't like to pay for backlinks." Look at it like this: if you're not paying for backlinks, you're paying for something else. You're paying for the content for guest posts, you're paying for the tools you use to outreach, you're paying for your staff time that you use them for link prospecting. 

There's always a cost and that's why I put the very, very, very minimum and I think this is optimistic at 1K. After that, here's another big range. I'm going to quote 0-$20,000 in operator costs. 

Zero if you're doing all the work yourself. You're not hiring a damn person, you're writing all the content yourself, or all the way up to 20K, where you have a full team and you're hiring them out, you're paying all the content writers, content editors, and people like that. 

Total costs: a big range here 5.5K all the way up to 36K. And it's probably going to take you somewhere between three to 12 months. You could get lucky and it could be three months, but it could take as long as a 12-month range. 

Let's look at the same scenario we're going to acquire a website that's making $500 a month. This is going to cost you about $16,000 to $20,000 using typical valuation models that you see at the marketplace. And you see right off the bat, right here, this cost $16,000 is right in the middle of what we would expect for building from scratch. 

Is it more expensive? Sure. It's more expensive than if you did all the work yourself and it took 12 months or more, but it's within reasonable range. But the time it takes to get here is zero, you're starting out with that right away. 

And this is the big clinch here. The real cost comes down to opportunity cost, right? If we look here at this graph I showed you before, you see that we started at 2.1K, we eventually got to 50K. When you're building from scratch, like we talked about, you're adding three to 12 months onto this timeline. 

Why would you delay a $50,000 month ahead of you, right? This $12,000, $20,000 site you're considering buying, that's a drop in the bucket once this website's making $50,000 a month. 

I don't want to tack on a solid 12 months before I start getting into high-profit ranges. This is my argument why I like to buy websites instead of building them. I'm sure we'll have discussions, because there's plenty and plenty of arguments for building a website and I agree with them too, but it's always a good discussion. 

Where Can You Buy Affiliate Websites?

Okay, so where can we purchase affiliate websites? Let's start with the marketplaces. Some examples we have here are Empire Flippers, FE International, Investors Club, and Flippa. These guys usually price affiliate websites using a model that takes a monthly profit and multiplies that by a multiplier between 30 and 40x. 

These sites usually have a minimum on marketplaces for making $500 a month. At the bare minimum, you're looking at spending $15,000 for one of these sites through marketplaces.

The advantage for marketplaces is a vetted experience. So Empire Flippers, FE International, they're going to vet the sellers they're going to vet the websites and make sure you're not buying a lemon. 

Other options, private deals through Facebook groups. Some examples of Facebook groups would be the Flipping Websites Facebook group, my group Affiliate SEO Mastermind, a lot of deals going on through there. 

What you're looking for here is "starter sites". These are sites that haven't really hit that $500 a month, they might be quite small and they don't fit those typical valuation models. They're typically priced based on how much content has been added, the potential of the niche, and stuff like that. 

Most of the time when you're doing these kinds of deals, you're simply trying to make a deal with the other person to make them feel emotionally okay with letting go something they spent their time and money on.

After that, private deals through outreach. Let's imagine that you really want to get into like this hardcore micro-niche, like college essays or something like that. You're going to wait 15 years to find one on Empire Flippers or marketplaces like that. You shouldn't just wait for something to magically appear on the marketplace if it's a small niche.

Instead, what you can do is Google your main keyword, locate websites on page two to four, and then start outreaching to these guys offering to buy their websites. 

Let me just give you fair warning, you're going to expect a poor response rate, because if there's any affiliates on this on this webinar right now, how often are you checking your inbox for your affiliate websites? Probably never, right? 

Expect poor response rates, and then long negotiation processes. These guys have dollar signs in their eyes, they're not ready to sell, you have to talk them into that.

Auditing a Website Before Buying

When you're auditing a website, this is a process I use, I recommend doing this process with a buddy of yours. One of them is going to be a good cop, and that's the person that's trying to argue against the bad cop that I really want to go into this niche for these reasons. Then the other person is going to be the bad cop and they're trying to block you from buying the website. They're trying to talk you out of it for various reasons. 

Let's look at the good cop’s criteria. First in the realm of niche research, we're trying to check and see if it's a trending niche. If this niche is trending, even if I do nothing, if I don't grow the traffic, the traffic is going to go on its own because the niche is trending itself. That's a good thing. 

Is it what I like to call a oh-shit, niche? An oh-shit niche is the kind of niche where people are going to get out their wallets for it. It's those problems that are that are recession-proof that people will just do anything to solve. Think about the big three: health, wealth, and relationships. I only operate in these niches. 

Is it a branded domain? I'm looking for domains that can scale to the stratosphere. I don't want bestrouterreviews.com, I want techpros, so I can get into routers, hosting, and all that kind of stuff related to tech. 

Is it an authority website? A key feature of the authority website is it starts to rank for new keywords as soon as you publish new content. It's a great thing.  You want to keep your eye out for one of these. 

One thing you can do is just check to see if it has any solid keywords on page one. Google's not going to put websites on page one for good keywords unless they really like the website. 

Another thing you can do is cross-correlate. You can see when was the last time they posted something? And then when did that post start getting traffic itself, and then you would know, “okay, well, it took two weeks time for this particular post to start pulling traffic and ranking, it must be an authority site.” 

We can just start influxing content here. And then we get into the monetization quick wins. You want to make your money back as soon as possible. 

Are there more products to review? We can do a content gap analysis and see, check with our competitors and see, well what products they review and which products did I review? Do they have a lot more and can we catch up to them? 

And then, can we switch out affiliate offers? Is it monetized mostly with Amazon, (which we all know is terrible)? Can we switch them to private offers and stuff like that? 

Then lastly, you're looking for some SEO quick wins. And your hint here is you're going to look for technical SEO wins because any kind of technical problems, like index bloat and stuff like that, when you get those resolved, it's usually a quick turnaround time.

All right, what does bad cop look at? First, does it have a clean backlink profile? I have no problem with PBNs and stuff like that. I just want them to be mine. I don't want them to be other people's. 

Second, has it had a recent penalty? After that does this niche require super geeky level knowledge to write about it? I really like fantasy books and novels, but there's no way I'd be able to write about it or find a writer who can talk about every single fantasy book because it's unscalable. Other unscalable things would be if it requires frequent updates. 

We just talked about routers before, being in the router, niche, things come out every five minutes. You have to constantly update your lists and stuff like that. 

After that is it a fad niche? Is it like hoverboards and it's going to die out? Are the sites ranking above it super old? Are you up against Wikipedia, WebMD, Healthline? Stay away. 

And then lastly, is it a your money, your life niche? Is it medical or is it legal advice, financial advice? It's just going to be constantly scrutinized over time by Google's algorithm. 

Let's say you decide you want to buy the website, good cop wins the battle. You get the website over into your registrar, your hosting, it's all live. 

The Super Audit for a Newly Acquired Website

Now it's time to do this, what we call the super audit. We don't have a fancy name for this. It's an audit we use it LeadSpring, we think it's super. 

Step one; what we're going to do is a technical audit. Like I said before, this is where your quick SEO gains are going to come from. First, speed optimization. WP Rocket, optimizing images, all that good stuff, get on a good host, get a CDN, and then move on. 

Indexing cleanup, so making sure you're not wasting indexing on category pages, or thin content pages, or tags, and all that kind of stuff. Authors, all that stuff, just make sure Google is only indexing the pages that you want them to look at. 

After that, you would be surprised at how often we see this at our agency: affiliates that don't nofollow their affiliate links. Just do an audit and you make them all nofollow. And then the site just ranks higher because you keep all that link juice on the site. 

After that, we can look at keyword cannibalization. Make sure you don't have any pages competing for the same keywords and if you do de-optimize the offending one. Later, we can look at 404 errors and just 301 and cleaning them up. And then lastly, look at thin content. Maybe just decide, okay, do I deindex this, 301 it, or just get rid of it altogether. 

Step two. Now you're doing keyword research. You're reverse-engineering the competition to do keyword research. What we can do here is enter a competitor's domain in SEMrush. Here you can see I'm reverse engineering dietspotlight. 

These are all the keywords that dietspotlight possibly ranks for. You take these, you add them to a list, and then you rinse and repeat for all the competitors in your niche. You get a big list of keywords and you start assigning them to pages based on relevance, topicality, and stuff like that. 

After that, you're going to have that big list of content you need to write out, right? Here's what I recommend doing: I recommend making a table. 

For the columns here, in the left-hand side, you're going to have the topic or the keyword that you're going to write to write about. The next column is whether or not this piece of content is monetizable or not. The one after that is, is it on a solid affiliate program, i.e, non-Amazon. And then search volume: does it have a decent chunk of search volume where we can get some visitors, start making some money. 

Then step four, you're going to reverse engineer yourself. You're going to try to find out which keywords that you're ranking for and you're looking for a couple surprises here. 

First, you're looking for keywords ranked five through ten (in SERPs). These ones are the ones that are almost there. They just need a little bit of a nudge to get into those money-making spots one through four. 

What you can do here, a couple solutions is one, send a target anchor text link. If you're trying to rank for best protein powder, and the anchor text best protein powder has never been sent to that page, it's still huge, awesome ranking factor. 

 Another thing you can do is look at keyword density. A lot of the time you're ranking for best protein powder, but you don't have that exact phrase on the page. Just put it in there an appropriate amount of times. 

Keywords on page two or three. These are what I like to call accidental rankers, meaning you had no clue, you didn't mean to optimize for these keywords, but you're just accidentally ranking from them anyways. What you do here is either build out its own subsection on that page, or just make a standalone page. 

Moving on, we're going to do a backlink audit. First, does the website I have a link from have a decent chunk of traffic? Is it actually ranking in Google? Is a traffic location ranking where I want to be ranking? Is this link contextual? Is it an actual link in the article, not a sidebar footer link?

I check some basic metrics. I make sure this page I'm getting the link from isn't just orphan. Check an incoming versus outgoing link ratio and make sure this website I'm getting a link from isn't just a link farm. I check for balance anchor text, make sure it's not spammed. I look for social activity on the site, at least having a Facebook page, Twitter, and stuff like that. 

And then some red flags to look out for, like I don't want to get links from any kind of sites that are labeling them as incentivized links. I'm okay with guest posts, but I don't want a big label on the page that I have a link that says this is guest posts, right?

Look for spammy anchor text. Does it have casino anchor text and adult stuff like that. And then lastly, check for a site devaluation. What you can do is you can estimate how big a website is just by looking at seeing how frequently they're posting. And then if you do a site colon and look at their domain, and you estimate this website should be 1000 pages, but Google's only indexing 40. Guess what? they hate it. 

We're going to put away the tools and do some word of mouth niche research. What we're doing here is we're going to jump into a few places and ask the people that are actually into the niche where the best products and topics in the niche to talk about so we can talk about those. Some places to go are Facebook groups. 

Now, click-through-rate optimization. This is a great quick win for an affiliate site. And what's the click-through-rate optimization? It's making sure that you're getting the most clicks possible from the search result from Google. 

We look here, this is what's called the title, SEO title tag, down here is the meta description, right? And these two highly influence the likelihood someone clicks on something. 

Some examples of what I would do is use numbers in your titles, put in the year in the month to show that it's current. You can use power words to add emotion. Use brackets to draw the eye. 

After that making sure all the content has a lot of urgency and emotion. People don't want to read a bland article. And I highly stressed this one, always having strong introduction paragraphs. 

Your first paragraph is the only chance you have to hook in the reader. Use techniques like teaching them something new. For example, you could say, in the last six months, 45 different golf drivers have been released to the market. Do you know which one's best? 

You can also use fear. Make someone feel like if they don't read the rest of this article, they're going to buy the wrong golf driver or they're going to get ripped off. Short paragraphs, no walls of text, make the paragraphs short and punchy, one to two sentences. 

Use contrasting CTA colors. For your call to actions, if your website's green, you're going to look at the color wheel. Just Google “color wheel”. You're going to look at the opposite side of that color wheel and you're going to find red. Red is the opposite contrast in color to green and red is going to be the color of your CTA. And you're never going to use red anywhere else. 

I know this sounds like a lot. It went pretty quick, but there's a lot of work to be done, but I'm telling you this stuff pays off.  You can go to diggitymarketing.com/semrush-webby and you'll find my Evergreen on-site SEO guide. If you're interested in learning, affiliate SEO, check out affiliatelab.im. 

Craig: Perfect, Matt. Excellent presentation, as always. I'm going to move on and give Matt's throat a rest just now. And jump over to Julie. And so, Julie, you have obviously been to this affiliate stuff for the last year. And I'm assuming you're it took you time to transition from doing your day job to going to affiliate. 

When Should You Build Affiliate Websites from Scratch?

Is there anything you can add to what Matt said for someone because Matt's done it for 10 years? Is there anything else you can add that you feel that may help people?

Julie: The one thing that I disagree with on that almost fundamentally is you have a lot of money to work with, you have a lot of resources to work with. And most people don't have that. 

From my perspective, the way that I was able to quit, my job was putting all of my time and resources into a single site. Now I got that site up to about $40,000 and flipped that with basically doing all the work myself. 

Craig: Interesting. And going back to, obviously give Matt his opportunity to speak on what Julie said. What would your feedback be on what Julie had to say there, Matt?

Matt: There's definitely arguments for building websites. And we still do it all the time, too. When you're first starting out, that's your only option. You definitely don't want to take the risk and say, “okay, here's 15K, I've never done this before. I hope it works.” 

You want to build it from the ground up, because you want to get your hands dirty, for sure. In that case, I highly recommend building from scratch. And in other cases, when there's a micro-niche site that I can't buy from anyone else, I'm building from scratch too. But, like Julie said, in my particular state right now, my team is really expensive. I can't afford for them to work on a site that's not moving.

Julie: For people in a perspective where they're just starting off. I've gotten the question of, when do you start acquiring sites? When do you kind of graduate from buildings yourself to getting to the point where you can actually start to pay for one?

And my best answer to that is immediately after you've sold one. Because at that point, that's when you have the most money on hand, that's when you have the opportunity to invest. You're not taking a huge risk. 

Do Micro Niche Websites Still Rank?

Craig: Next question was one of the ones asked earlier on from Viacheslav Ozerov. He's basically saying, Matt, don't you think that micro-niche websites are done with these days and because we're clearly moving to authority and brand building with affiliate websites?

Matt: Not necessarily. Some niches you'll only see, like micro or like EMDs and PMDs (exact match domain names, partial match domain names) ranking. That just depends on what it is. And the advantage of an EMD, PMD or something with the keywords in the domain name is it shoots up faster, it can rank a lot faster.

Because we look at page one, we see them all ranking. It's not the case all the time. It's not the case in fitness. It's not the case in health, it's not the case in technology. They're all massive websites, but depends on SERPs. Here we go, it depends. 

Craig: Julie, what's your take on that question?

Julie: I mean, I would really just kind of agree with Matt on that.

Getting Good Writers for Affiliate Websites

Craig: Yeah. You said you spent six cents per word for your websites. What can you recommend for those who are non-native speakers? What budget do you spend for proofreading?

Matt: Well, so for proofreading, so we don't have proofreaders, we call them content editors. And their job is where they manage the writers and make sure they're delivering to schedule and stuff like that.

But we're assuming that the writers themselves because they're six cents a word, that's not the cheap level, that's like, average level getting into the beginning of more high end. We're assuming they can write well themselves and you shouldn't have to proofread them. 

I would probably in your case, just when you're interviewing a writer, you get a bunch of samples, you get some samples and then have a single time like one of your English first language friends, look at that person's writing and just figure out is it English or not, right? And then move on because I don't think you'll need a full-time proofreader. You shouldn't have to do that for someone.

Julie: I have one girl that I have been working with since I was at the agency. I've known her for about four or five years, she started really, really cheap. So about four cents a word. And now she's at five and a half. 

I've just been with her for so long that she knows kind of what I'm looking for. I trust her writing, and I think I'm getting an awesome deal. I mean, it's about building a relationship with the writer. Finding someone you like, and then really encouraging them, giving them good instructions so that they know what you're looking for. Instead of just kind of having 20 or 30 that are okay.

Craig: In my opinion, I think content writers are really, really hard to come by. I think you've got to treat them well and pay them what they’re worth. I think we're always looking at cost in a lot of cases and I think the best thing you can do is if you're lucky enough like Julie or probably Matt and you've got someone.

Olesia: When you are dealing with local lead generation, mostly you find out that people don't read that content and Googlebot doesn't do that either. You can put their lorem ipsum safely or just tweak one copy and use it multiple times.

When to Move Away from Amazon

Craig: When do you swap from Amazon to another affiliate partner? Amazon quite a bit of revenue might be for non-direct purchases, but how much direct link sales do you need to make the switch?

Matt: All right, so this is an awesome question because Amazon converts like crazy and you get that long cookie and stuff like that. If I can find a product to replace it that's making a 12% commission and they have a good landing page. It needs those two things 12% commission or more and a good landing page. I'll make the switch.

Julie: There is a ton of value in Amazon...all the random purchases, there's people who are going to buy from Amazon, even if it's more expensive because they've just been trained with the two-day shipping. You can't really combat that. 

The way that I go about it is I put the first one or two products on the page as something outside of Amazon.  Three to 10 could be Amazon products so that way I'm still capturing those Amazon links for people who just add stuff to their cart and buy it. B

But I had a website, I think last month where I was looking at how much it made, I got 30,000 clicks from Amazon made about six grand. I got I think it was 60 clicks from a manufacturer website made the same amount of money.

Craig: Interesting, and Olesia have you got anything to add there?

Olesia: I just follow Matt's advice and never deal with Amazon.

Craig: Good move. I'm finished with them as well. Commissions are too low for me to make money on it, but guys, if you have any other questions, we still have seven minutes left. 

Sadly, guys, we are out of time. Thank you guys for being on the show. Thank you, everyone, for your questions. And Matt's slides, I'm sure, will be shared after the webinar just below on YouTube, we'll get them added. 

Olesia: Thank you.

Matt: Thanks a bunch. You've been a great host, Craig. 

Craig: See you later.

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