This is the last case study we are publishing on Project Aphrodite, an affiliate marketing joint venture in the beauty niche. If you’re unfamiliar with this project, we recommend you first take a look at the case study we wrote on the Diggity Marketing blog last year: https://diggitymarketing.com/jv-case-study/.
In this case study, we are going to summarize every step we took to take this site from $0 to over $21k per month in 17 months with only $32k spent!
We’re going to cover everything: Technical, On-Page (Content), and Off-Page SEO (Link Building).
We’re even going to give you a detailed breakdown of how we spent the $31,937.60. This includes: hosting, content creation, link building, tools, and more.
We have a lot to discuss, so let’s get started…
The Joint Venture
Before we dig into the results and the steps we took to get these results, we wanted to briefly discuss how our unique approach not only gave us a significant head-start but how it continues to benefit us to this day. This project would not be as successful as it is if it weren’t for this unique approach.
As most of you probably already know, what makes this project unique is that instead of building from scratch, we decided to contact an influencer in the niche (one with an existing website) and pitch a win-win joint venture.
This gave us a significant head-start. This allowed us to work on an incredibly powerful aged domain (DR 40+ with backlinks from sites like The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, etc).
In addition, because this particular influencer has been blogging for over 10 years, she has a very strong social media presence (with nearly 1m followers on Instagram and 700k+ subscribers on YouTube).
But this did not just give us a head-start, we still continue to reap the benefits of partnering with a popular influencer. We naturally get some high DR links to the homepage and get featured on news outlets from time to time.
If you’re interested in how we landed this JV in the first place, we discuss more of the details here.
Now that we’ve stressed how important this JV was to the success of this project, let’s get into the SEO strategy we implemented.
A lot of the SEO strategy we mention below has already been discussed in detail in the case study we wrote on the Diggity Marketing blog last year. So instead of going through the step-by-step process of how to execute these strategies again, we will instead go over them briefly and discuss the results we got from executing these strategies (words written, links acquired, etc.). If you’re interested in the step-by-step process of how to execute these strategies, we recommend you check out the case study we wrote on the Diggity Marketing blog.
The first thing we did was a technical audit. And because this site was not originally optimized for SEO, we found plenty of technical issues.
The first thing we did was switch hosting providers.
This was a no-brainer because the original host’s servers were outside the USA (closer to where the influencer is from) and we wanted the new content to rank in the USA.
We ultimately decided to switch to Kinsta, a premium hosting provider with servers in the USA, to improve performance and get access to a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
This was also a no-brainer.
The website didn’t have HTTPS. HTTPS is a MUST for every website nowadays.
Page Speed Optimization
Remove Unnecessary Plugins
The first thing we did was remove a lot of unnecessary plugins. These unnecessary plugins were those that only added to the aesthetics of the site while increasing bloat and slowing it down.
Utilize the Right Plugins
I’m not really sure how NitroPack makes your site faster, but it does. So we use it on all our sites.
We also still use ShortPixel to optimize our images.
This site was not optimized for SEO, so there was a lot of thin content, media, archive, author, and even comment pages indexed.
Because we only want to serve valuable, SEO-optimized content to Google, we had to remove these pages from the index.
On-Page SEO (Content)
After the technical audit, the next step we took was to come up with a winning content strategy.
This involved picking the right niche, keyword research, and getting a lot of SEO-optimized content written and published.
Picking the Right Niche
We immediately knew we wanted to work within the beauty/lifestyle niche considering we were working with a beauty influencer. However, we still had to decide on a sub-niche.
This was fairly simple in the beginning as we were working on a single sub-niche, but as the site grew larger, it became increasingly difficult to find more shoulder niches.
Our approach to keyword research is fairly simple — to target the keywords your competition is already ranking for.
To do this, you can use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Simply enter your competitor’s domain and take a look at the “Top Pages” tab.
The Editorial Process
If you’re interested in content written and optimized our way, check out our service at BoostZeus: SEO Content. Use Discount Code: Aphrodite to get a 20% discount on your first order.
In the last 17 months, we published 142 articles (337,974 words of content). A healthy mix of round-up reviews, single product reviews, how-to posts, question posts, list posts, and alternatives posts.
Off-Page SEO (Link Building)
The last step we took was to come up with a comprehensive building strategy. Backlinks are still considered to be Google’s number 1 ranking factor.
We started this project in November of 2019, and the first thing we did with regards to link building was to avail of the Black Friday promo for Authority Builders’ ABC Plus.
I highly recommend ABC Plus for those who want a hands-off link-building campaign executed by one of the best in the industry.
In the last 17 months, Authority Builders has built 49 guest posts for us. With an average DR of 47.85 (the highest being 70 and the lowest being 26) and average traffic of 10,506 (the highest being 89,065 and the lowest being 1,584).
We also built some guests posts and link insertions through our in-house link building team.
In the last 17 months, our in-house link building team built 16 guest posts and 2 link insertions.
The Tier 2 Network
We also built tier 2 links to our guest posts. We do this to add power to our best guest posts.
In the last 17 months, we built a total of 62 tier 2 links.
For tier 2 links, we use The Tier 2 Network.
We leveraged the fact that the persona behind the site is an actual influencer and used the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) platform to build high DR links to the homepage.
We were able to build 14 links through HARO. With an average DR of 64.
Unlinked Brand Mentions
Because this influencer has such a strong social media presence, we assumed that there must be a lot of websites linking out to her social media properties and not her website. We simply reached out to these webmasters asking for a link to the website as well.
By doing this, we were able to build an additional 5 high DR links.
Now that we’ve discussed the SEO strategy, what kind of results did we get?
When we first started working on this project, the website was getting around 150 organic visitors per day (mostly searches for the influencer’s brand).
After implementing the strategies we discussed above, the site is now getting over 11,000 organic visitors per day and growing.
Last month, we earned over $14k from affiliate marketing.
We also earned over $7k from display ads.
So how much did we spend? And what did we spend it on?
In the last 17 months, we only spent a total of $31,937.60.
Here is a detailed breakdown of our expenses:
- Hosting – $2,997.89 – Yes, we spent nearly $3k on hosting alone. This includes overages and plan upgrades. *This is extra huge because we recently upgraded to the $3k/year plan on Kinsta.
- Content Creation – $16,898.70 – This is the cost of 337,974 words of content if you were to purchase it from our content service – BoostZeus: SEO Content.
- Link Building – $10,501.78 – This includes the cost of 17 months of ABC Plus, In-House Links, and Tier 2s.
- Tools – $639.23 – This is for Genius Link, Astra (our theme), Shortpixel, and other plugins.
- Other – $900 – We spent $450 on a link detox from Indexicon and another $450 on a custom subscription from Nitropack.
This case study shows you how a unique approach combined with a well-rounded SEO strategy can yield a crazy return on investment.
Whether you plan on leveraging influencer partnerships to build real E-A-T or building tier 2 PBN links to your guest posts, I am sure there is something you can take from this case study.
If you’re interested in case studies like this and want to learn more about our SEO strategies, join our Facebook Group. The password is Olympus. We not only share case studies like this, we also give out SEO tips & tricks and answer any questions you guys have regarding building content sites and SEO.