Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Michael Gillispie, for a ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

He is successfully running a white hat affiliate SEO business model and he specializes in content hub. I like this concept a lot.

He is expected to do $100K a month soon and that is respectable.

Please ask him anything and he will get to your question whenever he can.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he passes out or he begs me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until bitcoin value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.


Table of Contents

Can you tell us about your background? How did you get into this business?

I’m a US Army Officer (a senior Major, up for Lieutenant Colonel this year, 16 years on Active Duty plus 6 in the national guard before that).

In the middle of 2013, the Army starting cutting the officer ranks, as we were “getting out of the war” business (I wish).

I thought I was going to be one of the ones cut.

Anyhow, I had absolutely no wish to work for the government again in any capacity (which is what a lot of ex military do) and I read Fast Lane Millionaire…best fucking book ever written to spurn action taking.

That rekindled my entrepreneur mindset that I had in high scool and college (and that by that time the Army had almost sucked out of me), and I started my journey.

And I ended up not being cut (probably due to some really good evaluations from 2 1/2 years of being a company commander plus several from NTM-A).

Anyhow, I started out as ecommerce with a combination of drop shipping and selling my own stuff using a fulfillment center (this was before fulfillment by Amazon was really big…it existed but not like now).

My site got traffic by lots and lots of content marketing…buying guides, very detailed product descriptions, how to articles, etc, etc.

At some point, I made another site and stuck a few Amazon links…and by God, people clicked through and bought things.

I realized that I liked the content creation.

Not so much fulfillment, sourcing, customer service, warranty claims, credit card fraud and chargebacks, etc ad nauseum.

Conducting customer service over the phone at 3:00 AM in Seoul while having a day job is NOT fun.

So eventually I shut the ecommerce site down and merged it into my other site.

It would have been successful had I been doing it full time…but I wasn’t.

Where would you recommend I start my journey in terms of resources for learning about how to approach affiliate websites, in terms of niche selection, structure, site type and just general learning resources.

You really can’t beat Authority Hacker’s free stuff and once you’ve gone through that, get their course.

Or if you need more of the basics start with their (The) Authority Site System.

I have absolutely no financial relationship with them but their courses are spot on.

I personally didn’t learn much from either…cause I had already spent several years cutting through the bullshit and finding the little gems (i..e I read almost every single thread of significance on Black Hat World through 2009 – mostly while on the shitter or before bed).

If you want everything boiled down and in one spot, that’s where I’d start.

I probably could have shaved a year or more off my journey with those courses and for anyone that knows me.

Knows I hate gurutards and will call them out.

What’s your BHW username? (If that’s ok to ask)

I haven’t logged in ages and don’t remember the password.

I think Silverbaksuccess or Silverbacksuccess, something like that.

How much capital did you start with and what was the growth like?

I’m not going to lie, for several years both my paycheck and my sleep were poured into just one site.

Eventually it started paying for itself, and then latter I was able to take $3k to $5k a month out for living expenses while reinvesting $15k-17k in new content.

And then Amazongeddon hit.

RELATED:  The Power of the OFFER

I ended up pouring all of November and December 2016 Amazon checks back into the sites hoping to catch up to where I was at.

I went from about 8.3% commission to about 4.2% (I believe).

Almost all my current commissions are at the 4% mark whereas I was very firmly in the 8.5% tier before the changes.

So about 58% of pre Amazongodden or a loss of 42% of potential income.

I have a couple of sites that are being developed in the 7% tier so that will help offset that along with some manufactere’s affiliate programs at 8 -12%.

Could you explain a little about what these tiers are?

I was referring to category percentages..some Azon categories pay more.

But I’ve heard of two instances of where certain blogs were grandfathered into the 8.5% setup. Bastards.

How would one get started similarly in an affiliate SEO bsuiness?

Find a wide niche that you have some interest in (it doesn’t have to be a “passion” but you need at least some interest in it).

And per my advice above, start taking action and listening/reading the free Authority Hacker stuff.

Also, here is a good resource which was one of the first things that taught me how to build an authority site:…/phpbuilts-idiot-proof…/

It is important to read the comments to…at least until PHPbuilt and Bluematter get into a squabble with Tommy (of today’s SerpLogic).

Do you provide guidance, training, or coaching?

Oh hell no. Last thing I wanna be is a gurutard. And I swore I’d never get in the IM niche.

I do post some good stuff (IMHO) in the Authority Hacker Pro group for time to time.

What’s the biggest pain point you’ve experienced?

Cash flow issues mid last summer when the Christmas Amazon money ran out.

I had to get rid of my less than stellar writers and reduce hours for my better writers. My writers are NOT cheap.

They are paid hourly as they also take original photos and create things (projects)…all US and Canadian (and one German).

I lossed a little momentum that I’m trying to regain.

What’s your formula for reallocating profit back into the business?

10% goes into my pocket and 90% gets reinvested.

I’m in this for the long haul…and I don’t know a better ROI than building authority sites.

Sure in the hell can’t get it on the market or in the bank.

You could play the roulette wheel of bitcoins but also lose your ass at the same time.

So I’d rather keep the money where it can stay making more money.

When you hit the $100k mark, what will you do to celebrate?

Look for more existing sites to buy that are in of rehabs.

Long term goal is a a million a month.

I’m making a media company…not cruddy affiliate sites.

What do you think about focusing on affiliate marketing just on YouTube? (assuming you had the resources and skills necessary to make the videos yourself or could outsource the work at a low cost) And what about other social media channels?

Goodwin YouTube is a gold mine. I haven’t yet (much) ventured into it.

That being said, I don’t build houses on other people’s property…my main channels will always be my own sites.

I should probably caveat this…and I’m not there yet.

But the ultimate set up would be a “circle of traffic” bouncing between your sites.

Facebook (retargeting if you have to), Youtube, Pinterest, Insta, and email. Jab, jab, jab, jab, left hook.

Can you explain a bit more about the concept, your journey and changes in the industry over time. What is the greatest stumbling block to starting and scaling?

Your main question can be answered with two words, money and time.

They form an inverse relationship…want to scale more? All it takes is money.

Don’t have the money…well you need the time (which is far more precious IMHO than money).

What does your content research process look like?

You know, I’m really bad about content research.

Basically for info content, I use AHREFs for gathering details from the biggest sites in my niches and have a spreadsheet of ideas.

My writers also can pitch ideas.

They’ve been with me long enough to know that I want the most detailed piece available on the internet and that it needs to be the BEST.

Also, some pieces really aren’t tailored around keywords..they are “one offs” that can garner some Pinterest traffic.

My sites do not look like the typical shit affiliate sites. No 10 beasts here.

For “money” pages, again….build the best content available…which catches 90% of long tails.

Sometimes I’ll use Google autosuggest just to double check things.

Also, I’ve switched to doing real reviews with the product “in hand” where I play with it and I sometimes send it to the writer.

It gets original photographs to include “in use” photos.

And the product gets used in ancillary articles as well which established natural linking points.

What would be your strategy for content marketing?

I use both loose silos and content clusters with hub/pillar articles.

My sites are so interlinked, that they sometimes look like wikipedia.

Unlike others, I also make use of categories to place some unique content up in the beginning as well.

These aren’t redirected pages like you’d use in a strict silo, just normal categories with some additional content (sometimes tabbed/accordioned) that builds relevancy and authority.

I’m not necessarily trying to rank them, but they make excellent link targets to spread link juice.

Do you work alongside a team or is it fully outsourced?

I have a managing editor and about 8 writers – most of whom have been with me for a couple of years.

I will be expanding this in the near future.

I hate outsourcing and never have had good luck with it.

Also, unlike many others, I pay by the hour and not by the words.

I want my writers researching stuff and not be distracted by making their money creating fluff.

Also, they often create original projects with original photos so by the word just doesn’t work for me.

Do you set a limit on the number of hours per piece of content, or set your writers targets?

No set numbers of hours..I’ve had a few writers try to bullshit me but they are long gone.

Most of my current crew has been with me for at least two years. One as long a four.

I’m getting ready to expand again (as soon as Nov/Dec) Amazon’s check gets here so that involves whittling down the applications to about 5.

Which one or two will stick around longer than a couple of months or whom we don’t fire.

Do you start your new affiliate site on a new/aged/expired domain?

I much prefer an aged domain. In fact, going forward.

I’m pretty much buying old existing informational sites that have good brand names and plenty of links that are in need of facelift in both terms of appearance and monetization.

How much money do you spend acquiring old domains? How much extra time is required to start fresh and rank as opposed to buying an older domain? How do you check value of a domain before purchasing?

Check with AHREFs…most I’ve spent is 17k. I’m eyeballing one for 200k but I’d have to cash some 401k money for that.

I don’t normally keep that much cash around (why when I can reinvest it and not have it get eaten by inflation?).

Do you think you may be here a while?

On and off…will be answering questions throughout the 13 JAN US CONUS CST DTG or until complete.

Do you write your own content or outsource to third party?

I write some when I have the time and energy but most gets created by my inhouse 8 person writing team plus my editor.

What does your link building strategy look like?

I really haven’t had much of a cohorrent one.

My links are a combination of guest posting service (a good one — SerpLogics Platinum and Gold (I can’t recommend their Silver or Bronze packages at all))

A few guest posts, a bunch of natural organic links (yes, these exist, they are not the tooth fairy, write excellent content and they will come once you have bit of a boost going), and the creme la creme…301s done “right.”

Buy out existing blogs IN YOUR NICHE and merge them page by page into your site(s).

Done right, this is more on the white side of the of spectrum of link building.

Done wrong – register side redirects or wild card redirects or non niche 301s.

You look like a typical blackhatter to either algorithms or the spam team. IHMO.

When you create multiple sites targeting same niche and exchange links, do you host them with different hosting companies or same or it doesn’t matter?

I use the same host since I’m “above board” and they are all branded with my Media Company’s name anyway.

I currently use a large VPS for this.

And almost all my sites run through Sucuri also (some of them get DDoS attacks).

What are your criteria for niche selection?

1. Is there some money to be made.

2. Do I have an interest.

3. Is it Home and Garden? (the focus of my Media company).

The best way to pick a niche?

Walk into a Barnes and Noble and see if there is a magazine that covers it.

If so, it’s been validated.

Which KPIs do you use to determine whether to keep a site or discard it?

The name only. I focus on the site’s name and brandiblity.

I’m building a media company for the long haul.

If I want to rank for something.

I’ll eventually rank for it if I build enough content around it and establish relevance/authority.

Do u build niche sites or authority site? How many pages of content do you target per site?

Definitely wide authority sites and most of the niches are wide enough that I will never run out of material.

My biggest site has 1150 posts…but there are sites in this industry that have 20K articles (maybe more).

Any losses incurred from selecting a bad niche?

No not really…some are more profitable than others.

Which affiliate programs/network would you recommend someone who is just starting out in affiliate marketing? Nothing coverts like Amazon but their pay rates are pretty bad as compared to other programs. What are your thoughts on Amazon Affiliate program as they keep reducing the rates of commissions?

There’s also Share-a-sale, pepperjam, in house manufacture programs, and a slew of others.

And yes, Amazon is normally the easiest to convert.

You wanna know the truth?

I let Amazon pay me to build other content than affiliate related so that at some point, I can depend only on display ads.

Or since my sites often overlap, at some point I may go back into ecommerce myself and I’ll have 10-15 big authority sites that I can point to my store(s).

Also, I may even pivot further and create my own line of branded books.

All sorts of ways to pivot and monetize down the road but right now.

I use affiliate revenue to build the base of that.

As to your original question, here’s a good resource:

What are your thoughts on having Adsense or other Ads on Amazon sites? Have you seen any changes (good or bad) in terms of conversion rate for Amazon income?

I use AdThrive for the most part.

I turn off in content ads on the affiliate heavy posts.

I get anywhere from $7 to $16 RPM depending on the month and the site, so it’s worth having.

Do you use ads only on articles that have informative content or money pages as well?  And what kind of CTAs do you use on articles that include product reviews? And CTAs as buttons or texts?

In content ads get turned off on money articles.

They also get blocked from regions on regular articles that may have a few affiliate links is div tags (I use Adthrive).

My CTAs are almost lways isolated, white photos with text link or plain text links.

I do have a few table comparison charts with buttons but I pretty much quit screwing around with tables.

1. 100% pure affiliate sites? 2. Amazon based products? 3. Pure Organic SEO or SEM 4. Do you buy ads? 5. How many pages per site and are they content heavy? 6. Do you update content regularly?

1. No way…my biggest site is about 5% affiliate in terms of content.

2. Mostly Amazon but I’m trying to broaden out.

3. Organic SEO only plus social.

4. No…the ROI is not there.

5. 1150 pages on my biggest site…most articles over 1000 words…most buying guides around 5k words…one or two are 10k.

Many info articles have original photos…some are stock.

6. Yes, both info content and money content.

When you have a brand new domain, how do you get around the Google sandbox issue? Do you worry about it?

I don’t worry about it…I’m in it for the long haul.

Just start building content and don’t worry about monetization until you have some decent traffic.

What kind of routine or system do you suggest to perform different tasks when someone is managing multiple sites? As an example, tasks could be scheduling social media posts, updating posts, CRO, making sure that the products you’re recommending are still available, etc.

Currently I have one Managing Editor but eventually I’d like to get big enough to have one managing editor per site and editors for each section along with assistants for publishing plus a social manager for each site.

That’s a still a long way for me, I’m afraid. I personally still do some posting and handle most of our Pinterest stuff.

One of my writers/junior editors handles Facebook.

Take a look at any masthead of any successful big.

Big authority site and you can get a good idea how to structure things and then implement this little by little.

Do u use EMD, PMD or brand name for your sites?

Brand name is very important to me…occasionally that might include a partial match but it’s got to be brandable.

You’ll never ever see a site from me that says bestgardentillers. Hate them hate them hate them. I mean I really hate EMDs.

If you are new into affiliate marketing and have say 10-20 sites making money, and now you want to keep growing your existing sites as well as launch new sites. What would be your next steps? Who would you hire to help (one or more people and for what role or tasks)?

I would never have 20 sites plus creating more but if I did.

I’d take my more promising writers, train them up to be content managers and editors, and “trust but verify.”

What would your team (in-house or VAs) look like when you have 40-50 sites? And 100 sites?

I doubt I’ll ever get there. I focus on big, big sites….15 will be my max.

I may own more domains than that, but that will be through merges, 301s and consolidations.

Best Book for learning SEO?

I’m not sure…I mostly stick to blogs and podcasts.

What types of affiliate networks or products did you start out promoting and had that changed as you’ve gotten better. If so how has it changed?

Mostly Amazon and it definitely got worse!

There’s still money to be made though and I’m working to diversify programs.

Best site structure for the affiliate site and what about off page seo – PBN or not to PBN?

Yeah, not showing a site although I’m not afraid in [mommy] “blogger groups”…weird huh?

RELATED:  Pick His Brain! with David Sharpe

I see what SEO peeps did to Herepup, A penny shaved, and every other case study.

I had maybe 5-7 PBNs at one time but they’ve long since expired.

Owning your own for a bit just to get you started wouldn’t be a bad plan.

But long term I’m in favor of making the best content possible and getting natural links and then perhaps accelerating that through link bait, outreach, etc.

I’m not anti PBN…but to make one that is acceptable to me.

Just requires an inordinate amount of time or resources that I’d rather be devoting to my money sites.

Do you eventually flip sites?

No but if I do it will be in a deal several years down the road for millions.

Have you ever been in situation where your site stuck on page 2? How did you cope out from it?

Build more content around that subject area or get more links.

Check your on page for over optimization (too high of keyword densities, etc).

That being said, I don’t do home page centered sites, so my “site” is never stuck, but certain pages may be.

Who were your well-known legit foundational mentors in SEO, and which well-known mentors out there are simply mostly putting out hyped up garbage that makes you roll your eyes that we completely should avoid at all costs?

Don’t really have mentors.

PHP Built as referenced put out pretty good stuff and Bass Tracker Boats has a good guide or two out on BHW.

Other than that, I’d recommend the Authority Hacker guys.

I have friends and colleagues (kinda) in the Authority Hacker Pro group but they really aren’t “mentors.”

We are all in the trenches together.

Viperchill/Glen Alsop has some value bombs as well.

In fact, I’m patterning my operations off of the big media company tendencies he outlined in

Of course at a smaller scale…but if those tactics work for the big dogs, why not emulate them?

How many months does it typically take for a new site to see positive ROI?

I’d think about six before you see significant revenue and you were “all in.”

I have the habit of putting content on sites and letting it incubate for a while before coming back to it and really hammering it.

How do I start to become like you sir ?

Give up sleep and your paycheck for several years.

For supporting content do you worry about content length? i.e. content to add relevancy / support to money pages.

Not really. Most of our content tends to be above 750 words and usually above 1000 words.

For buying guides the average is probably around 5000k and individual product reviews 1500 – 2000 words.

Do you manage all your sites through the same Google account (Analytics, GSC, etc) or do you have each set up with different “fake” accounts?

I’m 95% white hat (ish) so all the same accounts.

Note that I consider 301 page by page redirects and mergers of existing sites to be white hat but other may disagree.

Where do you find your expired domains to merge into your existing sites?

I don’t buy expired domains…I buy active sites.

I’ve found a couple of gems on Flippa and I have a large file of sites that I am interested in and will outreach when I have the cash.

Not all of this is for 301ing. Some sites will be refurbished and improved.

Expired domains will work for this as well…if the sites are restored and left to age for 4-6 months.

And I’d want to track down the original owner and buy the content or slowly rewrite and replace it bit by bit.

Buying existing sites is more on the white hat side of the line were as the expired sites are starting to get in the grayer zone IMHO.

Do you buy the products you review? Or how do you get them?

I buy them. Please note that I didn’t start out this way.

So you can fake it tell you make it, but I’m one who believe in continuous improvement.

Do you accept paid guest posts on your sites as part of your monetization strategy?

No, but at some point I may take sponsored posts from manufacturers.

I really need to up my instagram game first as they love insta.

But it’s not really worth it for me to screw with it for less than $1500 per post (including making the content and using the product).

Can you provide your insights on how search engines read the words and phrases inside your content?

There’s not really much that I can add that Matt Cutrs or John Mueller hasn’t said.

I can verify that Cutt’s statement about hidden content (i.e. tabs and accordions) diminishing relevancy as being accurate.

How do you feel about lead gen vs product affiliate sites?

I have no experience in lead generation and really want to explore it myself…to me.

It looks like there’s possibility to make a ton of money if done right. Probably more than affiliate.

I’d want to do it right though…something like nerdwallet or one of those car finding/buing places that ties into banking services.

Do you keep track of how many keywords you are ranking for or is it irrelevant? Do you only focus on quality content?

I keep an eye on what Ahrefs reports but I don’t use their keyword tracker.

As of right now, for my largest site, it says I’m somewhere in the SERPs for 237K keywords with 6,883 being in the top 3.

Are you using wordpress with woocommerce? Magento? Something else?

Straight up WordPress. I started out on Shopify when I was in ecommerce.

I don’t know what I’d use if I went back to ecommerce.

Woo doesn’t have the protection, Shopify has a few SEO issues.

Magento is hellishly complicated.

How do you deal with google algorithmic changes? I had a new site almost about to hit 500/mth and then december 12 happened..Also how did u start out? Was it super authority sites always from the beginning?

We over deliver and give more than we take.

We have the best content and most of it is purely informational.

We are white hatish (at least we on that end of the spectrum).

In a nutshell, I give two shits about algorithm changes and sleep well at night.

I have some of my origin story up in the first post.

Do you use Google News to generate fresh traffic to sites or only focus on content designed for more permanent organic keyword rankings?

Nope…evergreen only.

I put most of my profits back into the sites.

In the form of what an ordinary business would call an expense (writer’s pay).

To me, that’s not an expense…it’s a capital investment.

That’s material that will make me money in a couple of weeks, in couple of months, and couple of years.

This is one of the very few business models where labor that is paid for today, produces a continuous ROI even years later.

But I’ll definitely count it as an expense for taxes!

Did you read any particular books or take any particular courses about affiliate SEO that helped you get started on the right foot or is everything you learned from testing different models yourself and sometimes making mistakes. If so what are the 3 things you wish you could go back and tell yourself now, if you were starting out again.

I recommended Authority Hacker’s free material plus their Authority Hacker Pro course and/or if you need the basics, their The Authority Site System.

Top 3 Books (not necessarily SEO):

Millionaire Fastlane (stupid title, excellent content)

Virtual Freedom

Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Top 3 Blogs (besides Authority Hacker)

Viperchill plus his new properties…never can remember their names.

Backlinko. (make your writers read portions of this time to time for professional development).

Top 3 Podcasts (beside Authority Hacker)… I love me some podcasts

Early Smart Passive Income …most of his newer stuff sucks.

Experts On The Wire

Edge of the Web

How would determine the competition of a niche and when do you decide this is a good one and this is bad?

I give two shits about competition. I take on some of the toughest keywords for physical products there are.

I know if I build enough quality content around it, and properly channel link juice from related articles, I’ll get in the top 3 or 5 at some point.

What’s a content hub?

A content hub is basically a virtual silo aka content cluster…it can follow a category set up but it doesn’t have to.

I hate the term silo anyway because folks get wrapped around the axel on what they can and can’t link to.

If it’s relevant, then internally link to it damn it!

Anyhow, this usually consists of a pillar article (the hub) and supporting articles.

The hub links to all of the articles and the articles link back to to the hub and to each other.

The Dotdash brands ( are masters at this.

Their content sucks and they use stock photos (a no no) for recipes, but their on site SEO managers are spot on.

Here’s a hub page (although I’d put more content on it if it were mine):

Which are your favourite affiliate themes?

Any magazine them that loads fast. I typically use Genesis with a child theme just because I’m used to it.

Remember, I build heavy “authority sites” not “affiliate sites” and I don’t do the thin affiliate heavy text home page style.

And I don’t purposely send links to the homepage.

100k a month..certainly more than respectable. I would like to learn how to get to 10k. Which offers convert best…get traffic.. Avoid paused offers

I’m 100% hard products so I very rarely see paused offers.

I don’t really “do” clickbank or anything like that so I can’t help much there.

How do you source and scale content?

I have 8 writers and an editor.

I source by hiring 3 to 5 writers (from problogger boards and or niche groups).

Figure I’ll fire a couple and two others will quit leaving me with one good one for the long term.

I pay by the hour $18-25.

How do you make sure they are honest about their hours? And do they work in your office or are they virtual?

They are all remote. I don’t monitor them for the most part.

If I think I’m being cheated, they get fired quickly.

I try not to hire on Upwork. They got greedy.

Plus my writers work on hands on projects and take photos…screen capture stuff wouldn’t work for that.

We create real content…not the usual rehashed crap that most SEOers think qualifies as “good.”

How much have you invested in content $ since you started this program?

A lot…I’m currently working on my books so I should be able to tell you an exact figure in a month.

And it depends on what you mean by invested.

The amount of owner’s equity that I bootstrapped with or including the amount that was reinvested from revenues?

How many hours do you work a week?

Around 90 – 100 hours counting my day job for the first couple of years…now? 60-70.

Eventually I plan to work myself out of job…just requires more money.

What’s your day job?

I don’t necessarily suggest that.

The first couple of years working on limited sleep did affect my health some and affected my fitness as well.

I’m still trying to get back to where I was.

US Army Major.

Do you have any favourite courses that you took along the way?

I listed them elsewhere….

But I’d recommend Authority Hacker Pro for intermediate or their Authority Site System for beginners.

I could have chopped some time from my journey had they been around when I started.

Oh and the MOOLAH course for organic Facebook but I’d wait and see how the new changes affects thing.

Do you build email lists for your niches? If yes how impactfull is the email revenue to your business?

I suck at email marketing…it is by far my weakest link. So basically no and zero.

Something I plan to improve on though.

Where do you advertise for writers?

As mentioned in the other segment, Problogger job boards would be a place to start.

Word of mouth also.

Are you approaching the $100k per month in SALES or in COMMISSIONS?

$43K in December of 2017 counting display ads ($7500) and Amazon commission (35,500)

Which was down from the year prior (54K all Amazon December 16) due to Amazongeddon.

Went from 8.2% average commission (was WELL into the 8.5% tier) down to about 4.2% commission since most of my products are in the current 4% tier.

Since I only have about 5 – 7% of the pages on my sites loaded with affiliate heavy pages (buying guides and reviews).

I plan to 4x or 5x that in the next 6 months and expect to hit a 100k.

The sale of 10beast actuallys spurned me into more aggressive action: I’m like if that POS site can make that much money.

I’m really sandbagging it.

I mentioned that in conversation with Steve and that’s why he went with the 100k number I assume (a bit of click bait).

I have no doubt I can do it; my biggest site is a DR51 with 1100+ posts and it’s in the process of getting another old DR51 site merged in with it.

It’s all in the matter of getting the content up and created, pointing some internal links at it, and a little time.

What is a DR51 site?

DR is the Ahrefs version of page rank. It means Domain Rank and is on a logarithmic scale.

Kinda like the Moz version but Moz is kinda worthless as a backlink checker.

How long it usually take for a project to be profitable? How much you usually spend until it gets profitable? What % of your projects became profitable?

I dunno.

I’ve got some projects on the back burner…one project was on the back burner for a couple of years that we just starting pushing mid last summer.

It’s not yet profitable but it’s building it’s brand…no worries…it will be soon enough.

Do you create relevant supporting articles to each buying guide article ? It’s really hard to build links to a page with affiliate links, so do you build links to the supporting articles?

Yep, exactly.

Although I do get some natural links to my buying guides (including 3 from thesweethome), the bulk of the “juice” comes from supporting articles.

How do you evaluate when one of the sites isn’t working and that it’s better to move on than keep working on it? (and I know that’s largely personal preference, it’s your personal answer that interests me most).

I don’t operate that many sites.

Two main ones and about six on the backburner/at various stages of development.

90% of the income comes from one (which is why it is difficult for me to articulate exact ROI…that one pays for the development others bit by bit).

So as far as pages go…I just keep building content and trying to get links (haphazardly so far and in spurts besides organic links).

My plan is eventually to have 10 or 15 large authority sites.

Laser focus (IMHO) on one really good one for a good, long while while you get your processes in place. IMHO.

So, are you saying that you keep working on them, (as and when possible), until the do work, and never abandon one idea entirely?

Yep…well except my first one that was ecommerce but that still proved useful as I was able to 301 it and use some of the content.

RELATED:  Pick His Brain! with Matt Staton

I just didn’t want to be in ecommerce at that point in my life…way too many sticks in the fire.

I was working as a Battle Major (G33) for 8th Army in Korea at the time.

I like big, big sites…why? Once you have enough authority, you can rank a lot of stuff just by pointing internal links at it.

So it really pays to concentrate for a good while.

1. Do you link often between your sites? 2. Do you target same topic winners on more then 1 site? 3. Do you allow quality guest posts to get more supporting content faster? 4. Do you use posts and categories for everything or use pages for content hubs like Authority Hacker suggests? 5. Do you link out inside your articles and if yes do you use no or dofollow? 6. Do you acquire ranking sites from: expiring names, Flippa, direct contact?

1. I link contextually and right now there are sitewides in place i n footer areas

.I don’t know how I feel about the sitewides…they haven’t hurt me.

2. Not yet, but that is the plan…since Amazon reduced my main category down to 4%.

I wouldn’t mind ranking a few other sites for the same items on the first page to return better ROI on purchased items for review.

3. No, I tried it and I never received anything worth posting. iWriter shit is not allowed on my sites.

If an honest to God blogger offered a guest post, then I’d probably accept it.

4. Posts and categories. I really wish Authority Hacker would redo that page specific setup in TASS.

Google doesn’t see them any differently, and most themes turn off commenting for pages and I believe that comments are a small ranking factor.

It’s possible to get Silo like effects from posts and categories.

And I don’t believe in stiff, rigid silos anyway…it sucks for UX and you lose the ability to interlink in so many ways.

5. Yes, I link out sometimes when it makes sense and unless it is an affiliate link, it is a regular followed link.

To not do so is chicken shit IMHO, and despite what some current gurus will tell you, you cannot “save” link juice.

Nofollow links still “use’ up that alloted juice…but instead of going to the target site, it disappears into the “ether.”

This was answered a LONG time ago by Cutts and others but “page rank” sculpting apparently has been newly “discovered” by some gurus.

6. I’ve gotten a few gems from Flippa (you have to dig REALLY hard and also wait until something comes up).

Going forward this will be direct contact.

I’ve been saving a list of stites that haven’t been update in a long time and that have lots of juicy links.

AND are in need of a rehab/improvements in terms of appearance, UX, and monetization.

If I have niched based followers (social media) do you think I would be best with an affiliate site or direct linking them to a category?

I would never recommend building on someone else’s real estate.

And with all of the social channels being as fickle as they are…no way, no how.

You really need a site. FB reach these days sucks…you really have to be an expert at picking a niche subset to get traction (via engagement).

And as soon as FB detects an affiliate link, that post is not going to get much reach.

You can’t boost an Amazon related FB post..that’s againts the Operating Agreement (OA).

Send them to your site where you can start them on your funnel..whether that be a product review or a funnel for email collection.

Also if you talking about direct linking to an Amazon category or search page, that’s also against the OA (it didn’t used to be but it is now even if there own tools can make such a link).

Do you suggest building “Review Authority Sites” for each Niche I am in and run the traffic to the home page or latest blog post (etc?)

I am probably the last person that should give you advice on Instagram.

We haven’t put much into it because of the reasons you are describing.

No way to place a link per photo…just the profile one.

Although I do kick my ass a little because big brands like you to have a large insta for sponsored posts.

Which we don’t do now but we could easily pivot into accepting those.

My advice…don’t put much more effort into those insta accounts other than for quick cash via selling shout outs (or whatever it is).

The thing I see with many BHW tactics…they put tons of work into circumventing the system that could go towards a legit business and building your own brand.

1. Have you implemented CRO? 2. I saw you havent tapped video why not?

1. No I haven’t. I should at least get Clicky or Hotjar on the sites for heat map analysis.

But as far a split testing, I run through Sucuri and I can only imagine the fun fest I’d have trying to get it working through their caching.

Since I get DDoSed on occasion, I’d rather have the protection than the split test.

2. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it right and show my face and I’d like to get back into a little better shape first.

Plus, I’d like to build an outbuilding with a studio and a set (and offices and product storage, etc).

I don’t want to spoil the brand by half assing my first videos.

Plus, a bunch of my videos would be informational. Jab, jab, jab, jab.

I still may get into it though before the outbuilding is built.

When finding business that do offer affiliate, manufacturers, or thrgh jvzoo, clickn Bank, etc… is there any other way to locate some of these companies like keywords to use or not use. and do most offer templates or promotional material to use or is it just usually just link.

I don’t do digital products which is 99% of jvzoo and clickbank’s offerings.

I posted this earlier but here are some common affiliate programs that have a multitude of companies.

Also some companies have in house programs.

You can also contact companies and encourage them to start one.

How focused in-depth do you built your SEO Affiliate sites? Eg. Bags -A general site with all sorts of different types of bags?
or a – Specialized site: one website for notebook bags, One for Baby bags etc.

Wide, wide, wide…loosely siloed by categories.

I would do something like Pets (I wouldn’t actually go into this niche thanks to 1 million copies of Herepup but you get the drift).

Note: MOST of my content is informational.

You land on the homepages and they look nothing like typical review sites.

They are authority sites first.

Monetization is secondary (at least in appearance).

Give more than you take.

Jab, jab, jab, jab, right hook.

Would you happen to have a competitor site for an example. which sorta reflect the way it’s SILO as an SEO affiliate site? has the best on page I’ve ever seen.

If you click on their menu, you see all of their main categories plus they list the most relevant seasonal subcategories.

Click on “See All” for one of the categories and you hit a landing page with a bunch of current stuff above (clickbait).

Plus ALL their subcategories listed out (for SEO but looks good to the reader as well).

Each one of those subcategories is basically a silo.

They do this better than me…in fact, I just found a few ideas I’m going to steal.

Although their content usually sucks (rewritten shit with stock photos), they know perform onsite SEO perfectly.

And they are a mixture of non affiliate content and affiliate content.

If you scroll down on one of those categories, you’ll see “In this section.”

That’s all of their subcategories which make up their silos – both affiliate and those just for authority/relevancy along with display ads.

My sites are pretty wide, but theirs is WAY wider. My sites are around their basic 1 layer category level in ‘nicheness.”

You could easily go one level deeper and be just fine…just avoid micro niche…that’s usually crap (IMHO).

So take Home & Garden>Pets>Dogs>Bulldogs>Bulldog Nutrition

I’m usually at the Pets level for my sites. But focusing on dogs would be perfectly ok and I wouldn’t mind having some sites at that level.

But I’d never go Bulldogs or lower.

Have you ever marketed a mobile app or just ecommerce?

Nah, I’ve never been in the ap game.

I know content so I stick to what I know (at least for now).

If I were ever to get into the ap market, it would probably be as an angel investor several years from now.

80/20; do what you are good at and don’t chase shiney objects IMHO.

In my niches – Pinterest and blogger round ups.

I’m home and garden and finding “real” bloggers in my sphere is fairly easy.

1. Do you capture emails on your affiliate SEO websites? And later re-market/ promote to them your new offers/ updates via emails or thru FB Groups. 2. Have you used ads, eg. Google or FB ads to boost your traffic?

1. Already answered. Bottom line. Not I like should.

2. Just for branding purposes on FB.

There is zero ROI in trying to get Adwords to pay off for physical product offers; I’d rather have Adsense paying ME.

Yeah Best Products does it but they are also owned by one of the biggest media companies on the net.

I suspect they have an entire team dedicated to managing and optimizing their ads, budgets, and negative keywords.

It’s not practical for a small company IMHO for physical good affiliate programs (and I don’t know how they do it even with extensive management unless they have a dope deal with Amazon for a higher percentage which is possible).

Also to caveat on #2…there is not enough ROI on FB either for physical good affiliate offers.

Folks aren’t on Facebook with “buying intent.”

They are there to check up on friends and relatives or get info content in various groups.

Also, you can’t send them directly to Amazon either with a boosted post.

You have to send them to your site…so you have a series of clicks that at any point they can be lost at.

The ROI is just not there.

This may not be the case with someone who knows what they are doing with ad optimization and high paying soft goods though.

They have the opportunity to send them directly to their product copy, into an email capture funnel, or at least get them pixeled for retargeting.

But for physical goods affiliates…nothing beats organic search and buying keywords and capturing the customer with buying intent.

Noticed you used Pinterest for content promotion. Do you use Instagram too?

Answered before. Not as much as I should. And I only “should” in case I want to pivot and sell sponsored posts.

Brands like instagram…but it’s not worth a shit for physical product affiliates…you get ONE URL.

1. Do you use a plugin like EasyAzon, to geolocate your links on Amazon? 2. Have you ever had to deal with an Amazon associate account review like Authority Hackers had not to long ago? 3. Before you were taking original images of products how did you source/add product images?

I use EasyAzon primarily because my editor and a writer that acts as a junior editor know how to operate it.

These days I normally let it pull the the image.

Once posted that it actually uses the API the correct way even though it appears to be in your media files.

I don’t know how accurate that it is.

However, I will sometimes pull images from the manufacturers if I don’t have the product.

OR it is too big to get a white back ground with my equipment and the Amazon photo sucks.

I can’t deal with the various amounts of white space on the images loaded up in Amazon…they frak up the look websites.

So it’s a combo of my photos and photos from manufacturers.

I’ve even reached out to some of them and gotten media kits and permissions.

I think the AAWP plugin probably is in more alignment with the “pull from the API” requirement.

But it doesn’t play well with my primary them (which is a customized off the shelf product but I don’t want to loose what I or a developer else has customized).

I haven’t seen a single report of an existing site being banned or even given a warning because of photo use although I’ve seen reports of new accounts getting banned because of it.

Rolls you dice, takes your chances.

At some point, I’ll try to redo all my content a bit at a time so that it is more in alignment with Amazon’s requirement not to host “their” images.

(99% of them aint “there” pictures anyway).

Note for 3/4s of the time I’ve been doing this.

I didn’t get the benefit of the geolocation because of Sucuri’s cache. Which is fine. I’d rather have the DDoS protection.

However, one link installed over the top of it, has been working.

Do you have a strategy for encouraging visitors to add products to their basket (extending your cookie to 90 days)? Is it just experimenting with different CTAs?

Nope…that’s about three clicks which is two clicks too many.

I’d rather just get them to Amazon.

Capture the cookie, and let Azon do what they do best at conversions and selling everything under the sun.

Do you write informational articles then put affiliate links or do you write product reviews? Which converts best?

I’ve basically covered this ad nauseum. 95% of my content is information with a sprinkling of affiliate links in some of the posts.

Product reviews and guides make up the remainder.

My biggest site has around 1150 posts so 5 – 10% is still a decent number of guides and reviews.

And of course guides and reviews are by far the highest conversions as they capture buying intent readers from Google.

How many sites do you recommend 301ing / merging? Also, how are you finding these sites? What’s your criteria you use to decided whether a site is worht merging or not?

Dunno…I’ve got four 301s on my primary site…two were bonafide rebrands and mergers from a while ago.

One was done for SEO about the same time (kinda regret that one.

Not that powerful of a domain), and one that’s ongoing with loads of content that needs to be moved and formated.

I’d say you could keep 301in them over the course of years.

I wouldn’t try 301ing 10 of them over a month (although that’s what Wayfair and Hayneedle did back in the day).

Finding site? Come on man…leave me a bit of my own secret sauce.

I would like to know about affiliate cloaking. How can we meet the site set friendlier if the partners done affiliate cloaking?

Got no idea, never purposely cloaked anything in my life.

Build quality content and let it fly in the wind like freebird.

How long does it take you to rank for a competitive keyword after link building?

30 – 60 days usually with no outside extra links…benefits of having a shit load of content and decent authority.

And by rank I mean top 5. Indexed within hours.