Since I started my authority site project and acquired 2 websites over the last 2 months, I've spent $2,936.48 on writers to create more content for me.
That's a lot of dough.
The idea is that this content will target buyer keywords (ex: dog food review, best dog food, etc) where people are ready to buy and are looking for some confirmation of their choice before they click over to Amazon and take the plunge.
But so far I've seen no results. These new articles are getting barely any traffic and have made no money back.
Before I pour another $3,000 into content creation, I wanted to figure out if this was worth it or not. How long does it take to rank in Google and when can I expect to start making some of that money back?
Cold, hard data
Luckily, one of the sites I purchased that's focused on a specific kind of software has a lot of articles.
These articles were written by the previous owner over the last couple of years. This means I have a ton of content that has no links built to it, but is ranking in Google and I can see exactly how long it takes to rank in Google and how the build up in traffic will come.
Here's a graph of the organic search traffic for a post that was written on October 15, 2017.
And here's the traffic breakdown by month:
- October '17 - 52
- November '17 - 80
- December '17 - 103
- January '18 - 165
- February '18 - 261
- March '18 - 391
- April ' 18 - 450 (estimated based on trend)
Here's the snapshot of this page in Ahrefs which is my most used SEO tool for finding keywords to target and tracking rankings.
Ahrefs is estimating that this page gets 150 visitors per month through Google. The actual number is 3x that. This isn't a knock against Ahrefs; it's a great tool and does a good job estimating. It just has a tendency to understimate the search volume that any page is actually getting.
Here's a view of the keywords this page is ranking for.
There's a couple things to look at here.
First off, the volume column shows the estimated monthly search volume. This is just the number of people searching for that specific keyword.
Next is KD, or keyword difficulty. This is Ahrefs estimate of how hard it will be to rank for a keyword.
A keyword with a difficulty of 0 is pretty easy to rank for. There's minimal competition and you can show up on the first page of Google's search results without a single backlink.
A keyword with a difficulty of 100 would be almost impossible to rank for without tons and tons of backlinks.
My strategy is to focus on keywords with a difficulty less than 10. This usually gets you the fastest results and is the easiest way to build traffic.
So how long does it take to rank in google?
Based on that first graph showing the increase in search traffic, it's possible to rank in Google right away. But to get real traffic built up, it takes at least 6 months before it peaks, possibly longer.
This depends on a ton of factors that nobody really knows, but from my research it seems like the most important factors are:
- Difficulty of keyword
- Quality of content/backlinks.
- Age of website
If you target a really specific keyword like "how many cookies can a dog eat before it gains 10 pounds", you'll probably be the only person targeting that keyword which means if someone ever search for it, you'll show up first.
For most keywords there will be more people writing about the topic than just yourself. This means Google needs a way to separate crappy sites from good sites. Google uses backlinks to figure out how good a site is. If other sites are linking to an article, it must be good. If nobody is linking to a page, then it must not be as good as the other ones written on that topic.
For low competition keywords in really specific niches, like the one I'm showing up above, there are only a couple of people writing about the topic and almost nobody actively building links to their page.
If Google can't rely on links to figure out who should rank, the next thing they go to is the overall authority of your website which is depending on the total number of links to your site and the age of your website.
Google doesn't trust new sites. Anyone can throw up a website and chuck up a bunch of articles. But Google doesn't want to give their search users a poor experience and low quality sites so they force new sites to prove themselves.
Over time Google will try showing your page in the search results. If they notice people click to your site, stay for 5 seconds, then go back to the search results and click on another site, they know that you didn't answer that person's query. This causes you to go down in the ranks.
However, if Google gives you a shot at showing up #1 in the search results and they can tell you are answering people's questions because they stay on your site for a long time and interact with it by clicking on other pages, then they assume your content is high quality and should be ranking higher. They'll start to move you up in the ranks and send more traffic your way.
Here's another screenshot of a different article from my site showing a similar traffic pattern:
This article was written on January 24, 2017.
In January it got 49 views. The next month it got 184. In March, it got 378.
Afterwards it hovered around 500 views per month until January 2018 where it hit 1,000 views from organic search traffic.
Last month was it's highest ever, at just over 1,600 views for the month.
So while it took this article about 3 months to hit what appeared to be it's max traffic, after an additional 9 months it went on to 3x the traffic it was just a few months earlier.
Building authority websites is not a get rich quick scheme. Creating content and building backlinks is a long grind and takes a really long time to see the pay off. This is also a barrier to entry that prevents new sites from popping up and stealing your traffic and income.
keep calm and kill this meme
I reeeeeally hate anything that says "Keep Calm and X" but it fits perfectly here.
The only thing I can do is be patient and work on building links. Backlinks to your website are like gas on the fire.
Writing great content and targeting the right keywords is just the wood you're setting up for the fire. You get a little spark and the wood starts to burn. But once you throw some links in to the mix it's like dumping gasoline right on the fire. Google rewards links with huge waves of traffic and from that traffic, increased earnings.
Hiring writers to create content is easy. Building backlinks is very hard. It's tedious to manually email people and ask for links and it's even harder to find sites that will give you links without requiring some type of payment. But if I want to really grow these sites and make significant amounts of money, it has to be done.
In my monthly update I'll go over my site's progress with links, content and earnings. For now I'll be keeping my head down and continuing to grind on the content creation and backlink building.
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