Below is part 1 of an interview with my friend Ruaan Nel on his Aged Site, Auction Domain and Expired Domain Strategy. It’s all action and no fluff.
Ruaan is one of the most talented website investors I know. He buys existing sites, auction domains and expired domains, invests aggressively into new content, does some light link building (as the domains already have good existing authority) and looks to exit within 12-18 months.
Full, actionable interview notes are below. Please note, metrics mentioned in terms of Amazon / RPM were before the recent April commission cut.
In this part 1, free subscribers get the first 30 minutes; paying subscribers also get part 2 in their RSS feed. To access just hit the button below.
Sponsored by Ezoic
This podcast is sponsored by the Ezoic platform which my main software review site runs on (literally in terms of using their nameservers) to monetize through ads, maximize site speed and gain insights from their big data analytics tool.
Part 1 Show Notes
Ruaan started investing into websites in mid-2017 and by December of that year, his portfolio hit low 4 figures a month. That’s when he started scaling, hiring VAs and getting friends on board that are on his level.
He bought a site in the fitness niche at the end of 2018 from a seller who then offered him a cheaper site he wanted to let go of, which had lower revenue but a lot of traffic and a better upward trend.
Ruaan 301 redirected the more expensive site that was making more money into the new acquisition which gave him enough traffic to get onto the Mediavine program (which needs > 30K sessions a month) where he instantly started earning an RPM of $10. [Ezoic only need 10K sessions a month and have the same buying demand.]
Ruaan currently has around 8 money sites including some he calls placeholder sites. He has a team member who searches for existing sites, auction domains and expired domains that are brandable and are aligned with a niche that they know is already profitable. These sites can be for either PBN or for money sites (strategy explained in Part 2). They immediately purchase, throw some content on it, get it indexed and see how the site responds. They typically look to purchase sites / domains between $500-$1K.
When Ruaan first started he thought that you could just rewrite articles that were already ranking well and reference them. It’s an approach he says works, but since 2018 he has built a writing team that creates unique content, and he tries to put 50K words down a month onto his sites. He also uses Content Pit when he needs additional capacity.
Average word count on his articles is high as he does not write much informational content. He focusses on (1) big buyers guides, ie best X or best X for Y, and (2) individual product reviews and vs keywords. He keeps the split 75% commercial and 25% informational (3).
Ruaan states that you want to get into a niche that has a lot of potential for individual product reviews and vs keywords, because those are really good for traffic.
Most people are competing for the best guides as you can simply replace a product when it’s gone out of stock, but single product reviews (such as a certain brand of coffee maker) are easier to rank as have less volume and less people targeting these keywords. And you will even rank for the actual brand product keyword as google likes to show one or two reviews (I did this with a previous content site where I ranked on page 1 for clickfunnels.com). So you can rank on page 1 for the product, and top of page 1 for the review keyword and that’s where you want to put your ads.
Affiliate income from buyers guides can typically be between $40-$60 per 1000 views. For single product review pages it’s much lower, $20-$30, but they let you get enough traffic to monetize with ads on Ezoic or Mediavine which ads another $5-$15 RPM. For Ruaan, single product review content length is typically 1000-1500 words. Then you just take the easy low hanging fruit from informational content and use those for skyscraper outreach.
Ruaan has five roles fulfilled by five guys in his system. One of those roles is keyword research and content outline for the buyers guides, and that person will work out what the search intent is, how many subcategories they can hit, and when they should break off onto another page. The content outline goes to the writer along with a Page Optimiser Pro report which gives a range for word count. The range for his buyer guides is from 3000 up to 8000 for the longest they’ve done. And info content is usually around 1000-2000 words.
Ruaan invests the 50K words into sites that have demonstrated they are in authority mode (coined by Matt Diggity from The Affiliate Lab) when you publish and they index on page 2. And the way to achieve authority mode is by publishing enough content and building enough links.
Ruaan is investing 2/3 into content and 1/3 into links but that’s as he has a grey-hat strategy - if you are white hat you need to spend more on links.
The core of his link-building is outreach to those in his niche or to sites that are selling guest posts which he pays for. He supplements that with PBNs (discussed in Part 2) if necessary, but not all sites get PBNs. And then for pillow linking he does citations along with a fake address, fake persona, and G suite - everything other than Google My Business. He references citationsbuilder.com or seobutler.com/citations. Ruaan states that you want to make sure your citations index and the ones that don’t you want to hit them with cheap PBNs. He thinks that this appears totally white-hat - that you’re currently not going to get penalized by building citations and hitting them in the back with PBNs.
Every pillow link for him has to serve more than one purpose. He will make a Pinterest account and get tailwindapp.com/tribes and see what he can do with some designs and try to get 25-50-100 views a day from Pinterest. Otherwise, he will use Quora and see what questions he can answer in the niche, and link back to his sites with branded URLs for the anchors. He also does a lot of work on Wikipedia where you use webfx.com/seo-tools/wikigrabber to find pages that need citations, research what they are missing, add that to your website and then add your own website. Ruaan says it’s a huge trust signal for google and has to be one of the seed sites they use, such as the New York Times, so being nofollow doesn’t matter and you will get more value, indirectly, from your other links.
Episode 3 Part 2
In part 2 of this conversation, we talk about:
How Ruaan leverages PBNs and how you want to treat them like real sites - which is why his can rank and generate income
When you should sometimes convert your money site into a PBN!
How much $$$ Ruaan is investing into each of his sites
At what point Ruaan looks to exit and what ROI he is aiming for
Part 2 is for paying subscribers, you can access by hitting the button below.
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