ISSUE 23

Losing $223K While Selling a Site, Speed Up Your Site, Keyword Clusters, Pillar Pages, New Search Engine from Ex-Googlers and much more.

Issue 2

FIRST…

ISSUE 23

March brought the end of Q1 and I saw a pick-up in Amazon sales. Don't know if it's more due to the stimulus check or if it's like this every year, but people are buying more.

I haven't finished my income report yet, but revenue finally increased month-to-month again. Monthly Revenue had gone from 3 digits to 5 digits in the blink of an eye and down more than 50% in another blink.

It's been a wild and crazy ride since I started my affiliate marketing journey a little over a year ago. BUT I still love the ride and wouldn't trade the Waves for anything else right now.

The Waves are the main reason I called this newsletter, Niche Surfer. I used to surf all the time when I was living by the ocean. There was nothing more peaceful than being out on the water on the board waiting for the next wave...until you saw a Fin (thankfully, it was always a dolphin).

Being on the affiliate marketing journey is like riding waves. You'll catch big waves and small waves of traffic and earnings. You'll catch different niche waves from pets to cooking to home improvement. You'll catch Google Algo Update waves up and down.

In the end, we're all Surfers looking to catch the next Wave on our journeys and I'm glad we're riding waves together here.

SPONSOR

ISSUE 23

With Google's plan to make Core Web Vitals a ranking factor in May, no better time than now to get your Page Speed game going.

Time Period: Tues., April 6 to 13th Discounts: 20% OFF on new WP Rocket licenses

  • 1 website: $39.20 (instead of $49)

  • 3 websites: $79.20 (instead of $99)

  • Unlimited websites: $199.20 (instead of $249)

SEO

Google updated their Core Web Vitals & Page Experience FAQs support page with new questions.

What stands out. The one big item that stands out to me is the one on how Google will still rank the most relevant content despite how poorly it might do with its core web vitals scores. “Our systems will continue to prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content,” Google wrote.

ISSUE 23

Good article explaining how Keyword Clusters work.

  • Understanding what Keyword Clusters are

  • How to use them when planning/writing content

  • How to interlink the content on your site.

I've shared some good ones in the past and this is another one that gives a top overview of all of them in an easy-to-understand way.

ISSUE 23

This is from the Google SEO office-hours hangout on April 1, 2021. These were some of what I found interesting and relevant.

The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd questions are all about backlinks - by one guy. The first question is about what happens if many backlinks were removed for a site. Is that an alarm signal and will the site be pushed to Page 4-5 from 1? John says that if the Pages were ranking because of those links, then yes, that page's ranking would change. The 2nd and 3rd questions are all about what backlinks are against Google's guidelines. The questioner lays out hypothetical scenarios too, as-if trying to get an OK.

~17:20 CWV Delayed? - While talking about AMP Pages and how they rank, he mentions Core Web Vitals (CWV) is not a ranking factor, but will be in a month or two. Couple interesting things. One is there's most likely no set date yet. Two is it might be delayed like many other updates have in the past.

~21:30 Two-Sitemap Recommendation - John talks about News sites and how they recommend be a good idea to have 2 sitemaps. 1 is for all the new content and the 2nd is for all the old content. If you have a lot of content on your affiliate site, maybe something to consider.

~22:40 Site is Fluctuating with the Google Dance - John says the algos are having trouble assessing the site. So, make the algos happy (duh).

~36:10 Number of Words on Page is not a good metric of whether content is good or not. He says Google won't count the words...just provide useful content.

~48:20 What Kind of Link is Good for a YMYL Site? - John says "Links should be Natural Links..." At least the guy tried...

Good article to have bookmarked and reference for those times you see a Google manual penalty message.

TOOLS AND RESOURCES

ISSUE 23

I've been seeing more and more people worrying about Core Web Vitals (CWV) becoming a ranking factor and trying to get under the thresholds by switching servers. I get it, the server is the foundation of any website. But is the new server that much better?

I think if you're switching from a basic shared host to another, you won't get that much of an improvement, if any. You'd need to switch to a higher-end shared host like WPX, but those also cost much more.

If you're looking to switch servers for speed, a VPS server is the way to go. You can go with a Cloudways to have it managed for you, like a shared host. Or you can set it up yourself, which is what I do to save ~50% from Cloudways prices.

If price is the main factor in choosing a server, a VPS server is also the cheapest. A Vultr High-Frequency server that can hold 3 WordPress sites and handle over 100K in traffic is $6/month. Siteground is $6.99/mth for the 1st year and $14.99/mth after that, for 1 WP site and ~10K in traffic.

The biggest deterrent for people is the How of getting a VPS server. So I created a step-by-step guide on how to do that, because I noticed there just isn't one out there: How to Migrate a WordPress Site to VPS Hosting.

I take you from setting up the Vultr server to migrating the WordPress site and domain, so you don't have any down time. It's possible to follow the steps and do everything in ~1-1.5 hours.

If you don't want to get a VPS server, but you're still moving servers and not sure what the best way to migrate is, just follow Step 3 of the guide. It uses the Free WPVivid plugin and the whole process will be less than 15 minutes.

Hope that the migration guide helps someone here. VPS servers work great with Ezoic too, no problems there.

ISSUE 23

A CDN can speed up your site primarily by serving content from servers that are geographically closest to each reader — plus lots of other optimizations!

Nice overview of what a CDN is and how they help with your site's speed.

For my sites not using Ezoic's CDN, I'll use bunny.net CDN with a Vultr High-Frequency Server.

Not all CDNs are created equal too. Cloudflare has a free CDN, but in my experience, it wasn't that fast. I got better speeds out of using bunny.net. Some tools have their own CDN too, like ShortPixel, but you'll want to test out the load speeds from those. ShortPixel's CDN didn't load as fast as bunny either.

You can check a CDN's response time at GTmetrix.com and looking at the Waterfall timeline to see response times. If you sign up for a free account, you can change the location of where the test is coming from. Pingdom does the same thing, but I like the GTmetrix Waterfall to see how the page and each individual item loads.

CONTENT

ISSUE 23

Here are 10 Steps to a Great Pillar Page for your Clusters with supporting articles. They have a good overview of pillar pages and supporting articles. Here's a piece:

"Pillar pages are the main articles about a particular subject, while supportive pages are “supporting” articles that deeply explain a specific aspect of the main topic. Usually, pillar pages rank for more popular, head keywords, while supportive pages cover a bunch of long-tail phrases.

Here's part of their 10-Step Framework:

  1. Know your target audience

  2. Pick your main topic

  3. Think about your golden nuggets

  4. Find 10 keywords that are related to your main keyword

  5. Find the best topic cluster ideas

Of course they base everything off of their SurferSEO Content Optimizer platform, but you can still get the essence of what they're doing to implement with your own tools.

They included a nice reference to a Lemlist page that has Cold Email Templates for all kinds of scenarios, like link building. Good reference page.

A big part of users converting into more earnings for you is in the copywriting.

Great copy gets them to click that affiliate link - commissions. Great copy gets them to continue reading - ad revenue.

Level up your game and revenues with this copywriting guide in 8 chapters from Brian Dean at Backlinko. It's a long one, so you may want to bookmark it.

EDUCATION

ISSUE 23

Shawna gives some good tips if you're a Team of One on this affiliate marketing journey. It's easy to get distracted and lose focus, if you're the only one holding yourself accountable.

7 great tips for solo affiliate marketers to stay sane:

  1. Start with the End in Mind

  2. Break Down the Project into Phases

  3. Know Your Limits

  4. Don’t Be Afraid to Look for New Ways

  5. Resist the Urge to Build Too Many Sites

  6. Avoid Distractions

  7. Organization is Key

She also discusses Key Mistakes that she made.

CASE STUDY

ISSUE23

In the midst of a $500K sale, the valuation of the site dropped by $223K. But luckily he was still able to sell the site for $277K.

Listen to his story of what happened. It may help you think about how your sites are generating revenue and if those income streams are reliable and even transferable to a new owner.

NEWS

ISSUE 23

Neeva is a new search engine that's currently being built by Ex-Googlers. In lieu of showing ads, they're planning on a subscription model, between $5-10 per month.

Would you pay for a private search engine? Would others?

If you don't bother optimizing for other search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo now, you probably wouldn't bother here either. But as a searcher yourself, would you use this to avoid Google's ads?

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