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Tue. Mar 2nd, 2021
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The primary 4-6 weeks after buying an affiliate web site are at all times action-packed…

Within the first installment of Project Cashflow, you discovered every little thing from selecting a distinct segment to fundamental web site valuation and negotiation.

Now it’s time to begin getting our arms soiled with Web optimization.

This month, you’ll study all concerning the essential first steps to optimize an affiliate web site and what you are able to do to take it to the following degree.

You’ll uncover how I method:

I’ve by no means opened up the books like this earlier than…

Let’s have a look.

Website Design

Site Design Project Cashflow

One of many first duties we undertook was a considerable redesign of the Challenge Cashflow area of interest web site.

Every thing from navigation to feel and appear obtained a major overhaul — I’ve detailed all of the adjustments beneath.

Customized Web page Builder

Once I acquired Challenge Cashflow, it used an off-the-shelf WordPress theme.

For the redesign, we used our customized web page builder.

Till lately, we used Thrive Architect to construct all our websites.

However not way back, we determined to spend money on creating our personal web page builder.

Right here’s why:

We developed the customized web page builder in-house. The entire course of took two months at a price of about $3k

Thrive, and different web page builders do a strong job. However the customized web page builder permits us to deploy websites with the precise format we would like faster and with higher general efficiency.

Homepage Redesign

Earlier thanHomepage Redesign Before Project Cashflow

The prevailing homepage format was a barebones commonplace blogroll, displaying solely the 10 most up-to-date posts.

Navigation choices have been restricted, displaying solely similar sidebar and footer menus linking to class pages.

General, the homepage design appeared extraordinarily dated. Aside from the featured pictures for the 10 most up-to-date posts, there was no branding or engaging visible parts.

From a UX standpoint, the format made it tough for customers to entry pages not amongst the 10 most up-to-date posts.

AfterProject Cashflow Homepage After Redesign

We totally modernized the design of Challenge Cashflow by taking the next steps (from high to backside):

Product Evaluation Web page Revisions

Earlier thanRedesign Before Money Pages

AfterHomepage Redesign After Money Page

The unique design was very barebones and uninspiring. There was a variety of inconsistency within the format with product pictures various dramatically in measurement and placement.

We made the next adjustments:

The fundamental framework outlined above is one which we deploy on a number of websites, and it’s delivered excellent outcomes for us.

Website Structure

I touched on this within the part above, however I wished to clarify that most of the design adjustments made weren’t simply pushed by aesthetics.

By switching the homepage from a blogroll to a portal design, you make the knowledge on the location’s different pages rather more accessible to customers.

Site Architecture Homepage

The present homepage portal design exhibits a number of classes interlinking to different pages on the location.

With the blogroll format, the content material customers are searching for could possibly be Four clicks or extra away…

Not solely is that this a legal responsibility from a usability standpoint, however it’s additionally a major technical Web optimization concern.

We make it a rule with all our websites that the crawl depth is rarely greater than 2 — that means that any content material is rarely greater than two clicks away.

Not solely does this enhance the UX, however it additionally makes the location simpler and sooner for Google’s robots to crawl, which might have a useful impact on Web optimization.

Technical Web optimization

Everytime you consider a web site for buy, technical Web optimization needs to be one of many first stuff you have a look at…

There’s usually huge room for enchancment, and the tweaks you make can result in fast wins.

Technical SEO Diagram

Challenge Cashflow fell firmly into this class.

The technical Web optimization wasn’t horrible, by any means, however there was loads of scope to additional optimize the location.

Our first step when assessing technical Web optimization is to plug the location into Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool.

The Website Audit instrument supplies you with an in depth record of any technical Web optimization points in addition to recommendations on tips on how to repair them.

It additionally supplies you with a Website Audit well being rating out of 100 to assist consider your progress.

Health Score Project Cashflow

Out of the field, Challenge Cashflow scored 52 — after the enhancements you’re about to find out about, the location is at the moment sitting at a well being rating of 97.

The primary technical Web optimization points mounted have been:

Website Pace

One other space usually ripe for optimization while you purchase an present web site is web site pace.

How quickly your pages load and your web site performs has a major impression not solely on Web optimization but in addition on consumer expertise, conversions, and — just about every little thing.

According to Google, web page pace is by far essentially the most essential part of UX. For instance, when the time a web page takes to load goes from 1 second to three seconds, the chance of a bounce will increase by 32%.

With the rollout of Google’s Core Net Vitals, web site pace seems poised to play a fair larger position in Web optimization going ahead.

In terms of evaluating web site pace, we rely totally on two instruments: Pingdom and Lighthouse.

Pingdom is a complete web site efficiency monitoring suite. One in all its options is the power to point out you the dimensions and load-time of parts on a web site — making it simple to determine any bottlenecks.

Like many apps featured on this case research, Pingdom scores web site efficiency on a rating out of 100 — however essentially the most essential metric to regulate is load time.

After we first acquired Challenge Cashflow, pages loaded in 1.5 – 2.5 seconds. The load time is now between 0.5 and 1 second because of our optimization efforts.

Performance Grade Project Cashflow

The opposite app you should utilize to guage web site pace is Lighthouse.

Lighthouse is an automatic open-source instrument from Google for measuring, monitoring, and optimizing web site pace.

On the outset, Challenge Cashflow nearly flunked out of Lighthouse with scores throughout the board ranging between 40 and 70. As you possibly can see, we’ve turned issues round, and the location now scores a strong 90+ in all classes.


A lot of this enchancment got here from switching the location theme to our customized construct as mentioned above.

Internet hosting and Plugins

You may usually take advantage of important web site and web page pace positive factors by altering the internet hosting for the location and using the suitable plugins.

One of many very first issues we did after we obtained the keys to the location was to modify the internet hosting — and in case your web site is on a substandard host, you must too…



We use WPX for all of our websites. It’s the best web host for SEO with regards to efficiency and repair — and consider me, I’ve tried all of them.

Subsequent, there are a number of plugins that may make an enormous distinction to your web site efficiency, and once more, we use them on all our websites:


Nitropack homepage screenshot

I’m not going to get into the tech behind why NitroPack makes your web site sooner.

It simply does and we deploy it on all our affiliate websites.


As you most likely know, poorly optimized pictures are one of many greatest pace sucks your web site can have.

Challenge Cashflow wasn’t the worst instance of picture administration I’ve seen, however there was actually room for enchancment.

ShortPixel is our go-to plugin for picture optimization and it’s particularly helpful for batch processing.


Plugins — A Warning

I’m a agency believer in maintaining websites as lean as potential…

Each plugin you add dangers contributing to web site bloat and negatively impacting efficiency. Every plugin additionally provides one other potential level of failure.

Suppose twice earlier than trusting the steadiness and efficiency of your web site to a Third-party plugin developer.

slow site keannu meme

Challenge Cashflow provides an ideal illustration of why you must proceed with warning earlier than putting in any new plugin.

One of many points we turned up throughout our audit was a plugin put in on the location designed to generate the schema.

Effectively, the plugin was producing loads of schema, however all of it was flawed.

As an alternative of getting one schema declaration per web page — which we at all times favor —  the plugin created a number of declarations for every web page.

Not solely that, simply operating the plugin prompted a measurable lower in web page pace.

Eradicating the plugin and changing the schema it produced led to a perceptible enhance in Challenge Cashflow’s efficiency.

This can be a basic instance of putting in a plugin to enhance Web optimization or optimize efficiency — just for it to have the precise reverse impact.

Content material Optimization

In terms of optimizing present content material, the place do you begin?

content optimization on project cashflow

Consider it or not, there hasn’t been an app invented but that’s any substitute on your personal two eyes.

Earlier than we get granular and let Surfer free on Challenge Cashflow’s content material, we do what comes naturally.

We learn it. We manually undergo each web page on the location and ensure the content material reads naturally and provides worth to the reader.

If we come throughout pages that don’t make the grade, we first verify Key phrase Explorer in Ahrefs to ensure it’s not rating for any key phrases. If it’s a low-quality web page that doesn’t have any Web optimization worth, we delete it.

As soon as we’ve pruned any pointless pages, the method is as follows:

(Every part graded by letter earlier than we set to work on optimization.)

General Content material and Content material Formatting (Grade: C+)

The prevailing content material on Challenge Cashflow wasn’t half unhealthy…

A fast readthrough informed us it was comparatively well-researched and possibly written by a native-English speaker.

Grammar, spelling, and punctuation have been all comparatively on level.

Having stated all that, each web page required no less than some enhancing and sharpening — some greater than others.

A serious concern that took a while was content material formatting.

All the pages have been affected by bolds, underlines, and italics. Whether or not this was executed within the mistaken perception that bolding the key phrases was hardcore useful to Web optimization or the formatting was simply added for emphasis, the impact was visually jarring and interrupted the pure stream of the content material.

Formatting mistakes

Cleansing up the formatting was a comparatively simple repair. Nonetheless, given the quantity of present content material, it was a time-consuming one.

Particular person Pages (Grade: C+)

In terms of evaluating present content material on particular person pages, we scale back the grading to go/fail…


The content material doesn’t stream nicely or isn’t structured accurately however nonetheless provides worth to the reader. Our editor polishes and beefs it up the place vital.


If the content material flat out sucks, we’ll have a author create a wholly new publish and exchange the prevailing content material on the web page.

The Three Kings (Grade: C+)

When you’ve  taken The Affiliate Lab you’ll be acquainted with the idea of The Three Kings.

The Three Kings is the place you get by far essentially the most juice on your on-page Web optimization.

Whether or not you’re consulting or contemplating shopping for an internet site, The Three Kings is among the very first issues you possibly can have a look at.

If there’s scope to optimize The Three Kings, you understand you’re in for a fast win.

So what are The Three Kings?

The Three Kings of SEO

In on-page Web optimization, The Three Kings are the URL, Web optimization Title and Web page Title (H1).

Merely put, The Three Kings are the loudest sign to Google telling it what your web page is about.

Listed below are some fast ideas for optimizing your Three Kings:

With Challenge Cashflow, The Three Kings have been comparatively strong, however there was positively room for enchancment:

  • URLs: All good – no adjustments
  • Web optimization Titles: Of The Three Kings, that is the one that usually has essentially the most alternatives for optimization. Challenge Cashflow was no completely different. Right here’s what we mounted:
  • Web page Titles/H1s: From an Web optimization perspective, the H1s have been principally OK. Other than shuffling a number of key phrases round, we left them alone.   

Headings (Grade: D)

wordpress post headings

Whereas assessing every web page for readability and worth, pay shut consideration to the headings (h2/h3s).

  • Do the subtopic headings stream in a manner that is sensible to your reader? If not, have your editor rearrange the subtopics in order that the general construction has higher logic.
  • Are the headings in your web page much like these on the pages rating on web page 1 within the SERPs? If not, have an editor rewrite the headings to observe what Google likes extra carefully.

The subtopics for Challenge Cashflow required fairly a little bit of juggling from our editor.

Even when the underlying content material was usable, the way in which the subtopics match into the general construction usually didn’t make logical sense.

Surfer Content material Audit

surfer seo homepage snapshot

I’m an enormous fan of Surfer (full disclosure – I’m additionally an investor).

I’ve written at size about tips on how to audit existing content utilizing Surfer’s SERP Analyzer and Audit instrument.

We didn’t go full-on geek-out mode with Surfer on Challenge Cashflow… but.

We had a fast search for any content material gaps utilizing True Density and checked out our phrase depend in comparison with our opponents.

However the place Surfer will probably be invaluable to Challenge Cashflow is in creating new content material, which you’ll get to in a minute.

Present Hyperlinks

Inner Hyperlinks (Grade: B)

The interlinking on Challenge Cashflow turned out to be a vivid spot.

We used Screaming Frog to audit the prevailing inside hyperlinks.

screaming frog h1 tag

There have been some missed alternatives, however you would see care and a focus went into constructing inside hyperlinks on-page. The location had loads of inside hyperlinks going to different related pages.

Some inside hyperlinks have been set to nofollow, however altering them to dofollow was a straightforward repair.

The web site nonetheless solely charges a B as a result of there have been additionally a ton of irrelevant hyperlinks we would have liked to take away.

Backlinks/Authority Hyperlinks (Grade: C)

For a web site with little hyperlink constructing effort put into it, Challenge Cashflow already had some first rate hyperlinks. 278 referring domains and 6 of them from EDU websites for an internet site within the EDU area of interest.


Loads of room for enchancment, however there’s already a strong basis to (hyperlink) construct on.

Creating New Content material

Since buying the Challenge Money Circulate, we’ve revealed 13 pages of recent content material.

All 13 new pages are business and embrace twelve new particular person product evaluate pages and one roundup publish — the principle pillar piece for Challenge Cashflow.


As I discussed within the first installment of the case research, Challenge Cashflow already ranks on web page 5 for our desired key phrase.

That’s the entire purpose I acquired the web site within the first place.

Not solely that, the location wasn’t even optimized for that key phrase and didn’t have a devoted web page for it — it was rating purely by probability.

Our first content material creation precedence was to write down the principle pillar article immediately focusing on the profitable affiliate provide we purpose to promote.

This roundup evaluate web page is essential for us to get proper — it may pave the way in which to Challenge Cashflow’s success.

Our course of for creating the brand new content material was to take a look at the pages that rank high three within the SERPS.

We look at all of their subheadings and create a superset of headings and subjects we need to cowl.

The following step is the place Surfer actually shines…

how to create great content surfer seo

We plug in our competitor knowledge and have our author write immediately in Surfer’s content material editor.

The author follows Surfer’s phrase depend and True Density pointers whereas ensuring that every one the subtopics are coated.

Surfer is a strong content material creation instrument, however don’t geek out and attempt to match the extra granular metrics too exactly.

The key to getting essentially the most out of Surfer is that it permits your writers to write down Web optimization-friendly content material at scale with out you having to babysit.

Don’t anticipate Surfer to show unhealthy writers into good ones. Have a look at it as a manner of augmenting the skills of your writers and dashing up the content material creation course of.

Key phrase Cannibalization

In creating our new pillar article, we bumped into one other technical Web optimization concern — keyword cannibalization.

Our new pillar web page accurately focused the search intent for the affiliate provide we search to rank for. However the authentic web page was optimized for a distinct key phrase and solely coincidentally ranked for our goal key phrase.

Our answer for this was to deoptimize the web page —  all this took was eradicating one particular phrase.

As soon as we did this, the web page rapidly jumped to web page three within the SERPS as you possibly can see right here:

competitor ranking acurank chart for the edu website


After we acquired Challenge Cashflow, it was monetized 100% by means of Amazon.

All the affiliate hyperlinks have been for books and textbooks.

amazon affiliate illustration

You all know the way I really feel about monetizing by means of Amazon.

On this case, we left the prevailing merchandise on the location with Amazon and simply modified the hyperlinks to our Amazon Associates account.

Because the present merchandise are books, there’s no level in looking for a greater associates program for these — Amazon is the one sport on the town.

The actual cash will probably be generated by the content material we’ve created since taking up the location.

A lot of the merchandise reviewed within the new pillar web page have affiliate provides by means of ShareASale, however we’ve diversified our monetization streams with merchandise from Impact, Post Affiliate Pro, and Skimlinks.


In case you’re not acquainted with it, ShareASale is among the greatest affiliate marketing aggregators, with over 15ok retailers providing commissions.

We utilized and have been accepted for seven completely different affiliate applications related to Challenge Cashflow’s area of interest.

Merchandise from every program are featured in our roundup pillar piece.

As well as, the brand new particular person product pages we created are critiques of a product from certainly one of these seven applications.


Expertise-Authority-Trust or E-A-T seems to be rising in significance as a rating issue by Google on your websites.

Even when you don’t see important positive factors from constructing E-A-T instantly, I extremely suggest it as a manner of futureproofing your web site.

Challenge’s Cashflow’s E-A-T was already fairly good, however we made it higher.

Right here’s precisely what we did, step-by-step:

Up to date “About Us” Web page

About Us Page Redesign

The general aim is to make the location appear like an actual enterprise with a number of workers and departments. Right here’s the steps you possibly can observe to do that…

Created Firm Social Profiles

company social pofile project cashflow

Other than a Fb web page, Challenge Cashflow had no social media presence.

We constructed a social fortress by creating the next firm profiles:

Bodily Tackle

your company location

Including a bodily deal with and cellphone quantity is a step many affiliate entrepreneurs neglect to take. In spite of everything, the enterprise is on-line. However there could also be advantages to you itemizing a bodily deal with. It lends a sure credibility to a web-based enterprise, and I’m all about potential advantages…

Hyperlink Constructing

Link building for project cashflow

One of many principal benefits of buying an present web site within the area of interest, reasonably than beginning one from scratch, is which you could start constructing hyperlinks instantly with out it wanting unnatural.

We kicked off our hyperlink constructing marketing campaign for Challenge Cashflow with:

  • 35 hyperlinks from citations going to the homepage.
  • 12 visitor publish hyperlinks from Authority Builders
  • Four of the visitor posts linked on to our new pillar web page.
  • eight of the visitor posts linked to new product evaluate pages related to the pillar web page.
  • Our outreach workforce obtained began on supplementing the visitor posts from Authority Builders with hyperlink insertions. Outreach takes time, so we most likely gained’t see any outcomes from their efforts until subsequent month.

General, between visitor posts from Authority Builders and hyperlink insertions from outreach, we’re making an attempt to hit a KPI of 40 new hyperlinks monthly.

As soon as the location begins making $3k a month in gross income, we’ll reevaluate the KPI and take into account growing the variety of hyperlinks we construct to the location.

Hiring Writers

To date for Challenge Cashflow, our solely new hires have been the 2 writers. Everybody else is an present LeadSpring workforce member.

In terms of hiring writers, LeadSpring has a standardized course of:

The shape asks for:

  • Stage of English proficiency on a scale of 1-10 (eight or increased is the minimal requirement)
  • Stage of expertise within the schooling area of interest (eight or increased is the minimal requirement)

The proficiency scale encourages candidates to be trustworthy.

A major proportion of writers who accomplished the shape rated their skillset eight or 9 in a single or each classes.

In actuality, you solely need to take into account individuals who scored themselves at 10 for each.

This step considerably narrows down the variety of candidates, making the entire weeding-out course of loads much less work.

The 10/10’ers are requested to submit writing samples. We skim by means of them rapidly and cherry-pick a number of that we like.

From there, we throw them in on the deep finish…

project cashflow hiring writers

We hand them our content material creation SOP and their first task.

If we like what they write, they’re employed.

If we don’t, we work with them till the primary job is full and publishable. If the author’s making progress, we give them one other shot.

If the content material is simply flat-out too unhealthy to shine or publish, we pay them half of the agreed-upon payment, scrap the entire thing, and transfer onto the following author.

Many businesses and affiliate entrepreneurs ask a author to submit unpaid trial work earlier than handing them their first task.

You’ll discover that skipping that preliminary step saves you losing time evaluating copy you’ll by no means use and it provides good writers an opportunity to shine proper out of the gate.

Challenge Cashflow Month One Outcomes

Now that I’ve shared every little thing we’ve executed to enhance Challenge Cashflow up till this level, it’s time to share with you our preliminary outcomes…

Fuck Ups

I informed you from the start that I’d share every little thing with you alongside the way in which — warts and all.

I’m a agency believer that you just study as a lot (if no more so) out of your failures as you do out of your successes…

success after failure meme

So right here’s our first whopper on Challenge Cashflow.

Because of a careless error when switching over the Amazon Affiliate codes from the earlier proprietor after we acquired the location, we obtained no commissions for the primary 20 days.

The satan is within the particulars with most issues, and particularly while you’re organising your affiliate hyperlinks — don’t make this pricey mistake.


To every little thing, there’s a season…

It simply so occurs that for Challenge Cashflow, that is the worst one…

Seasonality earnings by the edu website

As you possibly can see from the earlier proprietor’s P&L snippet above, the web site made zero commissions in November and December of final 12 months, and gross sales slowly began ramping up once more in January.

We’ve added a bunch of recent merchandise and income streams, however we anticipate this income pattern to proceed given the seasonal nature of the area of interest.

I anticipate that April and Might will probably be our most profitable months going ahead.

Income Development

There hasn’t been a lot development in income for the primary month, however I’m not frightened.

Revenue growth Report Project Cashflow

At any time when we take over a web site, I take it as a right that we’re not going to see important visitors or income development till month two or three.

There’s a lot of causes for this…

For one factor, though the entire tweaks we make to the technical Web optimization and present content material are important, the factor we do that can have essentially the most impression over time is constructing hyperlinks.

When a web site like Challenge Cashflow — which had only a few backlinks — instantly begins getting high quality hyperlinks from visitor posts and hyperlink insertions, Google seems to take a while to begin “believing” the hyperlink velocity is actual and boosting the rankings accordingly.

We did expertise modest income development on a 12 months over 12 months foundation. We made $136.72 in Amazon Associates commissions in November versus zero final 12 months.

Nothing to write down residence about, however it’s a begin.

Visitors Development

Regardless of the seasonality of the area of interest, we did see encouraging will increase in visitors since optimizing the location.


December 2020 Google Core Replace

I’ve walked you thru all of the adjustments we’ve made to Challenge Cashflow since we acquired it.

As you’ve seen, we made important enhancements to the location in nearly each space, so I used to be optimistic that the latest Google core replace would give Challenge Cashflow a major rankings increase.


Other than the efficiency of the brand new pillar web page, that wasn’t the case. The location’s place within the SERPs remained comparatively static.

It’s too early to determine precisely what modified with Google’s rating algorithm with the December core replace.

It will likely be very attention-grabbing to see what impression our hyperlink constructing marketing campaign and different Web optimization efforts have as we ramp it up within the coming months…

What’s subsequent for Challenge Cashflow?

All the work we did on Challenge Cashflow in month one ought to assist pave the way in which to success going ahead and hopefully give you some ideas for efficiently constructing your individual affiliate websites.

Within the subsequent month, you’ll find out how we ramp up our hyperlink constructing efforts, create extra content material focusing on profitable provides, and proceed to make tweaks to optimize the location’s efficiency.

Moreover, we’re trying to rent a brand new challenge supervisor at Leadspring who can take the reins on Challenge Cashflow away from Jay Yap, my LeadSpring enterprise companion.

You’ll go deep into our hiring course of for core workforce members in future installments of the case research.

Keep tuned — there’s loads of nuggets but to be uncovered subsequent month…

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