I analyze a 12-year-old authority local website, NashvilleGuru.com. The site receives 470,000+ pageviews per month (Ahrefs estimate).
The owners of this brand have done an excellent when it comes to all things Nashville, Tennessee. There are some easy wins that could significantly increase revenues.
I am doing this teardown for selfish reasons because I am in the process of launching a site targeting my specific city. I bought THE most powerful one-word domain representing my city.
This is what I cover in this report:
- Website overview
- Major highlights
- Competitor overview
- Easy wins to increase revenue and/or traffic
- How much is this website worth (valuation)
- Actionable takeaways you can apply
Let’s get into it!
✅ Website Overview & Highlights
The website has had amazing growth over the last couple of years peaking at 470,000+ pageviews/mo according to Ahrefs (most likely much more).
Ahrefs shows a steady growth traffic curve with a significant amount of referring domains (9,100+) linking to the site:
The website’s domain has been active since 2011, with numerous iterations that have focused on Nashville and its surrounding areas.
Initially, it served as a hub for 14 other sites covering the city’s most popular regions. However, it has since evolved into a single website that focuses on Nashville’s food scene. It is run by Nashville Guru LLC with 4 employees.
The website design is well done and has no further room for improvements in terms of easy wins (owners did a great job):
- 11-year-old city-based content site
- Well-established content strategy with more than 7,000 articles
- Brandable domain name that is easy to remember and has the city name
- Over 470K pageviews in Ahrefs (most likely much more)
- AHREFs domain rating of 60
- Quality authority links from TripAdvisor, Huffpost, LonelyPlanet, Insider, among others, and also other local sites like NashvilleArts and NashvillesMLS.
- More than 50 active sponsors
- No major impact from Google algorithm updates
- Great coverage of the local food scene with every business listed under the directory with an option of paid upgrade
- Excellent website design (no extra white spaces, no room for design improvements)
Top 3 Competitors
Here are similar competitors targeting the majority of the same keywords.
- VisitMusicCity.com – 830K+ pageviews/mo, targeting more travel-related keywords than NashvilleGuru.com
- NashvilleDowntown.com – 230K+ pageviews/mo, run by a non-profit, focused on the directory content.
- NashvilleLifestyles.com – 65K+ pageviews/mo, a website of a local magazine.
Let’s get into the easy wins to grow this specific website.
🔥 6 Easy Wins To Grow This Website
There are opportunities to significantly grow this brand. I break down the following easy wins:
- Call to action boxes for sponsors
- Add programmatic display ads
- Improve newsletter series
- Improve newsletter opt-in forms
- Improve Google EEAT
- Add business lead generation
Let’s get into it!
➡️ Win #1: Call-To-Action Boxes for Sponsors
As it stands, the website currently has square 250×250 banner ads on the sidebar of the site. This is run through Google Ad Exchange.
Here are the easy wins:
- Reduce number of banner ads (currently 26 of them on sidebar) and increase pricing
- Replace sidebar images with CTA boxes
- Add new CTA boxes within the content at least 2-3 times (currently missing)
CTA boxes get a MUCH higher clickthrough rate than a standard banner image. Here is an example of a CTA box on my site:
The CTA box features a logo (in this case it can be a business logo), a call to action button, and details about the offer.
➡️ Win #2: Add Display Ads (Programmatic)
The current model of the website is to sell fixed sponsorship ads. However, adding programmatic ads through AdThrive or Mediavine on the website would be a significant revenue stream.
At current traffic levels of 470,000+ pageviews/mo at $30 RPMs, that equates to $14,000+/mo.
These ads can be added throughout the content with the direct sponsor CTA boxes added in high-value locations.
This way the website can take advantage of both revenue streams.
This also allows the site to earn revenues if there are minimal sponsors in a certain time period, which is usually the case with most private sponsorship structures.
➡️ Win #3: Improve Newsletter
Upon signing up for the newsletter, you get sent a “welcome email” as follows:
This email lacks the initial “connection” with the subscriber.
A proper welcome email should have:
- What is the brand about? Who is behind it?
- What should the subscriber expect weekly?
- A few interesting articles they can ready
- Interesting offers/events/etc they can take advantage of immediately
After the welcome email, to “warm up” the subscriber, the owners should send a series of emails. I would do the following for this site:
- X things to know about [city]
- X things to do in [city]
- Best restaurants to eat at in [city]
- Best places to live in [city]
- and so on…
You can do a series of these articles sent every 2 days. You can then also send a weekly newsletter that outlines things happening that week.
➡️ Win #4: Improve Opt-In Forms
The most valuable asset in local content websites is the emails of subscribers.
Every newsletter issue will have relevant information that people in that city are looking forward to. For example, local events, new restaurants, recommended businesses, etc.
Businesses in the city would be willing to pay a premium to get in front of this targetted audience as opposed to doing, for example, Facebook ads with no guaranteed ROI.
The website has an OK opt-in. Here it is:
The improvements that can be done are:
- Giveaway a free PDF or e-book summarizing the city and best things to do. A lead magnet would work VERY well here.
- Make the CTA button a drastic color like red/yellow. It does not stand out.
- Change the subtitle to be more enticing and user-focused: “Don’t know what to do this week? We send you things to do each week and save you hours” (you get the idea)
Lastly, opt-in forms are only located at the end of each article. Forms should be added:
- Desktop & mobile popup that shows on exit and after X seconds on page
- Middle of content opt-in form
- Subscribe button in the navigation menu
➡️ Win #5: Improve Google E-E-A-T
The on-page Google EEAT of this website is non-existent. The website lacks author bios, or even mention of an author in each article. There is also no text on the author pages.
The website is ranking well due to its sheer authority in terms of backlinks. This is a prime example that backlinks and age dominate Google’s algorithm.
However, to ensure the site is “protected” from Google updates, it’s in the owner’s best interest to add these missing Google EEAT elements.
Here is what my author box looks like:
Improvements that can be done are:
- Adding an author box (since that is missing) with image, bio, and links
- Adding a link to social media profiles like LinkedIn, Instagram, etc in the bio
- Adding a link to the About page in the bio
Furthermore, the about page has no text; it’s a large image explaining the brand story. The image can stay as it’s well done but the same text in the image should be added to the page to ensure Google can crawl.
Here is the snapshot of the page:
➡️ Win #6: Add Lead Generation
The owners of this site could do a significant amount of lead generation for local businesses.
They could add content targeting professions such as “Nashville dentists”, and “Nashville lawyers”, or variations such as “plumbers near me”.
A long-form article can help the visitor understand how to pick a specific contractor, and then an opt-in form can be used to collect leads and send them to the businesses.
The brand should charge a fixed fee per lead ($/lead). They should not base it on performance (i.e., the ability for the business to close the customer and then the owner getting commissions).
Here is an example of an opt-in form for lead generation on my site:
Once there is traffic for a lead generation topic on the site, the owners can reach out to local businesses and pitch services. Usually, the business will want to see a few examples of leads sent to them before they start paying.
💰 How Much Is this Website Worth?
Here are the assumptions I am making:
- 470,000 pageviews/mo according to Ahrefs
- Primarily monetized by sponsorships
This one is hard to estimate because there are (1) direct ads, (2) business listing upgrades, (3) newsletter sponsors, and probably a few more revenue streams that are not so public.
As a baseline, if the owners were to add display ads, the RPMs would be roughly $30 equating to $14,000+ in revenue per month.
With direct sponsorships, they will be charging much more than $30 RPMs. Most likely at least double that. Newsletter ads can run $100 CPMs or higher since it’s highly targeted.
I will refrain from doing a valuation on this one because in all honesty, I do not have a grasp of the total revenues.
👉 Actionable Takeaways
Here are actionable takeaways that you can apply to your niche website today:
- Ensure the newsletter has a proper welcome sequence to keep users engaged
- Direct ad sponsorship should be 2-3X in RPMs than programmatic display ads through Ezoic, Mediavine, AdThrive
- Implement lead generation if you have the traffic for it as the payouts are much more lucrative
- The more traffic you can get to sponsors, the more you can charge for your ads