Teardown: 6 Easy Wins, Highlights, Valuation

mushfiq sarker

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I analyze a 20-year-old authority website in the aquariums niche, The site receives 675,000+ pageviews per month (Ahrefs estimate). The owner of this brand has done an amazing job growing this site but there is room for improvement.

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!

Disclaimer: Only public tools such as Ahrefs, ScreamingFrog, and experience are used in these teardowns. I do not know the owners nor have access to Google Analytics and earnings.

✅ Website Overview & Highlights

The website has had tremendous growth over the last couple of years peaking at 675,000+ pageviews/mo according to Ahrefs (most likely much more).

Ahrefs shows an trending traffic curve with a significant amount of referring domains (3,100+) linking to the site:

CleanShot 2023 02 14 at

The domain has been live since 2003 with various iterations of an e-commerce brand selling aquarium gear. Currently, it is a content niche website. Most likely the domain was acquired at auction or bought off the original owners.

Wayback Machine shows the history of the website:

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  • 20-year-old content site
  • Excellent in-depth content is written by experts
  • Excellent domain name that is easy to remember
  • Over 675K pageviews in Ahrefs (most likely much more in real-life
  • AHREFs domain rating of 43
  • Quality authority links from Wikipedia, Yahoo, Fortune, SFGate, among others, and also niche sites like FishLab and BuildYourAquarium
  • 810,737 words published across 272 articles
  • No major impact from Google algorithm updates
  • Excellent ratio of information vs commercial content (17 commercial vs 255 informational articles)
  • Excellent internal linking done on existing articles

Top 3 Competitors

Here are similar competitors targeting the majority of the same keywords.

  • – 600K+ pageviews/mo, targeting more commercial keywords than
  • – 375K+ pageviews/mo, no Google EEAT, less in-depth content
  • – 273K+ pageviews/mo, domain is hard to say and spell, monetized by AdThrive vs Mediavine for AquariumSource

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. We break down the following easy wins:

  1. Negotiate with AdThrive
  2. Add affiliate products to info articles
  3. Increase commercial intent content (and how)
  4. Optimize for white space removal to boost RPMs
  5. Improve Google EEAT (and how)
  6. Add other affiliate programs (with examples)

Let’s get into it!

➡️ Win #1: Move to AdThrive

This site is monetized with Mediavine, one of the best display ad networks. The alternative solution is Adthrive, which supposedly has a higher RPM for specific niches than Mediavine.

I would submit this site to Adthrive to be evaluated. If they approve, you can ask for a way to minimize your risks. For the switch to happen, you require a guaranteed minimum revenue of what you were getting with Mediavine, plus a boost of 10-20%.

For example, if in a specific month, Mediavine was earning $5,000, then Adthrive would have to pay you out at least $5,000 plus 20%. If they make more, then you make more of course.

An example competitor is, which receives according to Ahrefs 600K pageviews/mo. They are using Adthrive. This tells me that Adthrive is making good margins in the “aquarium” niche and AquariumSource may make more.

Since you are taking the risk of leaving Mediavine, it’s important that you are appropriately compensated for it

Takeaway: Make sure to read the Mediavine contract. There could be clauses that if you leave the network, you cannot get the site added back. So if that’s the case, make sure your Adthrive agreement is solid.

➡️ Win #2: Add Affiliate Products to Info Articles

This website has zero affiliate links in informational articles. The owner is leaving a TON of money on the table by not adding natural product placements.

For example, some of the high traffic articles are guides for specific fish, e.g., “Molly Fish 101”.

Each guide talks about a fish-specific diet and what to put in the tank (e.g., lighting, filters). This is a natural place to add a product table or call-out-box.

Here is an example of a high-converting call-out-box for a specific product:

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Takeaway: Adding these strategically throughout your content will provide options for end-users to buy products for their fish. Win-win!

➡️ Win #3: Increase Commercial Articles from 6% to 20% of the Total

With only 6% (17) of articles being commercial intent, there are opportunities to target buying and review intent keywords. I personally like to publish up to 20% of articles with commercial intent.

The competitor has 114 commercial articles (32% of total articles) and gets 600K pageviews/mo. The quality of their best/review articles is poor.

Hire someone who is interested in writing AND willing to review the products. No shortcuts in 2023.

Here is the structure I did in the past for my outdoor site case study:

  • Brands send the product directly to the writer’s home
  • Writer uses each product for a few weeks
  • Some products he already had experience with and owned, and some were new to him
  • Writer creates a detailed buying guide with custom photos, thoughts, and honesty
  • Writer also can write an individual product review article if there is sufficient search volume
  • Writer was paid a fixed fee of $30/per article
  • Writer kept the products free of charge

Takeaway: Best place to find such writers is Upwork or niche Facebook groups. A proper expert willing to review products (and write) can drastically improve the earnings potential and long-term value of your website.

➡️ Win #4: Optimize “White Space”

Most display ad sites do not optimize for “white space removal”. In short, there is a lot of extra spacing or elements on a page that pushes ads lower on the page thus reducing potential RPMs.

Here is a screenshot of improvements that can be done to the header and page title areas:

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#1: The website title is pushing the content lower on the page. The title (or in reality a proper logo) should be left aligned with the navigation bar. This will reduce the white space in the header area.

#2: The breadcrumbs/category section right above the title should be removed entirely. This is adding roughly 40px of unnecessary white space that’s pushing the content and thus display ads down. The category can be added as a link under the article title.

Another major win to improve RPMs for this site is to make the Table of Content collapsable. The ToC on this site is taking up 100 px+ of whitespace. See an example:

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Takeaway: I’ve easily seen a 3-5% improvement in display ad RPMs by just optimizing for white space removal. It needs to be only done once across the theme. It’s a really easy win.

➡️ Win #5: Improve Google E-E-A-T

This site has strong rankings due to the past history of the domain (20 years old, authority links) but there is a strong lacking of basic on-page EAT signals.

This site has an author box added to the end of the article. The majority of the elements are already there (which is great) but expanding could help.

CleanShot 2023 02 14 at 12.14.00@2x 1

Here is what my author box looks like:


Improvements that can be done are:

  • Expanding the author bio with more expertise (number of years, credentials)
  • 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 site’s About Page is lacking severely. The about page has 4 paragraphs with no story behind the brand. The about page should be expanded to include:

  • When was the brand started and why?
  • Who are the people behind the brand? (add writer bios to about page)
  • Where has the brand been featured?
  • How can people reach out? (add an email address for press, marketing, and generic contact)

The more detailed and personal the better. Check out my about page as a reference.

Takeaway: While this is not a revenue win per-se, adding proper EEAT signals on the website is a critical element that needs to be done.

➡️ Win #6: Add Other Affiliate Programs

While this site is purely information driven (for the time being), there is a large opportunity for affiliate marketing.

The different top-tier brands that offer affiliate programs are:

  • – 5% commissions
  • – 5% commissions
  • – 5% commissions

Amazon Associates offers 3% commissions but you do earn commissions on ALL products offered.

The best strategy is to feature products with links to multiple brands including Amazon at the top.

Takeaway: This will diversify revenue sources, please Google because they want websites to provide options for users (instead of being a doorway page for Amazon), and also increase the website valuation.

💰 How Much Is this Website Worth?

Here are the assumptions I am making:

  • 675,000 pageviews/mo according to Ahrefs
  • Primarily monetized by Mediavine display ads
  • Minimal Amazon Associates income (due to only 17 articles with Amazon links)

The ad RPMs through Mediavine for this niche will range anywhere from $20 to $25 based on what I’ve seen in the market.

The site is earning anywhere from $13,500 to $16,875 per month on average.

Valuation: The typical multiple for a content site with this age, and high traffic is 38-40X. The reason it’s not higher is because of a lack of revenue diversification.

The valuation comes out to $513,000 to $675,000.

👉 Actionable Takeaways

Here are actionable takeaways that you can apply to your niche website today:

  1. Add high-quality commercial intent content with a ratio of less than 20% to 80% informational
  2. Optimize the site for display ads by removing “white space”. It’s not always about adding more placeholders.
  3. Improve your on-page EAT factors by mimicking larger brands (Forbes, WireCutter, etc)
  4. Add other affiliate programs even if the revenue isn’t justified. This sends proper signals to Google that you are putting in the effort to provide options.

mushfiq sarker

Analyzed by Mushfiq Sarker

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 218+ website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. He is the founder of The Website Flip. Check out all Mushfiq's articles, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

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