I analyze a 20-year-old authority website in the aquariums niche, AquariumSource.com. 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!
✅ 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:
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:
- 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.
- ModestFish.com – 600K+ pageviews/mo, targeting more commercial keywords than AquariumSource.com
- FishKeepingWorld.com – 375K+ pageviews/mo, no Google EEAT, less in-depth content
- Aquariadise.com – 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:
- Negotiate with AdThrive
- Add affiliate products to info articles
- Increase commercial intent content (and how)
- Optimize for white space removal to boost RPMs
- Improve Google EEAT (and how)
- 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.
Since you are taking the risk of leaving Mediavine, it’s important that you are appropriately compensated for it
➡️ 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:
➡️ 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.
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
➡️ 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:
#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:
➡️ 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.
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.
➡️ 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:
- AquariumSpecialty.com – 5% commissions
- SaltwaterAquarium.com – 5% commissions
- MarineDepot.com – 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.
💰 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.
👉 Actionable Takeaways
Here are actionable takeaways that you can apply to your niche website today:
- Add high-quality commercial intent content with a ratio of less than 20% to 80% informational
- Optimize the site for display ads by removing “white space”. It’s not always about adding more placeholders.
- Improve your on-page EAT factors by mimicking larger brands (Forbes, WireCutter, etc)
- 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.