This week we analyze a 13-year-old outdoors site, AmericasStateParks.org, which receives about 96k visitors per month and is currently listed for sale on Motion Invest for $126k.
This site is a good example of building on an aged domain the right way by publishing useful content on the same topics as the original site and then expanding into topically relevant areas like outdoor activities at state parks.
Visiting state parks is a very popular activity with over 813 million visits per year to the 6,792 state parks in the United States.
While the traffic is on an upward trend, there is a lot more growth potential from covering the numerous topics related to state parks and implementing the easy wins discussed below.
This is what I cover in this report:
- Website overview
- Major highlights
- Competitor overview
- Easy wins to increase revenue and/or traffic
- Actionable takeaways you can apply
Let’s get into it!
✅ Website Overview & Highlights
The website was originally created by an organization called America’s State Parks which was a strategic alliance of all 50 state park systems. The organization even has its own Wikipedia page. It appears they moved their site to a different domain, StateParks.org.
The original site went offline in 2017 and was later relaunched as an affiliate site in early 2020.
The current owner did a good job of rebuilding the site on an aged domain with over 1,100 topically relevant articles.
After seeing immediate growth after the relaunch of the aged domain, the site experienced two significant traffic drops before its current upward trend.
One drop was around July 2021, close to the time of a Google link spam update. The second drop was around May 2022, close to the time of the 2022 May core update.
The site is on a strong upward traffic trend since the summer of 2022, increasing from 6k to 82k traffic (Ahrefs).
The Motion Invest listing’s Google Analytics data shows there were 111,079 views in June 2023. It earned $5,348 in June from Mediavine and Amazon Associates which is 4.8 cents per pageview.
The website design is adequate and loads quickly, however it could be improved to look more like a professional organization.
The logo and large blocky headings could be improved to look more professional. We think an improved design would be worth the long-term benefits of increased credibility, more passive links, and a better user experience.
- 60k Facebook page following
- Balanced revenue split between Mediavine and Amazon
- 1,100 good quality articles
- Strong link profile including Wikipedia, NY.gov, Virginia.gov, Archives.gov
Why is this site winning?
- Strong topical authority with many pages about state parks and related activities
- Great descriptive domain with a history of acquiring strong links over many years
- Since this domain was previously used by a governmental organization, the link profile is very strong with many EDU links.
Top 3 Competitors
Here are similar competitors targeting the majority of the same keywords.
- StateParks.com – A site with an outdated design covering similar topics with information about state parks in all 50 states. It receives about 300k traffic.
- ReserveAmerica.com – An outdoor site that allows people to reserve camping sites. It receives about 760k traffic.
- BestStateParks.com – A basic informational site that has grown to 10k traffic in the last year. It appears to be using programmatic SEO on thousands of city pages.
Let’s get into the easy wins to grow this specific website.
🔥 5 Easy Wins To Grow This Website
There are opportunities to significantly grow this brand. I break down the following easy wins:
- Add travel affiliate programs
- Add more articles similar to topics that are ranking well
- Add more buying guide articles
- Improve EEAT by adding author bylines and bios
- Post more content to the Facebook page
Let’s get into it!
➡️ Win #1: Add Travel Affiliate Programs
Add travel affiliate links like Booking.com and Viator to relevant pages.
Niche sites about travel can be very profitable by promoting travel affiliate programs that provide competitive commissions.
This site doesn’t appear to promote any travel affiliate programs currently. Adding travel affiliate links to relevant pages could bring in a lot of additional revenue.
Nina Clapperton is a travel blogger who exceeded 6-figures of revenue in June. Nina uses multiple travel affiliate programs in her travel articles with strong call-to-action buttons.
Affiliate links to guided tours and activities like kayaking at state parks with an affiliate program like Viator could be an excellent fit for this site. There are likely many more similar opportunities with other travel affiliate programs.
➡️ Win #2: Add More Articles Based on the Topics Already Ranking Well
Continue to expand content into topically relevant areas based on topics that are already ranking well.
Many of the guides about specific state parks are ranking well with good monthly traffic. However, with over 6,700 state parks in the United States, there are many more state park guides that could be added.
Another good opportunity is to test article title formats that could be repeated across many variations. There are many possible examples in this niche like “state parks in [State] with RV parking”.
There appear to be almost limitless topics that could be covered from state park information to multiple outdoor activities at state parks.
Ahrefs shows that the keyword “state parks” has 2,346 matching terms with KD of 0-10. Matching terms for “state parks” has a volume of 1.5 million.
One title format that is already ranking well on the site is “5 state parks near [City]”. Many additional articles can be added based on the hundreds of large cities with state parks nearby.
➡️ Win #3: Add More Buying Guide Articles
Add more buying guide affiliate articles as the few affiliate articles on the site are ranking very well.
It appears that a low percentage of total pages on the site are commercial as about 13 of the top 100 trafficked pages in Google Analytics show commercial intent (with “best” in the URL). Also, the “Gear Guides” page that is featured in the main navigation only has links to 9 affiliate articles.
Despite relatively few buying guides, the success rate is pretty remarkable. According to Google Analytics data on the Motion Invest listing, 5 of the top 10 pages are buying guide articles with two pages receiving over 10k traffic so far in 2023.
With its history of ranking well recently for affiliate keywords, there is a good opportunity to add a lot more affiliate pages to increase the revenue of the site.
➡️ Win #4: Improve EEAT with Author Bylines and Bios
Improve the EEAT of the site by adding author bios with photos on each page.
It is difficult to determine who is behind this site because the articles do not show an author byline or author photo and the About page is very generic with no names or photos.
Including author photos in articles and the About page shows that there are real people writing the content, which distinguishes it from AI content.
It also encourages citations and links from other sites because journalists and writers and less likely to reference an authorless article.
➡️ Win #5: Increase Post Frequency on the Facebook Page
The site has a strong Facebook page following of 60k with some recent posts showing strong engagement of up to 100 comments and 20 shares on some posts.
People like beautiful photos of the outdoors and like to share aspirational social media content about places they would like to visit.
Google Analytics shows 9,619 views in June for “direct” traffic, of which a majority is probably untracked traffic from mobile social media apps like Facebook. More frequent posts on Facebook will increase traffic to the site and also help diversify traffic away from a dependence on Google.
Building a Pinterest following could also be a good fit for a site in this niche
Pinterest can be a huge traffic generator for some niches. Mushfiq has a food site in his portfolio that generates over half of its traffic from Pinterest.
👉 Actionable Takeaways
Here are actionable takeaways that you can apply to your niche website today:
- Look for additional affiliate programs outside Amazon Associates to increase revenue, especially in niches with high-commission programs like travel.
- Check Google Search Console to find which content is performing the best in terms of rankings, impressions, and clicks in Google and then create similar content which will have a good chance of also ranking high.
- The increased prevalence of AI-generated content on the Internet will make it more important to show that there are real people behind the content.
- Certain niches are ideal for social media and can drive a significant amount of traffic, lowering the dependence on Google traffic.
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