Since the month 1 update when I announced the acquisition, I’ve been head down growing this website, performing a giant 200+ article merger, and planning out a content pipeline.
In April 2022 (or month 3 of ownership), the site earned $2,129 compared to $1,204 in March 2022 and $959 in February 2022. A significant increase in revenues!
In this case study write-up, I cover the following:
- Website traffic, revenue, and cost updates
- Improvements in April 2022
- Merger & acquisition of VPNThrive
- Plans for May 2022
Let’s get into it!
📈 Site Recap
Here is a high-level summary of the acquired website:
- Purchase price: $33,000, off-market through a referral in February 2022
- AHREFS DR: 51
- Referring Domains: 1,970
- Backlinks: 6,450
- Monetization: lifetime high-ticket affiliate programs
- Age: August 2001, site live in 2019
- Acquisition of VPNThrive.com and performed the 301 redirect merger
- Increased CPA payouts 25% for two VPN services
- Collected data to shortlist the top 3 converting VPNs and then promote those on commercial guides
- Added 4 new articles
- Improved the CRO on 40+ buying guides
- Reduced unnecessary “white space” to ensure the user sees content, comparison tables, etc. faster when they visit the site
- Improved category/silo pages by adding pagination
📊 April 2022 Website Metrics
The traffic on the site has been steady in the 90,000 to 100,000 pageview range across the last few months. Here is April 2022 traffic curve from Google Analytics:
Revenue Breakdown By Source
The website 5 different revenue streams from different VPN providers. Here is the breakdown over time:
In April 2022, the breakdown of revenue and costs were as follows:
- Revenue: $2,129
- Costs: $1,073
- Profit: $1,056
Of the costs incurred, $763 was to pay my VA to manage the site in terms of formatting content, moving content over for the merger, and performing small design changes to the site. He gets paid hourly at $6/hour.
Another cost was for 3 new articles from my writer at $30 per article thus $120. Lastly, I paid $190 to my HARO specialist. He sent 19 pitches to journalists. He charges $10/pitch.
👉 Major Updates in April 2022
Re-negotiated Affiliate Commissions -> 25% Increase
This is a strategy I’ve covered in this write-up. Re-negotiating your affiliate commissions is the quickest (and easiest) way to increase revenues with no additional effort.
After I stabilized the site and understood the number of sales generate and from which pages, I immediately reached out to my highest paying affiliate network.
I ask them to increase my CPA by 25% from what it was already. To justify the increase, I made the following points:
- The promise of higher traffic to their site and thus higher sales
- 1-year commitment to keep them at the #1 position
After a bit of back and forth for clarification purposes, they agreed and immediately change the payout in my affiliate dashboard.
This gave an immediate 25% boost in revenues from that network.
Tested Google Adsense on High Traffic Page
One page on my site generates 3,000 pageviews/day. It was also a page that initially I was unsure if it would generate affiliate commissions.
I applied to Ezoic, Mediavine, and AdThrive to only show ads on this specific page. All three networks rejected the site due to the “type” of content on the page. That only left me with Google Adsense.
So I ran an experiment.
This is what I did:
- Added Google Adsense ad blocks in multiple locations on the page
- Added proper tracking for affiliate commissions to the page
- Let this run for the whole month of April
This was not a traditional split test per-se. I am not showing Adsense vs affiliates separately; I am doing it simultaneously. It’s significantly more difficult to run a proper split test as it requires a lot more software. I keep things simple.
This is what the data showed:
- Google Adsense: $113 revenue from 88,000 pageviews at a $1.29 RPM with 842 clicks
- Affiliate: $380 revenue
While running both of these side-by-side, the specific page generate a good amount of affiliate revenues compared to Google Adsense.
Therefore, in May, I will be disabling Google Adsense and seeing what happens to the affiliate revenues for the month. Ideally, a percentage of the 842 clicks that went to Google Adsense should now go to the affiliate programs and thus generate more sales. However, from experience, I know that is not always the case.
Stay tuned for next month to see what the final results are and if I decide to keep Google Adsense along with the affiliate links.
7 HARO Links Obtained
With the acquisition of this site, I received contact information for a HARO specialist. I hired him on the spot as the value of a HARO link outweighs the costs always.
This specialist charges $10/pitch. He does not charge me for any successful links obtained. It’s a win-win. Note that the market is at $6/pitch as far as I’ve seen but this person is a veteran and I was willing to pay for his talents.
I also laid out some rules for him to follow:
- Categories will be business and technology. Do not respond to “Anonymous” sources.
- No marketing, no SEO questions, no HR employee type questions. Tech and business with IT are recommended.
- DR 40+ only
Here are the results so far:
- Pitches: 59 (40 pitches in March, 19 pitches in April)
- Cost: $590
- Links obtained: 7 links
- Average DR: 82
- Average cost per link: $84
The links obtained include Forbes, Go Banking Rates, Yahoo, AOL, SmartSocial, CEO Blog Nation, MSN
Obtaining links at a cost of $84 is unheard of. A huge win and he has been asked to ramp up the number of pitches to get more links.
🎉 Acquisition of VPNThrive.com
I love merging sites together. That’s what I cover in my Aged Domain Course and also something I’ve done regularly across my portfolio.
As soon as I published the first update to this case study, a subscriber through my newsletter reached out saying they have VPNThrive for sale. I was intrigued because it was a quality site generating good revenue.
Here were the stats:
- AHREFs DR 26
- Notable backlinks obtained from HARO outreach
- $839/mo average over last 6 months
- Over 200+ articles and most were not already done on VPNOnline (all unique content)
- 350,000 words of content published
This was a no-brainer acquisition for me. In one fell swoop, I would be able to acquire 350,000 words of content that were unique (i.e., not already published on VPNOnline) along with $839/mo in average revenues.
Another major benefit was that the domain authority of VPNOnline was DR 52 and thus, in theory, the same content on this site should perform better than on VPNThrive. This was a plus point.
This merger took over 30 days to execute due to the sheer amount of content that needed to be moved over.
Here is what my team and I did:
- Performed a detailed content audit in Google Sheets of VPNThrive to understand what content needs to be moved over, merged with existing content on VPNOnline, or deleted
- Performed the moving of the content manually. My main VA did this.
- Performed the 301 redirects using the Redirection WP plugin
- Optimized the top 50 pages on VPNThrive once moved over to VPNOnline for conversions (I didn’t want to lose revenue)
- Added an acquisition page. The homepage of VPNThrive is redirected to this page.
- Ordered a press release announcing the acquisition
- Wait and watched the results as the two sites re-index themselves
It’s too early to tell on the overall impact of this merger as it has only been 2-3 weeks since full implementation.
It can take 2-3 months to see the impact. Stay tuned!
🆕 Plans for May 2022
Here are my plans for May:
- Monitor traffic to see which pages are getting traction (from merger) and then optimize them for CRO
- Add a batch of new articles for a new silo related to VPN deals
- Continue acquiring new backlinks through HARO
- Perform a re-negotiation for another affiliate program
- Optimize the homepage for affiliate commissions (homepage receives 200+ visitors per day)
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next update!