Each week I publish a newsletter, where I handpick websites for sale from public marketplaces or sites my brokerage is representing for sale. Each site is put through a rigorous due diligence process and a growth blueprint is shared with subscribers.
I went back through the data and did a deep-dive analysis of 76 websites I covered over the last 12-months.
I wanted to know the following: how good was my due diligence? Did I pick quality sites to showcase? Did these sites generally increase in value or did traffic crash after the sale
Here’s what is covered in this report:
- Raw data for each site sold [Club Members only]
- Summary of key findings
- 3 case studies of sites built on aged domains
- 4 case studies of sites built from scratch
- Case studies of sites using the Micro Merger Strategy
- Notable niches that are doing well
Let’s get into it.
Summary of 3 Key Findings
Here are the interesting findings.
1. 73% of Sites Increased in Traffic
73% of sites featured in the Authority Business Blueprints have increased in traffic (52 sites) and 49% doubled in traffic (35 sites).
2. Only 2 Sites Had a Major Decline in Traffic
Only 2 sites experienced a decline of over 90% of traffic. However, these were both small sites that started with low traffic.
3. 5 Sites Implemented the Micro Merger Strategy
5 sites used the Micro Merger Strategy and 301 redirect pages to a parent site. You can read our guide explaining the Micro Merger Strategy for Niche Sites to learn more about this strategy.
Note: The percentage of sites that increased in traffic excludes sites that were 301 redirected.
View Raw Authority Business Blueprints Data
If you would like access to a Google Sheet with a breakdown of all of the data, check it out below:
Insights from Authority Business Blueprint Websites
- Number of Sites: 76
- Average AHREFs Traffic: 9,392
- Median AHREFs Traffic: 3,749
- Average Referring Domains (dofollow): 715
- Median Referring Domains (dofollow): 285
- Average Domain Rating: 17.8
- Median Domain Rating: 15
- Average Keywords: 14,518
- Median Keywords: 6,703
- Average Traffic Per Page: 52
- Median Traffic Per Page: 31
- Average Traffic Per Referring Domain (dofollow): 29
- Median Traffic Per Referring Domain (dofollow): 13
Organic Traffic: 52 Sites Increased, 10 Sites Decreased
Here are the findings:
- 52 websites had an increase in AHREFs organic traffic,
- 10 websites had a decrease in AHREFs organic traffic,
- 9 websites were flat (less than 10% change), and
- 5 sites were 301 redirected
35 Sites Doubled in Organic Traffic, 6 Sites Decreased Over 50%
Here are the findings:
- 35 sites featured in the Authority Business Blueprints have doubled in AHREFs organic traffic.
- 6 sites featured in the Authority Business Blueprints decreased over 50% in AHREFs organic traffic (2 sites decreased by over 90% in traffic).
Note: We excluded sites from our count that were acquired and 301 redirected to another site.
How Did Aged Domains Perform? 3 Case Studies
In general, we have seen many examples of sites built on aged domains grow very quickly, especially when the new content is similar to what was previously published on the domain.
In this sample, there were just a handful of sites built on aged domains (most were built from scratch). These aged domains all performed very well with significant traffic growth.
Building on an aged domain is my preferred method due to the head start you can get with existing niche specific linking domains and difficult to acquire links (e.g., large news publishers like the New York Times).
Aged Domain #1: Kitchen (1,140% Increase)
This kitchen focused site was acquired from GoDaddy auctions and then listed on Flippa in May 2021.
Traffic has increased significantly since it was listed on Flippa, from 3,700 in May to over 45,000 in November (1140% increase in organic traffic according to AHREFs).
There are a handful of quality links related to the St. Louis restaurant that closed. Most of the content is keyword focused informational articles about kitchen products (e.g., “how long does it take for a refrigerator to get cold”).
The site could improve its EAT signals (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness). There was no information provided about the authors and the about page has nonsensical content that appears to have been written by an AI tool.
Aged Domain #2: Musical Instrument (262% Increase)
This site was previously an eCommerce store for ukuleles that started all the way back in 2000. The online store closed around 2019 and the site was restarted by a new owner in late 2019 as an informational and affiliate site about ukuleles.
What helps this site succeed is that the new content is topically relevant to the content that existed previously. We have seen sites sold on marketplaces that had unrelated content on an aged domain, a potential risk for a large organic traffic loss from a Google algorithm update or penalty.
At the time of sale, it was not running display ads and they have since been approved for AdThrive display ads. This likely provided an excellent boost in the monthly earnings that were already $2,770 when the site was listed for sale.
This site also makes excellent revenue from affiliate course sales which can be a great opportunity in musical instrument niches.
Aged Domain #3: Airsoft (1791% Traffic Increase)
I actually was strongly considering purchasing this site but didn’t because I have way too many projects. Since being featured on the Authority Business Blueprints, traffic has increased significantly by 1,791% (starting AHREFs traffic was low at 394).
This domain is aged since 2002 and has maintained several niche specific links as well as references from Wikipedia. New content closely matches the original site which was an airsoft forum.
One challenge with this niche is that display advertising networks do not like controversial content so you will have to monetize with affiliate programs (there are private affiliate programs in this niche that pay 5-10% commission).
4 Interesting Case Studies of Niche Sites
Site #1: Guitar Tabs (106% Traffic Increase)
This is a unique 21 year-old site with tens of thousands of pages of guitar tabs for different songs that earned $247 per month with over 100,000 pageviews per month.
The new owners kept the ancient design of the website and made few noticeable changes but the traffic appears to be increasing according to the AHREFs estimate.
What stands out about this site is the 1990’s style design and Taboola ads. Taboola ads are click bait display ads and according to the site’s Flippa listing, the site earns a small RPM of around $0.50 from Taboola. They also use the SheMedia display ad network.
They did not add a blog or publish keyword targeted content as suggested in the Authority Business Blueprints writeup. Adding blog content would leverage the site age and domain authority from 1000+ referring domains.
Site #2: Car Audio (375% Traffic Increase)
This site in the car audio equipment niche is showing a strong growth trend since selling for over $27,000 with earnings around $750 per month at the time of sale.
It has long buyer guides as well as many useful informational articles that answer shopper questions.
The site appears to have implemented some easy wins identified in the Authority Business Blueprints such as adding a sticky sidebar ad with Ezoic, adding affiliate links to product images in buying guides, and adding product images to comparison tables.
Site #3: Aquaponics (284% Traffic Increase)
This site is different from most in our sample because it covers multiple niches: aquaponics, fish, and food. There are also some articles that seem completely unrelated to the main topics and were likely targeted due to low competition (e.g. “Does Amazon deliver on Sundays”). This strategy is currently working as traffic has increased significantly in 2021.
They do a good job with keyword research by covering specific questions that many people ask. For example:
- Can you eat raw X?
- Is it safe to eat X
- Best substitute for X
- Is X a citrus fruit?
- Differences between vegetable 1 and vegetable 2
Site #4: Pet (204% Traffic Increase)
This site was featured in February 2021 and the new owner has done a great job of improving the value of the site by adding a lot of keyword targeted content and increasing the referring domains by more than 500%.
They have also switched from Adsense earning around $4 RPM to Mediavine and are likely receiving a much better RPM.
They have upgraded the design of the site by adding a logo and switching to the Astra WordPress theme, a fast loading theme with useful features like infinite scroll.
The EAT signals are also improved with author photos and bios on the about page to replace the previously anonymous author named “Editorial”.
Interesting Niches from the Authority Business Blueprints
1. Difference Between Things
We featured a pair of sites with 600+ short articles that discuss the difference between “things”. Traffic has increased for both sites according to AHREFs (153% and 400% traffic increase).
The new owner for one of these sites replaced Adsense with Ezoic so they are presumably earning a higher RPM. The other site does not appear to be running display ads currently.
These sites are different from most niche sites because they have very broad topical relevance. There are articles covering a wide range of niches such as animals, food, and technology. However, both sites have thousands of linking domains which helps them rank well for these relatively low competition keywords. They both rank for over 10,000 keywords with AHREFs keyword difficulty less than 10.
2. Non-Traditional Pets
Pets are a popular niche with lots of keyword volume and untapped keyword opportunities. These niches are also great for display ads and affiliate programs because pet owners are passionate and willing to spend a lot of money on their pets.
While the dog and cat niches are pretty competitive, there are many other types of pets that are much less competitive and present a good opportunity.
One example we covered is a rabbit niche site that has increased by 204% in traffic since we featured it in September.
Another niche that is much less competitive than dogs is the pet lizard niche. We have found keywords with over 1,000 search volume and an AHREFs keyword difficulty of 0 in this niche. One pet site in our sample is receiving a lot of organic traffic from covering low competition topics related to pet lizards.
3. Truck Winches
A truck winches niche site (41% organic traffic increase) has continued to grow in traffic since it sold for a price of $65,000. This is an interesting niche within the automotive category with high priced products that earn high commissions (the average product costs $300 – $1,000).
After the site sold, it was reviewed on Authority Hacker’s YouTube channel. Mark said he liked a lot of things about the site and would consider buying it.
5 Sites Acquired to Merge (Micro Merger Strategy)
5 sites from our Authority Business Blueprint were acquired and then merged into a larger site. A common approach is to 301 redirect specific articles to a similar article on the parent website.
An interesting example is an affiliate review site for online prescription drugs (e.g., reviews for subscriptions like Roman or hims). They acquired a health and fitness review site and 301 redirected several articles to closely matched articles on their site. The parent site is growing quickly with over 200,000 monthly traffic according to AHREFs in a very competitive niche.
Here is the AHREFs snapshot of the site:
All 5 of these sites that were merged were sold for over $10,000 and one was sold for $37,000. This shows that investors are willing to spend a lot of money to implement this strategy and it also suggests that it is working.
Here are the takeaways:
- The Website Flip’s due diligence process works well to pick the most quality of sites
- Our showcased sites beat other brokerages, e.g., it overperformed the 49 Motion Invest sites listed on the brokerage.
- If these 76 sites would have been combined into a large portfolio, it would have performed very well with an increased valuation and growing monthly cash flow
If you are interested in being the first to know about the deals we highlight in our Authority Business Blueprints, check out The Website Flip Club for our premium newsletter subscription.