My SEO Case Study – START!

  • blog, seo


I have lots of time on my hands these days (thanks coronavirus lockdown), so I decided to start doing an SEO case study.  

I will be working on an old site that has been sitting in my portfolio for a couple of years, but I never really did anything with.  I plan to do monthly reports to keep track of the site’s progress in traffic and earnings.  It is more of a way to keep myself accountable. Hopefully, someone else will come across this and find it helpful as well.  

I will not be revealing the actual site URL.

My SEO background

From about 2014 – 2016, I was making a full time living doing SEO projects.  I built, managed, then sold a couple of small niche affiliate sites whose traffic was 80% from Google / search.  I would not call myself an expert at all, but I have some basic knowledge of keyword research, site optimization, etc.  Through this case study, I hope to learn more.

The Project

Overview / History

The site I will be focusing on is actually about 2 years old now (from the date of writing this post).  

I bought it on impulse from this company called BrandBuilders.  It was a “premade” Amazon affiliate site — meaning it had a bunch of content written (I think 5 or 6 articles), and a design was all set up, but it was just put online and not getting any traffic yet.

I don’t know why I bought it.  I think I was bored late at night and just wanted something to work on.

After buying, I regretted it at first.  The content was bad, and the site’s theme/construction was sort of a mess in the backend.   Lesson learned — do your due diligence.

I put the site aside for a month or two, and didn’t do anything.  

Then, bored again one day, I decided to finally start working on it.  I rewrote 90% of the articles and added a couple new ones.  I also rebranded the site (name/domain), tried to fix the layout/design a bit, and came up with a content plan.  I did stuff on and off for about 4-5 months. 

Then, I left for some long-term travel, and completely forgot about it. A year or so passed.

Just a few months ago, I got an email saying I received payment for some “x” amount.   I realized it was from this ignored site of mine. It had started getting traffic and earning income (more than expected because of Christmas shopping season).  Nothing more motivating than some cash-money, I guess.  Especially, passive cash money.

Traffic overview

The first published post was dated 2018/04/27.  Although I did not actually work on the site until 1.5 months after that, that is where I will start counting from.   Here was the traffic up from the first post until recently (2020/03/27):

The big peak there is from last Christmas. Otherwise, it is a pretty nice uptrend. Slow, but nice.

For the past month (past 30 days), the traffic has been more like this:

It is pretty steady at around 100 users per day, and 3600 sessions for the month. Honestly, I was surprised how much traffic it is getting.  The articles I rewrote a while back have been doing well in the ol’ Google.

Here is a look at the traffic channels for past month:

As you can see, it is mostly organic traffic (94%), and mostly from Google.   This means there is a lot of potential to increase traffic from other sources like Referral or Social.  In the short term, I will probably just stay focused on search traffic by adding more valuable content. 

Here is data from my Google Search Console for past 28 days:

As well as the past 16 months:

It pretty much correlates perfectly with Analytics traffic.  Makes sense since 94% of traffic is from search.

Earnings overview:

The site is mainly monetized through Amazon Affiliate program.  Here is the chart from the last month.   

The earnings totalled just under $230.  It’s actually pretty good since I hardly did anything to the site for over a year.  

I also recently added Google Adsense to the site, which adds a tiny bit more to the earnings.  I don’t really like the way Google ads are being displayed on the site though, so I will perhaps remove them, modify placement, or test out another ad network.

What did I do this month / recently ?

This past month I started slowly working on the site again.  I managed to publish two articles!  That is already a 100% increase over the past year or more, where I published a total of one article.  I also tinkered with the design a tiny bit.  Other than that, I did not do much else.  

Current site stats overview:

  • Total articles published:  12
  • Last month’s earnings:  $230
  • Last month’s traffic: 3000 users / 3600 sessions

Future plans:

My goal for the site is to reach revenue of $1,000 USD/month by the end of the year (approximately 8 months left).  I don’t know if I will or not, but I think it is a reasonable goal for now.  Enjoy the process, as they say.

Things to do:

For the short term (i.e. next month), I will focus on the following two things:

  • Publish more posts — This is my main priority.  I will continue to research low competition keywords, and write quality content for the site.  I will try to do 1-2 articles per week; or 4-8 per month.  I am writing all the articles myself for now.  May begin to look for writers in the future if I want to scale faster. No rush for now.
  • Internal linking – I need to do some better internal linking for SEO. 

Things that are not priority now, but should eventually be done:

  • Link building — maybe try to do some blog guest posts, PR articles, etc.
  • Email sign up / newsletter — I’ve never successfully run an email newsletter, so I want to try. Not really sure yet how I will go about this yet. Thinking about trying out the new SendFox email app for this.
  • Set up social media pages — Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest are the main ones to target. Pinterest probably has the best traffic potential for this site. Adding social will help diversify my traffic sources.
  • Site design — I’m not super happy with the current site design, as I’m still basically using the original one that came with the site two years ago.  It’s alright for now, but I will probably tinker a lot more with it or just replace the whole thing entirely.

That’s it!  Hopefully, I can stick to my plan and write another report next month.

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