We changed domains and saw a 183% increase in traffic and started earning in Amazon Affiliate in 7 days.
Our last domain wasn't performing so well.
We were racking our brains as to why our site started dropping in search traffic and keywords indexed on a daily basis.
The background of our websites journey:
Back in August 2019, we purchased an expired domain that had sat on a 301 redirect for about 5 years. The domain was relevant to our niche and was a news-related site.
Before the domain was redirected, it was an aged site that was live for about 3 years. In this time is gained around 250 referring domains from high Domain Authority (DA) sites. It was a real natural link profile.
Fast forward back to August last year, the domain was dropped and we grabbed it. Nice.
We started to build out our content strategy and set out to put around 100 buyer guides and 100 supporting articles onto the domain.
Things started picking up. Before we knew it, in 3 short months, the site was getting 50 visitors a day.
A month went past of solid improvements and then from Jan, everything took a downward spiral. Traffic dropped to 15 visitors a day. Keywords started to drop from gaining 50 per day to losing 20 per day.
After 2 months of tightening our belts, we carried out the following:
* Internal link structure – our focus was to create silos that build authority to the guides we made.
Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (EAT) – we created a profile for our alias writer and added an about section to the bottom of each guide.
* Socials – we focus on building our social platforms to add more authority to our site.
* More content – we kept adding content on a regular basis to ensure our velocity was still the same during our building phase.
* Site speed – we decreased our load times from 4 seconds to 2 seconds.
* Design – albeit the design was great to start with, we edited all our pages to be in suit to ensure there were no inconsistencies.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) – we changed Call to Action (CTA) button colors to be more prominent and reworded the buttons to "Check Latest Price" rather than "Buy On Amazon"
* Cleared out index bloat – there were a couple of pages that Google indexed that didn't need to be there, so we disabled as many pages as we could to prevent anything being picked up by Google.
* Adjusted our 301 redirects – from an aged domain, links tend to point to pages that no longer exist. Our rankings were so sporadic towards the end, we decided to redirect everything to the home page. This part was hard to find information on as most advice contradicted itself. Where we added content daily, the plugin called "WP 404 Auto Redirect to Similar Post" caused mayhem. We deleted that out to see stabled rankings.
* Ran SurferSEO on focus buyer guides – this helped eliminate any pages that were underperforming due to lack of quality/wordcount/rich content/on-page SEO
Some of these things seem quite commonplace, but usually go ignored. No matter how much content we added, the site just became stagnant.
We let these changes sit for 2 months and still saw a consistent drop.
So, we decided that big G started to dislike our domain (We have read that Google strips back your keywords when it works out what the intent of your site is).
As mentioned, this was a news site and we are now changing it to a review site.
My opinion is that G got excited when the new content started being pumped onto the site and then realised that the content had a different intent than before. Therefore, starting knocking off keywords that weren't related to what our site was providing to the user. In the same brushstroke, some of our "Best X" keywords took the hit too.
With all our effort put into our website, we decided to scrap our domain. We really had nothing to lose. Our earnings were non-existent and the traffic was dropping daily.
All we actually had was content at this point. Content that wasn't read.
Our new approach:
We took a new route and looked for a new domain. One that was brand-able.
We stumbled across an awesome domain that was on an auction ending in 2 hours. A single word domain.
So we checked out its history and it was a shop that had shut down in December after running for 45 years. It had TONS of reviews online on all the major directories, TONS of citations and a few articles written about them.
We took the plunge and won it at a steal.
It might be worth saying that although this site is old and only dropped in December, the traffic and keywords were low.
But, that was fine for us, we were only looking at a brand-able domain that we could build citations to. So, it was kind of a win-win situation to be in.
The next steps we carried out for the domain change over was:
* Migrated the existing website to the new domain.
* Updated the names, added the old business address to the domain to keep things consistent and told G about our new domain (on Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA)
* Added a 301 to the .htaccess file to send all old URLs to the new URLs.
It took 2 days to see any movement as our old domain was still showing up in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)
Then… the magic started to happen.
Over the last 7 days we've:
* Generated $66+ in Amazon revenue.
* Seen more keywords indexed than on our old domain. (In our target country of the US)
* Had higher ranking positions for our targeted keywords.
* Over doubled our highest amount of daily traffic on Google Analytics. (we're at 85 organic visitors per day)
What I am taking away from our experiment is that a real business location with a real address could well have made the difference. Albeit hard to tell, having a domain that has user-generated content across a few platforms and an established location has made a huge difference for us.
Now we've started seeing our site flourish, we are building links to keep the upward trend going. It also may be worth noting that we had not build a single link through the whole process until the weekend when we've started outreach. Just the links that already exist on the expired domains.
The difference between the 2 domains is the citations and tie to an exact location. Our new one has a clear location, whereas our old domain didn't.
Should we have tried to build citations? Maybe… but, there were too many other contributing factors as to whether that would fix our issues. Our new domain seemed like the quick win so, we took the gamble.
Our plans for the next 3 months:
* Focus on increasing rankings for our target buyer guides by adding related content and building links through guests posts and broken link building.
* Run Surfer on all buyer guides that have not been tweaked.
* Focus on building our social presence on Pinterest to increase traffic to our articles.
* Drip 3 guides and 10 articles onto the site per week.
* Surpass 10,000 monthly organic visitors
Obviously, it's extremely early days. Rankings and traffic are creeping up daily, but I am hoping that our struggles over the last few months can help someone else out. If you have any questions, I am more than happy to help out.
Also, if I have missed anything that you think we can improve on, I'd appreciate any feedback!
(I've got time whilst in Covid-19 lockdown) 😉
How much did you pay the last domain? $xxx or higher?
$300 ish from memory.
Chen » Curt
And the only difference between the domains were the last one had an actual location?
Well, the first one had a stronger link profile and the domain was $xxxx
But factoring in how it performed, the link profile didn't really come into play. There was also a sandbox on the first domain.
There wasn't a sandbox on this new domain (that maybe because of the redirect though).
But yeah, you're right – there were some differences, but in regards to location, the newer one differs.
The reason why I think the location matters is because the keywords indexed in the US are rocketing quicker and higher than the last domain with exactly the same content.
It's hard to put an exact reason for the performance boost could also be down to the minimal lapse with the domain dropping. It was only down for 2-3 months max.
Man, the more I am thinking about it the more differences there are! But either way, the golden nugget I think I took from this change is that domains can hold back rankings and, in this instance, a migration was on the list of things to try.
After all the stuff we tried (without building links) this was the thing that worked.
Chen » Curt
The second domain was niche relevant?
Thanks for the share. I Took some notes for future reference.
Would love to see your take on-
How are you making sure that the new domain won't backfire few weeks later just like the previous domain?
Thanks for detailed information again.. Appreciate it.
I think now we're a bit savvier with what happens when the intent of the site changes, we can build links through it.
With our first domain, we didn't know if it was an issue with our on-page efforts or the time the site had been sitting on a 301.
If the same pattern happens, we now know that it's nothing to do with any of the factors we were questioning (there was a long list) and it's simply a change in intent that causes the drops.
If it happens again, we'll be more prepared for the big Google 'slap in the face'.
Do you think it's going to drop again when Google figures out that the intent has changed from ecom to review?
I'd hope it doesn't happen, but if it does we'll be ready to keep pushing on rather than jumping ship.
With the old domain, we didn't know if there was something Google didn't like. I feel sitting round and pushing through it could have been detrimental to future growth if Google was penalising us for something other than site intent.
If it happens again, at least we'll know what it was for definite! 🙂
thanks for sharing the test
I'm reading this today and man, thank you for sharing. I'm hoping thing are working out well with your site.
It got hit by December 1st update 🙃 it was up for sale for $180k but probably needs reevaluating now 🤷🏼♀️
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