Amazon niche sites income report October 2014 – I survived penguin

Amazon niche sites still work in 2014 - October income report

Penguin 3.0 update aftermath

Another Penguin update and right before the holiday shopping season too. Merry frickin Christmas!

Site G was knocked back, but survived the penguin update fairly well. For my short-tail keyword I’m currently ranked at #8 behind “big authority” sites like and Remember how I stated in my September 2014 income report that there were a bunch of content mill and junk results on page one? Well, they’re all gone now! Mine is the only affiliate site remaining in the top 10 results. The next highest ranking affiliate splog is somewhere on page 3. This means that Site G hasn’t been slapped by Google. It just needs more authority and trust. Which of course means links from highly relevant sites that I may own or have posting ability on. 😉

It is insanity to base your entire livelihood on SEO

This update shows why it is not a good idea to base your entire income around SEO and niche sites. Treat affiliate niche sites as extra sources of income. Don’t quit your job until you have an alternate source of traffic or you’ve created another dependable stream of income that doesn’t rely on the whims of big G.

To make the most of the traffic that I still get from Google, I added a callout box to the top of each minor page that targets long tail kws. The callout directs visitors back to my main landing page that used to sit in the top 4 results. I want to squeeze every conversion possible out of each visitor.

Earnings are still up for the month, but it’s the Xmas sales effect. We will have to wait until Jan/Feb to see real sales numbers for the niche.

This means that for November I need to:

Create contextually relevant content on sites with authority and trust and link from those sites to my money site.

Please note that I am not creating content just for the sake of linking, this is not “PBN spun article” crap. All of the sites in my network are owned by a “niche enthusiast” persona and the sites get real visitor interaction. I populate these sites by looking for blogs in the niche written by real bloggers and rewrite/repurpose their content wherever it fits.

So how do I create relevant natural looking content that passes the manual sniff test? Here’s an example. Let’s say my money site is a spatula review site:

I would have my niche enthusiast, “Joe Schmoe”, take up an interest in chili-making. Perhaps they’re preparing for a chili cook-off? “Joe” would write a couple posts about his chili making adventures and about how he needs to find the best spatula for chili making (insert link to money site here). Since “Joe”‘s blog was built on an aged domain with authority and trust, his chili making post is indexed immediately and ranks for random long tail keywords like “the best spatula for chili making that won’t melt”, etc. Visitors from Google who are also looking for an awesome chili-safe spatula will read “Joe”‘s post, see that he finally found a good spatula from “money site”, and click-through to see what the “money site” has to offer.
WIN-WIN-WIN. I get a link for my money site, build up a web asset that I can use for future projects, and earn another spot on the SERPS.

Create social signals

But…but…this sounds like SO MUCH WORK! Not really. The social crap is automatically taken care of as soon as “Joe” publishes his blog post because he uses the SNAP plugin to spread his content to pinterest, twitter,, and tumblr. “Joe” also uses viralwoot (it’s free!) to share his pins on pinterest and he populates his account with relevant content, nifty quotes, and random life tweets with Tweet Attacks Pro.

After writing his blog post, “Mr. Schmoe” would share his chili making adventures on pinterest and twitter. He would also go to cooking forums and related blogs and ask for advice on chili making and how to choose the right spatula that won’t melt, linking back to his blog to show people what he’s cooking and why he needs to find better cooking equipment. Since Joe’s blog is full of posts about his family and personal interests, the moderators let his link stay since it doesn’t look like spam. AWESOME!

Natural Pinterest and WordPress traffic converts!

I’ve been playing around with tagging images with the URL of the site and spreading them on Pinterest, WordPress, and Tumblr. So far it seems to be working to drive visitors who like to click!

In October, 12.6% of the traffic to Site B and Site G came from direct type-ins.

In fact, these visitors are outperforming the visitors sent from Google with a 51% click-throuhgh rate! I was really surprised by this as these types of visitors tend to be tire-kickers who may like/share your content, but usually bounce.

I haven’t paid very much attention to this project 🙁

Along with my point above about alternate income streams, I’ve actually been busy with my ecommerce projects (it’s almost Xmas!) and other non-niche-site stuff.

Here’s a short summary of what I did accomplish this month:

  • Linked to site G from 3 high TF/DA sites in my network.
  • Added a bunch of relevant content to my network of sites to power-up the links.
  • Added 2 new sites to my network. One was a surprise find with links from Huffpo, WSJ, and other high authority sites. All I had to pay was $10 for the domain registration. YAY!
  • Created social signals and shareable images for my money sites and my network sites. This is 80% automated. See above for the tools I use to do this.
  • Split tested colors and layout on the sites. The CTR for Site B has increased by 25% this month. Leave a comment if you want me to write a simple tutorial on how to do basic A/B testing with Clicky.  Hint: there’s no need for an expensive monthly subscription. You just need to add a couple lines of javascript and plug some numbers into Excel. You will however need to use Clicky pro to get the split-testing functionality.
  • Added long tail terms and laterally related terms to existing pages. This has been responsible for the increase in sales on Site B as most of the sales consist of a product I mentioned in the new long-term keywords I added to site B.
  • Fixed the copy for my opt-in offer on Site G. I’m getting at least 1-2 subscribers every day now. Not bad for a spammy Amazon affiliate site.
  • Added 11 pages of content to my sites.

Amazon niche sites traffic & income report for October 2014

So what effect did the Penguin update and my lack of progress have on the income from my niche sites? Drumroll please…

Site A

I’m not even going to bother with a graph for this site. There were only 35 visitors for the entire month!

  • Amazon: $12.59 (+$12.59) Woot! This pretty much pays for the domain name. We’re at break even point for this site.

Traffic for sites B & G post-penguin

Niche sites hit, but not down after Google's penguin 3.0 update on October 19 2014

Site B earnings

  • Amazon: $97.27 (+$74.36)
  • Site B RPM (revenue per mille): $152.94

Site G earnings

  • $1553.53 (+$1014.84)
  • 13.84 CAD (It took only 5 minutes to install the custom content by country plugin that earned 4 sales this month from Canadian visitors.)
  • Commission Junction: 343.66 GBP
  • Site G Total: $2122.36
  • Site G RPM: $634.49

Look at those RPMs. It’s beautiful. All I need now is more traffic!

Summing up week 12 of this niche site case study

October 2014 earnings: $2232.22 (+$1101.79)

October 2014 expenses: $87.96 (2 new domains from Namecheap plus a new cheapie hosting plan)

Total earnings since the start of this follow-along (August 2014): $3856.56

So in summary, niche sites still earn money in 2014, even after Penguin 3.0. It just means your web of spam requires more sophistication and care. Social traffic also converts, though not necessarily in the way you expect it to. You’ll also want to get the most out of every last visitor that does land on your site. That means you need to be “on the ball” with onsite factors and capture their emails or get them to Amazon. Remember to make sites for people, not machines!


  The Niche Sites
Month 1
Visitors47605265112178 1860936
Month 2
Month 3
Month 4
Month 5

With total earnings this month of $2232.22 I am 44.6% closer to my goal of increasing my income by $5000 every month from niche sites.


How did you fare after Penguin 3.0? Leave a comment!

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