An Affiliate Site Flip Results In 190% ROI After Just 6 Months // Alpha Investors

An Affiliate Site Flip Results In 190% ROI After Just 6 Months

affiliate site flip

The Opportunity

  • We are always looking to acquire content-based businesses that are underoptimized and provide a lot of quick wins.
  • 5 things that we need to validate before proceeding with the due diligence are: traffic, revenue, quick wins, lots of affiliates in the space, lots of unexplored content ideas.
  • We did in-depth due diligence and vetted the financials, traffic numbers, growth potential, and competition research before officially putting in the offer.
  • Our initial research showed that simply by applying some of our 'core' strategies, we'd be able to see substantial gains in both traffic and conversions (affiliate link clicks).
  • We analyzed the top ten competitors and created a detailed plan of action that includes the content, link building, and CRO gameplan.

Quick note: if you’d like to learn how to buy a profitable website without hassle, check out our latest in-depth guide by clicking here.

organic keyword footprint

The Gameplan

  • The main strengths of the business were steady organic traffic and stable earnings.
  • The main weaknesses were poor content (outsourced to non-native speakers for cheap), no product comparison tables, poor site architecture, no trust, etc.
  • The plan was to completely re-do the website: design, structure, CRO & testing, improve dwell time, page speed optimization, internal and external link structure, new content calendar, and in-depth link building strategy.
  • We created a detailed 'plan of attack' and scheduled the tasks in order of importance: design, CRO, and on-page optimization first, new content and link building second.
research

The Execution

  • After the initial round of 'fixes', we set up some basic CRO tests and started testing different tables, post outlines, CTAs, etc. against each other to get the best possible conversion rates.
  • At the same time, and over the next 5 months, we ran a link building campaign (guest posts, link inclusions, 'stealing' competitors' backlinks, link swaps) which helped us acquire over 70 new LRDs from highly (topically) relevant websites with real traffic.
  • These backlinks resulted in a substantial increase in organic traffic and helped us establish the website as an authority in the niche.
  • Our new content strategy focused on providing the readers (and search engines) with educational and informative content, which the site was lacking before. The other benefit of creating such content was to increase the overall topical relevancy of the site in Google's eyes, and we definitely succeeded at that (huge traffic growth).
  • By applying some of our SEO strategies, we managed to utilize the incoming 'link juice' that was pointing to the new informational content to improve organic visibility of our money pages - which led to more conversions and revenue over time.

The Results

435%

Increase in generated revenue

238%

Increase in pageviews

190%

ROI for the entire investment

Would you like us to do the same for you?

search traffic
traffic value

Financials

  • The business was making $1,970 per month at the time of the purchase (6-month average).
  • Within the first month, we were able to grow the revenue to $4,453 (first month) and then up to $8,851 at the time of the sale.
  • We would usually keep this site for at least 2 years, but, due to the high volatility of the niche (new products are often released, new upgrades), we decided it's time to sell.
  • The business was purchased for $74,000 on July 2nd.
  • The business generated $42,333 in affiliate commissions before we ultimately transferred everything to the new owner on January 7th.
  • We sold it for $202,800. Broker's fee was $30,420, so net profit on the sale was $172,380.
  • Combined, the business made us $140,713 after only 6 months of actively working on it - or 190% ROI.

51 thoughts on “An Affiliate Site Flip Results In 190% ROI After Just 6 Months”

  1. You are like the warren buffet of online business bruh, I just noticed that you are the owner of rankxl.

    Honestly later since you been the owner I always seem to click the emails to come read your content.

    Itโ€™s amazing.

  2. Hi Andrej,

    That’s a great case study and you guys managed to boost the site very fast.

    Do you have any article about your tips to look for when buying an established site? And what platform do you use to find such deals?

    I recently bought an Amazon site making $50/mo. I have started working actively on it and trying to grow it to at least $200/month before making the exit.

    Do you have any suggestions for me?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Shafi. Thanks!

      There are no articles on the subject yet, but it’s definitely on my to-do list. You can expect to see a lot of content on the stuff I wrote about in this post over the next couple of months / after I update the RankXL’s course.

  3. Andrej, Great case study. Going from $1970/mo to $8851/mo in revenue in 5 months is incredible. Also I used to go to the gym and play basketball and my wife was ok with it as long as I came home once in awhile ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Nice. Although $9k monthly revenue, should have sold for around $270k+, or around a quarter of a million if you base it on a 30x multiple of profit (allowing $1k/month for costs which I am sure is not what they are either)? ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Not really. You need to take the average monthly earnings. In our case, last six months. It’d be too easy if we were able to get the valuation based on the last month. I’d probably be retired then ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love your job man, Andrej from Rankxl, I will be requesting you to do an in depth analysis of your case studies, like How you optimized comparison tables, what tools you use and the likes, you got the point. Above all, I love your style.

  6. Hi one quรฉtion. Does that site make money with JVzoo network, warrior plus etc..

    Can you share more about SEO strategy to apply for affiliate site that review product launch?

    1. Hi, Ngoc.

      It’s an Amazon Affiliate site. Can’t really say much more than that due to our NDA.

      I’ll be writing more content on specific topics that are included in this case study during the next couple of months.

  7. Nice case study Andrej. If majority of the “seo gurus” could publish more case studies like this, Then less newbies would be giving up at the trying stage.

  8. Andrej,

    Thank you for the article and maintaining active conversation in your comments section.
    I have a question outside the marketing strategy itself, but more business related. How do you go about acquiring websites? And also reselling? Do you use flipping sites for that or you approach website owners individually? I understand that you might not wanna go into details on this, but at least an overall strategy?
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Glad to hear you like it, Sarunas.

      We usually scrape the SERPs we’re trying to ‘get into’ and outreach to the site owners directly. Sometimes, we’ll just grab a site or two from the brokers if a good deal presents itself. Same goes for selling our sites. There are also a couple of solid FB groups for both buying and selling (smaller) websites.

  9. Thanks a lot Andrej for these awesome insights!
    Didn’t you spend any money at all during the 6 months? If you did, it should be included in the ROI calculation ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Good catch, Franck!

      It’s included. I deducted it from the sales price when I ran all the calculations. Although, I didn’t spend that much because we have our own teams in place.

  10. Hey Andrej,

    That’s some ROI you got there! Approximately how many articles did the site have in total by the time you were selling it?

    And apart from Amazon associates, were you using any other monetization strategies (perhaps display ads or other networks)?

    Thanks a lot. I’m coming from RankXL. Will be following your posts.

    1. Indeed :).

      Ah, I really can’t remember the exact number, but the site had around 250 articles published when we bought it. We removed the junk/deadweight and trimmed the number to 180-ish and then published 50 or so pieces of new content. For this site, we used exclusively Amazon because of all the secondary purchases/accessories we got credit for. There are a couple of other players with affiliate programs, but I didn’t have a good feeling about those (for this site). I’m usually adding display ads to all my info/edu posts, but didn’t get to it on this site. That was next on my to-do list, though.

  11. Really insightful piece of content!
    And that made me think, getting this kind of ROI in the same duration of time with new site could be practically impossible.

    One question though: were you reinvesting the earnings from the site?

    1. Thanks mate!

      New site – I seriously doubt it. Would like to see a good case study on that, though (hmm?).

      Reinvesting – no, not really. Mainly because we have a lot of sites in our portfolio and we use one ‘budget’ for all of them, so it’s tough to say. That said, I’m 100% for reinvesting when you’re working on your own project.

  12. Interesting study. Is that conversion rate of around 4% based on all site traffic or just on traffic sent to amazon?

    Just seeing the services you have. Do you build out sites for specific product small niche sites (like Human Proof does) for your service or do larger authority sites. I was looking to build out another site but so busy to deal with getting it going. Do you offer any site buildout with ongoing monthly fee for building new content/backlinks.

    What is minimum investment you usually want partnering on a site? My 1st trial at site investing was with other popular online investor that buys site with clients and the site went to zero(ecom). I only had $5k exposure so could have been lot worse. I am weary investing now with partners…i was looking at Hayden’s new service too.

    1. Hi Brian,

      thanks for stopping by and for your comment. The conversion rate is calculated after they land on Amazon. Our CTR on the site was much, much higher.

      Regarding our DFY service – it goes both ways. It depends on your budget and goal. We always emphasize that it’s important to think big but start small/narrow. Whenever we’re starting a site from scratch, we tackle a big vertical with a brandable domain, but start focused on only one segment of that vertical and expand after we start getting some organic traction.

      Regarding us acting as operators (second question) – it depends. If we’re finding you a site and then staying as operators, it doesn’t make sense for you to buy anything below $2k/mo or $50k in value. That’s also our starting budget (+/-). If you already have a site that’s making money, then we require it’s making at least $1.5k (average L6M) in order to engage.

      Hope that helps.

  13. Great case study and glad you’ll be updating Rank XL, Andrej. Was excited to hear about the acquisition. What’s the best way to contact you directly?

    1. Thanks, Eric.

      You can use the contact page to either schedule a call or send an email that’s going to be routed to me (if you ask).

  14. Great case study Andrej!

    What did you do with the “old” content that was ranking and bringing traffic when you purchased the website?

    Did you improve it or change it completely (and how did you avoid to lose traffic)?

    1. We did a sitewide redesign and optimized everything for max conversions/affiliate clicks. The old content that didn’t have any incoming links/traffic was deleted.

  15. Hey Andrej,

    Thank you for sharing this with everybody! Especially the answers provided in the comment section! Can you share what was your biggest opportunity in this project? When you were looking at the old site, where did you spot the biggest gap? The one that tipped you over and made you pull the trigger to buy it?

    Have a good one!

    1. Thanks, Goran!

      The ‘thing’ that stood out the most was that the site was making almost $2k a month without comparison tables. I knew that by adding (and then AB testing) a solid comparison table to the top of the articles would 2x the revenue right away. That’s exactly what happened (and then some :)).

  16. Do you build new sites or mostly focus on acquiring established sites and improving them to flip (like you did so well here)?

    1. We’re mostly buying sites for our own portfolio and going through a similar process as the one I described in the case study. We do have a couple of sites that we started from scratch, and we’ll probably start building out new sites to test a couple of new theses.

  17. Simply stunning!

    I’ve finished reading with almost my mouth open. That’s what we call an online genius!

    Just one small question:
    How do you lead the followers who used to do some traffic with your new posts, strategy and management? You may never know though that someone mau stop following the site completely.

    Thanks for such an inspirational project!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Ozoda. I’m definitely no genius, though.

      I’m really not sure what you’re asking, so can you please elaborate?

  18. Thats really an interesting story as a whole. Love the way you tracked every tiny thing on the go.

    Was it a Amazon Niche or traditional niche?

    Regards,
    NUS

    1. Glad to hear you like it, Shamim.

      It’s an evergreen niche stuffed with thousands of different products.

  19. Impressive case study. Is it possible to outsource the kind of work you did on this site? If so, how does one find a capable person? It seems that if someone can do this they would just buy their own site and do it for themselves, no?

    1. Thank you.

      Honestly, I don’t know. I guess it’s possible, but good luck finding that person + if you do find him, you’ll have to shell out a lot of $ to keep him engaged (just a guess). If someone’s capable and has the capital then yes, he can/should do it for himself. If he lacks one of the two… tough spot.

  20. Thank you for this article, sir. It is very thought-provoking and triggered several questions in my mind.

    I think it would be useful if you could estimate how much effort was required to redesign the site, do the CRO, perform the competitive analysis and generate the new content (like person-hours, word counts). This had to be a nontrivial amount of effort and associated cost, even with an in-house team. Knowing the amount of effort would help us estimate how much a project like this would cost with outsourcing.

    Were the 6 months during the high seasonal period? If so, how do you know how much of the earnings increase to attribute to seasonality versus site optimisations?

    You wrote that you sold the site partly because of “new upgrades”. Did you mean because of affiliate product upgrades or site upgrades or ???

    The organic keyword graph shows a very steep increase after the site was sold. Do you have any explanation for that? It looks like the slope of the keyword graph is somewhat constant before that even before you acquired the site.

    1. Some great questions, Sanjay. Thank you.

      – This can’t be guesstimated because it depends on who you outsource it to. I personally created the blueprints (CRO, SEO, content map), applied them to a couple of posts, and then assigned the rest to my team so they know how/what to replicate. The effort needed could be substantial for one person, and not that substantial for others (in this case, me).

      – No seasonality whatsoever in this niche.

      – Not really. New product upgrades/components/parts are released very often and it’s ‘tough’ to keep up. A lot of involvement is needed to keep track of everything. The plan was to exit the niche in 6-8 months and that’s what we did.

      – Yap. We did a lot of everything during the time the site was with us. The new owner didn’t do almost anything with the site but he ended up enjoying a nice upswing that’s a direct result of our efforts (or at least I tell myself that when I go to sleep every night crying :D). I got asked a couple of days ago ‘if you knew that the site would skyrocket like that, would you sell it again?’ – my answer was, and still is, yap – probably.

      1. Your openness is admirable. Yes, sir, I understand about the issue with a cost guestimate. That’s why I was asking in terms of effort instead (which can be converted to costs in a specific context). For example, was the rest of the team a single writer and/or developer or several of each. Did they work 100 hours each on the site, or 500 hours, and so on? Helping us understand the level of effort could help someone decide whether to use your services or do it themselves with their own outsourcing providers.

        I am a little confused when you say there’s no seasonality. I had asked about the seasonality of the niche because you specifically mentioned it as one of the reasons for selling the site.

        1. You’re right. I wrote seasonality. It was a mistake – fixed. There’s always some seasonality around the holidays, but this niche is active year-round.

          The team that worked on the site consisted of a developer, research guy, content writers (3), lead editor, editors, and a project manager to coordinate everything. They didn’t work more than 50-70h in total, and that was just to apply the new design (that was CRO-centric) on the money posts, research and add new content, and basic stuff like that. I handled the AB testing and further optimizations once everything was set up.

          That was the level of effort that my (trained) team put into the site. In your case that might be 10x that or 2x less. Hope that makes sense.

  21. venkatesh kumar

    Hi Andrej,
    Its great case study. And its giving motivation to sell and buy the site. It’s a whole package and great learning. Thanks for sharing

  22. Hi Andrej

    I really enjoy your Article. How many blog posts did you end up having in order to generate $8,000+ per month income and how many products were promoted on that site?

    Is there a rule of thumb as to the number of Blogs and number of Affiliate products being promoted?

    I understand that the value of the commission varies depending on the price of the product. But I am interested to know if there is a way to come up with a plan right up front taking into consideration of the different components.

    1. Hi Paradee,

      thank you. That doesn’t really have anything to do with the post count, but the site had approximately 250-ish posts when I sold it. A lot of different products were promoted.

      You should look at the niches with high-ish average product price ($100+), solid commissions, and multiple affiliate partner options.

  23. Great case study @Andrej!
    I am curious to see how you structured your content to establish this ” increase the overall topical relevancy of the site in Google’s eyes”. I knew it’s a proper site structure and good internal link but want to read more detail by your experiences.

  24. SEO is not only about search engines but good SEO practices improve the user experience and usability of a web site. Users trust search engines and having a presence in the top positions for the keywords the user is searching, increases the web site’s trust.

    Thank You for this valuable article.

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