“Starting From Scratch” Case Study – Income Report October 2016


Welcome to the eighth of the monthly income reports for the “Starting From Scratch” niche site case study. In these monthly reports, I’ll go through the income, traffic and rankings of the case study site. Monthly reports are important, not only to let you see how the site is doing, but it helps me to improve the site by analyzing the results. If you’re looking for more posts on what I’ve built and how, you can find them here.

6 Months In & We’re Not Where I Wanted to Be

The site is now just over six months old – I took delivery of the site from Human Proof Designs during March and posted links during April. I added 5 more links by purchasing extra domains for the network in June and posting links during July.

After seeing some of the site’s target keywords appear in the top ten towards the end of September and not stick there solidly during October, I realized that the mini network of 20 sites that I had been using was a failure.

What I’m doing here is a little bit different to the normal way I’d rank a site. In this case study, I have been testing out whether I could potentially use less domains in a PBN to rank a single site because they’re only linking to that one site, instead of up to 10 sites. The theory being that the link juice would be less diluted and so less might be needed.

However, in practice this hasn’t worked as well as I’d hoped. I added 5 more domains from PBN HQ a couple of months ago to bring me up to 20 domains which has pushed me close to the top 10 and while the site popped in quickly, it didn’t stick on the first page so I believe it needs a few more links to give it some more power.


That being the case, I went back to Hammerhead Domains towards the end of October and picked up 5 more domains to add to the network for this case study site, spending an additional $67.87 in registration fees and bringing the total size of the network to 25 domains.

Four of these five domains have now been indexed by Google, and I will begin rebuilding them with new content from HireWriters and adding links to my main site during the month of November. It might take another month or two for these links to take effect and help push the site onto the first page.

Why am I spending more on this site and pushing more links at it? Because I have seen the site on the first page and know that it won’t take much more to get it to stay there.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming and on to what you came to this post to read – the numbers from this month’s update.

Traffic & Visitors – October 2016

Unique Visitors: 188
Bounce Rate: 31%
Unique Visitors Sent To Amazon: 64
Conversion Rate to Amazon: 34%


We’re starting to see a steady stream of visitors every day to the site everyday. The site has spent a few days during the month on the first page for some of the smaller target keywords from the expansion content, which has started to help increase the number of visitors and therefore conversions to Amazon.

I expect traffic in November and December to pick up even more, as the site gets first page rankings for more terms as a result of the additional links.

Amazon Earnings – October 2016

Items Sold: 21
Items Shipped: 21
Total Amount Sold: $1033.48
Commission Earned: $44.23
Average Visitor Value: $0.24
Average Item Commission: $2.11


The site didn’t stick on the first page of Google for enough of its target terms, so the earnings for this month have been about the same as they were last month.

This month we were just 67 cents shy of covering our operating expenses for the site. The extra links that I’m adding in November will probably take another month or two to take effect, so we’ll probably see similar earnings next month.

Rankings – October 2016

Top 3: 0
Top 10: 4
Top 100: 12
Not in Top 100: 0


We’ve had some more trials for some of the keywords in the top 10, but still nothing has remained there steadily yet and that’s why I’m going to build more links to this site.

For November, I’ll be building more links and hopefully we’ll start to see the site remain on the first page more steadily during the coming months.

Overall Spend & Earnings

Build Cost: $952

Earnings March: $5.71
Earnings April: $4.84
Earnings May: $1.59
Earnings June: $0.00
Earnings July: $9.90
Earnings August: $16.89
Earnings September: $44.46
Earnings October: $44.23

Expenses March: $0 ($36.90 for first month’s hosting on Bulk Buy Hosting and Vultr were included in initial case study expenses)
Expenses April: $36.90 – Bulk Buy Hosting 15 Accounts Plan & Vultr VPS server.
Expenses May: $36.90 – Bulk Buy Hosting 15 Accounts Plan & Vultr VPS server.
Expenses June: $44.90 – Bulk Buy Hosting 20 Accounts Plan & Vultr VPS server, $55 to PBN HQ for domains, $45 for Domain Registrations, $92.50 to HireWriters.
Expenses July: $44.90 – Bulk Buy Hosting 20 Accounts Plan & Vultr VPS server.
Expenses August: $44.90 – Bulk Buy Hosting 20 Accounts Plan & Vultr VPS server.
Expenses September: $44.90 – Bulk Buy Hosting 20 Accounts Plan & Vultr VPS server.
Expenses October: $4.90 – Bulk Buy Hosting 20 Accounts Plan & Vultr VPS Server, $67.87 for Domain Registrations.

Lifetime Expenses: $1455.67
Lifetime Earnings: $127.62
Profit/Loss: $1328.05 loss

What’s Next?

At the end of November, once I have the Amazon reports for the full month, I’ll share my next post showing the traffic and earnings for this site.

If you have any questions about what I’ve covered so far, or feel that I haven’t covered any specific component in enough detail, please leave a comment on this post – I’ll been answering reader questions in the comments.

If you haven’t already signed up for e-mail updates, please put your name and e-mail address in the boxes below and click Subscribe so that you don’t miss any of the updates from this case study.



  1. Ana Maria Iuliana : November 2, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Hey Kevin,
    Because you are building the PBNs for this site only, are you building them with content 100% focused on variations of your chosen niche or general content PBNs with articles related to your niche where you do the linking.

    • They’re being rebuilt as general niche PBNs based on the historical use of the domain, and then I’m writing an article that relates the topic of the PBN site to the topic of the money site and placing the link in there.

  2. Kevin, How many total links are you now pointing to the site? And how many different keyword variations?

  3. Hi Kevin, I found you through the Facebook group and then Spencer’s site. Don’t you mind to answer a few questions. Thank you.

    1. So you have 25 PBN domains linking to your money site, is it right?
    2. How many articles each PBN domain should have to look legit?
    3. What’s the average TF/CF/DA you recommend for PBN domain?
    4. Is it always take around 2 month for a new PBN domain to make effect in rankings?

    • Hi Roman,
      To answer your questions:
      1. Right now, there is only 20 domains. I’ll be adding the extra 5 during November.
      2. There’s no firm answer on this. Some people suggest 4-5 articles, others suggest continuing to post new articles on a regular basis.
      3. I’m generally looking for DA 20+ domains, with TF 10+, and not a crazy 2:1 CF:TF ratio. That being said, it’s more about looking at the backlinks than any metric.
      4. This varies from site to site – links can start having an impact quickly, or they can take a bit longer. I generally wait for up to 2 months to be on the safe side.

  4. Hi Kevin are you pointing any social signals at the site or only PBN links?

  5. Hi

    I am following your case study from start and would like to ask few questions.

    1. Are you considering adding more backlink types to the mix like web 2.0,comments/social etc
    2. Are these pages ranking for other long tails or LSI keywords?
    3. What ratio of anchors are you using to protect against penguin.

    • Hi Rick,
      To answer your questions:
      1. I did a tiny bit of broken link building in the start which garnered me about three backlinks.
      2. I would imagine that they’re ranking for some extremely longtail keywords, which is what is generating the traffic currently.
      3. I’m avoiding using exact match, target keyword anchors and instead building longer sentence variations – eg rather than “best pbn hosting”, I’m using “this web site offers the best pbn hosting” or otherwise branded anchors and generic anchors like “click here”.

  6. Kevin do you not use web 2.0 properties like tumblr or wordpress blogs with high PA? Does that help in rankings? And also does GSA SER also help?

    • Hi Kamran,
      I have never experimented with expired web 2.0 properties like Tumblr or WordPress.com blogs with high PA, so I can’t comment on the effectiveness of that strategy.
      Regarding GSA SER, I’d generally avoid staying away from automated tools like that unless you know what you’re doing with them, because they can cause problems when used incorrectly.

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