You know what time it is?
Okay, okay, sooooo… it’s been a loooooooooooooooong time since I’ve penned one of our case studies but I think with this one, you’ll learn a LOT:
But, that’s not how pretty it looked when the client approached us:
Now, THIS, THIS is why I love what we executed here. Let me break it down:
- We sorted out 243 pages that were cannibalizing and choking these pages out (the intended money pages) OUT of the top 100!
- This skyrocketed our clients revenue to OVER $25,000 in June and July (2020) from these two pages!
- 2 URLs from same site (14,800 search volume and 22,200 search volume belong to one page, and the other 14,800 to another page on the site!)
- A site in the household niche (that’s all we are at liberty to say!)
- Amazon is one of their bigger affiliate sales commissions (even at a measly 4.5% commission rate; not everyone buys kitchen products, hint hint)
- They ARE selling through other affiliate programs + ads
But before we get into Hamma time, let me setup how we came across this client of ours, who need our help in a big bigly, bigliest and hugeliest of ways…
Marie, calling me crying: Moon! Moon! I’m so glad you picked up *sobbing*
Me, mid climbing the Himalayas with my bare feet and hands: Whoa! Hold on, what’s wrong?? Are you ok?! Is the family [email protected]#$
Marie: *sobbing hard* I just don’t know what I’d do without you. Just look at the image I’m about to send you, this website is literally dying, despite us preaching good, clean site builds (like in our course) and how we’ve preached keyword cannibalization can choke out the main pages like this bish… *sobbing some more* Look at your email, fast!
Me, viewing the image in my email… thank God for fast transmission of emails while I’m climbing the mountins!: Holy fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu**ty cakes… and then, I started crying too:
Suddenly, I felt the grief Marie felt.
Then, she filled me in on the serious stuff:
The two pages (two 14,800 search terms, and then one main 22,200 search term)… this client once USED to rank those terms in the top 5, along with the search terms listed above (480 all the way through 4,400).
Due to the 3 main pages falling out of the sky, and the additional terms dropping out of the top 10 from main page, they estimated they were losing out on $~13,000-15,000/m of affiliate sales.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but if anyone of you is THINKING of jumping into affiliate sites or is already doing it, the idea of losing $1k/m alone is disgusting.
But to watch your site tank over 3 months, “all of a sudden”, and then full on choke for its main terms… and lose ~$15,000/m?
Now you know the pain of Ed losing Rose…
Brace the pain, Ed.
But how did we know we could even help this *potential* client at the time?
If you’re a beginner affiliate SEO and think this case study is ‘too far up there’ for you to learn from, you’re wrong. You can reverse engineer all of the mistakes here and build out a clean site, which is what Marie and I have been preaching for YEARS!
GSC Leaves Clues, Folks!
Before we ever take on a client, we do some research to see what the issue is and if we think we can help them, we fill them in on what the issue is, and then set their expectations.
Just in case you didn’t know, GSC = Google Search Console, and it gives you a lot of insight into the terms your site is ranking for, the rankings pages, and so much more.
When we dug into GSC, we saw a few issues. Here, I will demonstrate by example since I cannot expose a client’s site and their terms.
Let’s take search terms such as:
- What are dog booties?
- Are dog booties necessary?
- Buy Dog Booties
- Dog Booty reviews
- Moon Bootie 850s review
- Skinny dog booties
- Fashionable dog booties
Now imagine, each of these has a page dedicated to it as such:
Essentially, this site was built out like an old school site meaning, each keyword had its own “page” or a “post” or “article” (I will be using these terms interchangeably).
Here’s the thing where beginner and intermediate SEOs get lost. I know this, because, early on, I used to do this too:
You see an old, established site do this and think, ‘hmmm, I can do that too’.
Did you know I’ve tested this on a minimum of a dozen sites, and my data revealed to me that the sites not honoring keyword clustering wouldn’t rank properly?
They’d either never hit top 100 or some of the keywords would hit #s30-100…. And wouldn’t push past that.
Meaning, no dinero, no nothing.
De nada, Harami.
Site structure absolutely matters and HOW CLEANLY you build them out, matters!
After all, don’t we do affiliate SEO for the moola?!
Oh, and here’s a pro tip, Bruh, in case you got lost in the memes and haven’t picked up on a nugget or two yet…. If you don’t build out your affiliate sites for the long term, you’re just not ready for the good shiz:
If you are serious about building out affiliate sites and want to see what works the best when it comes to affiliate SEO, check out RYR: Level UP! here.
Anyway, after we discussed the pattern between the two of us, we had an honest conversation with the *potential* client.
There were a few expectations we set straight from the beginning:
- This could take 3-4 months for Google to start showing decent results
- It *could* take longer to sort out (hey, this is affiliate and competitive)
- It would take a minimum of 4 months of work and up-to 6 months
- Andddddd… his rankings could take a worse hit in the beginning
Now, regarding the last point…..
A lot of SEOs start poo-ing their pants, but a couple of observations:
- His rankings aren’t bringing him any sales anymore (page one will trickle some sales in, but top 3 is where the $$ really IS!)
- His rankings are already tanked so going from #67 to #150 really doesn’t fudging matter!!!
- When you’re hemorrhaging like this, be ready for it to get ugly before it gets better
Elmo knows best, yaars.
Since we’ve been doing this for years, we know that fluctuations are part of the game, as well as what follows afterwards… unless you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing.
A lot of our clients come to us through Rule Your Rankings, our SEO FB group (go join our awesome community of SEOs if you haven’t already!), so they are aware of what we can accomplish.
He signed up.
And it was on… like FREAKIN’ DONKEY KONG!
The Organization and the Battle
This part of SEO’ing, nobody loves. It requires a keen eye, but more than that, taking the observations you’ve made, and making it into a tangible, actionable sheet and goals that you or someone from your organization can actually TACKLE!
The first 10 days, Marie and I “poke” around the site and make loose notes. This doesn’t mean we spend 8 hours a day, 10 days in a row doing this; however, before you run and make any changes, it’s good to learn the ‘nuances’ of a client’s site.
Whether it’s broken plugins, ridiculous amount of 404s, or URLs that conflict with a major page, all of this needs to be “observed” and documented.
Since we knew that one of the major issues was conflicting URLs (hundres of URLs/slugs that contained the keywords of those two main pages we were hired for) and, as a result, tanking pages, we made a list of the 2 major money pages, and assigned keyword clusters to them.
Now, here’s the thing to learn about keyword clusters.
The Old School Way is to build out a separate page for each keyphrase.
The New School Way is to cluster related key phrases and build out one single page/post/article for it.
The Clean Advantage?
For one, you won’t have to put in extra effort to rank a few different pages and, two, you won’t see pages tanking due to confusion for which page to rank.
We showed the client a list of which pages we would be deleting and 301ing.
We also showed them how we would move some of the content from those pages to the main, authority page that we want to rank.
For instance, let’s take these pages:
There’s no reason these couldn’t be targeted on the
Once the content is moved over, you can 301 the URLs.
We had 243 pages to sort through, but really, that wasn’t the biggest hurdle.
Sometimes, if clients have built out these sites themselves, they are scared to make changes to their sites for whatever reason (emotional?)
So, lots of communication and assurances…..
…..and reminders of why their sites are tanking.
That pain point will always bring ‘em back!
Organization, again, is key here.
- Which pages will be removed and 301’d?
- Do you need to move the content over to the main page?
- Where will you be 301ing it too?
- What keywords/keyword clusters are being “moved over”?
Once you put it like that, a bit tedious, but makes sense, right?
Now, if it sounds like you are done, you are definitely NOT DONE!
After we did the redirects, the rankings, were all over the place for the main key phrases:
And hol’ up, just one more:
Mid October is when the client hired us. By then, we felt their pain.
These keywords playin’ games with their revenue.
But despite that 301s being handled, it took until January for the rankings to lift.
Because Google has to crawl all those pages and “take note” of the individual and “overall” effect of what we were trying to achieve.
Also, in the affiliate SEO space, small cases can take 2 weeks or months to sort out.
We are at Google’s will when it comes to things like this.
That’s why it’s super important to clean up responsibly if you have an old school site like this (and drink for the next couple of months and pray). Jk Jk.
And if you’re about to start a new one, as exciting as it is, consider everything from your categories, tags, to money pages to informational pages and eliminate sharing keywords/keyphrases among them and pages!
Months 1 & 2 = MAGIC RYR SEOing
And BOOM came the rankings!
So, the first month was a lot of organizing and adjusting half of pages/posts on the Excel sheet. Content Merging.
The second month was finishing the rest of the 301s and content merging.
And notifying the client of two glitch infested plugins that they frankly didn’t need on their site.
Then, most magical thing we implement on any site:
Marie and I, at RYR, define link silos as interlinking in such a way with your posts and pages, that the end result is a rankings boost.
What most SEOs get wrong is… they have no real strategy with their interlinking. They link out to any and every page on their site as they see the opportunities.
That’s cute, but when you want results, you need to interlink in a certain way.
And gosh, once Big Daddy G crawls these pages and the effects start coming through…
…it’s a whole another high to witness rankings boosts. I know I am vague regarding our exact method of link SILO’s but if you want to join the RYR SILO masters of over 200 people you can check it out here: https://ryrlevelup.wpengine.com/
4-5 Months Into Our SEO’ing
Some cool things started happening… I wish I had taken better images in the Jan-Feb range, but alas, I did not :/
From nowhere to #s 5 and 4?!
Our client is ecstatic! But then…
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay again? Right?!
So, after 4 months of all of us crying, we got #s 5, 4… and 47?!
22,200, 14,800, and 14,800 searches per month.
Things at this level don’t just sort out within 2 weeks. Feb/March is around the 4-5 month mark. Or we’d be gazillionaires.
Since we had already shown significant improvement on the first two terms, the client just needed a brief assurance that it should follow suit as well.
Now, another cool thing happened around early February.
Since the client loved the work we were doing and how communicative we had been every month, we were asked to rank another set of pages for them.
While we KNOW the difference, we can bring to a client’s revenue, SEO takes TIME.
ESPECIALLY in competitive affiliate niches.
Now, this client is a heavy hitter in their niche.
We dug in hard. But let’s take another look at what we did once those pages hit the top 10 and stabilized:
- Meta Title
- Meta Description
- Keyword Density Adjustment
- Bridging the gap on NLP terms
All these things can be done through manual research but we use the handy dandy SEO Surfer (a beastly tool if you learn how to use it!) tool to get this data quickly.
Make sure your meta title + description are optimized. Check the top 3 competitors who are ranking well and pick up a pattern and implement!
Look at Exact Match key phrase usage and make sure to fall in line 10-20% within range of top 3 average.
NLP is sweet AF… once you understand what it is and how it affects SEO.
At first it’s scary, but make sure you use NLP terms that SEO Surfer reveals your site may be missing. We have a couple of rules regarding this which serve us really well. You can read more in our Surfer SEO Basics guide here.
So, let’s check the traffic results in Jan->March range:
Of course, this client is a beast in this space.
That’s not ‘just traffic from the three’ main terms/2 URLs. There are dozens more keywords they rank for, for those two pages, + they are a BEAST in their niche!
It’s a collective look at their traffic trend and winning them over with this initial work got us a lot more work.
Also, we had to convince this specific client to allow us to do this case study and at first, they were hesitant, and we understand why. We obliged to a few of their requests and are happy they allowed us to share this particular case study with you!
Summary to Excellence For Y’all
This is how the client’s keyphrases ended up, which we shared in the very beginning:
To summarize, here are all the on-site SEO factors we optimized:
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Keyword density
- NLP Terms
- Clean Up Competing Pages
- Handle the 404s with 301s
- Link Silos Like Ya Mama Never Seen
(PS. If you haven’t yet, enter your name, subscribe, and get our free On Site Guide to Boost Your Rankings today and get started).
Another thing to keep in mind: all of these “tasks” need to be broken down revisited in reiterations while you monitor rankings.
Anyways, if you want to learn how we do things at RYR, subscribe to our email list, where we share nuggets full of SEO wisdom and also share when our course goes on sale (which is where we teach everything we do for our clients/their sites).
See you on the other end, Chumppppppp!
Oh wait! If you want more awesome case studies like this one, Moon is spending the next few weeks creating a FREE guide on how to setup affiliate sites as well as more case studies. Subscribe here if you haven’t already!