Hey hey, niche site people…

It’s that time again – income report time!

In this month’s report, I’m gonna show you which of my sites got beasted by the Helpful Content Update, and which didn’t.

I’ll offer some insights as to why that’s the case,

And let you know my plans for October.

Let’s gooooooo!

Before we start, I just wanna say that I acknowledge that many of us have lost a lot of traffic and aren’t feeling good about that.

I know the huge impact this can have on your life.

I hear you, and I’m here for you.

My income reports are never about showing off.

My aim is to show people what’s possible, and what goes into achieving that.

So let’s do it…

Site 1: Travel

  • Revenue – $60,171 (down 5%)
  • Page views – 1,037,140 (down 15%)
  • Site age – 4 years
  • Articles – 754
  • Page views per article – 1,376
  • Revenue per article – $80
  • RPM – $58
  • Monetisation – 84% ads, 11% affiliate, 5% sponsored posts
  • Traffic sources – 81% organic search, 7% direct, 6% organic social, 5% email

How this site fared in the HCU…

The traffic is on a gradual decline.

To me, this doesn’t look like the sharp drop I’ve seen in sites affected by the Helpful Content Update.

Travel is a very seasonal niche, and I always expect that the traffic will decline steadily, until December is around half of the July peak.

Luckily, as traffic falls, RPMs go up because advertisers always spend more in the last quarter of the year.

So revenue stays fairly flat.

I’m not concerned about this site, but I am working on a few things to mitigate the decline –

I’ll explain what they are at the end.

Site 2: Gaming

  • Revenue – $6,488 (up 211%)
  • Page views – 538,236 (up 235%)
  • Site age – 2.5 years
  • Articles – 183
  • Page views per article – 2,941
  • Revenue per article – $35
  • RPM – $12
  • Monetisation – 99% ads, 1% affiliate
  • Traffic sources – 94% organic search, 6% direct

How this site fared in the HCU…

Before you get too excited, this data is massively skewed by the release of a new game.

This makes it tricky to see the impact of the HCU,

So take a look at this next graph which shows the year-on-year traffic…

This site had been around 40% down ever since it lost its featured snippets late last year.

But, since the HCU, it’s now tracking flat year on year.

It still hasn’t gotten any snippets back,

But it does appear that the update has done some good.

It certainly hasn’t hurt it.

This site had every article updated with real photos added a few months ago.

The content is very good.

So I’ll probably let it sit for the next six months and treat it as passive income.

(It pays the rent on my house and it’s a backup site to work on properly if we ever can’t travel again – yes, I’m paranoid about that still!)

Site 3: Environment

  • Revenue – $1,319 (down 21%)
  • Page views – 41,942 (down 22%)
  • Site age – 1.5 years
  • Articles – 102
  • Page views per article – 411
  • Revenue per article – $13
  • RPM – $31
  • Monetisation – 88% ads, 12% affiliate
  • Traffic sources – 94% organic search, 6% direct

How this site fared in the HCU…

This one’s looking about 60% down.

It 100% deserves it.

This site is a prime example of everything that worked well until it didn’t!

I implemented everything I learned, had some success and then Google moved the goalposts.

Annoying, but it’s all part of this business.

As I said in last week’s email – you can pivot or you can pause.

I haven’t worked on this site for a while, and it can stay that way.

Working on it now would only be a distraction for me.

Site 4: Leisure

  • Revenue – $870 (up 8%)
  • Page views – 25,935 (up 0%)
  • Site age – 2 years
  • Articles – 95
  • Page views per article – 273
  • Revenue per article – $9
  • RPM – $34
  • Monetisation – 85% ads, 15% affiliate
  • Traffic sources – 90% organic search, 10% direct

How this site fared in the HCU…

The monthly revenue is up, but that’s because the first half of September was great.

The second half… not so much!

We have another 60% drop, eek!

This site is another great example of what worked until it didn’t.

I’ve handed this one over to my 18-year-old apprentice.

I’ve given him Tony Hill’s course (now closed) and the new Query Hunter Pro Chrome extension.

I’m leaving it to him to turn it around.

Site 5: AI-Generated Test Site

  • Page views – 5,156 (+26%)
  • Site age – 5 months
  • Articles – 54
  • Page views per article – 95
  • Traffic sources – 90% organic search, 10% direct

How this site fared in the HCU…

Well, would you look at that?

The HCU has actually reversed the previous drop!

I believe that with the HCU, a classifier was added to ‘unhelpful’ sites.

So the increase is just relevant to competitor drops.

Why was the classifier not applied to this site?

It deserves it!

Is it just too new to get caught?

I’m not sure.

It will probably happen next time.

Some sites do seem to go up and down like a yoyo with each update.

This is the website that I built in 40 hours while watching trash TV.

The content certainly isn’t good.

A new series of Married At First Sight UK has started,

So after a 2-month pause, I’ve started creating more articles with the half of my brain that I’m not using while I watch.

I enjoy this, it’s a relaxing hobby for me, so I’ll carry on for now.

The differences between my winners and losers

Taking site 5 out of the equation, I have sites 1&2 which are ‘good’ and didn’t get hit, and sites 3&4 which are ‘not good’ and got hit.

Here are some of the differences between the good and the bad sites.

I’m not saying there is any cause here, only a correlation, but this might be helpful…

  • Real author – The good sites have my real name and face all over them. The bad sites do not.

  • Real images – The good sites have more than 50% real images, taken by me. The bad sites have much less than that.

  • Real experience – On the good sites, a lot of the info comes from my first-hand experience. Facts I could only know it from ‘doing the thing’. On the bad sites, the facts all come from other websites.

Here are some other things that I think are likely helping the travel site:

  • A YouTube channel that shows me actually travelling
  • An engaged following on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
  • An engaged email list
  • Publishing news regularly
  • Winning an industry award
  • Industry membership/accreditation
  • Having my name associated with the industry in online publications for the past 10 years (much longer than my site has existed)

Other things I plan to do:

  • Improve the site design (it’s very basic!)
  • Update and improve old content (the new Query Hunter Chrome extension is a must for this, and much easier to set up and use than the old Query Hunter)
  • Grow non-SEO channels (starting with FB & IG stories)

There’s a lot more I could do!

Take a look at what this photography site or this gardening site are doing.

You’ll see that what I’m doing is just the very tip of what it takes to make serious income.

But you know what? I’m fine with that.

My goal is to make $100k/month working part-time – I’ll get there.

Maybe your goal is to own a billion-dollar publishing company?

Or maybe it’s just to make an extra $1,000 per month on the side.

Whatever it is, it’s in reach.

So long as you keep learning.

And implementing what you learn.

See you next week!


P.S. If you want access to ALL of my previous email, you can read them all here.

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