A 10x Website Flipping Case Study
A few weeks ago, Mo Mulla reached out to me to discuss the possibility to sharing a case study with our audience. I’d spoken to Mo previously about the possibility of him using our services, and I was impressed to find out he’d been doing some buying on his own too, and had decent results to show it for in the past year.
Since this site is about sharing case studies, I decided to let him publish his results.
He is also working a lower income website tier than we have been operating in recently, and I know a lot of audience members are at a similar size, so should get good value out of his post.
I’ll let Mo take it from here.
How I Took A Site From $2,700 To $24,000 In A Year
Hi, I’m Mo, I got involved in the niche site flipping industry for the first time last year. This is my story of how I managed to flip a website from $2700 to $24000 in under 12 months.
- Buy a fixer-upper website and negotiate hard on price.
- Do all the work myself to keep costs low.
- Write all the content myself to keep revenue high and reinvest revenue into site growth.
- Create a bulletproof outreach system that would deliver high-quality backlinks for free or without paying eye-watering webmaster insertion fees.
- Increase traffic and conversions and flip the site within 18 months (preferably after Christmas to take advantage of increased sales)
Trending Months March-May – Pageview went up 5x
The Buying Process
However, there lacked any real marketplace that cater for the buying audience under the $20k threshold.
As these marketplaces were yet to be created, I decided to get involved in a few private websites buying and selling Facebook groups.
An Overwhelming Search
There were tons of small websites for sale and it was a little overwhelming as I didn’t understand how to do due diligence correctly yet. After researching all my options, I decided I would venture into the pet niche.
I knew the pet’s industry was profitable by researching all the different affiliate programs and I wanted to build a business in an evergreen niche. I looked for a seller who owned a large portfolio and wanted to offload his smaller websites.
After examining a few sellers, I found one fit my criteria. He had multiple sites for sell and one pet website caught my eye. I carried out my due diligence, we negotiated a fair price and I purchased it using escrow.com
Disaster Struck – Migration & Website issues
When I purchased the website, it was making around $200 a month. Instantly I thought I had got it for a bargain as the industry dictated a rough 30x value on monthly revenue. Therefore, it should have been valued at around $6k.
Buying it for almost half the price, ($2700) meant I didn’t have to do much to increase the value and could hope for an easy transition to grow the business.
However, I hadn’t done my due diligence carefully enough and missed a key factor. The website was declining and so were conversions. This is an important aspect and something Dom wrote about here.
Within 45 days the entire site dropped by almost 30% (some pages up to 45%) and conversions fell steeply. It was a heart-wrenching feeling and enough to make anyone give up.
Luckily, I saw this as a teachable lesson.
1. I need to do due diligence better in the future.
2. If the website is hitting rock bottom, I can learn all the techniques to bring it back, without having to risk any more capital.
After purchasing a website, a lot of time is spent in, fixing, altering and upgrading the site to make it faster, cleaner and more optimised for conversions.
I realised this may have been a blessing in disguise as I would never have forced myself to learn the skills necessary to fix a broken website, which proved to be a significant factor in the overall site growth.
Month’s 1 – 3. Audit Heaven!
In the first few months, I went back to the drawing board. I carried out numerous audits to filter out the good and remove the bad. These included:
- Links Audit: (disavowed spammy links)
- Site Audit: (fixed redirects, no index pages, nofollow pages, cleaned up tags and titles etc)
- Content Audit: (removed low traffic pages, cannibalisation issues and 301 redirected some pages to retain some link juice)
- Theme / Plugin Audit: (cleaned up the theme code and added more functional plugins like WP rocket)
- Google Audit, (Cleaned up viewing issues using Google Search Console)
Months 3 – 6. Slow and Steady Wins the Race!
On-Page SEO (Surfer)
As the months passed the website slowly started to pick itself back up. To continue the growth I carried out extensive onsite SEO using surferseo.com on all the major pages and most of the minor pages. The website had around 80 articles so I started with the highest generating traffic posts and worked backwards.
I carried out in-depth Onsite SEO including adding words, adding headers and meta tags, adding/removing phrases, adding titles, adding elements, adding/removing bolded text and improved page speed.
Additional SEO – Internal Linking
Next, I went back into the content and started to meticulously add internal links. It was something that is always necessary for relevancy and helps show google what content is most important.
I used a tool called Link Whisper which made the entire process more manageable and practical. After adding internal links to all the relevant pages, I explored the concept of content hubs. These are deliberate posts I created to show topical relevance and should increase the rankings of the main posts within it.
When google crawled the info posts and the money pages, they would see that the money page was very relevant as it had powerful info posts pointing to it via internal links.
With intelligent content hubs, a meticulous approach to on-page SEO changes and sensible internal link placements my website started to gain more traffic and conversions.
Months’ 6 – 9 – Link Building White Hat Outreach
Up until now, I had spent very little time link building. Partly as I was busy with other important things and partly as link building is difficult, so I kept putting it off.
Now, however, the site was showing all the signs of trending upwards and I needed to put together a smart and functional link building plan. I researched white hat link building tactics and pulled together, from a variety of sources, a link building action plan.
I picked up hunter.io to gather email addresses and used GMASS to send the emails out.
I knew the best link building campaigns were automated and data rich. So, I created a master spreadsheet with as many data points as possible. This would keep my link building efforts data-driven, functional and practical.
Importantly I could decipher what link building strategies worked and what didn’t. Then I would place all my time in those areas that yielded the best results.
Proof of Spike in Backlinks in June
The results were a tiresome daily routine of finding emails (AHREFS content explorer) integrating the data with hunter.io (with smart data filtering) and then adding the resulting email addresses into GMASS auto sending templates with customized personalisation tags.
Once the process started and the guest post request started to come in, I sat down for around 3 months and wrote all the guest posts myself. It was tiresome, labour rich and a real time sap.
As I wanted to keep costs low and revenue high, I grit my teeth and continued to fine-tune the process.
After a while, it was clear my hard work had paid off. Established websites that were once in the “No” pile a few months ago, now moved into the “Maybe” pile as I reached out again and they started to engage with my outreach requests.
Webmasters began contacting me and asking for guest posts as the Domain Ranking / Domain Authority increased. The entire process started to feel more professional and streamline.
Upward growth in referring domains from 2019 – 2020
The more guest posts I wrote, the better the system became and the better the feedback. Webmasters and owners started to refer my work to their friends in the industry and this lead to some of the highest DR/DA backlinks I received.
A referral from a friend/colleague is always more valuable than a cold outreach email.
Extreme Revenue Growth
As the website continued to grow, the increased backlinks started to take effect and conversions soared. I carried out advanced CRO optimisation on the best posts to maximise revenue and tweaked colours, layout and buy now buttons to ensure the best user experience.
I decided to diversify my income by adding another affiliate revenue stream besides amazon. I found a reputable pet affiliate program and added in buy buttons across all the top commercial pages.
Overall Commission with Chewy
This increased monthly conversions by 35% and kept the asset on track for a good exit.
Lastly, I added Ezoic ads onto the website as a display ad. The monthly traffic was now well above the 10k threshold so these display ads added another layer of diversification. Ezoic has come a long way recently and their site speed plus plugin makes it a great option.
Ezoic Display Ads
Month’s 9 – 12 – Steadying the Ship
The last few months I owned the website, the traffic and earnings remained steady. This was partly due to Google updates that had affected many websites in the industry.
To offset any loss in traffic I added more content, mostly commercial intent, and kept the business ticking over.
May Earnings for Amazon Associates
Content & Links are a consistent part of any business and are always necessary for continued growth.
By this time, I had been approached by interested people, sporadically,who was curious about buying the business, but I wasn’t ready to sell just yet.
However, an outreach manager in the pet industry was so impressed with the link quality of the domain that she put me in contact with an acquisition firm who specialised in pet websites.
We hopped on a call and negotiated a deal. With 7 days the paperwork was signed and a few weeks later the website sold for nearly 9X the original price.
Analytics for the year, up to before i sold it
Overall the experience was a positive one and one that taught me about all the components of running a successful online business buying, building and flipping niche websites.
If I had any advice for newcomers into this niche it would be to stick to one website/business first and learn all the skills necessary to run it efficiently. It’s only by learning through your own mistakes will you be able to build out more niche sites yourself successfully or have the knowledge to outsource all the components correctly to others.
My Site Operator Service
Mo is offering a site operator service for anyone interested in a hands-off approach to building their affiliate business.
This operator service is perfect for an investor who has picked up a website and is looking for a hands-off investment and a great fit for a website portfolio owner who hasn’t got time to scale up 1 or more of their businesses.
The Site Operator service includes:
- Hands off Project Management
- Full On-Site SEO, including a full site audit.
- Full content audit and additional Keyword research,
- Finding Content, Formatting & Adding content
- Finding reputable links agency or webmasters & Ordering it
- Theme, Plugin & Site speed optimisation
- Overall site maintenance & monitoring
- Full Scalability and growth plans
If you are interested and want to get more information about this service please feel free to reach out to Mo here: