From 0 to 1,400,000+ est traffic in under 2 years..
Links don't matter... right?
Decided to do these individually - will be more emails but briefer and to the point. Here’s another site that’s shown crazy growth, this time using an expired domain strategy.
July 2020 - 0 visitors | Jul 2021 - 42,000 visitors | Jul 2022 - 1,440,000 visitors
Expired Domain: Yes | Domain Sale Price: $5,038, plus $3,760 | Monetisation: Mediavine
Using the Wayback machine and analysing the link profile, we can see that this was a former culinary school (link) that’s now been repurposed into a pretty typical kitchen & food niche site.
The food niche is generally great for low competition keywords, and there’s a lot of repurposed expired domains from closed down restaurants being used - but we’ll start with the content.
Honestly the content isn’t great on this one (being as polite as I can be). Just from a quick check it looks like the standard mass content mill style, non-native speakers at $0.01 a word (could be some AI too) - you can check the intro to this article to see what I mean.
You’ll also see what looks like a Fiverr special for their Mediavine video in-content if you scroll down enough;
£20 says she’s not called Katherine lol, and you can get these kinds of videos made for pretty cheap on Fiverr.
When we look at the top ranking pages, there’s a mix of Types of articles (these are great for low competition, and if you want to find low comp ideas then put “Types of” in Ahrefs/Semrush in Phrase Match), Best Articles, How-to’s and generic ___ foods that describe common foods from different nationalities.
The site is ranking in Top Stories for the term “sandwiches”;
It’s worth noting though that the site isn’t reliant on one or two pages - there are 1200 pages getting estimated >100 visitors per day in Ahrefs.
They cast a wide net with their articles due to low content costs, and to get this many of the articles bringing in some traffic shows decent enough keyword research (basically, cover EVERYTHING).
Something else worth noting is the about page which is awful - I see this with a lot of high traffic sites, and it’s one of the reasons I find it strange when people talk about “EAT” being much more than backlinks in this sort of niche (I don’t work in YMYL so no comment there).
But yes, backlinks are the main driver behind this site’s massive increase in traffic.
The site was first registered on the 18th of July 1996, and over time it built up a lot of great links from NY Times, Eater and more. That’s why the domain sold for over $5k at auction (this is sale price, no idea if a broker bought it and resold for more).
There’s also a big merger of one of Jamie Oliver’s old restaurants Fifteen (fifteen.net), which was picked up for $3,760.
We can find this quickly by using the Redirect filter in Referring Domains in Ahrefs;
And if we study a little further, we can see that actually they put up a site on Fifteen dot net first..
It’s a common strategy to put the site up first with some content, see how it reacts and if it goes well, merge it into another. This is exactly what they did with Fifteen;
So, they rebuilt Fifteen in mid 2020, and then merged Fifteen into Lacademie on Dec 2020/Jan 2021.
And January 2021 is when they started seriously scaling Lacademie, so it fits into the timeline perfectly. See a zoomed in version of Lacademie’s organic keywords after the Jan 2021 merge below..
Aside from this, there’s been little to no other link building done on the site in that time - although the site has increased in Referring Domains in Ahrefs, most of this is spam. You can look at some of the best links here;
These kinds of backlinks from the Guardian, BBC, Wash Post, Huff Post and the LA Times are the kinds of coverage that make expired domains attractive for me - the average person can’t just go and buy a link on these kinds of sites.
So, just two heavy expired domains and little link-building to inner pages done. This shows how having a powerful root domain, and plenty of internal linking, can make or break a site like this.
Most common questions I get asked and answered: 1) How much money is the site making? IDK but if I had to guess, somewhere in the mid-to-high five figures monthly mark w/ affiliate included.
And 2) how long will this last? Again, it’s tough to say - only doing one or two redirects makes it less risky than other strategies I’ve seen, but it’ll probably still get slapped at some point in the next year or two (just my guess).
Most of the below par content & restaurant domains I’ve seen get hit eventually, but there’s lots of money to be made in the meantime.