Scaling an info-TLD website without any backlinks

This all started around two years ago. I had just purchased a domain and planned on scaling it up through organic traffic alone, and so began my journey. This is something that I started as a purely personal challenge, attempting to answer some very specific questions, I’m going to answer them in short anyway just in case you’re too lazy to read the entire article.

Is it possible to scale a website up from zero with just SEO alone?

Do you need any social media accounts on Twitter / Facebook / Instagram etc?
Absolutely not.

Did you pay for any backlinks?
Nope, this was pure SEO.

The target niche

Here’s some facts about the niche I targeted, without giving away what exactly it is.

  1. Audience is around 15 to 30 year old.
  2. Majority of the users are very tech-savvy.
  3. Reddit is the primary competitor.
  4. Only around 55% of the audience is on mobile.
  5. The website covers a whole category of products, subcategories exist and some of them do have fairly respectable competition.

Domain name and TLD

The TLD I settled on was .info, because if I was going to challenge myself I might as well test all the theories at the same time. Does your TLD even matter anymore? Google has stated several times that they don’t weigh the TLD anymore as far as website rankings are concerned. Is Google really being honest with us?

My suggestions for anyone starting out would be to ignore the TLD and actually take a look at the rest of your website’s name. That’s what really matters, not because Google cares about, it matters because people are more likely to open a website that says “bestbicyclegear” than “tomsbackyard” when they’re looking for bicycle gear.

Find anything that’s remotely relevant to your niche, and grab it. Don’t dwell on this part for too long.

Content matters a lot

This is the most important part of starting a niche website, and the hardest. You need content because content is king. Nothing matters at the end of the day if your website has nothing to read on it. So start writing.

At the peak of my website’s performance, it was receiving around 10k views a month. I reached this milestone in just over a year through purely organic SEO. That was also the time when I hit 40k words on the website. I called it a success and slowed down… a lot.

Published Words from the WP Word Count plugin
Published Words from the WP Word Count plugin

A vast majority of the posts don’t actually bring any views. The website’s primary traffic source is through how-to tutorials and in-depth guides. This niche required a lot of research and time spent on reddit. I was pretty much just reading through post after post on reddit and compiling all the information into a single page, crediting reddit users and linking to their profiles wherever necessary.

So I learned what type of content matters. Individual product pages don’t bring any traffic on their own – but I can use my landing pages to divert traffic to those product pages.

What happened when I stopped publishing content?

Prepare yourselves because this post is about to get sad. As it turns out, picking a fast-moving niche where content gets outdated very quickly is not a good idea if all you want is passive income. But! If you’re interested in active income then such a website is perfect for you!

To give you some examples of other fast-moving niches:

  1. Mobile gaming
  2. Technology
  3. Phone apps

I’d avoid all of the above if you’re interested in passive income, simply because a single app update can make all of your information invalid. People stop visiting your website because the information on it is outdated, and Google slowly makes you disappear from the first page.

Google Analytics traffic
Google Analytics traffic from a month before I stopped publishing to present

So should you keep writing content once you have a decent-sized website? Absolutely yes, but only after doing the proper keyword research! Here’s some more fun facts:

  1. The only content that gets any significant traffic on my website is SEO-optimized.
  2. A vast majority of the posts on my website have zero search presence, or actual interest.
  3. It’s impossible to compete with the product’s manufacturer and resellers like Amazon if you’re searching directly for the product.

When I say SEO-optimized I don’t mean I sat in my chair for ten minutes trying to figure out how to fit the keyword ten times in my post. Absolutely not, I was trying to scale up the website with purely organic traffic so I tried to figure out what people are searching for.

I had a search term, started a new draft with a title that’s relevant and answered their question. Short and to the point, or in-depth and 1000 words long. Whatever it took to answer the search term effectively, I did.

In all honesty, it does seem like Google finally has an algorithm that works… most of the time. There are still loopholes here and there but I have no doubt they’ll be plugged in soon enough. For all intents and purposes, it seems like what you write is now as important, if not more important, than anything else you can do for your website.

Have any questions? Leave a comment.