Anatomy of a 5-Figure Flip: Getting Search Traffic

This is the fourth article in a series highlighting the steps I took to turn a $300 initial investment into a $10,000 website sale in under 3 months, spending just a few minutes per day. In the first 3 articles, we covered buying aged domains, outsourcing web design and writing, and making the site sticky. In this article, I’ll share how I pursued organic search traffic – particularly identifying high volume, low competition search terms.

Organic search traffic (not paid) is the lifeblood of most successful websites.  It provides the best kind of traffic (highly targeted visitors) at the most ideal price (free).  When you flip a website, organic traffic is highly valued because it is sustainable and predictable.  I knew that in order for Better Parenting to succeed as a flip, it would have to show the promise of serious search traffic.

Identifying Search Terms

There are some great keyword research tools that are available for purchase, but I still do a ton of my keyword research for free.  I frequently find myself using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, instead of paid services, as my starting point for keyword research.  From the GAKT page, I started out doing a search for my generic term: “parenting.”

Now if you just hit search, you end up with the broad match figures, so all the traffic numbers will be skewed toward the more generic search terms (“parenting” will show all traffic for that specific term, plus “parenting tips” and “parenting advice” etc).  Instead, I change the “broad match” to “exact match,” so I can get a better feel for traffic to the long-tail search terms.

Even though I bought an aged domain with a decent link profile, I didn’t have the same ability to pull rankings as major sites in my niche (like parenting.com).  Knowing this (especially if you’re launching on a brand new domain), I’m looking for low competition terms — stuff I can rank for quickly and get traffic to my site, allowing me to sell sooner.  So let’s take a look at a few of the results the Google has generated for me:

I sorted my list by “Local Monthly Searches,” and a little bit down the list, I spotted some terms that I think would make good articles — “potty training tips” and “sibling rivalry.”  I can see that these terms both provide around 3,600 monthly searches in the United States, but the advertiser competition for them is very different.  Potty training tips is highly targeted, whereas sibling rivalry is not (note the green and red arrows in that column).  A little higher up the list (not on the screen shot) is the term “parenting styles,” which gets 4,400 local monthly searches and indicates low advertiser competition.  This looked like a good term that was easy to target, but I had to check the organic search results to verify that the organic search competition was also low.

I did this by using some of Google’s advanced search operators – allintitle, allinanchor, and allinurl.  These queries reveal how many sites on the web are aggressively targeting these terms.  Running a search for allintitle:”parenting styles” reveals only 4,720 sites that have the EXACT phrase “parenting styles” in a page title.

I also ran the allinanurl and allinanchor queries for this term, revealing a fairly low number of sites using “parenting styles” in the url of the site.  The anchor text usage was considerably higher, however.

If a term has under 10,000 results for allintitle and allinurl, and under 100,000 for allinanchor, it’s probably a term that you can target and get traffic.  This one didn’t quite fit the bill, but it was close enough to consider as a medium-term target.  Still, I was intent on finding lower-competition terms that would still yield good traffic.  Back to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

A quick note on how GAKT works — when displaying the keyword ideas, Google will do its best to identify additional terms that are related to your query and include those results.  If you don’t want that, and instead want to see only the results for the keyword ideas you entered, click “Advanced Options” and then select the radio button for “ideas containing my search terms.”

When I considered targeting “parenting quotes” as a term, this was a helpful way to view the results, since I could easily see other closely related terms to target:

With over 1,000 monthly searches (43 per day) and no advertiser competition, parenting quotes looked like the ideal target.  Google’s advanced query searches confirmed the hunch:

Finding a term with competition like this is like hitting the organic search jackpot.  Within a week of posting the article targeting this term, it was in the top 10, and it has continued to climb since (after I sold the site, the new owner did very little link building to this article, so it’s almost entirely based on domain strength and keyword relevance).

I identified a bunch of additional short-term and medium-term phrases to target and set off writing articles that used the phrases in their titles and url structure.  I made sure to link to them internally (and from an external site of my own) using the appropriate anchor text, and the search traffic started to roll in.

Competitive Keyword Research

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool also allows you to generate search terms based on a website url.  Just enter your competitors website and Google will provide you with a bunch of additional terms to target.

Next Steps

I’ve left out the obvious in this article, which is to write SEO-friendly articles (use your keywords in your articles) because I think it’s simple enough to not require an in-depth explanation.  On-page optimization is only one part of the puzzle, however.  In the next article, I’ll talk a bit about link building, both from a search perspective and as a source of traffic in its own right.

P.S. — If you don’t want to miss any of the articles in this series, be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed.

  • Absolutely wonderful article. I wonder what will ever become of mankind. Seems like that quick and resourceful will outlive all of our smart people 🙂
    Great article you have posted here. Getting more traffic from search engine is most potential to convert into sales or customers. But also not easy as we all imagine, needed more research, effort, and correctly implementation of the correct strategy too.
    anyway thanks for posted an useful information for us

  • Great article. It’s something we always strive to do. All web marketing activities should complement each other and SEO is certainly no exception. I’ll be using this article as an example when explaining this to clients in the future

  • Thanks Eppie for the short and sweet tips, I’m trying to boost my blog’s ranking and your article was to the point, appreciate it. I’m interested in flipping websites that are “brand new” but targeted to specific offline business’. I can sell these through my internet marketing co. which has a service of web design- so I earn a retail profit plus a residual income too. Any tips would be great. Kristi McGrath

  • Hi Eppie and congratulations on your new site purchase.
    I am enjoying hearing about how you built Better Parenting. On the keyword research post, I would recommend the use of a tool such as Market Samurai. It really is a fantastic tool for keyword research, combing results from the new Google Traffic Estimator and revised Google External Keyword Tool with Adwords data. Its worth your readers checking it out.

    • @Paul — thanks for your input on the keyword research post. I agree that Market Samurai is an awesome tool (Travis was a huge fan too — see his comments at http://www.flipwebsites.com/building-websites/how-to-make-money-with-google-adsense/ and http://www.flipwebsites.com/building-websites/how-to-find-a-niche/). It’s a definite time-saver.

      I’m planning a series of posts that covers some of the premium keyword research tools (Market Samurai, Wordtracker, etc) in-depth. I do think it’s important to show people how they can do the same research for free, however. Some folks are really bootstrapping their operations and I don’t want people to feel like they can only succeed by spending a bunch of money on paid tools. Still, Market Samurai is a great value, and if there’s one keyword research tool you’re going to pay for, I’d say that’s it.

      Thanks again for your input on this article, and for the congratulatory note.

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  • Excellent and very simply put!

    • Glad you enjoyed. A little keyword research up front can go a long way in improving your sale price.

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