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Google Removing 3rd-Party Cookies, an SEO “Traffic Heist,” and a $13 Million Weird Niche Site

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Welcome back, Niche Pursuits fans, to another episode of the podcast. As always, Spencer and Jared cover the latest news in SEO, AI, Google, and everything content creators and website owners need to know.

This week they kick off the show talking about how Google has been discussing its plans to get rid of third-party cookies for a long time now. The underlying argument is that consumers in the UK, Canada, Europe, and increasingly in the US don’t like the idea of Google collecting all of their private data, which is then used for advertising purposes. The main issue is privacy.

But Google has finally announced its plans to really truly get rid of them

and it all begins on January 4th. The roll-out is going to be gradual and may be completed by the end of 2025.

Watch the Full Episode

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The big questions are how will this impact advertisers and website owners? Will display ads decrease? Will RPMs decline? Does this have a connection to the anti-trust suit? At the moment, it’s really a speculation game, but tune in to hear what Spencer and Jared think might happen.

Then the conversation shifts to a tweet from Jake Ward, about how he stole millions in traffic from a competitor by using AI to write articles based on all of his competitor’s keywords. The tweet was essentially a marketing ploy to promote his AI tool, and it went viral.

The bad news is that his tweet was seen by Google and his site was hit with a manual penalty because of copied content. Traffic tanked as a result.

Why did Google penalize his website? What alternative strategy does Spencer suggest? Does the fact that it’s AI content factor into their decision? Has Google changed its position on AI content? What are the general takeaways from this story? Listen to hear what Jared and Spencer think.

The conversation shifts to the ever-changing landscape of artificial intelligence and offers an overview of the changes that Google has had to implement since OpenAI appeared on the scene.

They discuss spammy results and the future of spammy AI content as well as the role brands play in ranking. 

In the Shiny Object Shenanigans portion of the podcast, Spencer reports that his Amazon influencer side hustle is going really well. So well, in fact, that he has seen massive earnings in the month, including some $500 days. During the last 30 days, he earned $6800+.

Although he hasn’t uploaded any videos since last week, he does have additional videos ready to go and is hoping to break $7k in the next few days.  

Jared shares his experience with the program recently, and he’s seen his 30-day rolling total at slightly under $6k and expects to be under $5k for the month of December. Although he killed it on Black Friday, his earnings have been lower this past month. 

Also, something “happened” to his star product that had been driving the bulk of his earnings until now. Listen to the episode to hear what he discovered, and hear what he and Spencer plan to do with the program next year.

Moving onto their weird niche sites, Spencer shares Elfster, Which is a website and an app that helps you conduct Secret Santa gift exchanges. It can also recommend gifts, which allows it to make money from affiliate sales and sponsored product placements.

He shares its highly seasonal traffic graph from Ahrefs, with 1.5 million organic visitors in December 2022, and appears to be trending up. The rest of the year, they’re still getting incredible traffic and are a multi-million dollar business. Listen to the episode for more details.

When it’s Jared’s turn, he shares Campsite Photos, a site he uses often. You can enter just about any campsite in the US and check out photos so you can decide if it’s the right fit. 

You can answer questions like if it’s flat or not, if your trailer would fit, etc. and is incredibly helpful if you’re into camping. This DR43 site is ranking for 119k keywords, and has organic traffic of 150k, according to Ahrefs.

The site is monetized with ads, and it offers a service where it finds you a campsite if the one you want is booked. Check out the episode to hear more observations about Jared’s weird site!

And that brings us to the end of another great episode. We hope you’re feeling inspired and informed, and don’t forget to come back next week so they can bring you up to speed on the latest happenings.

transcription

Spencer: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of this week in niche pursuits news. And even though it’s towards the end of the year, there still is news. Things are still changing here, uh, in the digital marketing at, uh, and SEO industry. And of course I have Jared along with me, Jared, how you doing today? 

Jared: Oh, I’m doing great.

I got my, I got my haircut for this podcast. I’m ready for the, uh, the Christmas season to kick off in a full effect. But before that. Still news to 

Spencer: talk about there still is news to talk about. I mean, but when we released this podcast, uh, it will be the 22nd, I guess. Right. So just like three days, uh, before Christmas.

Um, so, uh, so we’re getting all our work in right now. So hopefully we don’t have to work. But, uh, there, there is news to cover here and it is kind of an exciting time of year because of all the commissions that can come, everybody’s buying on Amazon. And so I know a lot of listeners either have their Amazon affiliate sites or like us, we have our Amazon influencer sort of project that’s going on.

And so we’re going to give the latest income reports for Amazon influencer earnings. So a lot of interesting discussion points going on there. Um, I will just say that. We got a really interesting tweet. I don’t know if you saw this. Just somebody thanking us for talking about the Amazon influencer program here on the podcast.

Uh, they had never heard of it before the beginning of the year, kind of like both of us. They started, and I don’t remember exactly the numbers, but I think it was 7, 800 this month that they are going to make or that they have already made and it’s really impacted their family finances, like in a good way.

Like it’s huge for them. They just started in like July. I 

Jared: hadn’t seen that, but I mean, that would not be the first story we’ve heard about that, you know, it’s, it’s 

Spencer: just wild. So, um, for those of you that are getting sick of us sharing Amazon influencer updates, this is just hang on for another week or two, you know, maybe we’ll move on, but it’ll go back 

Jared: to being grab and terrible results in January, 

Spencer: not, not as good as results, you know, on some weird niche site we’re working on.

Um, and then of course at the end, we are going to talk about weird niche sites, uh, that we have found. Uh, so with that. Let’s jump into the news. Um, first up actually is kind of a big story here. Uh, it’s one has been brewing for years. I mean, we’ve heard about the third party cookies going away. Uh, for a long time, Google’s kind of threatened, uh, for a lot of different reasons, a lot of legal issues.

The undertone of this whole story of why Google might get rid of third party cookies is that countries like the UK, Canada, Europe, now even more the U. S. don’t like all the private data that Google is collecting, right? And that advertisers can use to specifically target people for different things.

That’s, that’s kind of the underlying thing here is privacy. And so, um, this, you know, screen. Shot that I’m just showing is from ad exchange that Google plans to ring in the new year with third party cookie deprecation for real. Okay, so it’s really happening. It’s been threatened on January 4th, 2024. Um.

It’s really happening now, it’s only happening to 1 percent of randomly selected Google Chrome users that are no longer going to be tracked for advertising purposes. Basically, the third party cookie is going away, um, but it’s going to be quickly rolled out after that, um, did it give a date in here for when, yes, 

Jared: to me, that’s probably the biggest part of the story.

This isn’t their usual like. It’s coming. It’s coming. Like we’re recording this at the very end of December. It has announced that January 4th, 2024 is the date. It will start depreciating third party cookies. Yeah. I mean, that’s 

Spencer: two weeks away. That’s only two weeks away. Um, but that’s only for 1 percent of users.

That’s when they’re going to start. Correct. That’s, um, that’s what they’re going to start. And I was just wondering if it showed a date. For when it will roll out to the other 99%. Um, do we 

know 

Jared: how long here’s a quote that I have pulled up? My highlights, there might be another one, but it says Google aims to fully phase out third party cookies in Chrome by the end of the following year, whatever that may be 2024 or 2025.

I don’t know what the following year would mean there. 

Spencer: Uh, let’s say it’s at the end of 2025, right? If they start, but I don’t know. Uh, so you got a year, maybe two years before it will be fully phased out. Um, but I imagine that it’s going to, you know, they’re going to start with 1%. And then within a couple of months, it’s going to bump up to 5 percent and 10%, right?

So it’s, I imagine going to be a rolling, um, uh, release that’s going to happen. So. Uh, the big question here is how will this impact advertisers and how will this impact website owners and how much money that they’re going to make? Right. That’s what it comes down to is, uh, because, um, Advertisers can no longer have this third party cookie.

They may not be able to specifically target people to have interests in certain things. So usually advertisers pay a high dollar amount. You know, if they know that Jared is out shopping for a microphone for his computer, and he’s really interested in podcasting and is willing to pay a high price for a microphone, they pay a lot of dollars for you to visit, you know, that website or, or, or whatever to be on that website.

But now they don’t know that information about us. They don’t know if we’re interested in microphones or if we really just want a red wagon, right? They, they don’t know they don’t have that. third party cookie. And so this might mean that advertisers spend a lot less or they reduce the number of ads. Uh, and then of course the domino effect of that is that if you own a website and you have display ads on your website, your RPMs could go down quite a bit.

We don’t know how much it might be a little bit. It might be a lot. It may not impact things nearly as much as anybody knows. So it’s, it’s a speculation game at this point of how much perhaps RPMs or, you know, your media vine or raptive Google AdSense revenue might be impacted by this, uh, but it very well could be impacted starting in 2024.

Jared: Yeah, I mean, they’ve rolled it. We’ve been talking about this for three and a half years ago. They announced it. You know, the article talks about that. And, uh, it’s amazing. I looked it up at two years ago that we had the CEO of Mediavine on the podcast to talk about this phase out. That was two years ago.

So I think we’ve almost gotten a bit numb and other things have kind of taken priority. Uh, over this, but, but certainly when this was first being announced and teased to us, it was a very big deal for all the reasons you just went through. I mean, RPMs to this day are higher. I mean, maybe not this year, but generally speaking, the last couple of years are higher, uh, than they’ve ever been in the history of the world by a wide margin because of the programmatic nature of bidding that happens based on cookie data.

And so, you know, um, now they did do this, uh, and I’ve heard about this. They did have a. Chrome Privacy Sandbox, they announced in September 2023, so three, four months ago, allowing developers and ad tech companies to integrate these APIs into their solutions. However, the uptake for testing on this has been very slow.

61 percent of U. S. marketers and media planners have not started testing with the Chrome Privacy Sandbox, yet 98 percent expressed concern over loss and disappearance of third party cookies. 

Spencer: Interesting. Yeah. Um, I do know, speaking of Mediavine, you know, we had, uh, Eric, the CEO on the podcast, uh, as you mentioned a couple of years ago, they’ve been very active in the Mediavine group, just talking about this and how many, um, tools and steps they have in place to really help our PMs overall continue to do well.

And part of that is their grow, um, you know, tool that they have basically where you. Can collect users information when they land on your website, either the email opt in or because, you know, they, um, are using this grow tool. You still have that cookie data, uh, yourself as your own website. And so at least Mediavine, I have to imagine that a lot of other ad tech.

Companies are taking similar steps or are going to be forced to take a similar steps in the near future. Um, so what does this mean for us? If if we own a niche website and we get a large portion of our revenue from display ads, um. I don’t know, honestly, like what to do about it other than, you know, if there is a clear winner in terms of like, boy, if all of a sudden Mediavine continues to have high RPMs and Raptive doesn’t because they didn’t put any solutions in place, right?

There’s going to be a shift, right? To the ad tech company that has. Those solutions in place, but I mean, this is going to affect the bottom line of so many website owners, so many publishers that you would have to think companies are going to do all that they can to make sure we continue to earn as much money as possible from advertising.

Jared: I mean, you’ve been posting some very large numbers from the niche pursuits website earnings. I believe it’s through media vine. I mean, what are your thoughts on this? Are you expecting probably a decent tick down on this? And then I have a second follow up thing to add. You 

Spencer: know, I don’t know. I kind of roll with the punches here.

Um, because I’m kind of in the position of like, well, what do I do? Right? Like, I have a lot of pages that are monetized with affiliate offers and I keep that there. But some pages really, the only way they’re going to make money is with display ads on. And so. I am going to just leave the display ads. If it gets cut in half, I’m probably going to still just leave the display ads, right?

Like, unfortunately, um, I’m hopeful that it’s not going to be as big an impact as a lot of people are making it out to be right now. It’s 1 percent of users that’s going to get rolled out over a period of 1 to 2 years. Um, And by that time there, there’s billions, perhaps trillions. I don’t know what the number, uh, the dollar amount that is spent online and advertising every year.

Like, is it into the trillions every year? I maybe like, it’s such a big. thing that relies on making sure your ad gets in front of the right person. We’re not trying to, I say we, but advertisers are not really trying to do anything other than like, are you interested in this red wagon? Right. We don’t want to know anything else.

We just want to know, are you a good match for this product? And so there’s gotta be a way to, to still do that, um, without, without removing. Everything completely, right? Well, 

Jared: I mean, it does feel like, at first here, a January 4th launch feels like it’s well timed with a massive transition in RPMs anyways, right?

Like, the transition from Q4 to Q1 is already so massive that I wonder if, part of me wonders if they’re thinking about that and going like, Well, it’s a good time to do it, no one’s, you know, necessarily going to be able to quantify the results because it’s going to be such a cratering of, of RPMs and that sort of thing.

At the same time, though, just like you pointed out, Only 1 percent of users to start with. So perhaps the impacts of this will be a little more of a steady trickle rather than an overwhelming, um, avalanche of, uh, of, of, of 

Spencer: change. Right. And the other thing to remember is that this is only for Chrome, like it’s 1 percent of Chrome users, right?

So any other browser. It is different. They have their own third party tracking. And so we don’t know really the full impact of the overall market. So right now it’s small, but something we’re going to keep our eye on and I’m sure we’ll talk about multiple times next year on the podcast here. 

Jared: How much of this do you think has to do with their antitrust suit going on right now?

Spencer: Uh, I’m sure the antitrust suit, I know specifically in this article, the UK was mentioned, um, all of these lawsuits I’m sure are weighing heavily on the legal team and strategic team of Google. So definitely has a part to play.

Okay. Well, very good. Maybe we’ll move on from that sort of, uh, big topic to one that, uh, is just super interesting, uh, to me. Um, I don’t know that we actually talked about this specifically on the podcast. I don’t remember if we shared this story, Jared. I think it got mentioned. I think 

Jared: that was what I told you that, that, that, you know, it actually, that Google took action on it.

I’ll leave it vague since we haven’t announced the story yet. And you were like what I didn’t see that and I was like, oh, yeah, they’ll send it to you later Or something like that. I think I just seen it in passing, you 

Spencer: know, it’s it’s possible. It’s possible So to sort of tee this story up a lot of people may have seen Uh this tweet by jake ward who is the owner of?

Oh, well, it’s no longer on his profile. Uh, he’s, he’s the owner of an AI tool. Uh, I know that much. I can’t remember which tool it was. He mentions 

Jared: it later on in that tweet. 

Spencer: I’m pretty sure. Okay. Yeah, I think he does. Um, but basically, you know, the tweet was we pulled off an SEO heist that stole 3. 6. Million total traffic from a competitor.

We got 489, 000 traffic in October alone. Here’s how we did it. Right. And he uses all of these words that big buzzwords, big buzzwords. I mean, it’s a heist we stole, you know, we did all these things that sound like evil, right? But really it was when it came down to it as, Hey, we, we looked at our competitor and then we targeted every keyword that our competitor did.

Now I do think they crossed a line here a little bit. Like the step one was they literally copied just one competitor. I mean, they exported the competitor sitemap and target every single keyword. Yeah, it, it, it’s a little crazy. Um, and so, uh, and then how, how did they do that? Uh, they used. I wanted to at least like mention the tool, I don’t remember, uh, by, by word.

Okay. So by word. So Jake is, is the, um, owner of the tool, uh, by word. And so at the end of the day, this is like a marketing post to say, Hey, look, here’s what we did. Um, we use by word and now we have tons of traffic and you should use a by word as well. Well, it kind of came back, uh, to, to bite Jake here. Uh, unfortunately, because this.

Tweet took off. It has, you know, 3, 400 likes. It’s been seen 6. 8 million times. And, um, 

Jared: including perhaps one of those many million visits was by someone with Google themselves. 

Spencer: Yes, it was, uh, by Google themselves because Mike, Mike Fuchsia kind of tweeted about this and you can look at the tweets on the screen if you want to read that.

But, uh, basically, uh, Jake then confirms, Mike, Mike posts a screenshot of, um, the, the website that it absolutely tanked here. You can see that it, you know, it sort of peaked. And then shortly after Jake tweeted, His traffic is just dropped off of the face of the earth. Now, this seems kind of crazy. The timing, right?

Uh, was it a coincidence? Well, no. Jake confirms that, uh, we were hit with a manual penalty because of copied content, um, is really the bottom line. So this huge drop. Is a manual penalty. Google saw the tweet, Google went to the website and manually penalized this website for what they quote copied content.

But basically, what do you think? Why do you think Google, uh, um, penalized this website, 

Jared: Jared? Well, Mike said it best because this, uh, this embarrassed Google. At the end of the day, this was a step by step playbook for how to take Google to the bank and cash checks from it. 

Spencer: Google doesn’t like people to cash checks from their search rankings, 

Jared: does it?

No, we’ve learned that from the helpful content update. Uh, uh, you know, I mean, at the end of the day, like It’s we, we don’t realize the extent whether it’s large or small of where Google like kind of sits in this playground, but I’ll, I’ll reference back to the famous verge article from a couple months ago where it would talk about how Google employees would buy drinks, SEO parties and sit in the corner and listen to people talk about the holes in the algorithm.

With a notepad pen and paper, right? Like that was a story shared there. And so to some degree, you know, it’s um, uh, you know, it’s not just a case study because we’re all we’re all publishing case studies here and there when we have success on getting traffic. It was kind of the charged nature around it, I think.

That perhaps made Google not feel good about it and perhaps had some hints of embarrassment about it. But at the day, they, I think they did it cause they don’t want people to follow this playbook and to, um, uh, you know, uh, cash checks in their name. Basically. Right. I mean, I don’t know. What do you 

Spencer: think?

Yeah, no, I agree. I mean, Google is, is embarrassed. I think that’s probably the best word for it is, is embarrassed. Uh, people, uh, Google doesn’t want people to have this playbook and really there’s the two factors of play that we hit on, right. It’s just sort of the, the nature of the tweet, right? It was a heist.

They stole these keywords and it definitely is a little bit of a shady tactic to only target. One competitor and go, okay, they’ve got a thousand articles. So I’m going to publish the exact same 1000 articles. That really is copying your competitor, right? Like that’s not a good idea. The better strategy is like, okay, see what 10 of your competitors are doing.

Cherry pick the ones that you feel like you can match the search intent best for right from different websites. And then of course, fill in the gaps with other content. Your competitors don’t have. At all to come up with some original angles or topical authority, right? That’s the better strategy here.

But, um, but then the second thing, which I think is huge, probably played into this, is that it was AI content, right? Google, I think is, um. Yeah, just a little bit embarrassed to have AI con AI generated content rank so well. And so if somebody comes out and says, Hey, here’s my website, I used AI, I use this by word AI tool, Google’s going to come along and just, just smash that.

Jared: You should, uh, you should pop by word into Ahrefs and see if it’s gotten a manual penalty too. 

Spencer: Ooh, I like that. I 

Jared: have not done this by the way, but just thinking out loud here, I mean, you know. Um, obviously, Google’s quote unquote changed their stance on AI. They’ve come out and said AI is fine. As long as you’re writing content for humans, you can kind of use whatever tools you want.

But this flies in the face of what they want. And even though their algorithm right now is not in a position to be able to police this, as we can see by the Absolutely. Meteor growth that has even their algorithm isn’t the place to police it. They still can police it manually. And, you know, we don’t see many manual actions these days, but they clearly decided to take to that on this one.

And, you know, if you can’t, if you can’t win with the carrot, maybe win with a stick on this one. As the analogy goes, right? If your algorithm can’t get rid of this stuff. I guess you can send people out to get rid of it. 

Spencer: So what’s the lesson we learned from this, Jared? Uh, do we learn that, uh, we shouldn’t use AI content or is really the bigger lesson?

Hey, don’t tweet about all your successes. 

Jared: I mean, perhaps even feel free to tweet just maybe. Use, uh, use more complimentary language. I don’t know. I mean, I see a lot of AI case studies getting published and not getting manual actions as a result of them. So I have to say perhaps the connection between this one and the other AI case studies of success success I see is that this one used very charged language, right?

Spencer: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Because I, you know, I’ve posted several times throughout the year, how much niche pursuits. com has grown. Right. Um, and it continues to do well, you know, me saying that a website, my website is growing and doing well, uh, isn’t a reason that Google is going to say, Oh, we’re going to crush you.

Right. So I don’t think it’s tweeting about it. But the language you use, the way you frame it, and you just couple that with just, uh, AI is, um, is a good way to get a second set of eyeballs on that tweet. And maybe it’s not the eyeballs you want looking at it. So, um, so that’s, you know, not necessarily news, um, but it is a very interesting story.

That, uh, you know, we wanted to chat about so but speaking of kind of the ever changing landscape for artificial intelligence. Of course, we’ve been talking about it all year long. Um, you know, there was a recent write up here in search engine land just came out today. It looks like that’s titled Google’s shifting approach to a I content and in depth look.

And this is an in depth look. It kind of Walks through, um, the history, if you will, uh, and the history is like less than a year old, uh, basically of how Google ever since really, ever since open AI came out, you know, just over a year ago, this has gotten serious. Google’s had to take so many either actions on AI content, like we just talked about, or they’ve come out with the search generative experience and how is that shifting things?

Uh, and. Along with okay, at one point, it’s Google basically said, Hey, we don’t want any a I content. They’ve now changed their guidelines to say any content that is helpful will get ranked. They kind of leave out the word a I. But that implies that Hey, if a I content is helpful and good. Um, I don’t know any, any high level points you wanted to bring out that you read in this article.

Jared: Ah, well, there’s one. There’s a lot that’s interesting here. I agree with you. Nothing necessarily newsworthy, especially if you’ve been. You know, listening to the podcast every week and getting the news. A lot of this won’t be new to you. Um, but, um, uh, I thought this is interesting because I think we’ve danced around this topic before a couple of times.

I don’t, I didn’t see where they got their information on this one specifically, but we’ve mentioned it before. Google maintains an index of around 400 billion documents, which is a fraction of what it finds, um, indicating that it’s efforts to filter out irrelevant content are pretty strong, right? They have to filter out a lot.

And then they, they, Google itself has asserted that, um, it’s successful in shielding users from spam and over 99 percent of search queries, um, which if you’ve been paying attention to the news, we’re not able to cover this week, but that has been the news is that there’s been a sharp rise in absolutely spammy.

Results ranking in the top page of the SERPs this week. So it’s ironic. This comes out and we learn all this, which 400 billion documents, and that’s just the ones they’ve actually chosen to index is a massive number. And yet I feel like the SERPs are as bad as they’ve ever been. Maybe, you know, or certainly as bad as they’ve been in recent years, but with spam 

Spencer: and stuff.

Certainly been seeing a lot of results of spam or weird results or things that, um, yeah, are just appearing at the top of Google that probably shouldn’t be there. And probably Google doesn’t even want it to be there. So it certainly feels like that number is increased, right? In terms of, um. Spam or a I content, right?

Um, but they’ve got a massive job to do, right? 400 billion documents that they’ve indexed is massive. Um, and then, of course, there’s throughout this article, there’s a couple of different slides shared that have come from the Google antitrust case that we’ve talked about a lot. One of these that’s always just fun is that we do not understand documents.

We fake it. Right. Meaning Google can’t really read your page, what you’ve written about. They just do their best using all these other signals to categorize it and rank it. Um, right. So it 

Jared: feels, you know what, I got the analogy. I got his way. I don’t know if you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, you know, and you kind of are like trying to order something at a restaurant and, and you’re like doing everything but use the language.

Right. Cause you know, if you say like, I want a, a Coke. They’re going to be like, uh, so you’re like pointing at the menu and pointing to somebody else who has one, and you’re looking on their board and you’re, you’re doing everything you can to like, be like, this is what I want, but you can’t actually say it.

Spencer: Right. That’s, that’s a good analogy. I mean, that it’s fascinating that, that, uh, Google, you know, one of the largest and smartest companies, you know, smartest engineers. They can do all these things to use all these signals, but they just can’t quite read and understand things. Hey, 

Jared: what, um, right? What did you think?

One part that I thought I’d bring up is the part on brands. And if you do a search in the article for brands, um, you know, this touches a bit on what, um, I was told by the way, Spencer, that we had a rant last week. 

Spencer: Do you know that? It happens, I suppose. 

Jared: I suppose we ranted on Sports Illustrated, Parasite SEO, and this idea that domains, as they get stronger, get given this sort of, um, uh, kind of, uh, affinities.

You know, and this pass exactly. And, and I, I just, I don’t know if you read this part, but this part basically kind of acknowledges everything we ranted on last week. 

Spencer: Yeah, it’s a, it is just crazy that, um, you know, again, it, it comes back to this, this point of, okay, Google doesn’t fully understand the documents.

So one of those signals is. Well, let’s look at sort of the authority or the page rank of the website that has written this document. Right. And so they, they’re in this catch 22 of, okay, all these wonderful signals. It’s a, it’s a great domain, right? Maybe even there’s a lot of users being sent to this page because the domain can do that, right?

They get sports illustrated. It has tons of visitors and then they sort of redirect. So they got a lot of direct traffic. People are staying on the page, but at the day, like maybe the article is just AI generated and not a great article anyways, but. Google is having a really difficult time because of the big brand, the big nature, right, of that.

And so, uh, that is interesting, right? Brands and the cesspool. I like that. 

Jared: I mean, we, we theorized quite a bit in when, when you and I were reviewing HCU results and since then I’ve. Really dove deep into a lot of that and you have basically one of the things I’ve said is that there appears to be a strong correlation between websites that have branded searches and oftentimes you can see those branded searches showing up as keywords that they’re ranking for.

There’s a real connection to those sites surviving or doing well and basically here it says it links to a patent on site quality score, which to grossly oversimplify looks like this when searchers include brand or navigational terms in their query. Or in websites include them in anchors for existing, uh, for instance, a search query for SEO news search engine land rather than SEO news.

This signals may, these signals may indicate a site is an exceptionally relevant response to the query and Google’s Eric Schmidt said brands are the solution. 

Spencer: It’s fascinating. 

Jared: Right. Which is why Sports Illustrated can do what they want and Harvard, I mean, let’s be honest, Harvard has a brand in the education space.

Sports Illustrated has a brand in the sports content publishing space. So, you know, they’re kind of. Using patents and using quotes and using the DOJ case and other things to piece together what we’re kind of seeing play out. 

Spencer: Yeah, and it I mean it does make sense and it’s so difficult to build a big brand like that I 

Jared: get it too.

By the way, I I do get it. I just am saying that it’s not working, but 

Spencer: I get it Exactly. I mean there there’s so many points of failure, right? Um so many sites being used as these parasite seo, but because they’ve got the brand That the content does well. And I, I will echo that, right? Like I, I definitely think that one reason the niche pursuits has continued to do well is because fortunately I have been able to build up a brand.

I do get a number of search queries, not anywhere near all those other brands that you mentioned, but people do type in the niche pursuits podcast, or they do type in, um, some query plus niche pursuits or just niche pursuits all alone. And I think having those brand queries kind of. Is a signal to Google, Hey, the stuff niche pursuits is saying might be important.

You should rank that. Well, 

Jared: I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t agree more. I mean, uh, I don’t have a dress pulled up in front of me, but it’d be a fun little exercise to go and look up, uh, you know, the various keywords that niche pursuits, uh, that, that, that, where the keyword has niche pursuits in it, you know, and that’s not the only way, by the way, for branded traffic to appear, but you can also see your Google search console data.

You know, you can see how many people are actually looking for your brand, but. You know, I mean, it does make sense. Unfortunately, uh, it doesn’t necessarily help in this AI world where these brands are taking different approaches to AI across the board and then delivering maybe less than stellar results.

But then they’re ranking above us who maybe or maybe not are putting in a lot of effort to try to rank for those queries. And so it’s a it’s a conundrum. 

Spencer: Definitely. And then maybe just the last sort of quick point I’ll make on this particular article, just patterns of a I content spam. And again, this is just kind of, um, an independent opinion of the author here.

Uh, but something that he has seen a number of times here is basically the pattern he has seen. He did a case study. Where he published a 10, 000 page website with some Q& A, uh, content about popular video games, uh, and you can see that the graph, right, it, Google quickly indexed that artificial intelligence content, started ranking it and sending it traffic, but then after a period of, I, I don’t remember if it says a few months, yeah, a period of three months, um, it then finally, Google appeared to take some sort of, uh, action.

It wasn’t a manual penalty, but it got hit by the algorithm a few months later, um, after four months, uh, and resulting in a 25 percent hit in traffic. And then a month later, Google stopped sending traffic. And, uh, Lily Ray apparently shared this in a presentation. That’s where the author got this screenshot, but then there’s a couple of other screenshots, very similar.

In fact, the example. I believe, uh, that we just shared previously, the SEO heist, right? The tweet we just shared, here’s a screenshot of that. Uh, they have the website and they can show, you know, everything was going great. And then he tweeted and, uh, you know, it, it tanked after that. Um, but this appears to be a pattern a lot of times for artificially, uh, uh, generated content.

And, um, you know, it does well in Google for a period of time. And then, and then it crashes. So what is the longevity of sort of spammy AI content? Well, it’s not good. It’s not good. So I wouldn’t recommend, you know, trying to spam Google with thousands and thousands of pages, it’s probably not going to work out very well in the end.

So just some interesting charts and things to share here. Well, and 

Jared: you would think this is. Partly to a result of why we’re seeing user metrics play seemingly an increasing role in algorithm and user experience and all these things, you know, that the theory on a content is that it can be built to be semantically in line with what’s currently ranking, but not necessarily satiate users.

To the same level that may be a really well written article by somebody who has experience in the field, can use the right lingo, can kind of, you know, parse the sentences together and sound differently. Um, you know, there’s, there’s some reasons to believe that maybe that’s partly why some of this falls off after a while is after the user metrics keep coming back to Google, they start changing the way that they are, you know, kind of ranking that.

Spencer: Yeah, I agree. So something we’ll continue to talk about and look at, uh, certainly as AI content evolves and as Google evolves and as they, you know, sort of target spam content and that sort of thing. So be sure to keep listening in, we’ll, we’ll be covering it. Some heavy 

Jared: topics to close out the year.

There we go. third party cookies. But I, you know, Spencer, I was wondering if you wanted to cover that cookie conversation first and foremost, because in many ways it is holiday related. I mean, we are talking cookies a lot this year at this time of year. That is, you know, I’m I have a cookie on my desk right now that we made last night at the, around the family gathering.

So, and 

Spencer: we, we’ve got some on our table yet. We made some gingerbread houses, you know, over the weekend, I think. And, uh, it’s, I don’t want to, I don’t 

Jared: want to tease everyone, but this isn’t the, uh, the last of the holiday references, uh, to on today’s podcast. I’ll just go ahead and let people in on what’s coming 

Spencer: still.

That’s right. You know, be on the lookout, you know, there, there’s something coming, but, uh, I mean, I, actually, I mean, it kind of is our, even our next subject here is related to the holidays, right? We’re going to talk about our, uh, our side hustles here, our shiny objects and shenanigans. And we’re both talking about the Amazon influencer program.

Were you about 

Jared: to call it a side hustle, uh, syndrome? 

Spencer: That’s, that’s, yeah, that could be our segment as well. Our side hustle syndrome. We’ve been diagnosed. There is no cure except to start a new side 

Jared: hustle. More side. More. It’s like the cowbell from Saturday Night Live. Like, what do I just need more side hustle.

Spencer: We bring in a business coach and he’s comes in, you know, we think he’s going to tell us to focus on one thing. No, all we need is more side hustles. 

Jared: All I need is more sat hustle. 

Spencer: There’s got to be a t shirt idea there somewhere. Um, so yeah, the. Amazon influencer program is going really well for me.

Chris’s Christmas season is here. People have been buying like crazy. Uh, I don’t have a screenshot to share, but I will describe the screenshot. Um, you know, everything from a. You know, early December to about the 15th just was on a tear, you know, up, up, we’re up into the right pie. I had like a few 500 days in a row, which is incredible.

Then the 16th, the job dropped to 320 17th dropped to 237. And now we’re. Right around the last couple of days, I’ve been doing about 150 in revenue, right? So it hit this peak of like 500 a day. Now I’m back down to reality of closer to 150 a day, which is still, I mean, that’s awesome, right? I mean, that’s 4, 500 in a month period in revenue if it were to stay at that.

Um, and so for the last 30 days, the last rolling 30 days, uh, my. Amazon influencer earnings is 6, 893. So just shy of 7, 000 for the past, uh, the rolling 30 days. Will I hit 7, 000, you know, like, cause it is a rolling, you know, 30 days. I think I’m going to get really close because I have a couple of a few days at the end of November that were under a hundred dollars.

So if I keep hitting 150 days for the next few days, I, I think I’m going to hit 7, 000 for the month of December, which is bigger than I expected. Bigger than I expected. For sure. 

Jared: Oh, you have now passed me in every category. 

Spencer: Oh man. That feels good. Congratulations. I feel so 

Jared: good. I peaked early. I think my peak was early December.

I was, I’m like that guy celebrating running across the marathon finish line and you’re that that I haven’t quite gotten to the ribbon yet. And then you’re that guy snuck in while I was in mid celebration. 

Spencer: There you go. Yeah. Or, you know, the guy that runs the first 20 miles too fast and didn’t save anything in the tank, the last six miles.

And here I am, you know, executing a perfect race plan to 

Jared: cross before the analogy goes, I am more of the sprinter. 

Spencer: That’s right. That’s right. Tortoise and the hare. It’s a classic story. You should have known. I play 

Jared: soccer every week, which is like wind sprints back and forth and you run marathons. There 

Spencer: you go.

You know, but the marathon is not over. This is one month. Yeah, this is one month. But um, I guess just to wrap up my end, like I know, I think last week I mentioned like I just uploaded like 50 videos or something. We haven’t uploaded any additional videos since then. Um, there are some more ready to go, so you know, I probably will.

I have another 20 or 30 maybe by the end of the year if I decide to work at all next week or, you know, we’ll, we’ll see. Um, but there, there is a batch of videos ready to go, but, uh, um, it’s cool to see. So I’m still sitting at whatever my number was last week. A thousand, uh, 1042 videos is what it looks like right now.

It must 

Jared: be nice to know how many videos you’ve uploaded because a week ago I was like, I can’t find it. I still can’t find how many I’ve uploaded. It’s still not in there. I even shared mine with you and you’re like, nope, it’s not where it normally is. For me. 

Spencer: So, yeah, no, it’s kind of funny. Um, but, uh, so, so how’s it going?

I mean, you sort of said, Hey, I, I surpassed you in every, every area, but, uh, it’s still going well, right? Still going well. 

Jared: Yeah. So I, I, I can’t remember the exact dates you share, but basically the exact same trend, I thought it was for a different reason, which I’ll share here in a second. But on the 15th, I’m looking at my numbers here.

Earnings were still high. They were still over 200 that day, but the number of clicks had dropped a lot. And so I, I didn’t know, you know, that was over a weekend. I didn’t know, you know, sometimes we’ve gotten a lot of disparaging, like random weird days where something drops off a cliff and it’s just a reporting error or it’s something weird about that day.

But those clicks have since dropped and stayed down there. I’m now averaging. Only about 400 clicks a day, which is even below, I believe what it was when I was going into like the month of November. So I think it’s even lower than that. Yeah. And yeah, I’m at about a hundred hours a day now ever since then.

Okay. And so that’s had a big impact on the trail in 30 days. Um, my trailing 30 day now is down to. Because last week it was 6,200. Um, okay, and yours was under 6,000. You’ve gone up since then to 6,800. I’ve gone down from 6,200 on the trailing 30 day to 57. 57. Okay. So below 6,000. And just looking at where I’m at now and extrapolating for the rest of the month versus what’s at the beginning of this 30 day period, which included Black Friday.

I’m pretty confident I’ll be below five for the month of December. Interesting, but still very good. I was at 4, 200 for November and to be above that, which I still think is going to happen for December would be wonderful. 

Spencer: Yeah. So you, you had a much bigger black Friday, I think, than I did. 

Jared: Yeah, I think we were, I think I remember that being the case.

I had a 400 day on black Friday. 

Spencer: Oh, wow. Yeah, no, that’s really good. I, uh, to this day, still, 

Jared: my black Friday was better than anything I’ve had in December, which for you, I remember December was, you know, just destroying your black Friday results. 

Spencer: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Black Friday. You know, my best day was like 170.

Oh, geez. Yeah. Okay. 180. I guess I had one one 

Jared: day. But now here’s an interesting thing. Before I realized this was a trend that both you and I were going through the first year A couple of days. First day, I didn’t pay any mind when the clicks dropped. I thought, yeah, who knows? Second day, when, when the clicks remained low, I thought, well, let me just go do a little bit of digging.

I remember I have that one signature product that’s been doing amazing. It’s accounted for a lot of the growth. I went and looked at that product. I thought maybe, Oh, maybe I bounced out of the carousel, right? Maybe my, my video is no longer in the carousel. These aren’t things we really know how to control yet.

If you’re, if you’re sitting there listening and you’re wondering, I thought, you know, maybe I moved from spot one to spot five. What is it? Well, I didn’t even have to scroll down to the carousel. Right there in a banner that was fairly prominent, at least to me, it had a nice big banner on the product that said this product will not arrive before Christmas.

Ah, and I was like, well, there it is. You know, we talked last week about that. I expect to still be good until the day people can’t get this stuff before Christmas anymore. And I think I might have hit that day, at 

Spencer: least with this product. I’m looking at my big product. It’s same thing, same thing. I didn’t, I didn’t even realize that, but yep, it’s clearly says arrives after Christmas.

Jared: Yes. That’s what I noticed. I didn’t even look if my video was still there. I’m like, that’s, that’s it right there. That’s it. 

Spencer: That’s, that’s exactly why. So we’ve kind of hit that point. We’re so close to Christmas. We, you and I both, it sounds like had a couple of big, like gift ideas, right? Things that people are definitely buying for Christmas.

And, uh, that’s going down a little bit, but. We we enjoyed it while it lasted. Hey, 

Jared: yeah, I loved it while it lasted and i’ll tell you The growth curves here was far better than the growth curves. I was seeing from my you know, my affiliate websites and The growth curve here was better than the RPM bump. I was expecting a much bigger RPM bump in terms of what the ad networks were paying.

It wasn’t very good this year. This was a welcome way to experience December and, and really the whole holiday shopping season. 

Spencer: Yeah, no, it’s been, it’s been very cool. Cause You and I both. I mean, again, we started this year, 2023. We had nothing up. And the fact that, you know, we’re kind of ho hum about, uh, it might not, might not crack, you know, 5, 000 this month.

It’s like, that’s huge. Um, so anyways, that’s, that’s our quick update. I mean, I, I’m going to continue to publish new. Videos into the new year. I’ve got a couple of people still doing videos for me. Um, I’m probably not gonna do as many, right? Like I’m not going to be doing hundreds every month, right? But maybe 50 to a hundred a month ish.

It’s kind of how I feel that maybe that’s what I’ll try and do is somewhere in that range and just kind of keep chugging along month after month and see how it goes. 

Jared: I’ll be honest. I’m going to go back to the drawing board on it. Um, and not really sure which way it’s going to go. I mean, I’ve been, I can say that while also saying it’s been a great ride in 2023 and I’m really glad that I did it.

Um, part of me thinks that, I mean, one of the things I’m going to look into is taking a more strategic approach in 2024 we’ve talked about that about actually. Doing research, buying products that competitively give me an advantage, and you know, all that, right? That’s on the table. Um, continuing the way that we’ve been doing it this year.

Just, hey, as I see products in the house, I’ll just review them. Same with Caitlin, and just keep publishing like that. That’s basically 2023, and it went well, so maybe do that. Maybe even wind down a bit more or maybe look at an outsource model like you. I haven’t decided, but I’m going to go back to the drawing board and take a look at it.

I’m going to reevaluate it maybe next week, maybe in early part of January and kind of revisit the strategy for 2024. 

Spencer: Yeah, that sounds good. Well, I’m sure we’ll chat about it here on the podcast. Keep it going. I hope so. So, well, very good. Let’s, uh, let’s talk about some weird niche sites. You know, there’s, uh, believe it or not, there’s still sites out there that we haven’t uncovered, haven’t chatted about, haven’t revealed here on the podcast.

Kind of some fun things. And, um, yeah, I’ll just say I had to dig into my history of weird niche sites. I kind of keep a log of those. I was, I was struggling actually to come up with something today. And then I scrolled all the way back to the beginning of my little spreadsheet that I keep, and there was a Christmas themed one.

And I was like, ah, this is, I mean, this is perfect. Christmas is in a few days. Um, so. Let’s do it. Um, and so that weird niche site that, that I have that I want to share is Elfster. com Elfster. com. Now, a lot of people may have actually heard of this. It is a massive website, way bigger than I realized. I had kind of heard of it, uh, before I’ve never used it.

Um, but basically what it is, is it’s a website, it’s it or an app. I don’t know if it started as an app, but it’s, uh, you know, android, apple and then desktop app that you use that basically helps you conduct secret Santa gift exchanges, like organize it. Who gives to who, you know, selecting, uh, the person, you know, kind of.

Randomly organizing that for you and I haven’t seen the inside of how it all works, but I guess, you know, it reminds you or different things. Um, but a big part of it is that it can recommend gifts for you as well. Now I imagine there’s some sort of engine where it, you can say some basic information about the person and say, Oh, consider these gifts.

And so Elfster makes a lot of their money from, well, two, two main ways from what I saw was, uh, affiliate marketing, right? So. If they recommend a product on Amazon, you click that and you go by the get a commission. The other is product placement, sponsored, um, placements. Right? So, um, whatever company comes and says, Hey, recommend this to as many people as possible.

We’ll pay a, you know, a fee for every time it’s listed at the top. That’s how they make a ton of their money. So Um, also, I, I’m just trying to, I mean, I don’t know if there’s a whole lot else. Okay, you can shop for gift ideas, whether or not you sign up for the app, right? So that’s a big thing, is their shopping engine.

Here we go. Shop by price, 25 and under, right? Um, white elephant. You know, gifted ideas, right? You got the tortilla blanket, uh, or whatever else. Um, and so yeah, gift ideas for gift exchanges, white elephants, and it’s got a category categorized really well. Um, this is one of the most seasonal Ahrefs graphs that I have ever seen in my life.

Oh my gosh. Uh, so if I share this, I mean, can you guess what month this is that it just spikes and peaks in? Um, so one and a half million organic visitors in December of last year, it looks like it’s trending up. Right? So it. We don’t know exactly where that’s up right now But they’re at least getting a couple of million visitors in the month of december and november.

Um, so and uh Go 

Jared: ahead. Oh, I was just gonna that’s a fascinating graph there because it’s yeah You have to use your mind a bit, but it’s pretty much steadily growing until 2020 Which as we know was the the pandemic year did people just not buy gifts in 2020? 

Spencer: Well, maybe there was a lot less office parties, right?

Like office, um, Oh, okay. Exchanges, gift exchanges. Yeah. So 

Jared: that could be. 2022, maybe, but even in 2021, offices weren’t really necessarily as, as back and set. And then 2022, look at that 

Spencer: growth. It’s like, we’re back in person and guess what? We’re doing gift exchanges. What’s funny 

Jared: is that if you, if you draw a line from back in the beginning.

And you just drew a straight line with a ruler. It’s almost as though 2020 and 2021 didn’t happen. And it just carried right through because the growth of 2022. Is pretty much directly in line with the pattern you’d expect based on the last six years prior to that. 

Spencer: That is super fascinating. I hadn’t picked it up on that, but that’s, you’re right.

That has to be COVID. It is COVID years and that has to be the reason. But they 

Jared: rebounded right to where they should have been for 2022 on their graph and their, the graph in the last, you know, decade or so. Interesting. Sorry, I, I did cut 

Spencer: you off a bit. Super interesting. I mean, if you, and if you look at, you know, their top pages, it would pretty much be what you would expect in terms of Secret Santa generator, Secret Santa.

I don’t know what this rapid fire questions is. Um, okay. Office party icebreaker games. It looks like just a blog post. So maybe, maybe we’ll go over here because they do have a lot of different content, uh, on, on their, you know, on their blog that they have here. And so they are ranking for a lot of different things.

It appears they’re trying to expand, you know, if they’re going to icebreaker games, they’re trying to expand. That’s something that’s not quite as seasonal, right? Um, but then 

Jared: They, they do say throughout the homepage that they’re, they’re there for Easter gifts and they’re there for, you know, all sorts of other types of gifts as well, although clearly they’re very, I mean, their name is Elfster, like you don’t talk about elves around Easter time.

So clearly the foundation of the site is more of a Christmas, uh, holiday theme type of event in December. 

Spencer: Yeah. Uh, and then I will just share their overall traffic according to SimilarWeb. Um. It says they’re getting 9 million visitors a month, at least, uh, from it. Yeah, maybe it’s looking at November. It doesn’t have December numbers here, right?

Yeah, here we go. Okay. So October is like. 3. 7 million. September was still almost a million visitors, uh, but then November is like 23 million, right? 

Jared: A million visitors. Who’s thinking about, you know, office parties in September. That’s still, you know, clearly they’re doing some things right to generate that.

Right. I mean, what’s that? If November’s at, what’d you say? At nine, 23 million, November was 23 million. Yes. I mean, are they going to break a hundred million this month? Wow. I mean, I would, I, I really put it out of, I wouldn’t put it out of the, just look at that age rest graph at what November looked like there compared to this.

I mean, I wouldn’t put it past him to hit a hundred million this 

Spencer: month. That’s insane. Who’s like, is there really that much? I don’t know. I I’ve done some secret Santas and white elephants and I’ve never visited Elfster, right? Is there that many people that need help like organizing this? I guess. Um, it’s amazing.

The affiliate 

Jared: commissions. You know, it, it, it, it must be pretty substantial this time of 

Spencer: year. Pretty substantial. Would you like to take a guess at how much money they’re making each and every year? You know, uh, well, I, I’ve asked, um, Google how much, and there was some answers. 

Jared: Uh, I would, I would say that they’re going to make 300 million this year.

Whoa, 

Spencer: well, uh, here’s what Google SGE says in 2023 Alster had an annual revenue of 13 million. I don’t know how they’ve already said for 2023. That doesn’t seem most of the revenue is probably going to come in December. But apparently there is a website that Alster has an annual revenue of 13. Million dollars.

How accurate that is? I don’t know, but be incredible. It could be a 

Jared: lot higher. 300 million was, I was, I was being dramatic on purpose, but 13 million is very low for that kind of traffic. Yeah. I mean it’s, they should be making a lot more than 

Spencer: that. Um, and they might be, I don’t know. Yeah, so it’s a multi-million dollar business.

It’s a multimillion secret Santa. Um, I read a little bit of the history. Basically, the founder started this, uh, website, this app because his sister was trying to organize a secret Santa for her office. And apparently it was this big nightmare, right? I imagine as a company gets bigger, if it’s five or 10 people, not a big deal.

But if all of a sudden you get like hundreds of people. It takes a software behind it to really do it. Yeah, probably. I suppose that’s what it’s for. 

Jared: I suppose I’m thinking of like a classic affiliate page and how much money, like if you look at the, the, the, the monetization per visitor or per thousand visitors, you know, have an affiliate page.

I would say that they’re extremely under monetized, but at the same time, as I guess, as I think it through, maybe the buyer intent behind someone using this app just isn’t as high as I was giving it credit for. But man, it feels like if you’re going to get a hundred million visitors. In December, which I, we’re, we don’t know that, but I’m just guessing you could make more than 13 million, um, in a, in a, in a fiscal year off that, 

Spencer: you know?

Yeah. You know, moral of the story here is that no matter how small your idea may be like, Hey, I’m going to just organize secret Santas for people. Like it can turn into a huge. Business opportunity. It’s just amazing. It really blows my mind that even if it’s only, and I’d say only 13 million a year, it’s just insane.

It’s insane. It’s a huge business. Um, secret Santa, you know, before I pass off the torch to you for your weird niche site, right? We did have another Christmas website, um, a couple of months ago, didn’t we? And, uh, I D I don’t remember if people recall this, but. You know, when we released this podcast shortly after we released this podcast, it’s going to be Christmas.

And if you’re unsure if it’s Christmas yet, um, well, you can just go to, is it christmas. com and if you do that and type that in, it’ll let you know. Yes or no. And, uh, today, no, it’s, it’s not Christmas. I went and checked for you, Jared. So, uh, don’t start opening the presents just yet. It is still not Christmas.

Jared: So we featured this weird niche. I don’t know, June, July, 

Spencer: for whatever 

Jared: reason. Yeah. No one brought it up again this week. I don’t know if they remembered that we had featured it or if they forgot, but they were like, this is a great weird niche for you guys to talk about and somebody else before I could even see was like, they already did this, already did 

Spencer: it.

Why 

Jared: did they do that in June? It’s like, well, still funny back in June. It’s still funny now. It’s still 

Spencer: good now. I just love it. It’s just big, bold. No, like that’s the whole website. So visit it on Christmas day. If you remember someone, 

Jared: I don’t know what it looks like. Christmas day tag us so we can have a screenshot for us.

It says, yes, you know. I’m worried I’ll forget to go on Christmas Day. 

Spencer: That’s right. Alright, very good. Uh, Jared, what do you got for us? 

Jared: Well, I, you know, Spencer, I’ve been relying pretty heavily on the help of listeners for my weird niches of late. I don’t have this detailed spre You have a spreadsheet of weird niches that you can just boot up and Man, every Thursday morning I’m flying by the sea of my, you know, by the flying by the handle right here trying to figure out a weird niche, but thankfully the listeners have been helping me out lately.

Today’s is not listener provided. I was using this website last night. I use this website a lot. And so I wanted to talk about it today because I do think it’s a very weird niche and it’s super fun though. And it’s campsite photos. com. Um, it’s one of those websites where, yep, that’s exactly what it does.

You basically can, I just use the search feature up in the upper right and you can type in any campground, pretty much, it’s got a ton of campgrounds in the United States and it will, of course, when you type in, it’s 

Spencer: not a campground. I should, I should, Oh, you got to 

Jared: type a campground and yeah, it’s got to be a campground.

And so, um, you know, like, uh, and what it will do here, type one in, this is one of the most, the most popular national park in United States is Yosemite. So type in upper pines. Which is a popular. Yes, there it is. Uh, yes. And so the great thing is they have them there for you. Uh, we’ll talk about that interstitial here in a second.

Um, and, and so basically once you type in a campground and it does a good job of finding it for you, it brings up a menu right there. Um, or at least a landing page. And they have gone through and taken a photo of every single campsite and labeled it. Buy campsites so that you can pick based on a visual which campsite is the best to camp at.

Because let’s face it, if you’ve been camping, not all campsites are created the same. That’s right. You can figure out, hey, is it flat? Do I think my trailer will make it in there? And then if you don’t want to go through all of them, they’ve actually tagged the best ones back on the landing page for you.

And they tell you. Best campground favorite ones. Yep. Favorite ones. Exactly. And I, I, I use this all the time because, you know, we’re traveling, uh, the Southwest this summer, upcoming summer, and I’m starting to plan that trip out. And when you go, you know, you need to book campgrounds pretty far in advance these days, but you get to the campground booking.

You’re like, I don’t know which campsite I want. I just want a campsite. I don’t really care which one. You go over here. You just can grab a favor. You can sit there and peruse around and look at the pictures. Um, so incredibly helpful for campers, which I use this website quite a bit. Now, there’s some other things we can talk through in terms of monetization in terms of how they do it.

But what are your thoughts so 

Spencer: far? I like it. It’s really cool. Yeah. I mean, if you’re planning on a trip, you’ve never been, you know, a different state in particular, you’ve never been to this campground. Like, Super helpful to see the individual camp site. Um, I think that’s cool. 

Jared: They’re not good photos.

Like clearly somebody’s running around there. They’re not edited there. They’re there, you know, but someone has just gone around. Now, a couple of things on the site. Let’s talk about the metrics of the site. It’s a DR 43. So it, um, you know, it’s gotten some links over time. It’s got 119, 000 keywords is ranking for, uh, gets a hundred, basically 150, 150, 000 in terms of organic traffic, according to age refs.

Um, and, uh, it has been, you know, kind of progressively growing over the last five years or so it looks like it was started. Uh, eight or nine years ago. And then I think I’d asked you, I imagine this site could do well on social, but I wanted you to look at the similar web on it. 

Spencer: Yeah. Yeah. So similar web, um, shows that it gets around 200, 000 visitors per month.

Okay. So most organic. Uh, organic is about 73%. Yeah. Okay. Well, so not a lot of social. 

Jared: Okay. Not a lot of, nevermind. I should ask you ahead of time. Um, now let’s talk about monetization. So you saw the ads already. If you’re watching on screen, they have ads on the landing pages. They have ads in the individual.

Uh, I wouldn’t say it’s a bad experience, but you, the ads are definitely noticeable, but they have a couple other things beyond just ads. Um, they have called campsite assist and I poked around on it. You can basically. Have them try to find a campsite for you if it’s already booked. So let’s say Upper Pines was already booked out and sold out, which happens a lot.

They will crawl a certain number of times per day and you can pay to get notified if they find an availability. Um, and from what I found, it’s like 3 to 10. You know, for a certain number of crawls to find it. And, um, and, and, and that is valuable because again, like, you know, a lot of times you go to book a campsite and it’s already booked these days and you can have them start crawling for cancels cancellations, which cancellations happen a decent amount.

So they’re on the screen. You can see, just hit continue. To have them, um, start thinking about it and you could either run a specific scan if you have like a date range you can go or if you’re just going like I just want to go to this campground. I don’t really care when then you can just hit. All right, just give me any camps that it becomes available, you know, between yeah, in this case, January 1st through 8th, enter your email.

So get alerts. Yes, you can get alerts there and they charge for that. They also have a membership. Um, which you can join. Yeah, it’s a pro membership. So you get no ads, I suppose, on campsitephotos. com and then a 20 percent discount on this. And it’s really pretty cheap. It’s 4 a month or 40 a year. Okay.

Spencer: Yeah, I mean, if you’re living the RV lifestyle, right, and going all over the place, this could come in handy. 

Jared: So I think a lot of times we feature websites where, you know, maybe the traffic isn’t doing very well, but the concept is funny or cool or unique, or maybe the traffic is doing well, but they’re under monetized or, but I mean, I don’t want to, I don’t want to say there aren’t many opportunities left, but I feel like this is someone who’s kind of done all the things pretty well.

They’ve picked a topic that I know is a pain point for people and based on the track traffic they’ve been able to garner. Looks like it is for a lot of people and I feel like they’ve done a decent job monetizing it. 

Spencer: Yeah, I think so. I mean, when you have multiple avenues of monetization, right, they’ve got their membership, uh, the campsite assist, and then just the display ads, you know, for free users, like you’re covering a lot of bases, uh, and doing pretty well.

So. I like it. It’s, uh, I, I didn’t look really into the content a lot, like what type of, uh, keywords are they ranking for? Do they have like a regular blog where they’re targeting keywords or is it mostly just, you know, they have a database of all the campsites and here’s all the photos. 

Jared: Yeah, so I didn’t see any evidence of a blog.

There might be one. I didn’t look that hard. Most of the queries they’re ranking for are like Upper Pines Campground and they’ll rank like three because obviously Upper Pines would rank number one, the website you can book on, but then they’ll rank number three. Or certainly if you append photos to any of them, that’s kind of where their number one rankings are when they append photos on top of it rather than just, uh, like Upper Pines or I think one of their biggest keywords was Leo Carrillo campground and stuff like that.

Yep. Sycamore Canyon. That was a big one. San Clemente. Yeah, you’re seeing the top pages up 

Spencer: there. Yep. So that’s, uh, yeah. And there’s just so many, right? 

Jared: And now, I mean, to finish off, I immediately assumed this has to be somewhat user generated, right? Like maybe people get free access for the, I’m just thinking out loud.

Maybe you get like free pro membership for a year. If you go through one campsite and document everything with photos, right. Or et cetera, et cetera. But. According to their Instagram, it heavily implies that he takes all the photos. I say he because he does give his name at some point, but maybe he has a team.

But, um, basically, uh, here it is. October 10th, a post on Instagram, just got back from taking campground photos in Utah and the fall colors are in full swing. We’ll be adding new photos for 25 new campgrounds. So it sounds like this guy is, he’s 

Spencer: just running around taking pictures, maybe out there doing it.

That’s cool. Huh. Well, if you own campsitephotos. com and you’re listening to this, you know, come on the podcast. We’ll, uh, ask you how you’re doing all this. We’d love to, you know, have you on the show and see what we can learn. It’s a cool site. 

Jared: I told Spencer before we started recording, like, I really liked this site a lot.

And uh, it’s kind of fun. I feel like back when you had the marathon gossip site on or something, you’re like, I actually use this website quite a bit. Cause this is how I feel about this one. I’m like, I actually use this site all the time. 

Spencer: I know it’s, it’s, uh, there’s a lot of sites that I think a lot of us use that we don’t realize.

Oh, this is kind of a weird off the beaten path site that maybe, you know, we’re one of this very small sub segment of people that are actually going to this. So, this is a good find. You don’t 

Jared: use campsite photos every week like I do? 

Spencer: I don’t, but, um, I’m probably going to. Try it out. You know, next time I need a little camping ground somewhere.

Yeah, you do a little camping. Yeah, we go a few times a year. So, um, I might be a user. Who knows? Well, very good. Very good. Um, I think we did it. We covered the news. We covered our side hustles and a couple of weird niche sites. And, uh, we’ve confirmed that it is not yet Christmas. So, I apologize. It’s not yet Christmas.

Give it a few more days. Come back and check and maybe it will be. But, uh, that’s it. I hope everybody not only has a great weekend, but that everybody has a great holiday week. And, uh, thanks again for listening. Are we doing one next week, Spencer? I think we’re doing one. Okay. I think we’re gonna do, uh, kind of a shorter one.

Okay. Um, but, you know, you and I will maybe, maybe save the surprise for people. A holiday week 

Jared: off for everyone but us, but the news doesn’t stop, apparently. Can’t even get a week off around here. 

Spencer: Alright, well if you complain enough, we won’t do it. 

Jared: I’m in, I’m in, I’ll be bored at that point. Alright, okay.

Have a great holiday week and everyone enjoy your Christmas and your other holiday celebrations and um, we’ll see you back next week it looks like. 

Spencer: That’s right, thanks guys.

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