Jonathan Leger – SEO And Internet Marketing Blog Internet Marketing Blog


Niche site case study 2 year update.

Back in August of 2007 I decided to perform a case study by building a small, 10 page niche content site from scratch and see how well it performed over time. The prime purpose of that case study was to prove that my network was a powerful way to get sites ranked in Google -- and keep them there.

It's been a little over two years since I created that case study, and I thought you might be interested in knowing how things are going with that little content site. Yes, it's still up and running. Yes, it's still well ranked in Google. Yes, it's still making money. No, I haven't done any additional work to keep it ranked.

As a recap, here's what I did:

  1. I did some research and discovered a niche in the fitness market that I felt was ripe for the picking (today I use Niche Horde for that--it's a lot easier).
  2. I used my Instant Article Wizard software to create 10 unique articles that would make up the site content.
  3. I submitted an additional 10 articles to so that each of the inner pages would have a few links to it.
  4. I added the site to my network to grow the backlinks to it.

When I setup this site, there were some dissenters. "Oh yeah," they said, "it does well right now, but Almighty Google is going to catch on and deindex the site, just you wait!"

Well, that's dissenters for you. Over two years later, here's my latest AdSense report from that little niche site that sits untouched, happily generating income for me month after month:

If you were around when I did the original case study, then you might recall that my goal for the site was $3 a day, or about $1,000 a year. As you can see from last month's AdSense revenue, the site is doing much better than that. It actually earned over $7 a day -- more than twice my original goal.

But was that a fluke? How has the site done overall? Here's the total 26 month report:

Yup, this little 10 page site (which doesn't look very professional, btw, and only took about 5 hours to create) is about to hit the $5,000 earnings mark. That means that the site has earned, on average, $6 a day since I first created it -- twice my goal. It also means the site will soon have earned me $1,000 for each hour of work I put into it.

It has required no extra work on my part, with one small exception: I had a 3-day server outage in January of last year that caused the site to drop out of the Google rankings until I installed a blog and threw up some fresh, relevant content for a couple of weeks. That would not ordinarily be required, but since the site disappeared for three days Google wanted some affirmation that it was not dead and gone, and fresh content was the ticket to get the rankings restored.

I just can't emphasize enough how many people threw up contrary opinions, proclaiming how the Google Deity in its all-knowing wisdom and power would discover and neutralize my network. And yet the site still ranks #4 and #5 for its primary and secondary keyword phrases, and has done so consistently for the last two years -- and it is not alone, not by a long shot. 3WayLinks is more powerful than ever since I've continually made improvements to the way the network builds and maintains links to your site.

You may not be able to live off of $5,000 in two years, but imagine building 50 or 100 successful sites like this one (certainly possible considering it only took five hours to begin with). Even if you could only spare 10 hours a week, that's two sites a week, or more than 100 sites a year. Even if you could only reach my original $3 per day per site goal, that's $300 a day, which comes to over 100,000 powerful reasons each year to start building content sites and putting them into

Please post your questions and thoughts in a comment below.

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  1. I was really impressed that you could give an update after 2 years. I’ve been looking for a long term case study like this for ages. It just goes to show that a good investment of effort upfront in building a quality site with quality SEO can provide a substantial return and help build a serious online business.

  2. It’s not as easy as you’d think to set up a store online. I’ve just done one and you need a business account and payment gateway which can be difficult to get and cost money.thanks..

  3. Another great post! Just wanted to say that I always look forward to reading your blog.

  4. I wonder can certain case studies be an permanent example for all time? I don’t think so as situations are different every time you turn around.

  5. It’s not as easy as you’d think to set up a store online. I’ve just done one and you need a business account and payment gateway which can be difficult to get and cost money.thanks..

  6. “Prostate Cancer Survivor on January 4th, 2010 8:18 am Amazing results indeed. This goes to show that it’s indeed very possible to make such success with a small 10 page website. If only more people will be believers and take action. Imagine having 100 of such sites – 100 x $2,000 per year = $200,000!!! Wow!”

    It looks good on paper but it never works out that way any more then the old Ponzi schemes ever work out the way they were promoted. At least, I’ve never seen it nor have I’ve ever known anyone who could make it actually work and I’ve been online for over a decade now.

    Original ideas are priceless. Too many people are copying someone else these days hoping to make a few bucks but it’s pretty illogical thinking when you break it down. But nearly anything can look good, it just doesn’t work that’s all.

    The market will always go to the original thinkers and you just can’t get that out of a box.. or computer program for that matter, UNLESS, you’re the one who comes up with the next great program! Then, and ONLY then, will you have a CHANCE to make some good money online.

    Don’t believe me? Just look at what Jon is doing.. he’s developing these programs.. not copying them.

  7. How can i get the original statstics?

  8. Awesome case study. I was actually following you when you started this case study sometime back. It’s a good thing to see you actually continuing with it. I will definitely consider you one of the tops in this inndustry. Bravo.

  9. Amazing results indeed. This goes to show that it’s indeed very possible to make such success with a small 10 page website. If only more people will be believers and take action. Imagine having 100 of such sites – 100 x $2,000 per year = $200,000!!! Wow!

  10. I love reading this type os stuffs about great researches.Well done.

  11. Mikael:

    The users of 3WL (including myself) are continually ranking new sites for great keywords.

    It works wonderfully, and I expect it will for a long time to come.

    Google is not the God people think it is — they don’t know as much as people think they do.

  12. Hi Jon,

    Have you done any new sites using 3WL as the only linkbuilding method? I know you write that you have improved the system but since it is so popular one could also imagine that G new what was going on and discounted the value or lessened it.

    I understand that you can come out and say that it doesn’t work anymore since that would kill the product but I imagine that you don’t need to… ?


  13. Allen Graves pretty much nailed this a few years ago and wrote about it in his excellent book on Article Writing.

  14. Hi Jon,
    Great stuff as usual.
    Just wanted to say that 3WLinks is brilliant and works really well for me. Quality content and a good selection of back links seems to do the trick. 3WLinks just gives the added extra oomph to a site that you need. Just my thoughts on the matter – keep up the great work bro.

  15. Hi,
    Wonderful stuff.Building back links can be a very tough process and requires lots of patience or money or a bit of both.But Back-links will increase your website’s page rank Pages that Google believes are important pages receive a higher Page Rank and these websites that Google deems important are more likely to appear at the top of the search results!

  16. it’s that sites which would ordinarily never attract attention are suddenly ranking, and that draws attention. Since they have spammy/trashy inner pages, they get deindexed.

  17. Thanks for following through with this and updating, Jon!

    One quick question: I’ve seen you post elsewhere (and agree with you) that the duplicate content “penalty” is really no such penalty..and that you advise on posting summaries of other content… But for this site you used original content.

    Do you suspect you would have had the same results if you had posted article summaries instead of the 10 original articles you made?

  18. Heya Jon,

    I am also concerned about using 3WL because of the simple fact that is a link building “scheme” or whatever you want to call it. I fear the almighty google and would probably fear them more if I had tens to hundreds of adsense sites.

  19. Jon:

    Couldn’t sites in the 3WL network potentally be negitively effected (or deindexed) if it is linked to another site in the 3WL network that was recently deindexed by Google? As in the whole linking to “bad neighborhoods” issue….

  20. Jonathan, I am truly jealous. I wish I could just put up basic content sites like this and watch the money roll in. That was my basic plan years ago and then I made some naive mistakes and got banned from Google AdSense. Now I’ve lost a lot of motivation as I have to rely on affiliate programs for website income instead now.

  21. Ok – Thanks Jon must have confused 3WL with another service. My apologies



  22. Kevin:

    That has never been a requirement of 3WL, and it’s not now.

  23. Hi Jon
    Your case study is encouraging and I’m convinced of your linking strategy. The problem lies in that you require the site to have a pr1 ( if I remember correctly when I first looked at 3wl)

    That does cause some concern in launching new sites. I haven’t been back to 3WL since to check if that is still a requirement.



  24. One of my friend has to write and submit his first case study for their college course but has not been given any guidance on how to present that (for example, should it have an introduction, and a conclusion just like a standard essay?). Plz any suggestion?

  25. Jon,

    I’m very concerned after reading John Hurlbut’s posting of Nov. 20th indicating that all 6 of his websites which are in the 3-way link were de-indexed. Has this happened to others?

  26. Man, those are AMAZING results! Thanks for the update!


  27. Jonathan, your lore is the best. Thank you. With as many sites, as you have made, it would be hard to factor in the time, that it took you to make, and to use, , for any 1 of those sites, wouldn’t it?

  28. Thanks for the update on your test site.

    I wish I had started back them and worked on it. I would be a little less broke.


  29. Totally amazing Jonathan.

    I remember reading about this when you started it. Great follow up.


  30. Thanks for this update Jon. I was wandering how your site was doing, not having heard from you on this subject for a while.

    Kind regards,


  31. That’s great system, i will try to follow your system to build many small sites likes that. Thanks.

  32. Joe:

    I’ve heard a few people claim that, but I’ve had zero people be able to show any proof of it actually being related to 3WL.

    What I’ve found to be true is this: people put a spammy or low-quality site into the network, whose homepage looks good and passes the human review. 3WayLinks does its job and gets those sites ranked. Those sites get reviewed by people at Google who look at the inner pages and see spam.

    Guess what? BAMO! Deindexed.

    So it’s not that 3WL is getting the sites deindexed, it’s that sites which would ordinarily never attract attention are suddenly ranking, and that draws attention. Since they have spammy/trashy inner pages, they get deindexed.

  33. Jon, I keep hearing how some sites (not all) that link into the 3Way network get deindexed by Google. Many people swear that is the only thing they have changed on their site. It just seems like there is too big a footprint.

    I know 1way links and your other products rock.

  34. Thanks for this case study, I am just wondering though, what do you feel works better 3 way links or 1waylink? I have been using your 1 way link for some time now, and depending on the competition of a keyword I can rank pretty good,
    Do you feel that 3waylinks help even more?
    Thanks in advance,

  35. hi Jonathan,

    1. i just wonder if it is OK to building more than 1 niches on a single domain (by different directory), is it OK?
    i know it is not good idea to have it on subdomain

    2. which one is more suitable for an adsense site? a 3 way link or a 1 way link of your software? i notice that you said it uses php, can it work with Matt Callen’s HyperVRE?

    Tq in advance

  36. Pretty impressive stats there, Jonathan.

    Thanks for the info.

  37. I am subscriber to your list for a long time . I had seen your case study when it was published. Then I was focusing on short term goals.
    Can you tell us it was a blog or normal site.
    Do you use only adsense ads on it.
    further more if you could tell us the template type you are using
    it will help us . Currently i am a member of niche horde

  38. Hi Jonathan,
    nice post, I love your article writer already and based on this post I am ready to get the Niche Horde and follow the 2 sites per week with the 3 Way link system. If I can have up to 50 sites on one account – that is awesome… I have some questions though:

    1. How hard is to install 3way link system and implement it on my site if I use Hostagtor.
    2.I prefer creating wordpress blogs rather then static sites, does 3waylink supports wordpress sites?

    Thanks, Jonathan for your answers…
    Looking forward talking to you soon,

  39. I’ve been a customer off and on for years. I have never seen you create a product that wasn’t top notch. Sure, there have been some bugs and problems, but that’s part of the game. You are a man of your word, and what’s more… you don’t just “talk the talk”, you “walk the walk”, offering REAL (not made up) proof and case studies.

    The only reason (and I’m talking to me too) one wouldn’t succeed following your advice and using your tools, is to simply not put them into action.

  40. Thanks for an interesting post, Jon. Just confirms the potential in this kind of business. Imagine having 50 or so of these sites!

  41. Good post John- I am looking over niche horde now as I see as a way aim at the low hanging fruit. Some others on here are complaining at not making money- simpley becuse the are focusing on what isnt working- get busy – do more and stop looking to blame……………..

  42. Its very nice to know that 3way links network is so effective for good rankings. If I have to choose between 3way links and 1way links, which is better option for getting my websites ranked highly in Google? Please advice.

  43. Hi Jon,

    If you have a course that teaches people in detail how the whole process works, that would be great!


  44. george:

    Each inner page only got at most 10 links to it — and the inner pages don’t rank for much. It’s the home page that gets all the traffic, and that page was ranked by 3WayLinks.

    I could have focused more on the inner page rankings, but that wasn’t the purpose of the case study.

  45. Yeah backlinks are an important factors for SEO. 3 way links rock!

  46. Jonathan,

    Does 3waylinks always link to the home page?

  47. I trust what you say, however it also occurs to me -not knowing the power of your 3 way links,- you didnt distinguish the power of the 10 articles that you also submitted. Do you have a count of the back links from each to date? Since youre promoting the 3 way links, it seems ylou should not have also done the 10 articles? Thanks

  48. Jonathan, you rock!

    As Allen stated, this post is wicked.

    Keep up the good work John, :)

  49. Hi Jon!

    Thanks for the update and for setting out to prove the nay-sayers wrong! The time tested technique still works, I know this and you have now proven this to many others!

    I know you didn’t have 1WayLinks when you did this case study… but speaking from personal experience… utilizing that network would do wonders as well :)


  50. Wicked post and about as close to set and forget as you can get… I recently asked if that was possible on the Warriors Forum and got mixed responses but this is pretty much there…

    Plus (and not sure if this is deliberate.. : ) but the entire post is a great example of quality content and fantastic pre-selling… In fact I’m just waiting to invest in all three products mentioned and give it a go for myself!

    Thanks Jon!

  51. CatCamille:

    A 336×280 ad block just above the content is the best place to put AdSense, hands down.

    This site is not a WordPress site, though, so it doesn’t use any WP themes.

  52. Ah, and do you see performance differences if you use say semiologic or sempro cms theme, your studiopress or some WP free theme?
    What are the important plugins you’d recommend for better rankings and usability for such nichehorde sites?

  53. Hi Jon,

    Any suggestions as to where you place your adsense would be appreciated. Am I mistaken to think only the top 2-3 ads make money? If one puts many adsense blocks, do they diminish the profits?


  54. Sandra:

    As I stated to Jack, providing the url of the case study site would violate the 3WL terms I set into place to protect the network.

  55. Jack:

    Of course I’m not going to provide the url to the web site. That violates the terms that I put into place to protect the security of the network, and would be very unwise.

  56. Jon, I thought your 3 Way network was a great idea (I still think so) but after having six of my sites on it for over a year I never received any traffic. In fact Google de-indexed all of these sites on me this year. I’m trying to get them back by adding fresh articles to their blogs, but no luck yet. John Hurlbut

  57. Hi Jonathan
    Fantastic figures.
    Just goes to prove what you were saying all along about these little sites and now that we have Niche Horde – makes the whole process much easier.

    Jonathan – although I’ve been watching your posts and have your software and I know that you have a few case studies but do you plan on doing a detailed breakdown on how you would start – from Niche Horde and domain name , keywords to target and building a site to getting it indexed.
    I’ve had a few successes but a few have been a hit and miss.

    Would be great as to how you go about it in a little more detail so that we can follow you along to replicate the success you have more frequently.

    I video study would be of great value, and I for one would be prepared to pay for it, just to know I’ve not missed any important seo tactic.

    Many thanks


  58. I couldn’t help myself but I had to calculate your CTR and EPC to be 9.8% and 33.6 Cents.

    If I remember correctly, this niche is a tangible product with prices for each product at over $100. You’re probably making the Adsense advertisers a huge chunk of money there.

    I’m willing to bet that a few tweaks here and there and adjusting your site according to your stats will double your profits.

    You can even build a similar site in the exact same niche and target the exact same keywords to claim more spots on the SERPs. There are 10 spots and you’re only taking up one.

    I always enjoy your blog Jonathan, keep it up.

  59. Are you going to market

  60. Jonathan,

    I’ve been following your case study almost from the beginning and I love it. What a great story! Thanks for the update. My questions to you now are, would you still use HyperVRE to build the site if you were starting the case study today, or would you use WordPress? Does it even matter? Also, how aggressively did you build the links to the site within the first month? Does that really matter?

    Hey Mark, I’d be really interested to hear about your results on the 25 sites you’ve built. Are you using the Niche Adsense Themes on those sites? Financially, I wasn’t able to take advantage of the initial offer for Niche Horde, but it’s on my list of things to get when I’m able. Maybe Santa will come through for me this year. I hope I’ve been good.

    Great info Jonathan!


  61. Stop talking…give the actual website url where you earn such money…Every guru writes that he is so clever, earns so much money but NONE has provided the address of the working website

  62. Hi Jon,

    As a member of both 3WL and Niche Horde am always happy, why? you would ask-because i know that very soon i will recoup my investment.

    Niche Horde is really is it.

    Guys if you ve not joined this-then you re really missing out.

    However, Jon, why is it necessary to get two pages indexed in Google before been accepted in 3WL? Why not one page? At times it takes some time before Google indexes 2 to 3 pages.

    Please help with this.


  63. Jon,

    Quick question. I just was wondering if you have found any differences in the Adsense earnings based on how many sites an account has on it.

    Some people have reported that the more sites a person has, the more “diluted” their earnings get.

    Any thoughts?

  64. Johnathan — your products have always been great and preform very well — again I ask when will you develop some for the Apple Mac??

  65. I spent 18 months, 12 hours a day trying to reproduce gurus ideas and methods. Spent tons of money and really got nowhere. I went out and got a proper job! Then found that my intensity was the blinkers stopping me see … Now I have a job and practice a little on line, but have found more success as I have a different view. That different view involves spending one week to research a few niches and 2hours to build a ten page website.
    Those 18 months were all upside down.
    Keep abreast of what’s going on … and progress slowly. Build it and they will come.
    Some of that philosophy is by reading sensible copy from people like yourself.
    Cheers Phil

  66. Hey Jon, I don’t mean to disrespect your work nor your products in any way, but I’ve been trying to replicate this case study since May 2009 with minimal results at best.

    I’ve tried to do exactly what you did with around 80 sites so far — targeting low competition keywords; fully unique, well written content; 10 EzineArticles + 3WLinks, etc. Across 80 sites I am making about $5 per day TOTAL.

    Traffic is extremely low, which is the main problem. Average CTR is around 15%. All of the sites are buried deep in the search results, most likely sandboxed. For 4-6 months. Any ideas?

  67. How do you do your keyword research? It seems like the keywords I pick seems do not get the same traffic that keyword tools like Google or Wordtracker says. Even when I rank #1, it seems like no traffic somes to my site. Any input is appreciated.

  68. Pretty impressive. That just goes to show that sometimes less is more.

  69. Thanks for sharing Jonathan. I always like to follow what you are up to through your newsletter.

    But…if Google finds you out with respect to being involved in a linking scheme with an Adsense site, they will close your Adsense income down overnight. In your case I am sure you have branched out from being entirely dependent on Google Adsense for your living. So such a thing would not be as big of deal for you as it would be for others.

    For many…taking such a chance is not worth the concern when one can achieve the same thing without using your 3-way-linking system (although it will of course take a lot longer).

    Regardless I wish you continued success and may in fact take advantage of your 3-way-linking system when I become less focused on making a living with Adsense and only Adsense.


  70. Backlinks are the key to success in SEO. I wish i would have come to this realization sooner. You have inspired me to move forward with some more mini-sites and start promoting the heck out of the with backlinks. Any thoughts on how the new google search engine might effect these kinds of techniques?

  71. Jon,

    reveal us this your niche website, give the url. I do not think it’s a big problem and none will take YOUR money copying what you do. If you are really the professional, you would not be afraid about that. Show please real site but not just case study in theory. All gurus talk only about case studies, how they rich are, successfull, and so on… BUT GIVE REAL EXAMPLE!!!!! STOP SIMPLY TALKING AND PERSUADING AND INSPIRING IN RESULT TO BUY YOUR PRODUCT!
    Adsense earnings – that’s good but where is guarantee that it’s from this your niche site?

    So be hero.

    If you disagree – then for me personally all your case studies will the full lie and cheating.

  72. I have been watching you do these blog posts and like the information you give out on them.

    I am curious what you use to build your sites and is it possible for some of us to obtain this software or whatever it is.

  73. Jon,

    That’s correct. And when you do the math, the results are clearly phenomenal if you find the right niche with Niche Horde.

    In this uncertain economic time, any website that produces any income is always a plus.

    With 3WL, and Niche Horde, you have a winning combination.

  74. Congratulations, Jonathan, on sticking to your guns and generating such impressive numbers. And thanks for sharing the ongoing results. So often we get flash in the pan numbers that wow us – but disappear as quickly as they came. This provides consistent results that are even more impressive than some of the Wow-isms.


  75. Tom:

    That assumes you only have one site earning any money in 3WL, too. One 3WL account lets you have 50 sites in the network.

  76. Jon;

    I have a similar case study in progress with 25 sites using Niche Horde. Will let you know how it goes.

    You are a rock star.


  77. Great reporting, Jon! With the exception of the $1128 fee for two years of using, it appears to be a successful niche website. In your case, it’s your network so you don’t have to pay. :-)

    Regardless of the fact, I wouldn’t mind spending $47/month to generate over $3600, and change.

  78. Jonathan,

    People of such little faith:)

    Every day I realize more and more that backlinks are the “keys to kingdom”.

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