Authority Site Overhaul Case Study #3: Creating a Framework for Content Production

If you haven’t been following along with the case study, here are all posts in order:

The First Post of the Case Study (Due Diligence and Validation)

The Second Post of the Case Study (Monetization Strategies)

The Third Post of the Case Study (Creating a Content Creation Framework)

The Fourth Post of the Case Study (How to Validate a Product)

The Fifth Post of the Case Study (Site Structure, Internal Linking and Ad Positioning)

The Sixth Post of the Case Study (Contributor Accounts)

The Seventh Post of the Case Study (Social Media Optimization)

The Eighth Post of the Case Study (Why Content Marketing is Tough)

(Password for all posts is NoHatDigital)

Firstly – we know we mentioned last week we’d be going over product validation in this week’s update. We’re actually still working on that, so instead, this week we’ll be going over how we structure our content creation process – and we’ll be giving you access to all our template documents so you can use the same model if you wish.

Content Strategy

Our content strategy for LearnU is one part of the Pareto Portfolio approach. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be performing KW research, looking for some not-so-competitive keywords, and trying to rank for them.

As mentioned previously, our goal is to create content that will monetize through Adsense with a minimum 500% annual ROI.  Each piece of content costs us $20, so that means on average we expect to make $100/yr per article.  At a $25 average RPM, and approximately 1.5 pageviews per visitor, this means each piece of content needs to generate an average of 222 unique visitors per month. This is the main thrust of this approach.

The strategy also involves seeing if we can produce any viral content, as well as creating linkbait/linkbuilding content – but the majority of the new content that you see on LearnU will be in an attempt to rank. I think we mentioned we’ll split these forms of content 70:15:15.

To begin with, we’re definitely focused on trying to scale up creation of content that’s targeted at uncompetitive KWs. In fact, if you’ve visited LearnU recently, you may have noticed a few new articles.

Pay particular attention to ‘How to Become a Radiologist‘  – this article has been updated based on the KW research and content creation guides linked to in this article.  We will soon be updating the rest of the articles to follow this model.

As you’ve probably noticed, these new articles fall into two broad themes.

  • KWs related to Studying
  • KWs relating to Careers

We’re interested in KWs related to Studying because we want to build college-age audience of the site to the point where it becomes interesting to think about pursuing the monetization overhaul we discussed last week.

We’re interested in Career related keywords because they tend to have higher than normal CPCs, and because there are an extremely large number of careers to write about.

Here’s an example – the search term How to Become an Underwater Welder has 140 search volume and a CPC of $6.00. This surprises me  because most people have never heard of Underwater Welding at all (present company included).

That being said, Career related KWs are typically also dominated by a few sites, so we’re going to post a few of these and see how they rank, and then re-evaluate.

The Importance of Good SOPs

The first thing we did when deciding on a content strategy for LearnU was to create SOPs. SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedure, and they are absolutely essential if you want to scale your business – and this is doubly true if you want to be able to rely on VAs and outsourcing rather than employees.

Having good, clear, thorough SOPs can raise the standard of work that you get – because it’s basically a step-by-step guide so that you can get stuff done in exactly the way that you want/require. In the long run, having SOPs as a part of your business will also save you time – rather than rewriting a set of instructions for a writer or a VA for the 20th time, you send them the SOP.

That’s why it’s important to put a little effort into your SOP creation – if you do a good job the first time, you can keep using it over and over (at least until the process itself becomes invalid).

If you do a bad job on your SOP, you’ll find yourself rewriting instructions or correcting work from your freelancers constantly – because you didn’t provide them clear instructions of what you expect.

Our KW Research and Content Creation Process

So – since I went on a diatribe about the importance of SOPs, here’s ours:

KW Research SOP

Content Creation SOP

These two documents explain:

  • Exactly how we come up with initial KW ideas
  • How we find lower competition KWs to target
  • How we filter out unprofitable KWs
  • The idea of focusing on KW concepts rather than exact match KWs
  • Why we group and prioritize our KW targets for each piece of content
  • How we create content outlines for outsourcing
  • How we manage our content creators
  • How we go about finding writers

I highly recommend you check out both of these SOPs – they’re pretty in depth resources that should help you understand how we think about producing content that Google will love.

Now that you’ve read over (or at least skimmed over) those SOPs, here’s our strategy for the next month:

30 Day Plan

Over the next month, we plan to produce 30 pieces of content – most of these articles will be outsourced. We have one writer on staff, and we’re currently in the process of auditioning a few new writers to see if any of them are suitable. We used some of the tips/guidelines that we suggested in the Content Creation SOP for finding writers, so you can refer to that to get an idea of what we did.

While we continue to produce content, we’ll also be keeping a close eye on how all the new content is doing – that means carefully watching the pages in Google Analytics, as well as Webmaster Tools.

We do this because it’s one of the areas where we can really apply the 80/20 principle.

Google Analytics allows us to see how much traffic the page is getting from search engines.  This will mostly be long-tail.  If we see a page is doing well we can promote it more (internal links, links from contributor sites, etc.).

WebmasterTools shows us how well we’re ranking on the slightly higher traffic primary keywords.  As an example, say we post two articles targeting two equally competitive KWs today. A month later, Article #1 is ranking 11th in the SERPs, Article #2 is ranking 45th.

With just a little additional work (internal links, maybe a single guest/contributor post), that article will probably land on the first page, which means that it will start generating revenue. It would probably take at least twice the amount of work to try and get Article #2 to the front page.

Spotting Patterns in SERP Results

By keeping an eye on which new articles manage to rank and which don’t, we can spot patterns in what Google is looking for with regards to content in a specific niche.

For example, with career related KWs – does Google prefer posts with an embedded video, or a table of information? Does our content do better when we have more breadth of information or more depth of information? For these type of KWs, does google like number-heavy content or text-heavy content?

While we won’t have hard answers to these questions (correlation does not equal causation), it at least gives us a hunch that we can act on. With enough new content, you can probably start to really suss out what Google is looking for on a page that serves content in a specific niche.


Well, that’s pretty much it for this week. We were planning to provide more specific examples of new content, but because the product validation update was delayed till next week, the new content that we planned hasn’t been produced yet. Stay tuned to LearnU to see the results of our content creation process in real time instead!

In any case, the most important takeaways are as follows:

  • Use SOPs for anything that you want to outsource in your business
  • You can use our SOPs if you’re doing KW Research or working on Content Creation
  • Once you’ve posted your new content, you should monitor it to see how it’s doing
  • Once you have a few rankings winners among your new content, you can work on getting those to the front page – this is the fastest way to boost ROI on your time
  • If the KWs you’re targeting are in a similar area, try to notice patterns in the content that’s doing well versus the content that’s not
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Leave a Reply 14 comments

Sam - October 23, 2015 Reply

Holy moly! Just read all three posts so far. Mega value! In particular to the SOR you linked to (and the prospective Google sheet documents they themselves linked to).

Do you mind if I make copies of these to use myself?

I’ve been involved in online marketing for around 8 years and plan on dipping my feet into purchasing a website next year (looking to start with something that produces around £100 a month initially). I’ve really noticed the price of these jump in the last few years.

Thanks George (and Niche Pursuits who led me down your rabbit hole).


    Wired Investors - October 23, 2015 Reply

    Yup – Copy away – that was pretty much the whole intention, so that people following the case study can replicate the model. Glad you enjoyed the SOPs, we put a ton of work into them!

Grant - October 23, 2015 Reply

Great update. Thanks for the SOPs.

John Showwalter - October 23, 2015 Reply

Thank you for sharing such insights. It is after a long time that I am seeing a case study like this online. You have shared so much in one post,

– 2 SOP
– Several templates
– Sample articles
– Strategy

and more.

I will just have to sit down and digest all of this over time.

I have a quick question:

You mentioned apprimately $20 per article.

Is this a representative quality I should expect at this price?
This article is well over 2000 words.

Also how much does it cost to format and post such an article or that is something you are doing?

    Wired Investors - October 26, 2015 Reply


    Articles often require some touchups – in the case of that article, I added in a bunch of stuff so that it would adhere to our SOP. It was written before the SOP was created =p.

    $20 per article may be a little bit optimistic from what I’m seeing – we were expecting $0.02 per word and articles of 1k words. We’re on track in terms of per word cost, but finding that we want content that is more thorough.

      RJ - October 28, 2015 Reply

      I was going to ask the same question as John. I assume that you’d need more in depth/ heavy content for a keyword such as “How to Become a Radiologist” because its gets 5K+ searches per month.

      (BTW: I can’t see some articles on LearnU – I thinking chrome is blocking them for some reason)

      How are you decided length of content?… competitors sites, search volume or competition? or all the above lol


        Wired Investors - October 29, 2015 Reply

        Hi RJ,

        Yup – more difficult KWs will tend to have more in depth content, especially since we’re looking to get all the LT KWs related to that term as well. Although to be honest, the KW wasn’t researched that thoroughly – it was before we decided on the SOP and the KW research was actually outsourced to someone for that particular article.

        Which articles can’t you see on LearnU? Would be useful to know just in case there’s some kind of bug or error we’re not aware of.

        Length of content will typically be more than 1000 words and less than, say, 1700. We don’t set exact word limits per se, the idea is that we cover the main KW and all the semantically related KWs that we can find in one article. But I’d expect most articles to be between 1000 and 1500 words.

        I guess out of the three things that you mentioned, competitor site content is the one we look at most. If you’re going up against a huge authority site like for example, your content better be much more in depth than theirs because they have everything else on their side.

Nathan - October 23, 2015 Reply

Is the RPM of $25 just for Adsence revenue?

    Wired Investors - October 26, 2015 Reply

    RPM in this case is general – would include Adsense (probably Adsense primarily), but for some pages it may be Amazon.

Leo - October 27, 2015 Reply

Third post and third comment from me. I absolutely love this series.

I can’t wait to read each one as I find it both motivating to work on my own projects as well as helpful

Thank you so much for sharing the journey with us.


Ben - October 27, 2015 Reply

Hey guy’s,

Just want to say a huge thank you for this case study. I never really get involved in commenting on blogs but I felt I had to here, just to say thanks!

I’ve literally just found this case study and read all 3 posts back to back (and I’ll re-read them to really soak it up!)

I love the approach you’re taking with the numbers and the strategy and the thought process behind it all.

I’ve been thinking about investing in a website for more than a year and have never had the balls to stump up the cash!

Forgive my ignorance but does RPM stand for Revenue Per Month?
And what is a contributor site?


Thanks again,


    Wired Investors - October 27, 2015 Reply

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks so much for showing interest! It’s always great to hear that somebody is interested in what you’re working on.

    RPM stands for Revenue Per Mille (that’s French for a thousand). RPM is Revenue per 1000 Impressions basically.

    Contributor site – stay tuned. At some point we will discuss this in a future update =).



      Ben - October 28, 2015 Reply

      Ahh right, that’s clears it up thanks.

      I look forward to the updates. I’ll be keeping a close on this.

      Thanks again!

Theodore Nwangene - November 1, 2015 Reply

This is a very crazy post man,
I’ve never seen such a comprehensive case study on the internet before apart from the one from Neil Patel.

I just copied your SOP and, sorry that i didn’t took permission before doing that but i had to before you change your mind and unlink it :).

I’m in the process of creating an authority site and this case study will really be very useful to me, thanks a lot for all the values you’re giving us here.

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