Monthly Income, Growth & Traffic Report – September 2016

This is the 48th income report as part of the zero backlink experiment.

Every month I will publish a post like this one that shows you how this blog is progressing and everything I have done across the month to get it there.

These reports will help me track my own progress while teaching you what to do and more importantly what not to do.

What I Have Done In September

Although I spent 2 weeks with my friend in Costa Rica this month, I managed to achieve quite a lot of things.

Not just from a work perspective, but also from a personal perspective as well as I continue to train for Ironman next year.

I have still got an awful lot to do until I am happy with the current state of the blog, but I have made huge leaps forward towards that.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at what I got upto this month!

Fast & Furious

Over the past 6 months or so, I have noticed that the blog was getting slower and slower.

It’s being a long time since I addressed site speed and the home page load time had more than tripled.

Some blog posts were taking more than 30 seconds to load fully which is unacceptable!

That happened for a number of reasons-

  1. Plugins: The blog is very plugin heavy, running around 60 plugins at any one time.
  2. Comments: Some posts have over 1,000 comments which really hurts load time, especially with so many Gravatar requests.
  3. Redundant Scripts: I had some scripts installed that I no longer use, like CrazyEgg for example.
  4. Bad Management: Quite simply, I wasn’t proactive in protecting/improving site speed.

We all know that site speed not only damages conversions but also has a big impact on search engine rankings as well.

Why? Because it’s part of the core web vitals (official ranking factors!).

So when I ran a speed test and saw this result-

old site speed results

I decided enough was enough!

Granted that test represents the heaviest page on the entire blog, but 29.7 seconds is ridiculous to say the very least.

So I put together a plan of attack and executed it which increased the load time of that particular post by 67%-

new site speed results

That also trickled down across the entire blog with similar improvements across the board like my Long Tail Pro review for example.

That went from 16.7 seconds to 3.8 seconds – a 77% improvement-

site speed comparison

But how did I do that?

Well I will put together a much more detailed tutorial in the future, but in summary-

  • New Host: I moved hosting from TrafficPlanetHosting to Kinsta. Not because TrafficPlanet are a bad host (they are still awesome) but because the blog had outgrown their environment. Kinsta is considerably more expensive but also takes advantage of new technologies like HTTP2, MariaDB & HHVM. That accounted for a 30-50% decrease in load time. See my full Kinsta review.
  • Cleaned House: I removed unnecessary plugins/scripts, updated Wordpress core/plugins & installed things like FV Gravatar Cache. That gave another 20% ish indecrease in load time.
  • CloudFlare: Last but not least, I setup CloudFlare on the blog which shaved another 30-50% off load times

I still have more to do but hopefully you guys have already noticed a huge improvement in the performance of the site and that will continue to improve this month.

Search Traffic Gains

In last months report I talked about how I ran a scan with DeepCrawl and cleaned up the blog from an on site SEO perspective by fixing things like broken links, missing alt tags, duplicate content and so forth.

That started to have an impact on search traffic rising from around 7,500 visitors per week to 9,500.

Throughout September that continued to grow to over 12,000 visitor per week from Google-

seo monitor report

Now that the site is loading faster than ever before, I expect that to grow further this month.

And for those that weren’t paying attention last month, all I did was run a scan with DeepCrawl and fix everything it told me to fix.


Split Testing New Post Layouts

As I continue to work on improving the overall user experience of the blog, I decided to start split testing some new post layouts.

To do that, I took 3 existing posts and applied different layouts to each of them-

  1. The standard layout that you see on this post with a sidebar
  2. The same layout but with the sidebar removed
  3. A new layout built with Thrive Content Builder

Click on the image below to see how they differ-

post layouts

So far the split tests are producing promising results and I’m mainly focused on increasing time on page while reducing bounce rate at the same time.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the results so far-

split test results

As soon as the tests finish, I will make a decision to update every post on the blog to the winning layout.

See You In Thailand?

On the 5th of December I will heading out to Affiliate World Asia in Bangkok to deliver a keynote speech.

That will be backed with a live fire Q&A session and of course I will be hanging out for a while to answer questions 1 on 1 with you before heading out to explore the rest of Thailand.

You can learn more about the conference here and it would be great to see you there!

Content Creation

I only published 4 new blog posts this month compared to 6 last month, but that was because I launched a huge new section on the blog dedicated to all of my favorite marketing tools.

I broke it all down into the following sections-

That made for over 15,000 words of content alone!

On top of that I published a collection of the best SEO tutorials.

I also published my income report along with the regular income report roundup feature and this months edition of the very best of internet marketing.

Crunching The Numbers

So let’s get our hands dirty and see what all of those changes to the blog has done to the important metrics.

Visitor Statistics

Last month traffic increased to 58,775 (1,896/day) which has increased further this month to 62,587 (2,086/day).

That also means that I have broken through my traffic goal barrier of 60,000 per month – now all I need to do is keep it steady!

analytics overview

Most Popular Content

The how to create a profitable membership site tutorial stole the top spot this month with my how to start a successful blog tutorial not far behind.

We also saw the new SEO tools page break into the top 10.

top content

Top Traffic Sources

The top traffic sources have remained steady this month.

The only really difference is that Google is now sending more traffic than it was previously which is always a nice bonus!

top traffic sources

Search Engine Traffic

As I explained at the top of this post, search engine traffic has increased nicely this month!

It has grown from 47,541 (1,533/day) to 51,122 (1,704/day).


YouTube Views

I lost all of my historical YouTube views because of changes I made to the branding – so I keep track of them separately.

YouTube views showed a small but welcomed increase this month from 16,799 to 17,954.

That also had an impact on total minutes watched which increased from 78,154 to 80,283 respectively.

youtube september views

Social Shares

This month the total social shares across Facebook and Google+ increased from 60,584 to 63,528.

  • Google+ – 22,739 (21,655 last month)
  • Facebook – 38,929 (40,789 last month)


The most important metric on the entire blog – earning a subscription from someone is the ultimate form of commitment and conversion.

This month brought 1,906 new subscribers which is a gentle increase from last months 1,755 new subscribers.

There are now a total of 148,846 subscribers across all of the various channels!

  • E-mail – 2,853 (1,255 last month) / Total: 82,233
  • Twitter – 312 (322 last month) / Total: 13,909
  • YouTube – 182 (164 last month) / Total: 12,505
  • Facebook – 170 (169 last month) / Total: 21,678
  • Google+ – 7 (-5 last month) / Total: 17,884
  • RSS – 197 (-150 last month) / Total: 637

Unable to post graphs at the moment – will update asap

Income Report

Here are the numbers you really want to see-

Affiliate Earnings


Consultation Earnings

I separate out my SEO consultant earnings from the affiliate earnings. The blog drives affiliate sales directly and whilst it does generate SEO consultation leads these are separate projects in their own right.

This month I took on one consultation job that resulted in a payment of $1,972.73

Other Income

I’m working on another project right now that is part of the blog but not something I’m ready to talk about publicly yet or maybe ever.

I will declare the income here though as it wouldn’t be possible without the blog and ‘technically’ it is affiliate income.

Last month showed a huge increase in income but that has dropped heavily from $11,267.91 to $8,511.57 this month which was not expected.

Earnings Total

  • Affiliate Income – $10,481.41
  • Consultation Income – $1,972.73
  • Other Income – $8,511.57
  • Expenses – $576.88

Grand Total: $20,388.83 / £15,860.44 ($21,686.09 / £16,336.65 last month)

Unable to post graphs at the moment – will update asap

How to start a successful blog in 7 days

Signing Off

Even though I took 2 weeks off to spend time with my friend, I feel like progress has come along leaps and bounds.

The blog is faster than ever before and traffic levels have showed steady increases to break through my 60k/month goal.

On top of that I have also planted a number of seeds to increase user experience further such as the split tests I mentioned above which I believe will have a huge impact once I implement the results.

There is still an awful lot to do though – I want to give the branding/graphics a complete overhaul and make serious improvements to my email marketing strategy.

Although income dropped this month, it’s not something I am worried about – right now I am purely focused on delivering the best user experience possible on the front and back end of the blog.

If you have any suggestions on how I can improve that for you – I’m all ears!

Thank you to everyone that has helped me reach my goals – I couldn’t do it without you, the reader!