How We Built A Million Dollar Site In 4 Months

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  • June 4, 2008

At Branded3 we don’t normally like to talk about how much money our client’s make but in this case I want to make an exception.

A new client at the start of the year requesting a linkbuilding campaign for their brand new e-commerce site. The site was built on a standard shopping cart platform with just the usual SEO modifications (page titles, friendly urls etc) carried out.

We set about building links – a total of 700 to date. The links are all natural and judging by last months figures the search engines love them. In May, the fourth month we have been working on the site and the fourth month it has been live, it made $90,000 from organic search. If the revenue stays at this figure the site will make over $1 million per year.

Of course we hope to keep increasing the revenue and turn the site into a $10 million business inside 12 months.

The reason I am writing about this is to show that building a new site from scratch isn’t impossible. In moderately competitive industries you can overhaul any competitors inside 12 months with the right backlinks.

By building natural links you can avoid most of the traditional sandbox effects and make enough money from long tail traffic to be profitable inside a few months. After that it’s just a question of watching & waiting.

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

  • Glen Allsopp

    Were they making their own products or drop shipping?

    • Patrick Altoft

      Neither, they buy products from manufacturers, store them and deliver by courier.

  • Mikael

    Nice work Patrick. How many total working hours do you estimate have been spent on the site to generate that effect?

    • Patrick Altoft

      Perhaps 15 days total so far. We are working on a 100% performance related deal like we do with lots of clients.

  • David Fiske

    I’m sure it’s confidential information but could you give a rough idea of the raw cost of getting 700 backlinks? I assume some of these will be paid directories?

    • Patrick Altoft

      £500 was the cost of submitting to Yahoo Directory, etc. Probably 10 paid directories in total.

      The rest of the links were free.

  • Hugo

    I’m trying to play devil’s advocate on this piece, but I simply can’t poke holes in it.

    Great stuff, Patrick!

    We work mostly with Fortune 500 companies in very competitive markets and are coming across the same conclusions that you are; properly optimized natural links are the shiznit!

  • stussy

    very interesting.
    but how much money does your service cost?(sorry for my english)

    • Patrick Altoft

      5% of the revenue we drive via organic search.

  • Mikael

    Do you have any specific criterias or do you work with any type of english business/site?

    • Mikael

      The reason I am asking is that there might be a lot of folks here that would want to hire you (I know I would) but I imagine that you don’t accept everyone as a client?

    • Patrick Altoft

      We don’t really have any set criteria other than the fact the client needs to have ambition to become a big player in their industry. Because we work on a performance basis for a number of clients it’s more about the potential money they can make rather than their monthly budgets.

      We are always happy to give a quote.

  • Carlito

    I’d love to hear the types of link building activities you employed – I’ve always had trouble finding ways to build links to pure ecommerce sites.

    • Patrick Altoft

      There are 2 ways to build links to an e-commerce site. The first is to have products that are so cool that people just link to them (sites like Firebox get links in this way).

      The second is to have added value such as a blog, tutorials etc.

      • Carlito

        Assuming you did the second method, did you actually write the blog entries and tutorials for the customer or advise them on what to write? Just curious…

      • Patrick Altoft

        We haven’t written any content yet but we intend to. Usually the client writes some and we write some too. Then we handle all the promotion.

  • Web Browser

    OK, so *how* you built it? It says nothing about that, just that you bought links and that’s all which is would be the same for how I made 1 USD within 1 year…

    • Patrick Altoft

      Well the site was making nothing when we started and then after we built the right links it makes a lot of money.

      Nowhere on this page does it say we bought links. We paid to be editorially reviewed by places like the Yahoo Directory but that isn’t buying links.

      Linkbuilding is about knowing which links work and which don’t.

  • Rajab Bader

    I guess you also did some linkbait and got picked up by some mainstream media, right?

    • Patrick Altoft

      We have yet to start writing the linkbait content. We have been able to get people to write about the products naturally.

  • Adomas

    I think you should write one more article about building links. It would be really useful.

  • Web Design Company

    We use a slightly different approach for our small web design company website. Our website is about a year old but it seems we spend much more time on search engine optimisation between our team members. We do a lot of press releases, participate in forms and spend a lot of time writing new content ands article son our website. We get only 700 visits a month but they are highly targeted traffic from search engines. We are small business and this works for us. We get approximately 30 to 40% of our business from search engines, the rest are through word of mouth recommendations.

    Our approach is different as it seems we put in much more time on it. We are equally happy with the results although we do not make huge amounts. Especially as we only use Organic search engine optimisation and no other form of advertising.

  • Roman Dordyak

    Very interesting approach. Also I wish you the further successes. And whether it is possible your method to apply concerning my site?

  • bing

    Hi! Ive just been hooked (interested) with the concept of SEOs and online brand marketing a couple of days ago. Been doing some searching though not sufficient data to give me the whole picture. Would you mind giving me some suggestions what books or sites to visit to understand the A-Z of SEOs? I’m thinking something like “SEOs for Dummies”? Much obliged!

  • marvin
  • Jullie

    A new very good million dollar site is

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