Update on Mini Site & Launch of New Site

Subscribe to Elliot's BlogAlthough I’ve heard Google doesn’t allow publishers to provide Adsense stats, I wanted to give an update on FuelAssistance.com, the site that was built for me by my friend Bradley at Site Graduate. I launched the site a few weeks ago, and I blogged about it in a “5 With… Bradley Epstein.”
So far, the site has done very well.   With the exception of the 2 days around when I posted a link to it from my blog (which received much more traffic than normal), search engine traffic has grown from 0 to around 22%, mostly from MSN, but also from Yahoo and Google.   People are using the following keywords to successfully find the site (among others), “fuel assistance,” “home energy assistance program,” “free weatherize home,” “weatherize,” “federal fuel assistance,” “ma. low income financial assistance,” and “fuelassistance.com.”
Revenue is also up quite dramatically, although the site was making less than $.15 per day as a parked page. Once the site achieves a higher ranking in Google, which can be attributed to SEO activities of Site Graduate and link building, I think traffic will grow even more.   Also, the revenue per click seems to be much higher than it was when it was parked, which is a nice surprise, as sometimes the opposite happens.
Because of the success of FuelAssistance.com, I   decided to work with SG on another geodomain that I own, BerkeleyHeights.com (Berkeley Heights, NJ). At the moment, the site gets very little traffic – just under 1 unique per day, and it makes just a few dollars per month.   I did some keyword research, and I found that quite a few people were searching for various things in Berkeley Heights.
Since Berkeley Heights is a community of about 15,000 people and is 30 minutes from Manhattan, I felt this name would be perfect for a mini site. IMO, it’s not big enough for a full site like I’ve done with Burbank and Lowell, but it’s perfect to capture low-hanging fruit traffic. The site isn’t fully developed yet, so if you are interested, you can watch it as it grows.
In addition to the mini-site and SEO work that Site Graduate will do, I also plan to add my own content based on some keyword research that I do.   This will keep the site growing, which is something the search engines like to see. Ultimately, I plan to sell this geodomain, but I think the traffic and revenue will be a major contributor to its value.
If you have a site developed by Site Graduate and want to share some of the results, feel free to leave a comment for others to see. I am trying to determine which of my domain names will be next for them to develop – perhaps SaveTheDates.com.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Hi Elliot:
    Informative post, thanks.
    One quick question though, how will you add content to the site. Does SG provide you with access to the file and you take it from there in Dreamweaver? Or is there another content management tool that you will use?
    It’s built with a customized WordPress theme, so it’s easy to make additions/changes in your web browser.

  2. Search engines adore new content. I would love to revisit fuelassistance.com’s search engine rankings in a couple months when there’s no more new content and only one back link (in YSE) from this blog.
    You are incorrect. I currently show 58 inlinks on Yahoo to FuelAssistance.com, not including my blog. Go to Yahoo’s site explorer and enter the name.

  3. Berkeley Heights.com looks very nice. I particularly liked the integrated ‘Weather.com’ information. Gives a more relevant or interactive look. Way to go! You AND SG have lots of great ideas!

  4. i like berkeleyheights.com – nice format – however, i would strongly recommend proofing the site (typos, grammar errors, etc) – in general, programmers are not the most diligent in this area – the site’s credibility is at stake.
    Good idea – thanks… will do once it’s completed.

  5. Elliot,
    Can you share the font that is used for the word “Lowell” in your Lowell.com logo? If so, is it free?
    I really like the look of the font.
    It’s a custom font created by my designer 🙂

  6. Mini-sites don’t perform in natural search as a whole, especially for competitive terms (unless there is an exact domain phrase or word match – it may work, but won’t compete with a larger site). Even Google defines a “small” site in their SEO Starter Guide as having a minimum of *250* pages.
    While I agree that this is partially true (as I am doing well in some areas for a couple sites), the goal isn’t necessarily to be #1 for smaller competitive key phrases. If we rank in the top 5 for some long tail search terms, the site will do just fine, IMO.

  7. Elliot is correct Rob, there’s plenty of nice SE action on the long tails and if you follow the SE blogs more and more searches are long tail.
    I’ve got many sites on page 1 just by creating very precise content tailored to what that precision searcher is looking for.
    So it’s much more productive to focus your sites with a longer tail search strategy.

  8. Hi Elliot:
    Do these Site Graduate sites offer the ability to be transferred from one owner to the other?
    And on that note, I have heard that Google makes a site start over in the rankings if ownership changes, is this true?
    I would assume they will allow you to transfer ownership since you are buying the site. I happen to keep mine on their servers, but I am sure they will deliver the site to you if requested. Contact Bradley or Sean to be sure though.
    I have heard rankings can be impacted with a new owner, but I think content is the important thing. Between the two of us, I am in the process of forming a company for some of my developed web properties, so I will be changing ownership on those in the next few weeks. We’ll see what happens.

  9. I agree that a small site can capture some long tail searches, and even compete for exact domain matches. Long tail search rankings don’t always translate to search traffic. Sure, you might rank on a few low volume long tail terms, but is it enough traffic to justify the effort? For some, the answer is yes, but no for many other domains.
    Generally speaking, small site developers would get a bigger return on their domain if they invested the effort to build out 100+ pages (provided that the theme of the domain can support it).

  10. Rob, the amount of pages doesn’t matter… You somehow implying that websites that have 100 or 250 pages worth of content have a certain edge is simply not true.
    It is all about relevant content. A simple site startup with 5 – 10 pages is more than enough in order to get ranked for the EXACT keyword or phrase, assuming it is already within your domain, as well as most of the longer tail searches… Well at least the top 5 or 10 of them which your sub-pages should be focused on.
    You follow the basics and you get immediate results. It is that simple.

  11. Yes, I am implying that site size within a given keyword theme is relative to search engine trust. The 100-250 page count cited is not an objective one, only to get some new developers to understand the engine’s definition of a “small site”, with regard to natural search performance. Five pages is *really* small.
    If it were as simple as just being relevant, then most sites with quality content would rank #1. The problem is that there is only one #1, and when there is competition, engines look at other signals of relevancy, one of them being depth of content, in addition to freshness of content, semantic page markup, natural link growth, quality of links, tech hygiene, etc. etc.
    The mini-site approach also often fails to take advantage of stemmed search phrases from quality keyword domains (meaning the mini-site approach is actually *anti-longtail* in the sense that it limits the scope of the keyword set). Investing more into the quality and depth of the site can bring exponentially higher returns. Think of “sushirestaurants.com” also capturing rankings for every “cityname+sushi+restaurant” keyphrase, in addition to the primary phrase “sushi restaurants”. A mini site doesn’t get you there, due to lack of content and engine trust, and lack of a true longtail approach. Ultimately, the domain’s potential is untapped because the scope (read: site size) is disproportionate to the quality of the name. Unfortunately many domainers with good names are starting to go this route. They may be happy with a few rankings, and that’s fine too.
    Building content equity and trust equity into a solid domain is hard work, and it is not for everybody.

  12. Rob,
    Mini sites can and in many cases do perform extremely well in search. I’ll agree it does depend on how many large sites it’s competing against, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your keyword domain ranked on the first page.
    Rick Latona’s built a whole business in AEIOU.com around this concept.
    Kevin Leto at: DomainsNewsletter.com
    Also at: BigTicketDomains.com
    has been doing the same.
    The key is finding and developing mini sites with some search traffic. I certainly wouldn’t waste my time on a long tail that only gets 100 Google searches a month. There are plenty of keyword domains for sale at cheap prices that get 2k – to 50k searches a month.

  13. @Mike & Scott,
    Based on our experiences, @Rob is 100% right on this.
    If you want to compete with others, then a mini site won’t cut it. Our experience is that 1000 pages tuned with good titles, internal linking with good anchor text and deep linking from external sources will get you in the top 10 and keep you there.
    I’d consider ‘sushi restaurants’ to be a competitive and ‘sushi restaurants in san francisco’ to be non-competitive.
    So if your domain is sushirestaurants.com and you have a mini site on it like Page does, you’re not going to rank for the competitive term of ‘sushi restaurants’.
    Mini sites work well for non-competitive niche keyword phrases and many people have built 100 or 500 of these mini sites to make $1 a day. But if you’ve got a great domain like sushirestaurants.com you are kissing a lot of money goodbye with a mini site.
    – Richard

  14. This is great! I’m doing the exact same thing for a client that is targeting the Houston area real estate industry. So far we have 20 blogs that resemble that minisite and is proving extremely successful in gathering countless local leads.
    If anyone needs help developing a minisite, feel free to contact me.

  15. The chase for content is really an endless one, you must realize that you cannot and I guarantee you will not dominate all keywords related to sushirestaurants.com even if you do develop it and a year or two from now which is just an example. The geo-approach many domainers are now doing is good but you must also realize that you cannot and will not rank for any keywords within Finance, Real Estate, Travel, etc.. There are already 100s of sites already competing within those sub-niches, for example local CITY/STATE brokerage firms… Local travel agents, expedia… Local job boards.
    People, get your sh*t together and try to focus… Some of the above posts make me laugh as it actually gives people hope but reality is that it is too much work and not worth it.
    Focus on just the few main keywords with the most traffic. That is where all the money is and majority of traffic… If you get longtail search, that is just an added benefit and nice little surprise. You cannot get it all in very competitive niches within 300-500k+ monthly searched niches.
    Amount of pages on a site don’t really matter. While 10 may be too little… That is just your own opinion.. Google has ranked countless sites of mine within 100k+ searched terms right at the top and I’ve secured the rankings for years now…
    Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you have 10 pages of content and you are not getting anywhere lets say within 1 month you should add more content and do additional seo, but when does it stop? 100? 1000? heh… SEO 101, start with the basics and work as you go… it is a long process

  16. I’ve learned one thing for sure about SEO, there’s a lot of “SEO Gurus” that have an agenda and make money from it by making it sound more scientific than it is and go around bashing small site developers all the time.
    I have a site that has been in the top 10 listings out of 7 million for 3 years. It’s under 5 pages, but has very relevant information to the domain’s keywords. It’s a 4 word domain. From this site I’ve generated revenues continuously and more importantly gathered an extremely valuable database of over 1,500 extremely wealthy investors. The domain cost me $7, the mini site about $150 of my time.
    I’ve never considered myself an SEO Guru, nor will I. I just follow Google’s core mantra, and build sites that provide a good user experience and in doing so get good rankings.

  17. Hi Elliot:
    Just curious, why don’t you put the hotel affiliate ads that you put on Burbank.com also on BerkeleyHeights.com?
    Hotel affiliate requires css in the back-end as well as other things to set up. I don’t think many people are looking for hotels, and to make a few extra $$$ (maybe) I would rather just Adsense it.

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