EP58: Mads Singers discuss Flipping Sites and Running Agencies - Domain Magnate

EP58: Mads Singers discuss Flipping Sites and Running Agencies

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This week, Michael speaks with Mads Singers.

Mads is a People Management Consultant, Outsourcing Expert & SEO Nerd. He also runs The SEO Master Summit as well as buys and sells many websites.

Learn more about Mads at https://www.madssingers.com

READ THIS WEEK’S EPISODE –

Michael 0:02
This is the domain magnet show where you’ll learn everything you need to know about buying, optimizing and selling online businesses and with your host Michael Barris Lawsky. I’m excited to welcome Matt singers on this episode. Matt and I have known each other for quite a few years. And I’ve always followed with interest what he’s been up to some Mads runs the SEO mastery Summit, and Lazar as a large outsourcing company, and also buys and sells many sites. Hi, Matt. Hi, Michael. awesome to be here. Yeah. And also welcome back to Chiang Mai.

Mads 0:39
Thank you. It’s good to be back in the sun. Yeah, it’s winter in Europe. Yeah, it’s, it’s a bit cold. But things are really opening up here. I’m the first time I’m seeing some events happening in Chiang Mai now and they are now at the end of 2021.

Michael 0:57
Yeah.

Cool. So last time we we spoke maybe a year ago, so. And I remember you were telling me about

buying slides that got hit by by the latest update. I think it was early this year. And you told you that was what you were focusing on, like buying this size that got hit and then you you knew how to recover them, and you were able to recover quite a few. How did that go?

Mads 1:27
away? Well, I believe we bought one from you as well. And that is nearly recovered now. So Oh, wow. So that’s, that’s good. Yeah, I mean, I think I think Google have recently been doing a lot of updates. And

I think we will keep seeing more and more updates coming out from Google. So I think

if you figure out how to optimize the household to fix sites that get hits by update, it’s a great way to make some quick cash. Because if you can, you can buy sites that have been hit for a small amount, and you can kind of recover their previous status that that is. Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah, absolutely. So the size that you bought from me, as I recall, was pretty small, like maybe 100 or $200 per month in revenue after the

after? I I don’t actually remember. So my team look after it. But But yeah.

And do you know where it is now? Like, did it grow up? I’m not sure I just seen that the traffic is pretty much back up to to similar level that it used to be.

Michael 2:33
Okay, cool. So you, so you do quite a few different things. Let’s start with SEO mastery Summit.

Mads 2:40
How big was the last one, when was it? So basically, our philosophy behind the summit is, first of all, that we try and bring in new speakers for every single event. So we try and not have the same speakers over and over again, like many events. Now, on top of that, we do 40 to 50 speakers at every event. So it’s a big crowd. But I think it’s a great opportunity to actually get out and actually see some SEOs that don’t necessarily get as much

spotlight but have a lot of value to share. So that’s that’s sort of the mindset behind it. So the last one, we had just over 10,000 people out. And that was taken place last year in September. So the next one we’re going to do in a couple of months. So again, the whole mindset behind it is that it’s generally a free event if you watch it live. And really the goal for us is to to give lots of SEOs opportunities to learn. And we cover most aspects of SEO. So both local local SEO ecommerce affiliates, whichever people enter we we have it all covered gently. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I spoke at one of the I think was the first or the second one. That was the first one used. Yeah.

Michael 3:58
And I recall, you had like 3002 or 3000 people for that one. Right. So it’s grown quite a bit then. And the last one in September, was it what the third one? How many? Did you how was the third one? Yeah, so we do it twice a year. So and the September one was the third one. So we typically event typically grows with about two to 4000 each event.

Mads 4:22
Right. Very cool. And that’s so you mentioned that you do like for networking, right. It’s probably not not a very profitable thing to do, especially considering it’s, it’s a free conference, right? No, I mean, for me, the main thing is, is a few things I love speaking at events myself, right.

Michael 4:41
I think there’s there’s a lot to be said for that. Now, online event is obviously different than standing in front of a crowd. But I think it’s still a great way both to actually meet and connect with lots of people. And it’s also a great way to

Mads 4:57
Yeah, just give lots of people opportunities and

Again, for all the people watching the summit. It’s also a great learning opportunity. So it’s a little mix of lots of things. Not necessarily making a ton of money. No, but

Michael 5:13
it’s good fun. It’s good, fun. And cool. So let’s get to my favorite topic. Definitely talking about flipping sites. Yes. And you have very unique and interesting method of doing that, that seems to be quite well optimized. So yeah, tell us more about that. How long have you been involved in like, how many sites have you flipped? Yeah, I mean, so I started with SEO originally in 2007.

Mads 5:40
Now, SEO is kind of a side business for us. I dabble a lot in SEO and I have done for many years. But my my core passion is really management coaching and helping lots of SEO companies actually, building grow to effective management, right? Because unfortunately, most SEOs are not necessarily the most natural people, managers. So what I’ve done, probably about four years ago, we started, we basically put up a company that did in house SEO, so we don’t do it for clients, we just build our own assets, and roll them and flip them and so on. We’ve managed to form a few portfolios over the years as well, for clients and but that have been very specific portfolios, where we have basically been responsible for everything and managed everything. So typically, how we operate is, we’ve been trying, like when you look at SEO, there’s so many things you can do. So what we’ve tried to do is basically make our process as slim as efficient as possible. So we basically have a certain types of sites we look for. And we focus a lot on the content. So we previously bought a content agency. So we have a direct line for for significant amount of content. And really, our focus is to push out lots and lots of content on a regular basis. So what we do is we we typically have site managers that manage either one or two sites each. And the focus for those people is generally content optimization. So when we buy an existing site, really optimizing that content, I think the the biggest opportunity most people miss when they buy existing sites, is actually going in optimizing simple things like you know, titles and headers and all that.

And just making sure that you know, the keywords the page is ranking for, it’s actually being targeted well within the content. So that that’s the number one thing. Second thing we do is then identify gaps. So basically look for

easy, easy to to rank for content. And generally, our monetization is a mix. So we do both ads, and we do affiliates. One of the things we love doing is buying sites that only run affiliate, putting ads on them as well, and pretty much instantaneously

growing the revenue, and a lot of affiliates don’t put out Simon I think a lot of time, they’re afraid that the actual takeaway from affiliate earnings, but that have generally not been my experience. So generally, if we, if we buy a site, just put ads on it, we can often get a 10 to sometimes up to 30% increase in revenue overall for the site, just by adding ads to it. Right. So that’s a very, very quick way.

And that’s one of our favorites. But generally our foundation is really

developing site managers that know how to optimize content and know how to identify content opportunity, and then write some some solid content briefs so that the content they get and they add to the site is is the right level. And that good. Yeah, we’ve also found that there are many opportunities in optimizing content. But usually it’s the simple things, you just go to the top pages and you you follow some simple checklist of a few things to optimize, like titles and keywords and, and some tags and so on. And we’ve Yeah, we’ve also do start adding more ads, especially like as soy can some of the higher paying programs on to affiliate sites. You have to be careful though. Like if you have a site that’s converting really well, I will generally not add on ads.

So the beautiful thing, I mean, we love it. So like I think the fact mostly the fact that there’s no requirements in terms of volume anymore. So you can start at any point. I think we like that a lot. But also it’s easy to remove sites. Remove pages that you don’t want ads on. So if you have some particular pages where you

Michael 10:00
You know, like some particular money pages or converting pages, you can just disable ads from those pages. So, yeah, we do that on occasion. But typically we my experiences, we rarely see that the ads negatively impact affiliate sales. Yeah, it’s like, yeah, like it’s like small, especially with obvious premium features as well, you can, you can kind of earn a bit more, or the more traffic you have, and it scales.

Mads 10:29
Yeah. And we’ve also worked with media wine and trying adthrive forbid, I find that the various like in some in some niches, one of them could be better and others, like another and it like, it varies quite a lot. So we’ve seen so much variance, like some niches, even if it’s like, we might get $5 RPM only, like $5 for 1000 views, which is incredibly low, while others, we might get more than 100. Like we have some sites that get 100 $250 RPM on azoic. And it’s in similar things if it’s like media wine, so I guess you experience you can learn what what niches go well with this program, but also test a little bit. Yeah, and one thing I think is very important here, what most people don’t do is actually look at where the money comes in. Like we actually have sites that makes nearly 200 rpm.

And what we what we like doing is, we actually go in and look at the individual articles, because many people just look at, oh, here’s a site, and here’s the average RPM, but they don’t actually go in and look at what are the articles that makes a ton of money. And a lot of the time if you have particular articles that make you like sometimes up to $400 RPM, if you have articles like that, you probably want to do more content in the same direction. Right? Yeah. Because it’s very profitable. Right? Yeah, that’s a good point. And yeah, I guess, when you have a site manager per site, or per two sites, you can really dedicate a lot of time and resources to optimizing things. That’s one of the challenges we’ve encountered. Since we have usually a manager who manages maybe like five, six sites or so then there is not enough time really to go with deep and started looking at pages and, yeah, and things like that. It makes sense for bigger size, but not so much for most.

Michael 12:41
Yes, so that’s what I call but but you also the managers that that manager sites, what’s your level of experience? If more I mean, we’ve, we have, we have some that have four or five years experience. And we have some that literally only a couple of months. I mean, it typically takes us about two months to get someone up to speed so that they have most things come up, right. So

Mads 13:09
it doesn’t take us long to bring them up to speed just because our process is so simple. And the focus is so simple. So the main thing we look for is generally people who are great at English writing, just because, again, optimizing articles and headers and stuff like that it requires some interest in writing. Right? And how do you train? So this managers, are they writers? Are they like SEO people? First of all, how do you find them? How do you pick them on it? Honestly, I hate the way I always hire people. I find great people

that most of them are not SEOs, and they’re not particularly writers per se, but we we look for great people, one of our side managers right now she was an attritional coach, previously,

one worked in HR. And other one

he was I think he used to work on an embassy or something. So for me, the main thing is always the attitude and personality and

what can you

go more into that? Like what what sorts of things do you do you look for the new the new cigarette people. So for me, it’s it’s about finding people who are naturally very positive, who are naturally quite driven and want to do things.

And particularly, I like looking for people who have done things by themselves in the past. So they have achieved things and you know, sometimes they’ve

maybe had a rough time going through education or sometimes they’ve managed to, you know, get themselves from a not so great position into a great job by working hard. It’s the one and it could be different things but but but really,

in terms of mindset, it’s it’s

Finding people who want to do things, it’s finding people who are very positive individuals generally. And then it’s it’s just given them the right circumstances and managing them well and giving them particularly given them responsibility and ownership. So what we typically do is we give them a set salary, that’s, that’s relatively decent for where they live. But we then give them a percentage of

profits when we sell a site. So we typically do around 10%, right. So if we buy a site at maybe 30k, that’s making $1,000 a month, and then we sell that side for 150k. At some point, we will typically spend maybe 10 to 20k in expenses. So let’s, let’s say we make 100k profit, basically, the person then get 10% of that, which will will be about 10k. And, obviously, if you’re like some of these site managers makes 500 to $1,000. a month, right? So if they suddenly get a 10k bonus, then that’s, that’s a pretty solid bonus and a solid motivation. And, and really, what’s great about it as well is that, I mean, we generally haven’t had many of our sales managers leave. So the whole thing is, as well, the, you know, obviously, when they started working on the site, and so on, they definitely want to stick around onto the site sell. But But, but our focus, again, is flipping the sites, right, so we don’t give a percentage of commission throughout, we just give a percentage on the actual site sale. So when when the site is sold, and we then have a profit, how do they work? Who do they work with in your team? Do they? Do they only work with other writers? Do they also interact and collaborate with some other set managers? So yeah, we have a pretty flowing team. So we have one person kind of looking after the whole team, who is not an SEO by the way.

But we have within the team, we have one guy who do like sort of website setup and technical enough to do all the sort of, you know, if a side, many of you want to do something with the side, he can solve that out.

Also, we like using services. So for speed optimization, for example, we have a particular service, we’ll also build like a custom theme for ourselves. I just that’s relatively easy to use, but most importantly, it’s fast. So we have quite a few of our sites end up looking similar based on that theme.

Michael 17:35
So yeah, that’s that’s typically what we do. And the writers you mentioned, you had that agency. So that was site manager, prepare our outline the topics and then pass it over to that agency to to work. Yeah, yeah. So basically, we basically just operate, we have a project management tool, where we just all the article requirements is put in. So basically, the, the site manager basically adds the requirement into the project management tool, and it’s taken taken care of, by by our agency. So yeah, that is pretty straightforward process. And we we tend to stack up right so that basically, the site managers will put in a request for maybe the next 100 articles or something. And then

then we just get them done. Then you get 100 articles all together, and they publish them like one by one. Now we do it, they often come in step by step, right? So 20, like 1020, okay, something like that. But yeah, but generally, the way we publish is consistency. So

Mads 18:40
I would say generally, our smaller sites would publish one piece of content per day,

our bigger sites and maybe publish three to four pieces of content. But

the key thing is that when you start with content, there’s a delay. Alright, so a lot of people are like, Oh, I have to indexed. But just because a piece of content index doesn’t mean that ranks, right? So what we typically see as it takes somewhere between two to four months, for a piece of content get indexed until kind of ranks as its natural position. Alright. So if you put a piece of content live today, you will typically wait somewhere around three months before you start seeing it come up in the top. Right. Yeah. So and that’s something that’s, that’s, that’s especially challenging when you work with clients, or investors, because you have to explain that our we are going to do the research to prepare the topics and then send them to the writers and then the writers are going to write them and then we publish them. And the whole thing takes some time until you get you get it all running. So it might take like three to six months to see some initial results. Yeah, yeah. And that’s correct. And that’s also why we like even when we run portfolio, we we

require full autonomy. I mean, we

we don’t want to be explaining what we do every step of the way. Right? But but generally for us with the content, you have to know and understand that right? Because a lot of time, it’s easy to freak out and you’re like, Oh, we spent two months. We haven’t seen any rankings yet. But the whole thing is consistency. Right. So, so our core focus is generally just publishing extremely consistent.

Michael 20:26
And do do backlinks at all.

Mads 20:30
No, not? Not at all.

Michael 20:33
Not okay. So only only content? And do you also focus more on optimizing monetization, like trying to find some better affiliate programs doing CRO? Well, so it’s also the easiest when sometimes it’s better affiliate programs. The other thing is just actually talking to existing affiliate partners. Many SEOs don’t like talking to people, but actually just calling up an affiliate partner and say, hey, you know, this meeting is decide, we’d love to do some cool things.

Mads 21:07
There’s a lot of opportunity. And I mean, even we mentioned this earlier, do you have a good relationship with a solid? You can get benefits out of that as well. So yeah, yeah, absolutely, we found that we found the same like we feel so like, we talked to our account managers frequently. And just yesterday, I was on a call with our account manager from ExpressVPN. And they’ve been quite helpful.

I think many people just don’t realize how helpful affiliate managers can be. They, they have all the knowledge or the expertise, like they can just go into their back panels and see who is affiliated as making the most money. And then they can just pull up well, they wouldn’t usually share private data, with with conversions on everything, but they can just show you, like, this is the site that converts the best with our offer. And you would just look at it and you know, okay, so this is very simple. This is what I do, I’m gonna use this banner, you know, this layout. And that’s it, and that will just double conversions. Like, they just take all the guessing out of it. Because they already know, so you don’t have to experiment. Like yeah, it’s, it’s incredibly valuable, especially if you have a site that it has really high traffic and,

and, and they can kind of like compare some conversion rates. So I’ve noticed that most like some of them will actually share even the information of other affiliates, like how much they’re earning, but most of them will not. So I usually don’t ask, like how much that site is making. By pretty much everyone would be happy to just show you who their top affiliates are. And kind of give you something like, yeah, like Nicole to do better, right? Yeah, exactly. And they can like, give you some idea of like, they’re converting a lot better than your side, like they’re gonna go through much worse, like so on. And they can just kind of like, tell you what you need to do. And I think that the reason why many people don’t do that is because there is that misconception that affiliate managers are just like, this car salesman, yeah, who just want to push you his cars and kind of like, keep buying you if making more money for Skype or whatever. But that’s been my experience. My experiences, I’ve rarely got on the call with an affiliate manager the first time and not had that increase in commission come up. Yeah, very rarely. And it’s just something most people don’t. I mean, we’ve had scenarios where we have more than doubled affiliate commission, just by having a call with definitely. Right. Yeah, absolutely. It’s, it can be hard to believe, if it’s like for commission junction or impact the one of the bigger networks, because then there is often either no manager or they just don’t take calls. But the programs that are, you know, like ExpressVPN that that really put a lot of effort into working with affiliates. There you can just pretty much double the rate right away. If you have a default rate. You can get some really useful tips as well. So yeah,

so lately

we’ve,

yeah, yeah. And what I’ve noticed is

sometimes for us interesting opportunities, working with companies that don’t have an affiliate program yet, but that could be a bit more complicated. So it’s probably just worth it when you really have a lot of traffic, a lot of sales. Have you guys that we’ve definitely done that quite a few times. So we we’ve we haven’t helped them set up a few times when people out of WordPress sites or ecommerce sites. We have sent them to a plugin called affiliate Dudley.

That’s been super easy.

I mean, we have used it ourselves for some sites in the E commerce space. And we found it super easy. So we worked with a few people that didn’t have an affiliate program, we did have a call with them, and basically really explained to them how affiliate works and why it’s smart, and why it’s great and all this and then get them to sign up and get set up and so on. And, again, that’s a competitive advantage. Because if you’re doing something that no one else in the market is doing, then, you know, you either have unique products or like so so that works really well. Yeah, and as you say, sometimes it’s you can’t convince everyone to do it. But if you have a good conversation actually explained, like affiliate have so many upsides, and that’s very few downsides. Right? So

Michael 25:44
do you work with Amazon Associates? Often?

Mads 25:47
Yes, we do. I know. Everyone hates them. Yeah, I think they’re, I think that decent. We work a lot with them also in non US countries, just because I have permissions and stuff. But yeah, I still think there’s a there’s

there’s a lot of situations where Amazon makes sense. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. The easy. I think the hate is partially deserved. But but they are they’re easy to work with, despite the the low commissions.

But everyone has been talking in the industry for a few years now about the opportunity to,

to sort of hack that and just go directly to these companies or, like, figure out how you can buy with some as an affiliate monetize sites, and then just replace them with if much better paying programs. Have you had much success with that? Yeah, so just a couple of points on that one. So

what one thing is, like a lot of time people have sites with, you know, if they do these top 10 articles, and let’s say they have, I don’t know, 30 of those articles, that’s 300 different products. Now, if you need to go out and find 300, individual programs for specific products, that can take a lot of time and effort, right. And I think one of the things people will look, I mean, we love using Amazon in the beginning. And when we don’t get pages and sites to a point where they have a lot of traffic, then it makes sense to replace individual products. But

if I make one or two sales a month, it doesn’t generally make sense for me to go out and find a unique affiliate program for that specific product, right. Whereas if you’re generating hundreds of sales for something, obviously, if you can significantly increase the profit margin for you, then that that’s beneficial. All right, but I think we kind of at 28, and we basically look at the sites, when they start getting a certain volume of sales on specific products, then we start to look for individual specific affiliate programs, right.

Michael 27:57
Now, there is a lot of opportunity.

Mads 28:01
We we have always done a lot of affiliate outreach, in general, we have worked on both sides of the fence that work with a lot of clients where they are in ecommerce, and actually reaching out to affiliates and make doing special deals with them. So we actually have a couple of Amazon affiliate sites where we are

where the people whose product we like promoting, basically give us an additional commission on top of what Amazon pays on a monthly basis. Now, again, that mostly makes sense when you’re actually doing a certain volume of sales, right? Yeah, can we

we did that with like one or two people, because we just happen to connect with them. And turns out, people are really happy to do that. Because we might get like 4% from Amazon, and they’re happy to just give you another four or five cars compared to what they’re spending on marketing. That’s nothing. But they are very difficult to get in touch with with either with, especially with the bigger companies. So how did you manage to create those contacts? How did you set it up? So most of the time, a lowly, the one that we do very well with is actually smaller businesses. So what happens is actually our preference is often doing off Amazon. So a lot of time we find companies that have a Shopify store or something because that’s is easier, it’s more automatic. But reality is a lot of these people want to sell on Amazon, they want to drive traffic to their Amazon because that gives them more sales and it gives them higher rank in Amazon. Right? So a lot of time we approach people and say, hey, you know, I can see you’re selling this on your store. You know, oftentimes they don’t advertise an affiliate program. So we asked them to their affiliate program we asked if you know we can jump on a phone call with them. And then if we can do that then

Unknown Speaker 29:58
yeah, we We then talked

Unknown Speaker 30:00
through it. And sometimes it ends up the saying, Oh, we want to sales on Amazon, we want sells on Amazon. And then we basically just agree an additional fee. And I mean, we have people sometimes paying 10 15% Extra

 

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