Real Life Examples of Stage 1 Authority Sites

This is episode 7 of 7 of the Authority Hacker New Year Starter Series. If you haven’t been through the previous episodes, we suggest you go and check those out first.

What you will learn

  • How 3 different stage 1 authority sites are making money
  • How a site in the paintball niche ranks on page 1 with very few links
  • How one site is crushing it despite being in an "obscure" niche
  • How a site in the outdoors niche is ranking for around 281,000 keywords

Today we’re going to look at 3 examples of real life stage 1 sites. These all vary in quality and the idea is just to give you an idea of what you can actually achieve with this model.

Paintball Pursuit

Paintball Pursuit Homepage

PaintballPursuit.com is in the paintball niche and is the smallest site on our list with only around 10 pages and a couple thousands estimated monthly visitors.

Despite it’s size, the site is positioned in a very low competition niche and we believe it’s making around $100-$300 per month as a result. That said, with a bit of work there’s no reason this site couldn’t make it into the 4 figure per month realm.

The content focuses heavily on individual product reviews and the cost of these products are relatively high, offering attractive affiliate commissions.

As for links, it only has 40 referring domains – a very weak link profile and one that could be replicated in no time. Despite that, the site ranks for some solid keywords including #3 for “paintball gun reviews” and #4 for “best paintball gun”.

Lastly, the site lacks a persona and overall, it just doesn’t feel very credible. The design is super basic and they haven’t even bothered to implement a logo.

Lastly, the site lacks a persona and overall, it just doesn’t feel very credible. The design is incredibly basic and they haven’t even bothered to include a logo.

Best Crossbow Source

Best Crossbow Source Homepage 2016

BestCrossbowSource.com is in the crossbow niche. It has around 350 published pieces of content and almost 200,000 monthly visitors. Overall, this site is a bit closer to the size of Authority Hacker.

Despite being in what some might call an “obscure” niche, we believe this site is making around 5 figures per month and shows no signs of slowing down.

The content itself is excellent and it’s almost all affiliate content with a strong focus on buyer intent related keywords. They frequently use ‘Best X’ format for their articles, including pieces like “best crossbows” and “best lightweight crossbows”.

Interestingly, this site doesn’t seem to target any informational keywords, which is something we definitely don’t advise but it seems to working for them nonetheless.

In terms of their link profile, with only 96 referring domains it’s not all that strong and not the highest quality, either. This is especially surprising when you consider that they’ve been around for over 3 years.

Lastly, the design is pretty good. It’s simple, clean and well designed. One thing we didn’t like was the domain, which is less branded and too “exact match”.

Outdoor Gear Lab

Outdoor Gear Lab Homepage

OutdoorGearLab.com is a site in the outdoors niche. It’s by far the largest site on our list with tons of pages and around 600,000 monthly visitors.

The content is outstanding and on par with affiliate giant, the thewirecutter.com. The have huge buying guides, they claim to manually review every product and all product photos seem to be taken in-house also.

The site is very SEO-focused with a clear content strategy, netting them a massive 2,400 referring domains which has allowed them to rank for around 281,000 keywords.

As for the branding, it’s actually pretty mediocre. The fonts are average, the brand colors are neutral and logo looks like you could get it done on Fiverr.com.

Overall, a very strong affiliate site highlighting and one that highlights a number of opportunities. For example, you could easily pick one of their categories and build a dedicated (more detailed) site around that niche.

Key Takeaways

PaintballPursuit BestCrossbowSource OutdoorGearLab
​Niche Paintball Outdoors Crossbows
​Size Small Medium Large
Pages ~10 ~350 ~4,300
Est. Traffic 2,000 200,000 600,000
Ref. Domains 40 96 2,400

There’s certainly a lot to be learned from looking at these 3 sites, which are not only at different levels in terms of size, but also have a completely different approach with their marketing and content strategy.

PaintballPursuits.com shows us that even with a handful of links, it’s still possible to rank highly targeted content around high ticket products. This site would require very little work to replicate and could easily be improved with intelligent design choices and some kind of persona.

BestCrossbowSource.com proves that even obscure niches like “crossbows” can make decent money, providing the content is of a high enough quality. This site is also another example of how few backlinks are needed to get some real traction in search engines.

OutdoorGearLab.com is a testament to the sheer scalability of an authority site. This site is also a perfect example of how to approach content the right way, because just looking at the quality of their articles makes you realize why they’ve grown as big as they have.

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