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Are Authority Sites a Good Business Model to Follow?


When I first started out in internet marketing, affiliate marketing(old style), was at its peak. What we would now call ‘thin’ affiliate sites were everywhere.

All an affiliate had to do to make a decent income, was slap up an exact match domain for some product, or group of products and write a few pages in the form of a review site. Many marketers didn’t even bother with that and took visitors straight to a sales page. Then if you were to buy a few backlinks from the likes of Fiverr and hey presto, in no time at all you could rank on page one of Google giving you free traffic all day long. 

As long as your reviews or sales pages were well presented you would see a constant trickle or maybe a torrent of revenue depending on the offer and keywords you were targeting.

Then along came the Panda, Penguin, EMD updates etc. from your friendly neighbourhood Google. In one cataclysmic shift, hundreds of affiliate sites which had very little substance, disappeared off the radar completely. I should know ’cause some of mine vanished and have never returned. Google was trying to send a message to us marketers loud and clear. Give visitors value. Give them a good visitor experience so that they return to your site again and again. Provide quality stuff so that they ‘share’ or ‘like’ your site.

It’s true that there appears to have been some casualties along the way who didn’t appear to deserve it. However, it also seems to be the case that for highly competitive and generally lucrative keyword based sites, it appears slightly easier to get ranked highly without masses of great content in the very short term. At least that seems to be the evidence of marketers who analyse these things. Over the medium to long term these thin content sites do tend to lose traction and disappear off the radar.

So the message is potentially this….only potentially as second guessing Google isn’t an exact science….. you can build thin content affiliate sites for short term gain. A constant turnover of new sites would seem to be the way to go as their shelf life appears limited. As a business model it certainly has its merits as far as ROI is concerned.

On the other hand creating a quality site and quality content seems a very attractive alternative to me at the moment. As long as your site isn’t fighting one of the really big boys, then an authority status site carries with it the prospect of high rankings in low and medium competition niches pretty much from here on in. It is unlikely that in the foreseeable future that a site that has gained authority and hence high ranking, would suddenly see this ranking lost.

A word of caution though. I really wouldn’t put my eggs in one basket. All well and good following the authority model plan as opposed to the short term multiple and repeated thin site approach, just as long as you don’t create just one massive site that carries with it all your monetization. For me the whole reason for building an authority site would be to flip it(sell it) at some later stage. You can only flip a site if its monetization is rock solid. ie it’s traffic source must be rock solid.

An unexpected adjustment in Google’s alogrithm at any time could see your entire business sent down the tubes. I’d suggest a number of authority sites of lesser magnitude and in different niches together with a few thin sites might be the order of the day.

Anyhow, food for thought.

It would be good if you have experience of authority sites to see you post some thoughts on here so that we all could learn from each others experiences.

In the mean time why don’t you check out Lisa Parmley who has a membership site: Authority Site Model. Alternatively her Inline SEO course which is also excellent for authority sites. Lisa is a master at authority site creation and how to drive traffic and monetizing it. I’ve learned loads from her over the years.

Speak soon,

Andy Lunt


  1. Lisa Parmley says:

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for mentioning my site and the course in your post. I firmly believe that anyone who would like to build a long-term business needs to create useful content if they’re hoping to attract traffic through website content. Search engines want to rank the most useful content highest so the best strategy is to try to create the best content. Plus you’ll get visitor referrals and traffic from other sites linking to you.

    All the best …


    • andylunt says:

      Hi Lisa,

      It’s a pleasure giving you a mention. I’ve learned so much from your courses and if I can help others by pointing them in the direction of others who can help them, then I will.

      Keep up the good work.


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