Managing a website portfolio can be a rewarding and lucrative endeavor, but it also requires careful planning and ongoing maintenance to ensure the success of each site. Sharing income reports with others can provide valuable insights and help identify improvement areas.
By regularly monitoring traffic and revenue, staying up-to-date with industry trends and best practices, and continually seeking ways to optimize and grow each site in the portfolio, website owners can maximize the potential for financial success and build a sustainable, long-term business.
In this income report series, we aim to share our growth journey and the key factors that have contributed to our success. We will also share the minor details we focus on each month to improve the overall growth of our portfolio. Our goal is to provide inspiration and guidance for building your own AI-driven website portfolio at a lower cost
1. Traffic & Earning Overview
During the month of December, the portfolio sites saw a substantial drop in search traffic, which followed a similar rate of traffic drop (7494 visits) during the transition from October to November. This decrease in traffic largely occurred on websites that rely heavily on AI content.
Based on our data, we believe the AI content isn’t the sole reason for this traffic drop. In fact, the decline in SERP ranking for a couple of sites in the portfolio indicates we need to update those contents that were used to drive a major part of the traffic on prominent sites.
How do we know content updates should get our content back on track?
We had always believed that with a well-planned content production strategy and expert guidance, we could create highly optimized content at a low cost for multiple AI-driven websites that compete on SERPs. When we noticed that some keywords on one of our well-maintained sites were losing their positions, we decided to update the top-performing content that was driving traffic.
Just three weeks later, we have already seen some positive results. Most of the updated content has recovered its keyword position and the traffic it had lost. In fact, our overall monthly traffic on those sites is even better now. I will later highlight the two sites that we were able to recover from the traffic and pageview loss, as well as the corresponding recovery in revenue.
While this strategy may not be effective for all sites in the portfolio, we are confident that we can execute it successfully in the first quarter of 2023.
Could this be a seasonal traffic drop?
It is difficult to determine whether or not the traffic drop mentioned is seasonal. There could be a number of factors at play, such as changes in search algorithms, competition from other websites, shifts in consumer behavior, and whether people are looking for the topics at the same frequency they previously did.
The compassion between December traffic of 2021 and 2022 shares common traffic frequency, although it’s difficult to conclude, given we have many more new pages (than 2021) on the sites responsible for driving traffic. What I would like to note is that the comparison between 2021 and 2022 December traffic shares a sudden drop in traffic despite the sites were making some growth in the previous months.
I do not think the traffic drop mentioned is necessarily a seasonal occurrence. We have recently been able to recover SERP positions and traffic on a couple of sites, suggesting that other factors may be at play than this being a seasonal occurrence. The comparison might have produced different results if we had recovered these rankings and traffic for most of our sites in the portfolio (which is too good to ask for in just a month).
That being said, let’s get into the traffic and pageview stats of the portfolio:
The overall traffic for the portfolio declined by 10.93% in December, with a total of 61,045 visitors compared to 68,539 in the previous month. In addition, there was a noticeable decrease of 11.68% in page views, with 71,221 page views in December compared to 80,643 in November.
It is worth noting that these numbers represent the entire portfolio, and it is possible that some websites within the portfolio may have experienced different levels of traffic change. One site in the portfolio saw the highest individual increase in traffic, with a gain of 106.04%. This website has received significant content updates. The greatest individual loss in traffic among the websites in the portfolio was -46.24%.
It looks like the revenue for a particular portfolio in December was $578.55, which is a decrease of 19.16% compared to the previous month’s revenue of $715.68. The ePMV, or estimated pageview value, also decreased by 12.02% from the previous month. This decrease in ePMV contributed to the overall drop in revenue of $137.13 from the previous month.
The average ePMV for the portfolio in December was $7.59, where $17.03 is the max for a particular site, and an average of $1.23 is the lowest ePMV for a site in the portfolio.
Let’s compare the portfolio data at the same time of the previous year (Dec 2022 vs. Dec 2021):
- Total Visits (-9.78%)
- Pageviews (-15.16%)
- Revenue (+10.81%)
2. Traffic Overview By Site
It looks like the traffic data for a portfolio of websites showed mixed results for the month of December. For most of the sites, traffic was lower than in November, but five sites saw an increase in traffic. This is, by the way, better than what we could achieve in November, as there was no update on the contents.
As I mentioned above, some sites had significant updates during the month of November, and that luckily paid off during the end of 2022. So some sites recovering from the decline add a positive sign to the portfolio, while we still need to work on content maintenance for other sites in the portfolio, and excited to see how that works out.
Here are December traffic data collected via Ezoic BDA: (compared to November 2022). The marked sites are those that heavily undergone content updates during November (still going on), and we are getting some positive output on those keywords ranking + traffic.
In December, the portfolio of websites recorded a total of 61,045 visits. The most popular site in the portfolio saw a decrease in traffic of -14.42%, with a total of 26,327 visits compared to the previous month’s total of 30,762 visits. This translates to approximately 4,435 fewer visits for the most popular site. Meanwhile, the site with the least number of visits in the portfolio received 106 visits.
In addition to the decrease in visits, we also saw a decrease in pageviews, with a total of 9,422 fewer page views than the previous month. The site with the highest number of pageviews in the portfolio in November had a total of 30,228 page views, which is a 16.29% decrease from the number of page views received in November. The site with the lowest number of page views within the portfolio received 109 page views.
As mentioned, the revenue for December is similar to that of November, with a 19.16% drop. The individual records show that fewer sections of the sites within the portfolio have experienced positive growth in terms of ePMV so does in overall revenue while other sites have a comparatively lower ePMV & revenue than the previous month.
The overall revenue statistics are directly proportional to the December pageview statistics, resulting in a total drop in revenue for the portfolio by $137.13, with a total of $578.55 compared to $715.68 in November 2022.
The highest individual revenue recorded was $327.66 in December, accompanied by an 11.58% decline in revenue compared to the previous month. The ePMV for this site was $12.45, which is 11.58% less than in November 2022. The average ePMV across all sites in the portfolio in December was $7.59, compared to $8.63 in November 2022.
The highest ePMV for a site in the portfolio has decreased to $17.31, up from the previous highest of $23.31. That’s a 25.74% decline in ePMV. We have the Ezoic AI taking care of ad placement optimization, so there’s nothing we have changed recently. The fluctuation in ePMV has the influence of lots of factors; let alone, depending on the time of year, the average site in any country may see a 3x difference in their EPMV due to seasonal fluctuations alone.
I also keep an eye on the “ad revenue index by Ezoic” which is a tool that allows you to see how changes in the overall ad index (which is a measure of the performance of ads in a particular network or market) affect the ad revenue of different sites in the network. This can help you determine whether a fluctuation in the overall ad index is impacting all sites in the network, or if it is specific to your own sites.
By looking at changes in the ad revenue index for your own sites, you can see whether a drop in ad revenue is due to changes in the overall market, or if it is specific to your own sites. This can be useful for identifying potential problems or opportunities for improvement in your own ad strategy.
So when I look at the December 2022 ad index data, it seems like there’s a decline in the global ad revenue index. Our site is obviously no exception to that, reflecting a lower revenue than in previous months.
In the ad index below, you can see during 1st fortnight of December 2022, the ad revenue index was above average and then started to decline dramatically and continues to decline until January. The red-marked section indicates the global December ad revenue status for all ezoic sites. And then, I looked at the Ezoic revenue analytics, which pretty much indicates a similar story.
And then, I looked at the Ezoic revenue analytics, which pretty much indicates a similar story. So it’s ideal for recording a lower portfolio eMPV and overall site revenue considering the global ad index status.
With the decline in overall revenue, your net profit is marginal when we have to cover the editor, writer, and AI copywriter tool costs to run the Ai content system. The portfolio overall had a great month despite the drop in Ezoic revenue; the affiliate commissions and revenue from sites that are not focused on Ezoic keep on coming, which makes it exciting as well as optimistic that with the Ezoic revenue back on track, the overall revenue growth of the portfolio would continue to increase.
In terms of Ezoic, though, the December revenue is slightly better (7.34% profit) than what we have invested in production and tools. It’s still amazing to look at how much content we have produced and updated during the month and sorrowed a significant revenue loss on Ezoic but still be able to stay on the profit side, which would be a worst-case scenario for the month of December in the whole 2022 year.
The introduction of Open AI to the AI Writer team and them finding it compatible & efficient to work with has greatly influenced the AI copywriter expanses we earlier had with this project, it turns out to be a savior for the month of December if we consider only Ezoic revenue for the portfolio.
Here’s what the portfolio December total expanse compared to revenue generated with Ezoic Ad revenue (again, this data excludes other revenue sources & expanses for sites that do not run Ezoic) looks like:
Ezoic PnL (Key data for December 2022):
- Total expenses: $539.00
- Total Revenue: $578.55
- Profit (with Ezoic revenue): $39.55
- % of profit Ezoic revenue brings in: 7.34%
5. Changes & Focus
In December, we noticed the drop in traffic and had to go through multiple checks to find out possible reasons behind the traffic and revenue drop. We typically tend to be more concerned with declines in performance than improvements. Here are some of the key factors we looked at and could be useful for yours:
#1. Traffic drops with revenue decline (which was our case)
Google often updates its search algorithms to improve the quality and relevance of the search results in its returns to users. These updates can have significant effects on the visibility and ranking of websites in Google’s search results. It is not uncommon for Google to make multiple updates to its algorithms in a given year. Some of these updates may be minor and go unnoticed, while others can significantly impact the ranking of websites.
#2. Algorithm updates and impact
We noticed Semrush flagging some high activity days in the previous months, which is where exactly one of our major sites started to lose a major part of its traffic. Recently in December 2022, there could be another update that we haven’t noticed a huge impact on, but that is when some of our updated site contents started to recover their positions.
We also dug into some of the high-traffic landing page data and analyzed the traffic ratio with the previous month. Certain sites have many landing pages that lost their highest positions, while some other sites (surprisingly, where we have worked on updating the contents) have many new keywords in the SERP + have many high-traffic keywords that recovered their rankings.
This has motivated us to work on content updates, and we believe improving the content quality should be able to help the sites recover their lost traffic to a certain point.
#3. Page layout change and impact on ad revenue
We are also aware of the impact that changes in theme and design would have the impact on ad revenue, which stands true for some of our sites in the portfolio… and we had to recheck the ad placeholders and their revenue records and compare them to the record of couple months ago, just to ensure we have not messed up with the recent design updates.
#4. Open AI and content plan + Niche IQ to produce content
We have mentioned Niche IQ in the previous monthly report. Topics is a very helpful tool for discovering relevant content ideas for our websites. It also provides all the necessary keyword research information, simplifying our keyword research process. Normally, we have to spend a lot of time finding new batches of keywords, but Topics make it much easier for us.
Now that the keywords are shorted out, the AI writers can pick their assigned keywords and research the topic before planning their content structure and then use OpenAI to create an article that has quality, offers the solution to people, and well optimized for SEO to try and do best in SERP, at a significantly lower cost.
This could be a content creation workflow to help AI writers sync with the procedure instantly. (just a demo)
Overall, our website portfolio had a successful month of December, with total earnings of $1,661. This represents an approximate 7% increase compared to the previous month in total. Most of our income came from affiliate revenue, which accounted for ~60% of total earnings. Advertising brought in ~ 30% of total earnings.
You can clearly see traffic to our websites declined significantly in December compared to the previous month. Since most part of our site traffic is organic search traffic, our traffic status heavily relies on SERP performance and ranking activities on Google.
Looking ahead, we plan to continue optimizing our websites for search engines, expanding our affiliate marketing efforts, and introducing new products to drive further revenue growth. We are confident that with these strategies in place, we will be able to maintain and build upon the success we have seen this summer.