Project Urchin - Update #3

Author: Daniel Cuttridge

January was another successful month for the site. Read on to find out how it performed and what I did.

Project vitals

  • Posts published - 20
  • New post total - 102
  • Impression change - +95.73%
  • Traffic change - +83.33%
  • Revenue change - N/A

In the last month there have been several days where new site highs have been recorded for both traffic and impressions.

Anything else?

In addition to hitting the required post count for the month, I have also setup some more tests on

I have also got back the results on some earlier tests I performed on the site.

One on-page test I was running for the site was a split-test for the most optimal page title template. Well, I got the data back and the test group outperformed the control group by quite a margin.

Old: EXACT - Sitename

New: BROAD | EXACT - Sitename

This makes a lot of sense because I am using broad match anchor text on the site. As I explained in one of my earlier posts in the Project Urchin series, I am taking a 'things not strings' approach. It is vindicating to see that the approach is paying off in general, but it is also good to see actual tests verifying the approach. This should also be a reminder to many SEOs that we should still test our assumptions. I am willing to let the test data prove me wrong.

I will be rolling out the new page title template to more pages on the site this month.

One thing I did not do so well with this month was adding additional images to the content. I had a crazy month, and when the test data came back and showed me that the image group had not performed any better or worse than the control group, I had to prioritize a little.

Keyword position performance

Since I already recap the organic traffic and organic impressions growth at the start of every update - I wanted to try something else this month.

Instead of doing a deep-dive into those numbers I thought it'd be interesting to report the keyword positions by range.

Keyword report

  • Keywords in top 50: 129
  • Keywords in top 20: 51
  • Keywords in top 10: 27
  • Keywords in top 4: 14
  • Keywords in position 1: 0

This provides some extra context as impression numbers and traffic can sell the performance short if the search queries have low search volumes.

Goals February - March

- Publish 10 posts.

- Change title templates based on the new test data

- Add images to as many articles as possible

- Ideate and setup some new tests

Still no link building in my plans as of right now.


It is a good question, and a friend of mine asked me the same thing in January.

I have built out over 100 sites in the last 3.5 years...

This isn't a brag. There is some context to explore.

  1. I don't buy sites
  2. I don't build out on expired or auction domains
  3. I qualify my sites with a by the numbers approach to account for 'randomness'

Whether people want to admit it or not - there is a different playbook to how you should do SEO on 100% new sites/domains. I have seen it with my own successes and failures building out 100+ of them.

What I told my friend is that the 'link building out of the sandbox' approach is far too volatile on new sites.

I do not want to risk my domain by not being patient and ultimately that is what it comes down to. What do you suppose will happen when it does start getting links?

Many people believe you can't rank new domains, and they definitely don't think it can be done without links. We are close in this project - at the 5 month mark.

They might just be operating with a blanket approach that doesn't work on fresh domains. My .02 cents on the matter.

Final word

The progress is both pleasing and promising.

The site still needs a lot of work, but with this being my Sunday afternoon project I need to find a little more time to get it up to scratch.


Got questions? Feel free to ask them on my forum.

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