The other day I had coffee with a few seo friends and one of the guys mentioned the company he sold his site (Income store) got its assets frozen by SEC and was even named a Ponzi scheme.
That got me curious. How a company with so much capital and assets can go down this hard?
I already knew the domain name my friend sold them. I asked a bit on Facebook and from then it was easy.
I used the Reverse IP Lookup tool that we made to check what other domains were hosted on the same servers.
Seems like these guys are hosting a lot of their domains on several IPs on LiquidWeb.
It is a big collection of affiliate sites Income Store has bought in the past several years in multiple niches like pets, health, garden, parenting, tech,sports etc. Most of it was monetized with Amazon.
Here is some interesting data from the domains:
There are 192 domains in total.
The shortest domain name was only 5 characters but the longest was 27 (without the tld).
The most common tld is .com
Most of the sites were registered between 2-3 years ago. But this varies a lot. Most of the domains younger than 2 years had no content or almost 0 traffic tho.
An interesting note is that they purchase assets for a lot of cash, but they have not paid the domain fees for too many years ahead. Most of the domains will expire in 2020.
Now the interesting part – why Income Store failed?
I ran the sites trough Ahref’s batch analyze tool and it return interesting results. The largest portion of Income Sore websites were with 500 or less traffic a month and only a few sites seemed to generate the largest portion of their affiliate income. Here is the chart:
Then again, I already had 3 domain names that I knew a lot about, including the sales price.
So it was a big surprise to me to see that a domain name they have paid closed to 6 figures for has expired:
Here is its organic traffic:
The second domain I knew about was bought by Income Store for 5 figures, and what a surprise, I had server misconfiguration:
Here is its organic traffic:
As you can see from this chart, nobody bothered to fox the config file for this site for 5 months now.
Now the last site I knew about was bough for 6 figures and was one of the top performers they had by traffic in their portfolio.
You would imagine that such a big investment would be maintained well. Even if the site is a huge authority in its niche, a lot of its top links are not there anymore. Because someone forgot to pay for the domain names on the PBN network. (click the image to open it, since it is quite big. You sill can’t see a whole lot, but the red dots under the links say it is no longer there. So you get the idea.)
Needless to say that the best articles still had 2019 in the titles. The last blog post was still from 2019. And they have not build a single backlink to the domain since they bought it. But let a lot of powerful links drop.
And the results are clear, even a powerful quality niche site can drop and will drop if not maintained. Here is the traffic:
You can see the obvious dip at the end and I am wondering how will this continue now that the Income Store assets are frozen.
The case with these 3 domains is not the exception however, it is the rule. I checked quite a lot of their domain names and the picture looks the same everywhere. Just some started dropping earlier than others:
The business model of Income Store was not sustainable from the beginning. They bought a domain for 30x-40x but then did not allocate any resources to maintain it and the traffic and income dropped multiple times. Which made their websites loose money and they would not get the investment back in a long long time.
If someone had access to the data before and looked at the charts they would know this company is going downhill.
Affiliate SEO is not the passive non risky business that some people dream of. It is actually a very high risk investment and needs constant work.
You need a team of experienced marketers to maintain your websites healthy and get them back if they get kicked by a Google update.
It also requires constant work in improving and updating the content and building links.