How Quote Sites Cash In On Scraped Content
I’ve spent a lot of time scrolling through Flippa searching for websites to buy.
And there’s one style of site that I constantly see get listed again and again: quote sites.
These sites often have huge traffic numbers- albeit frequently from foreign countries like India (not good for ad revenue).
Quotes sites play a dangerous game- republishing duplicate content (i.e. the quotes) to get traffic from Google (and social) and then monetizing with Google’s ad product, AdSense.
Google takes a dim view of duplicate content- but you’ll find that many of these sites have absolutely staggering organic traffic stats.
Starting a quote site is ostensibly appealing- all the content is free and you can train a virtual assistant to create quote images.
Below, I’ll take a look at some real-life examples, their earning potential, and discuss how I’d approach building a quote site.
One popular example is BrainyQuote.
According to their About page, “BrainyQuote is the world’s largest quotation site. We educate and entertain audiences of all ages with family-friendly quotations from history’s most prominent figures through to today’s newsmakers – famous celebrities, athletes, politicians, authors, and everything in between. We are passionate about quotes, and on a mission to share our knowledge with the world.”
You can see that their charitable, educational mission has garnered astronomical keyword rankings- close to 4 million Organic Keywords as of July 2019:
And, according to SimilarWeb, the site gets a little over 16 million visits a month, with 1.79 page visits.
Best Quote Sites
I used Ahrefs (you can also use SEMrush) to find Brainy Quote’s top 10 competitors- you can see some interesting domain metrics below.
As you can see, WikiQuote is in a league of its own with over 7.5 million ranking keywords.
|#||Target||Domain Rating||Ahrefs Rank||Total Backlinks||Total Keywords||Total Traffic|
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- AuthorityHacker's Authority Site System (my review): a complete, step-by-step system to start growing your own highly profitable affiliate & authority niche site.
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- SEO Friendly Article Writing ($8-$12 / 1,000 words) from HireWriters (read: my HireWriters review)
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- An automated social media drip campaign from MissingLettr
- An auto-responder to build your email list– ConvertKit is what I'm using (read: my ConvertKit review)
- Finally- you can always refer to my free step-by-step niche selection guide and all of my free niche reports for inspiration
How Much Do Quote Sites Earn?
Using this example- which is obviously a big-time outlier, you could multiply the Total Visits by the Pages per Visit and come up with 28,908,500.
If you divide that by a 1,000 and choose an ad CPM like $12, it tallies to $346,902.
That’s a rough estimate- you can also use my earnings calculator at the bottom of the page to come up with your own estimate.
You can see some of their ad placements below- it’s not a listicle style post.
Looks like they’re tagging quotes and then curating them by Author to achieve this ‘product category’ type feed:
Below, I did some keyword research and extracted 1,000 of their top-performing organic keywords.
You can skim through this keyword research to get a sense of the opportunity here. There are lots of high-volume search terms that have low keyword difficulties. That’s an indication that I look for when entering into a niche.
The Big Idea
Low Content Cost
One of the big advantages of running a quote site is that all of the content is precreated.
At best, unless you are coming up with your own unique quotes, you are republishing existing content.
Perhaps you are curating it in a fun and interesting way or blatantly ripping it off- either way, you’re not reinventing the wheel here.
Easy To Outsource
It’s also remarkably easy to outsource content creation in this niche. Instead of hiring pricey writers to create compelling content, you can hire cheap virtual assistants to copy and paste quotes directly into your site, creating massive listicle posts very easily.
Great For Images + Social Media
A lot of sites that I’ve seen convert the quotes into images- for their website and for platforms like Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
(A clever example above with the Instagram account branded into the image.)
There are a lot of advantages to doing that.
If you create unique images, and provide quality metainformation for the image, it will get indexed in Google, will generate a lot of backlinks, and it can get you a lot of traffic from social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.
There’s definitely some risk when it comes to scraping and publishing quote content.
One of my new websites curates a lot of listicle, social media content and it was recently denied entry into the Google AdSense program because it has ‘thin’ contact.
In reality, only a couple of my posts had what I would consider to be thin content, but all the same Google rejected it.
If you plan on creating a quote site monetized by ads, it’s something you might want to consider in advance. From what I’ve read, Google has gotten a lot stricter regarding who they let into their advertising program.
As I already touched on, your primary revenue source will be ads. (While I use Mediavine, if you can’t get into that, consider using Ezoic to outsource ad split testing.)
There aren’t a lot of affiliate opportunities in this space.
Though there are some clever things I’ve seen sites do- they sell t-shirts with the quotes on them or other cheap, quote-branded paraphernalia like mugs or mouse pads.
What I Would Do
You also want to make sure that your keyword research is on point. As you can see in the keyword research table above, there are a lot of high volume, low competition keywords you can optimize your website and social media content for.
Get On-Page Right
If I were entering into this niche, one of my primary considerations would be content uniqueness. I would figure out how I would want to structure the on-page content so that Google doesn’t view it as duplicate or thin.
For example, say I was targeting the term “winston churchill quotes”.
View this post on Instagram
(A typing Churchill quote from Instagram.)
If I assembled 500 words of duplicate content quotes, I would make sure that I had at least 501 words of unique content. I would outsource that content to one of my writers or use an article writing service like HireWriters.
I would also consider converting the majority of the quotes into unique images with unique meta information. I would also install an image sharing plug-in on the site so that the images could be shared directly by users to their social platforms.
You’ll probably want to buy access to a stock photo site like DepositPhotos, which is what I use for unique, legal imagery.
Social Media Outsourcing
I’d also spend some time configuring my own social media platforms to begin pushing this content out. It might be worth hiring a dedicated virtual assistant in this case. That way each image would get scheduled to post with custom hashtags to increase discoverability.
The tricky thing here is getting into AdSense. It’s difficult to create a quote site that doesn’t look thin to the review teams over at Google.
Therefore, if I absolutely had to make it work in this niche, I would make sure that every image listicle post had text content beneath it.
Maybe the first 50 posts on the site are designed that way.
Then, when I have some traffic, I’ll apply to get into AdSense with a quote site that looks fairly robust and reconsider my publication strategy after admission.
As you can see, there is a lot of organic traffic potential in this niche.
There are definitely some risks associated with running a quote site, but if you can figure out how to keep the content at least halfway unique, there is a lot of traffic opportunities.
As well, quotes play really well on social media – it’s a whole other world and many, perhaps most, people operating in the quote niche do so exclusively on platforms like Instagram.
Personally, I favor running a website, growing traffic, siphoning users from social platforms, and monetizing with display ads, opposed to cranking social media content exclusively and becoming an Instagram influencer, for example.
Social media just isn’t my passion- but I am agnostic about where the traffic comes from as long as it converts to display ad or affiliate revenue.
All that said, this is a cool niche and can be really fun to play in- something important to consider if you’re concerned about losing interest in a less engaging niche.