Building Digital Émigré from a new site to a strong brand. Now ranking on page one of Google for hundreds of relevant keywords, driving five-figure affiliate commissions, plus many other monetization opportunities.
Digital Émigré is a niche information site helping remote workers and investors get residency in European countries. It was created in response to the UK’s 2016 decision to leave the EU.
That decision meant British citizens lost the right to live, work, do business, study and retire in any of 30 countries. For me, that decision felt personal.
I was determined to secure my EU rights by any means possible. Not having any recent European ancestry, the only option left was moving to a European country, then living there long enough to apply for citizenship by naturalization.
So that’s what I did.
And, as it turned out, many people wanted to do the same. Not just Brits, but Americans, South Africans, and people from all over the world.
In fact, wherever there was political turmoil, polarization and uncertainty, I would get an uptick in traffic and enquiries.
So the business concept was born. Now I had to figure out a way to monetize it.
I went with what I know best: blogging. I started with a brand-new WordPress website and launched it in September 2020 with a handful of blog posts.
Traction was slow at first. I was in the midst of a full-time PhD, and didn’t have time to post fresh content every day. I was lucky to manage a couple of new posts per month.
In fact, Google Search Console didn’t even recognize the site until early April 2021 (see below). There was hardly any traffic, and the few posts I had published were barely attracting any keywords.
After a couple of months in the wilderness, I started doing intensive keyword research to find a clear direction for the site to grow towards.
It became clear that the process of getting second citizenship in Europe involved several distinct stages.
The first stage was getting residency in the target country. This involves people figuring out the objectives and personal situation (particularly in terms of income), then choosing a suitable residency visa option.
At that first stage, I also found opportunities to create content around a wide range of related topics. For example: different types of visas, overseas real estate investment, the cost of living in different European countries, how to exchange your driving license, and so on.
After the target reader successfully gets residency, the next stage (a few years later) is to apply for citizenship of that country.
So I started creating a topic cluster of citizenship guides for every country in Europe (this is still ongoing).
The pillar article in that cluster: “How to become an EU citizen”, leapt to page one of Google and has remained there ever since (almost a year later). It ranked in position one for many months, before being knocked off the top spot by a much more powerful website.
I also conducted outreach to journalists using Twitter and Help a Reporter Out (HARO). This achieved some powerful links, including ApartmentTherapy (DR87 in Ahrefs), and The Portugal News (DR71 in Ahrefs). These outreach efforts will be ongoing, putting the site on a clear trajectory to further growth.
DigitalEmigre now ranks on page one of Google for hundreds of directly relevant long-tail keywords (see below for examples).
These drive steady targeted traffic to the site. Much of that converts into clients because of its high relevance and bottom of the funnel nature. We’ve seen some promising results so far, such as driving five-figure affiliate commissions in a single month.
At present, the business model of the site is still evolving. But its high visibility on Google has presented numerous monetization opportunities, from affiliates and ads to providing services. The current main goal is to start selling digital products via email marketing.
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