It's been a week since the last update. I've been quite busy implementing my niche site, setting up the domain, hosting, building the Wordpress pages, etc. I initially started at rank #177 the day after I brought my site online a week ago. I'm pleased to report that today I sit at rank #29 after a mere 7 days of activity.
So how did I get here? First of all, I'm using time-tested strategies employed by others in the Internet Marketing world that I've come to learn in the past month or so. Secondly, I'm using the best tools available to help me with setting up my site as fast and as easily as possible. Let's go over this from the beginning.
Building a niche website starts out by researching keywords that will be marketable. What you need to look for are words that are commonly searched in Google. Pick a market or a product and to find your niche. Then you you need to analyze the profitability of the search terms. There are free tools that let you accomplish this, like the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, but it wasn't providing me with all the information I wanted at my fingertips. I decided to get the best tool for the job by purchasing Market Samurai,
by far the best keyword research tool out there (EDIT: I no longer use MS and now use SECockpit). The nice thing about this is that it works on both Windows and Mac. It regularly costs $147, but I was able to obtain it for $97 through an affiliate link. Best of all, it has a completely FREE trial that is fully functional with all modules available. After 2 days of using it, I purchased it. You can sign up for Market Samurai trial here. (EDIT May 2012: I no longer recommend MS. Use SECockpit or even Longtail Pro instead)
Market Samurai allows you to research keywords, analyze the competition, find domains related to your keywords, find monetization possibilities, and so much more. For less than $100 it was a no-brainer for me as it would save me a lot of time searching. I ended up picking a keyword that had little competition in terms of page rank, domain age, and backlinks. Further, I did a visual inspection of my competition and found poorly-made pages with little content. I could tell that most of the top 10 were in the niche for marketing purposes only. Nearly all had Adsense implemented. I figured that I could beat them at their own game and decided to dive into this niche.
Market Samurai gave me the confidence I needed to start building my site. When I analyzed various keywords, I found that the one I had selected had an SEOT value of 457. The SEOT is a value that refers to how many possible clicks the number one ranked site in a Google search could expect to receive on a daily basis. When I did my initial research on keyword profitability I read that any number 100 or greater was ideal, so I thought that 457 would do. Also, the keyword had a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) value greater than $1.00. The CPC value is what advertisers would pay to have their ads show up in Google as the #1 ranked advertiser whenever someone types in the search keyword. This demonstrated that the niche my keyword belonged to might be profitable. Most Internet Marketing experts would say not to go below $1.00 on the CPC value, so I was thankful that this worked out. Otherwise, you end up with a niche that won't likely be that profitable and not worth the time.
There were many, many other data points in Market Samurai that I had considered before moving forward. Going over them probably deserves its own blog post by itself, as there's so much to Market Samurai that it's an indispensable tool for research. For now, I'll move on.
I then used the domain research tool within Market Samurai to try and find an Exact Match Domain (EMD) to use. Sadly, all the EMD's were taken in terms of .com/.net/.org. I had decided that I didn't want a .info, .me or anything like that. I know that some people say that it doesn't matter but I preferred to have a .com. The nice thing about Market Samurai is that it suggests other domains that might be suitable be placing modifiers before and after your keywords. You can also check domain availability from within the domain research tool itself. Very handy! I ended up getting a .com domain with a modifier at the end. I opted to purchase from GoDaddy as I have had experience using them in the past for work purposes. They also seem to have the most coupons available for domain name discounts at any given time. I got my primary domain (andregarde.com) for $1 and my niche site's domain for about $6, just to give you an idea of how cheap it is these days.
After I completed my work with Market Samurai, I needed a platform to host my website. Based on some research I had decided on Bluehost as my hosting provider, as it's very inexpensive for their monthly rate (only $7/month for a year) and it includes a domain, free unlimited email addresses, unlimited space, unlimited bandwidth, you name it. I can't believe how inexpensive it is to setup. Back in the day it used to be way more costly (I'm talking about the late 90's through early 2000's).
Once you've signed up you can manage everything from a control panel-like interface, aptly named CPanel. I decided to use Wordpress as my blogging software as it's the most popular and it's very easy to use. I had previous experience with it around 2005 to 2006 when it was still in its youth. Pat from SmartPassiveIncome has a nice video on how to setup a new Wordpress blog in under 4 minutes. I was already familiar with how to setup everything manually but I'm so thankful that Bluehost included scripts to do some of the tedious work for you.
As I mentioned, Wordpress is an extremely popular publishing platform and I've chosen to use it for its ease of use primarily. I'm using one of the free standard themes available from Wordpress (Coraline I believe), and the following free plugins to help:
- Adsense Made Easy - Insert your Google Adsense code snippet into a widget anywhere where they are supported on your site (e.g. sidebar, menu bar).
- All In One SEO Pack - Great set of tools for Search Engine Optimization of your pages and post.
- Exploit Scanner - Really useful plugin to scan what plugins you have installed for malicious code that would harm your website (or you).
- Fast Secure Contact Form - Adds a contact form with captcha to prevent spammers.
- Google Analyticator - Easily add the Google Analytics (site tracking) script to your site.
- Google-XML Sitemaps - Create a sitemap that Google's search indexer will love when it crawls your site.
- Jetpack by Wordpress.com - Various plugins come standard with Wordpress if you link it with your Wordpress.com account.
- Quick Adsense - Insert Google Adsense scripts into posts, for monetization purposes. I'm not sure if I still need Adsense Made Easy but I left it just in case.
- Pretty Link Lite - Clean up long, ugly links and replace the URL text with whatever you want.
One thing that I recommend is to create a second user other than your admin user and use this for authoring your posts. Set the account with Author security levels. This should be enough just to create post on your blog. What you don't want is someone discovering your admin username and trying to hack your Wordpress blog. I also recommend changing your admin username from the default "admin" to something else. I believe that you can do this only when you first install Wordpress so make sure to do so.
I've setup a Google Adsense account, but I'm not 100% sure if I'll stick with it as the main vehicle to try and monetize the niche website. I'm considering Amazon Affiliates and Clickbank as alternatives. Once it's setup it's easy to implement on your sites, so it'll save you time in the future. I wanted to get as much out of the way beforehand so that when the time came to build more niche sites I'd have this step completed.
Tracking and Site Statistics
Once you've got all your ducks lined up in a row, you'll need to start thinking about what kind of content you'll be putting on the site, and how you'll distribute it. This not only includes the information about your niche or niche product, but anchors (links) as well.
Has anyone got any other tools that they think are essential at the beginning stages of building your site, before content actually goes in? I'm particularly interested in things that will make the process go faster so that it's easier to setup multiple sites at the same time. Let me know!