Entries Tagged 'Niche Site Step-By-Step' ↓

Niche Site Step-By-Step 005: Backlinking Strategy

Backlinking is one of the most important things you can do in your SEO efforts.  There is so much information out there that it can be very confusing.  Before I started movingacrosscountry.org, I had very little experience with link building.  I had built large sites and optimized the pages for search engines, but I did do that much link building.

Why I didn’t do link building earlier

The reason I stayed clear of link building before this was I thought it was very time consuming.  I started on the web in the 90’s.  Back then you didn’t really need a lot of links to rank in the search engines.  When links began to be the defacto standard for rankings (of course there are many more factors, but links carry the most weight), I read some things about link building and did like what I would have to do, so I avoided it.  The general approach was to do two different techniques; link exchange and create content that people will link to because it is good.

Link exchanging did not appeal to me.  I didn’t want to sit around and compile a list of sites I could potentially get a link from, email the owner, and then hope for a link.  So, I just created a lot of content and hoped that people would link to it and search engines would rank it.

Enter Web 2.0 and Article directories

For some reason I missed the early part of the Web 2.0 and article marketing revolution.  I think I had my head down in programming so much, that it passed me by.  When I finally did get a hold of it, I knew I had to implement a strategy that used both of them.  Movingacrosscountry.org is the first site I build that I specifically built a backlinking campaign for, and I am very happy with the results.  I realized that I could spend some time targeting specific sites with specific keywords and have an effect on how I rank in the search engines.

Commenting first

Although I was reading all kinds of information on building backlinks with Web 2.0 and article sites, I also had run into a technique that used blog commenting to build good links for ranking.  Much of the consensus across the web is that blog commenting is not that good for improving search engine rankings.  This is due to the fact that most sites only let you link to your site from the name part of the comment, you have to use your name and not a keyword, and the link is a “nofollow” link.  “Nofollow” tells search engines not to pass any trust on to the link from the site it is on; this basically makes the link have no effect on search engine rankings.  I believe it has some effect, just not as much as a link that doesn’t have “nofollow”, also know as “dofollow.”

Since commenting didn’t seem to have that much value, I was going to stay away from it.  That is until I heard about CommentLuv blogs.  CommentLuv blogs use a plugin that gives a link back to the commenter’s site.  The link is to the last post the commenter has made on their own blog.  It uses the rss feed to get this data.  The good thing is some of the blogs that use the CommentLuv plugin have the links set to be “dofollow.”  This passes ranking to the commenter’s site, also know as “link juice.”  Most of the comments are moderated by the site owner’s, but if you make good comments they will be approved.  I found this method of blog commenting to be very effective in ranking my site in Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  I even attained some page one rankings for some medium competition keywords using only this technique.  It is the technique is use to start all of my new site’s link building campaigns.

How I found sites to comment on

It was very easy to identify sites to comment on.  I did the following search on Google, Commentluv “my search term” -enabled.  This search returned the most relevant blogs that were using the CommentLuv plugin and were related to my search term.  I installed the SeoMoz toolbar in firefox to see what kind of authority each site had.  In addition, I used the NoDoFollow plugin in firefox.  It highlights all of the links on a page so you can see which ones are nofollow and dofollow.

My Web 2.0 and article marketing strategy

I built link wheels for all of the medium to high competition keywords I wanted to rank for.  For the less competitive keywords, I felt the blog comments were enough.  I wrote original articles and place them on ezinearticles.com, goarticles.com, wordpress.com and tumblr.com.  Then I spun the articles using an article spinner; you can use the Best Spinner to spin articles. The key to making good spun versions of your article is to use good synonyms and then proofread the resulting spun versions before you publish them.

After spinning the articles, I put them on various other web 2.0 sites and article marketing sites.  Some of the links on these placements pointed directly to my site and others pointed to the first tier of links that were pointing at the main site.

Outsourcing link building

After I had rank my initial set of content using the first set of keywords, I created more content and set out to rank it.  For this content I decided to try outsourcing the link building.  I went on Fiverr.com and found different people to build link wheels for me for $5 each.  This seemed like a great opportunity because the link wheel construction is very time consuming.

The problems with my initial try at outsourcing the link building is I didn’t know who to use and it is very tempting to build links fast.  When you search on Fiverr.com you will find many people offering to build links using many different techniques.  I do not recommend using the spammy blog commenting method of blasting 100’s or 1000’s of comments to blogs.  As a matter of fact, I don’t recommend any kind of mass submission other than article directories and social bookmarking sites.  Both of these are good ways to syndicate your content.

I purchased several different link wheels and allowed the seller to provide the content.  The content that was provided was all well spun articles.  Some of the seller’s plans had an option to submit your own spun articles to use.  I didn’t use my own articles.

Traffic Nose Dive

My traffic continued to grow while I was having the campaigns done through Fiverr.com.  The keywords  that I desired to rank for with the Fiverr link wheels were medium to high competition.  I did see a move in my search engine rankings for those keywords, but none of them made it past page three of Google.  The link wheels from Fiverr did not increase my traffic.

About two months after doing the link wheels with Fiverr, Google made a major algorithm change and my traffic got cut by two-thirds.  I believe the link building I did on Fiverr was the cause of this drop.  I don’t necessarily believe it was all of the link wheels because they were build by different sellers using different sites and techniques.  Some of the sellers used poorer quality sites and templates to distribute the content.  They basically are using the same template over and over, such as, SenukeX.  I would not recommend using these kinds of templates.

What I learned

Link wheels are effective, but need to be from quality sites.  Hand building, or simulating hand building is better than fast automation.  Using template based link wheels leaves a footprint that search engines don’t like and will find.

Blog commenting using CommentLuv is one of my favorite ways to build links.  I get to interact with bloggers and their readers, provide good insight, and I get links back to my site.  It also allows me to put links on pages that are already indexed in the search engines and that the blog owner is actively promoting.  I use this method to start almost all of my link building.  I also use this method as my on going maintenance link building to grow my rankings.

I’d like to know what you think of backlinking strategy I use; comment below.

Also, share this post with anyone you think would be interested.  There are share buttons on the side of the post.

Niche Site Step-By-Step 004: Content Strategy

When I first started movingacrosscountry.org I didn’t think enough about the content.  I did identify that there were many things to write about, but I didn’t analyze exactly what I would write.  Thankfully I had moved a few times and had helped many other people move.  These experiences helped me with stories to tell as I targeted different keywords.

If you read any of the blog, you will see that many of the post contain some personal stories.  Some of the stories are from when I moved after Hurricane Katrina.  Others are from different experiences I have had in traveling.

How to approach content

I believe you should have a systematic approach to content generation.  I don’t mean you should be a robot. Instead, I am referring to providing your readers with sub bodies of work that make up the whole body of work; which is your website.  I didn’t approach movingacrosscountry.org this way.  I, alternatively, took a hit-or-miss approach; finding keywords that I could rank for and developing content around them.

The hit-or-miss approach is used by many bloggers.  Today they write about one thing and tomorrow they write about another.  Some of them are so much across the board that you wonder exactly what the blog is about.  I don’t think the content on movingacrosscountry.org is that bad.  All of the content is about some aspect of moving.  The problem that I believe the site suffers from is I did not have a distinct vision for the site.

I should have looked at the site as a set of something.  That something could be industry news, a personal journey, how to’s, etc…  What I did was to pick different keywords and then decide what I would write without anything to guide me.  If I had clearly defined that the site would be a blog of my personal stories, I could have branded it this way and readers would know exactly what they were getting.  What happens now is readers are presented with a story, then they click on an internal link and they get facts and figures.  I believe this leaves readers confused about the intent of the site.

How to keep them reading

Not having a cohesive body of work has cause the site to suffer, some.  A plus for the site is that I did use personal stories to teach and entertain.  This is by far the content that users read and click through for more.  I know this kind of content works because it is the kind of content I like and many authors use to keep their audience’s attention.  It draws you in and keeps you interested.  We are all interested in what others are doing or have done.

Method for making content unified

  • All of your content should have something to do with the main theme of the site
  • Work in series.  The entire site can be one big series or you can do different series.
  • Present the content to your readers as groups that belong to the bigger group.
  • Give your site a voice.  Whether it is your experiences, opinions, humor, or the like; give the site a unique personality that sets it apart from others.  Make sure to carry this personality throughout the site.

Targeted keywords

One thing that I did do right was to research keywords in the moving industry.  The massive amount of keywords that people search for in the moving niche is what led me to build the site.  Here are a list of the initial keywords I targeted.

  • moving across country
  • cargo van rental unlimited mileage
  • moving out of parents house checklist
  • moving out of state checklist
  • where to get moving boxes
  • moving companies phoenix
  • moving truck insurance
  • one way moving truck rental
  • cheapest way to move across the country

How to find keywords

Keyword research is a skill you need to develop to create niche websites.  I used the Google keyword tool to find the keywords you see above.  I did searches using moving as the base term.  I set the keyword tool to search for only exact match keywords.  Whenever I saw keyword phrases that I thought I could rank for, I would check the competition.  If you would like to learn more about this process you can read my post on ranking in Google with Seo.

I used two post styles for these first post;story telling and list.  The list style was good for building checklist.  The story post style uses personal stories.  The stories relate to the keywords, but may not be exactly what someone may think it is about.  I tried to be informative and entertaining.  I have about a 60% to 70% bounce rate depending on the month.  This is not great, but it is not poor either.  I have some other sites that are in the mid-80%, so I am happy with the bounce rate that the moving site has for now.  It would be good if I could improve it.  I believe the stories are what keeps visitors engaged.  If I had been more organized in bringing the whole site together by unifying the content, I believe the bounce rate would be even less.

Getting Unified

Months after creating the site I tried to get a little more unified.  I latched onto the fact that there are a lot of searches for  different capacity passenger vans and different types of truck rentals  I did a number of post around this theme.

  • 10 passenger van rental
  • 15 passenger van rental
  • 16 passenger van rental
  • 17 passenger van rental
  • 18 passenger van rental
  • 20 passenger van rental
  • conversion van rental
  • lift gate truck rental
  • dump truck rental
  • refrigerated truck rental

I placed all of these under the category passenger van rental and truck rental respectively.  I believe that over time these grouping will help all of these pages rank better.

Finally, I am working on a directory of moving companies across the United States.  I believe that this will give the visitors more to engage them and keep them on the site longer, as this is what a lot of people are actually looking for when they are searching for moving.  Keeping them on the site longer helps them to remember the site and also it increases the probability that they will click an advertisement or perform some other action I want them to do.  The directory also will give the site a lot more pages that can rank in the search engines.

The other thing I would like to add to the site is some sort of info giveaway that I could use to start building an email list.  This would allow me to interact with the visitors and suggest some services they could use.

So, there is my content strategy for movingacrosscountry.org.  What do you think of it and what would you do differently?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Niche Site Step-By-Step 003: How to Setup a Niche Site

I have setup many different websites in the past.  Sometimes I would use hand coded html and other times I would use some type of content management system.  Over time I have simplified my system and will be sharing it here with you.  This is the method I used to setup movingacrosscountry.org.  The only difference is movingacrosscountry.org is hosted on a VPS that I use for some of my large sites.  I recommend you use Bluehost.com to host your site.  I use Bluehost.com to host passiveincometeacher.com and I like the service a lot.

How to Setup the Blog

The simplest, yet most powerful solution I have found for setting up a niche site is WordPress.  I had used WordPress on a few sights for running a blog on those sites years ago.  I had set them up and never really updated them.  Because a lot of my sites are built using custom code, it never dawned on me to look at WordPress again as a content management system.

It was actually my journey of researching domaining and seo that lead me to start movingacrosscountry.org.  It was also during this time of reading that I noticed many of the blogs I was reading were talking about using WordPress to build niche sites.  I was blown away by the power and control that I could get right out the box with WordPress.  And then the way the developers designed the plugin and theme features sealed the deal for me.

With WordPress you can literally have a working content management site in a few minutes.  What this means is you get a common layout and theme that runs throughout the entire site.  You also get the ability to add pages, post, image, music, and video.  You can determine when and how you will publish the content.  The are to many features to name here.

The plugin and theme features allow you or another party to write code that can modify the functionality of the default installation.  There are 1000’s of free and paid plugins and themes available and are installed by simply clicking a button.

The great thing is it’s free if you put it on your own hosting account.  With Bluehost.com you get a one button WordPress install feature.  You literally click a button, fill out a few form fields, and submit.  The entire blog, including the database, is installed for you.  90% of everything I build from here on out will be built with WordPress.  I am even beginning to change some of my custom coded sites over to using WordPress.

Plugins

There are a few plugins that I use all of the time.  I think these plugins are essential to setting up the site the right way.  The essential plugins that I use are free.

WordPress Seo by Yoast
Wordpress Analytics by Yoast
Related Post
WordPress Seo sets up the blog so that it will be liked by search engines.  It also provides sitemaps which you submit to the major search engines like Google and Bing through their (the search engines) webmaster tools.  There are many other features that this plugin provides.  You will be able to figure a lot out by just looking at it after it has been installed.

WordPress Analytics by Yoast  is used to configure Google Analytics in your site.  You have to setup a Google Analytics account before you can use the plugin.  I always give the Google Analytics account id to the plugin and leave all of the other settings set to their default values.

Related Post is a plugin that allows you to place the related post at the end of each post.  You can tell the plugin to relate by category or tags.  You can also tell it how many related  post you would like to display.  I think this is a really good plugin and so do many others if you judge by its rating.  One of the goals you have with your website is to keep people flowing through your website, which in turn keeps them on it longer.  This plugin helps to direct them to other post that are related to what they have just read.

Theme

The theme is the underlying framework of the look and feel of the whole site.  In WordPress you can change the theme fairly easily. You just find a theme by searching through the WordPress.org free theme section or if you want a premium them you can buy one from a site like WooThemes.

After you have found the theme you want, you can usually install it by clicking install on the theme page of your WordPress administration panel. Some themes may have to be downloaded first.  You can change your theme anytime you want, but you have to be careful with plugins conflicting with certain themes.  Also, some features may not be available in all themes.

On movingacrosscountry.org  used a free theme called Blue Grace.  I customized it a little bit by getting rid of the slide show and menu in the header.

Monetization

I want to briefly touch on monetization in this post.  I will do a post that is dedicated to monetization, but would like to say a few things.  When you setup the blog, you should be thinking about how you are going to monetize it.  You don’t necessarily have to it all figured out, but you should have a sense for where you are going to place sign up forms and ads.  This will help you make good design decisions in the beginning.

I specifically set out to monetize this site with Google Adsense.  I will discuss the details in the monetization post.

Content

I will discuss the content in a separate thread also.  I will talk about how I chose to write what I wrote.  I will also talk about what technique I use to keep the readers reading longer.  I also will talk about the problems I had with writing some of the content and how I have tried to keep the user experience in mind when creating the content.

Niche Site Step-by-Step 002 – How to Find a Profitable Niche

Don’t do it you might just be successful.   Choosing a niche in general seems to be a place that a lot of people struggle.  We sit around and contemplate different ideas and then usually either talk ourselves into the idea only to talk ourselves out of the idea later.  I believe that choosing a niche is part intuition and part science.

If we observe everything that is going on around us with an eye to understand what it is that interest others  and ourselves, we can see that many of us share common interest.  This is good, because it means we can find groups of people that are interested in almost anything.  Once you realize this, it becomes easy to say that any idea may be a good idea.

The problem that you can suffer from is believing that everyone else has a good idea and every idea you come up with is either no good or is being done by someone else and therefore, should not be taken on by you.  The opposite is the truth.  You do have good ideas and if others are doing it then not only is it a good idea, it means you should possibly do it.  Notice I said possibly do it.  This is where the science part comes in.

Don’t worry, it is not Chemistry or Biology.  It is only a few numbers to help us get our heads wrapped around the market.  In the past it was hard for marketers to gauge exactly how many people were interested in a particular market.  They would fund surveys and focus groups in an attempt to get inside people’s brains.  Today, it is much easier.  The internet gives us a free look inside people’s minds by allowing us to see what they search, what they say, who they are friends with, what they like, and what they dislike.  With a little thought you can identify a profitable niche and separate yourself from your competition.

Many would be online markets don’t want to do the work necessary to understand their market.  This is good for you and me.  It means there is plenty for the taking.  It does not mean we will not find competition, it just means we can find many free lunches if we look hard enough.

In my quest to identify a niche for these lessons, I used all of the knowledge I have gained so far on the web.  I expect you to do the same.  Don’t say you don’t know where to begin.  Look out into the world around you and see what people are spending money on and then step into the tools available to figure out if you can make a profit there.  Then it is up to you if you want to pursue it.  I have had markets that I have identified as profitable in the past and just didn’t want to go after it.  There is just too much out there to go after something you really don’t think you will be able to put your heart into.

Many of the most successful niches I have seen online deal with educating people.  This could be education for passing an exam to teaching people how to start a business.  There really is no limit, but there are two criteria that you must consider when deciding if any niche will be profitable;  are advertisers spending money and are there a consistent number of people searching for it that will be able to support you and the upper portion of competitors.  What I basically mean by this is, if there are no dollars and/or no people looking, then it just ain’t worth it.  Those two things have to be qualified at the very beginning, if they are not met, you should look elsewhere.

The next thing you have to look at is the amount of related searches people are making.  When you search the main keyword phrase in the Google keyword tool with exact match selected and “only show related searches” checked, are there only a few related phrases.  Then when you uncheck “only show related searches” are there enough relevant searches to support content creation.

This is exactly what I do whenever I am starting a new niche site.  It is exactly what I did when I chose the niche for this step-by-step example.  The site that I am going to reveal to you is in the moving niche.  The domain name is movingacrosscountry.org.

I started to look at this niche after I read a blog post by teendomainer.com entitled, “Does this minisite look like a $1200 a year site?”  In the post, Brian Diener talks about how he bought an exact match domain and put up a five page minisite.  He states that in a short period of time it was making him $100 per month.  As I was researching his case study I realized that the moving niche was really big and that there is a lot of money spent on advertising.  This led me to do some serious research on the niche and ultimately decide to enter the market with my own website.

How I chose the domain name

In the months prior to starting movingacrosscountry.org, I had been studying heavily domaining and niche site development.  I had come to understand the importance of an exact match domain name.  One very impressive study by Seomoz.org showed the effects that keywords had on search results when they were in the domain name if all other things are equal.  They were able to prove that having an exact match domain name or at least having all the words in a domain name would give a site a 10% -30% boost with the search algorithms.  I determined it was very important that I try to harness that extra boost in my domain name.

I dug around for some time looking for a good domain name.  Many people have bought domain names in this niche.  Part of the Seomoz research involved looking at the domain extentions to see what effect they had on the search engines when coupled with an exact match domain name.  They proved that although .com extension were the most valuable, .net and .org where only a little less valuable.  This means that .net and .org domain extensions are good alternatives to a .com extension when it is not available.

As I looked at moving sites and researched possible domain names using the Google Keyword tool, the free version of Market Samurai, and Go Daddy’s bulk registration search, I came across the keywords, “moving across country”.  The local monthly searches in Google were 880 exact match searches per month.  According to many niche site developers, you should find an exact match domain name with at least a few thousand searches per month for it to be valuable to you.  While I do agree that more searches being done on your exact match phrase is good, if it is not available and you don’t have the money to buy something that is already registered and for sale at a premium price, then you should look for something that can give you a little boost.  Also, moving across country, I felt, was a phrase that I could rank for with only a medium level of seo effort.

The other option is to pick a domain name that contains the exact match phrase plus some other words or letters.  If you are going to do this, you should go for the .com extension and make the exact match phrase start the domain name.  So I could have done something like movingacrosscountrysoon.com.

Why the Moving Niche Interested Me

The most attractive things about the moving niche was that there are many different things to write about, I have real world experiences to write about that relate to the moving niche, and there are plenty of advertisers spending money.

Plenty to write about

There are many people out there creating micro niche sites.  These are sites with one to five pages, built for a very specific niche.  I didn’t want movingacrosscountry.org to be a micro niche site.  Instead, I created it to be a brand; a place where people can come to find many tips and stories about moving.  My initial research proved that there were definitely many different things to write about, including checklist, different kinds of rental vehicles, organizing, moving companies, and adapting to new communities.

Real World Experiences

I find the easiest things to write about are things that I can relate a story to from my own life or someone I know.  I think this is very important because it by nature produces unique content.  This is the kind of stuff that I like to read and I know that many others like to read.

Plenty of Advertisers Spending Money

If you don’t have the money component, or some idea of a way to monetize your site, it is best to not proceed unless you are just looking for it to be a fun place to create stuff.  It is okay to have something fun to do, but I am doing this to make money.  It is not the only reason, but it is a very important reason to me.

Being that I was building the site to be an AdSense site initially, I needed the advertisers to be there.  This also indicates that there is a viable market.  The moving niche has advertisers that pay anywhere from $3 to $16 per click.  This means that most clicks should pay out anywhere from $1 to $5.

So there you have it, my thoughts and process on picking a profitable niche to build a site.  In the next post I am going to show you how I sized up the competition for movingacrosscountry.org.  I will show you exactly how I determined that I could outrank the competition.

Niche Site Step-By-Step 001: What You Will Learn

I have learned so much from others online that I decided I wanted to give back in a big way.  The Niche Site Step-by-Step Example is an attempt to give back to the internet community at large.  I hope that many people will learn through the example I am going to chronicle on passiveincometeacher.com.

The idea

I have seen many styles of teaching online, but I would have to say that the best teacher for me are the materials that give an ordered approach to creating using a real world example.  This does not mean that the tutorial has to explain every elementary step in the process.  It is my intent to take you on a journey through my process for niche site development by using a real world example from one of my sites from the inception of the idea to building the site to building traffic to monetizing the traffic.  I actively run and maintain the site that I will be sharing with you.

The idea for this series comes from many things I have seen on blogs across the web, but one blogger in particular sparked my interest enough to get me to follow through with the idea.  Pat Flynn of smartpassiveincome.com and his Niche Site Challenge post series are the main inspiration for me completing this series.  Two other bloggers that I would like to credit for peaking my interest to be transparent are, Morgan Linton and Andrew Warner.

What you will learn

  • How to find a profitable niche
  • How to setup a niche site
  • Content Strategy
  • Back linking and Traffic Strategy
  • Site Monetization and Conversion

My plan is to be totally transparent with the niche site that I am sharing in these lessons.  I will hold nothing back.  I will tell you the how and why I chose the niche.  How and why I chose the domain name for the site.  I will explain how I find keywords.  I will divulge many of the keywords I am targeting.  I will show you all of my traffic building strategies, including an exact backlinking strategy.  I will track the positions of the keywords I am targeting and report the progress.

You will learn how I find and write content.  I will show you how I SEO the site for optimum search engine traffic. I will give you all of the monetization strategies that I use and I will give income reports.

What I hope you get from these lessons

My hope is that you will copy what I do and you will prosper.  I do not mean that I want you to copy my content or try to compete with me in the niche, although I know that by sharing everything with the world about what I am doing, I am going to have people copy me.  That is just they way it is on the web.

Your story, your life

Now it is time for you to decide how you will make your story.  If you want to learn from me and take that knowledge and build your own passive income, come along for the journey.

If you have shared the details of your site or know someone that has, please contact me.  I would love to share it.