Niche websites don’t work anymore. At least, that’s what I keep seeing online.
Google gets smarter every year that passes. Panda, Penguin, Pigeon, Possum.. Google rolls out major algorithm changes fairly regularly, with minor changes taking place every day. Thin, useless content spammed with links no longer works.
And whilst I understand – and agree – that thin niche sites won’t work like they may have years ago, quality niche sites are working as well as ever. The only thing that’s changed is what the definition of what a ‘niche site’ really is.
Wikipedia defines the word niche as “denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population”. If we apply that to a niche site, that doesn’t mean we have to create something thin and useless.
If we create something specialised, yet authoritative and authentic, we can still rank niche sites well in Google and make some money. Here’s my guide on how to build your first niche site.
EDIT: Before we start, I just want to clarify something with you; this isn’t an overnight money making scheme. You won’t see results using this method for months – that’s the reality. And, I think it’s important to establish that beforehand. However once you get started, building niche websites can become a profitable endeavour.
So, let me give you a brief background on me. I’m currently a full time Digital Marketing student. Before I started the degree, I’d been playing around with building websites and stuff for a while, but I don’t come from a technical background and although I’ve always liked computers, I’m by no means an expert.
When I originally went back to education at 22 – I dropped out of doing my A Levels 4 times previously – I worked night shift in a warehouse whilst studying. I hated it with a passion. But at the time, I needed the money and didn’t have the knowledge that I do now. After doing that for a few months, I eventually quit and haven’t had a ‘job’ since (okay that’s a lie, I worked at Tesco for one day and never returned).
Fast forward – I’ve been supporting myself through university for a few years now by building these niche websites. Here, I’m only telling you what has worked for me, and most of what I’ve learned has been from YouTube or other websites – I’ll add a list of references at the end.
I created this website because I see a lot of other niche site “gurus” making money from people looking to learn how to make a website to make money. Most of the time, people looking to make their first niche site are just trying to escape the rat race, or make a side income to support their family. I’m not trying to make money off those people, I’m trying to support them!
No one actually uses Bluehost and HostGator – they just offer a good affiliate program. You don’t need an expensive theme to build your niche site, but everyone seems to be using Thrive themes – because they offer high affiliate commissions! So, I wrote this article to help newbies avoid paying about bucks where they don’t have to.
- Step 1 – Picking a Niche
- Step 2 – Registering a Domain Name
- Step 3 – Choosing a Hosting Account
- Step 4 – Picking a WordPress Theme
- Step 5 – Using WordPress, Logo Design, Widgets, Plugins, etc.
- Step 6 – Creating Content/On Page SEO
- Step 7 – Sourcing Images
- Step 8 – Adding Affiliate Links
- Step 9 – Driving Traffic/Off Page SEO
- Step 10 – Tracking the Progress
- Step 11 – Adjust and Improve
Step 1 – Picking a Niche
The most important thing when starting your very first affiliate website is deciding on the niche you’d like your website to be in. This is especially true if you’re looking to build a website on a limited budget, as you’ll likely be writing the content for the website yourself, so you need to have some interest in the topic that you choose to build your website around.
Think about it logically; if you’re building an entire website around this niche over months and maybe even years, you’d be better off having some sort of interest in the topic, right? Is it a necessity to be interested in a topic? No. Would it be an massive advantage? Yes.
So, deciding on a niche is crucial to the success of your website. But how do you work what niche you should choose? Well, follow these steps to ensure you aren’t wasting your time.
Sometimes the original ways to find a good business idea are the best, and with affiliate websites I’ve found it’s no different. The first thing that you should do is brainstorm ideas. Write down the first thing that comes to your head when thinking about building a website. It could be anything, from gardening to puppies; nothing is a bad idea at this stage.
Personally, I find it better to write this down on a piece of paper than in Word or Excel. This is mainly because it gives me the opportunity to get away from my laptop and avoid distraction, but it’s also great for your brain.
Try and get 50 ideas initially, or as many as possible. Then, stop what you’re doing for a few hours. Make dinner. Go for a run. Go about your day. Then, come back to the piece of paper with a different perspective. Often I’ll find that some of the ideas are downright ludicrous, and many of them just won’t work – narrow them down to the select few that are your favorites.
Create a Positioning Map
After you’ve narrowed down your brainstorming ideas, you’ll need to categorise them to determine their viability. To do this, I’ve found it best to use a positioning map using the two most important aspects that need to be considered if you’re building an affiliate website.
Firstly, you should consider how interested you are in the subject. Ask yourself; can you write thousands upon thousands of words about the topic? Secondly, you should think about the income potential from the subject. Even if you’re majorly interested a topic, it might not be plausible to create a website around it to earn a substantial income from. Apply the positioning map to your narrowed down ideas as so;
To help define the importance of your interest in the topic and what ‘income potential’ really means, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
Who’s writing the content?
Unless you have a significant budget for building your website, then the likelihood is that you’ll be writing the content yourself. This guide is aimed at people building their first affiliate website and trying to minimize the costs, therefore writing the content themselves (after you’re successful with your first site, you can then go on to build more affiliate websites with your earnings, and pay people to write for you!).
Content is the most important part of your website, so if you’re not writing it yourself then you’ll have to invest in a good writer, which can cost anywhere around $10-30 for 1000 words in my experience (usually, the more you pay, the better quality the writing is). Sure, you can find cheaper writers online but the likelihood is your content will have poor readability and a low conversion rate. There’s no point getting visitors to your website if they aren’t clicking your links and buying things, so persuasive and informative content is a must.
Writing content is much easier when you’re writing about a topic that holds your focus. If you think you can write 100 articles about something you have no interest in then go ahead, but it’s much harder than you’d think, especially if you’re not used to writing long content.
How knowledgeable am I on the subject?
Whilst you might think knowledge on a subject is essential, I don’t believe this to be the case. Many successful niche websites follow a novice learning about a niche from the very beginning. An example would be camperreport.com, of which the author isn’t an expert on campers but has an interest in the topic. He then documents his growing knowledge, which the reader can follow and learn with them. Building a niche website you’re interested in is far more important than your knowledge in the subject, and remember; to appear an expert, you only need to know more than 99% of people.
What products can I refer visitors to?
You definitely need to do some research on what the variety of products that you can feature on your website. You can get a lot of traffic to your website, but it won’t equate to much money if you’re unable to convert those visitors into purchasers (of course, there are other ways to monetize traffic to your website but that’s another article).
There are a couple things to take into consideration when thinking about products. Competition is perhaps the main one, which is why keyword research is particularly important. Another thing to consider would be the prices of the products you’ll be featuring; is it really worth building an affiliate website to direct people to a $2.99 set of crayons?
To start with, it’s a good idea to browse Amazon and have a look at some different subsections. You could also consider stuff that you’ve purchased yourself recently, too.
How big is the market?
Of course, you need to be sure that there’s significant volume of people that are interested in your niche. If you’re interested in Knitted Arctic Fox coats, I doubt you’ll find many other people with the same interest. The best way to determine the size of your audience is through Keyword Research.
Deciding on a Region
At this point, you’ll want to be deciding whether you’re going to decide what region you’re targeting with your website. If you want to to target the United States, which is by far the largest demographic to target, then use a TLD like .com. If you want to target another country, then target whichever TLD that country uses (.co.uk for UK, .es for Spain etc). For your first website, I’d probably stick to using a .com domain and targeting a primarily American audience – plus, .coms also do well in other countries as well. If you go for a specific country, you’re really narrowing down your audience.
Doing thorough Keyword Research
If you asked 5 SEO’s what their favourite keyword research tools are, you’d probably get very different answers. If you’re totally oblivious to what keyword research even is, check this post.
For me, I prefer to target low competition keywords. Why? Well, this makes it far easier to rank for in search engines like Google. I use a variation of this keyword research method to help me find lower competition keywords. I’ll use a mixture of Semrush, Ahrefs, Keyword Keg and the Google Keyword Planner to search for keywords related to what I’m thinking about building my niche site around. You don’t need to use all of these tools; just find the best one that works for you (they all work in a similar way – Keyword Keg is probably my favorite, and it’s far cheaper than SEM and Ahrefs).
For example, if I was thinking about building a niche site about garden hoses, then I’d enter ‘best garden hose’ into Keyword Keg. Why ‘best garden hose’ and not just ‘garden hose’? Well, this is what you would call a buyer intent keyword. Buyer intent keywords have a far higher conversion rate, as usually someone searching for the ‘best..’ of something will be more likely to actually make a purchase. You could also use ‘reviews’ at the end, too.
You can look at the SEO difficulty here, though don’t rely on it entirely. After looking at this, you can also decide to change the countries keyword results you’re targeting if you’re building a regional site – .co.uk for UK keywords, .de for German keywords etc.
I’ll then head to Google and check the search results for that keyword – not just the top 10! This way, you can see more potential competition sites that may be trying to rank in Google as well.
Now, on your site you’re not going to write just one article. Aside from reviewing products and writing articles like the ‘best garden hose’, it’s good practice to write some articles that aren’t ‘money’ pages. Things like “How to..” and “10 ways..” work fantastically. For these articles, I like to find really low competition keywords that can rank without many backlinks to them, initially using the same method as previously shown. I’ll also then check the amount of Allintitle results that are in Google. This just means the amount of results that have your keyword in. Remember, ‘keyword’ can be more than just one word, it’s the string of words that you use e.g. “how to make money online” is a possible keyword if that’s the term that we’re targeting.
I know this can be a bit confusing. Heres an example of what I mean (for this example, I’m using Keyword Keg but you should be able to do this with most keyword research tools);
2. Add a search term
After doing this, look through the results and see if you can find something relevant to your website. Then after you’ve found something, copy it into the Google search results bar.
3. Check Google results
4. Check the Allintitle
So, this wouldn’t be a good keyword to target, because there’s already a lot of competition that is targeting the same keyword. Now, lets try another;
5. Try another longer keyword
6. Find something with lower competition!
So, just by adding one word to our original keyword, we have more chance of ranking in Google for something long tail. You don’t necessarily need to extend an original keyword to do this, but by doing this you kinda get two keywords for the price of one – ‘how to mow a lawn’ is still included in ‘how to mow a lawn professionally‘.
Now, with these allintitle keywords, I don’t write them exactly if they don’t make sense. For example, you’ll find a lot of results that aren’t in proper English, like “how mow lawn quick” (people are lazy when they search!). For this, just use common sense and write something like “How to mow your lawn quickly and easily”. Google is clever enough to see that these are the same topics.
At first, you should probably note around 20 articles you could write on the niche to ensure that you’re not targeting something too specific. Here’s a few more things that you should consider;
- Keyword Research Tools aren’t entirely accurate – These tools aren’t entirely accurate, and just because something says it will get a billion searches a month, this doesn’t make it true. They’re a general guide that you can use to make sure you’re not targeting completely dead keywords. Saying this, I have some articles written that were predicted 10 searches a month that get far more visitors than that, and some that were predicted 500 that get barely any.
- Don’t pay if you can’t afford it – Some keyword research tools are expensive, which is why I recommended Keyword Keg because it’s pretty cheap. If you don’t have any money to invest, you can always use the Google Keyword Planner.
- Find what works best for you – This is only an example of one way I like to find keywords. There are many other ways you can use, and you should look into various methods to find out which way you like the most.
At the moment, we’re still working out whether this is a plausible niche. If you want to learn more about a good content plan, skip to this section.
Is there a sustained interest?
This is undoubtedly one of the biggest areas where people make mistakes in choosing their niche. It’s all good and well jumping on the hottest new trends, but if you’re looking for longevity in your website, you’ll need to make sure that the topic has some sustained interest.
A good way to determine this is by using Google Trends. Here, you can enter a search term and gauge the interest in products over the last year or more. Here’s an example of something with good potential; the search them is “New Xbox Games” – you can see the steady, sustained interest over the last year;
Whereas compare that with the search term “Fidget Spinners”, which was one of the hottest selling toys through 2017; but it seems interest has declined over time.
It’s not a hard rule to use Google Trends, but it’s a good tool to help find out whether it’s worth your time building a website around a specific topic.
Which affiliate program should I use?
If you’re building your very first website, it’s probably best to stick with Amazon Affiliate (this guide is centred around using Amazon affiliate but can be adapted). The reason? Well, unlike most affiliate programs, when someone clicks through to Amazon from your website you’ll actually get a percentage of anything that they buy within 24 hours. Check out an example of what you might use below if you were trying to market prams;
Check Best Price on Amazon!
Now, even if someone clicked this link, then changed their mind on the pram but went on to buy a television, you’d get a percentage. Neat, right?
Some other good affiliate programs are CJ Affiliate, Awin and Clickbank, though I’m not a massive fan of Clickbank myself due to their range of products. Have a look at a more detailed look into these here.
How competitive is this topic?
Analysing the competition is generally part of keyword research, but I’ll definitely touch on a bit here. You might think to yourself “well, I’ll just advertise $1000 wide screen televisions and make a fortune!”. Unfortunately, it really isn’t that easy. Check out this keyword analysis for “Best Television” below from Ahrefs;
Ahrefs is probably my favourite general tool for SEO, and though I don’t rely on it for completely accurate keyword research, it gives us a broad idea of the difficulty of this particular keyword. You can see the Keyword difficulty, and the approximate amount of backlinks you’d need to get into the top 10 for this keyword. Along with this, you can also see the top search results and how competitive the first page is on Google;
Digital Trends, Tech Radar, CNet, Consumer Reports, PC Mag and the Wirecutter have all written articles about the best television. These are some of the biggest sites on the internet, and you’ll struggle to compete with them to get on the first page of Google.
Generally, I try to target low to medium competition keywords as opposed to extremely high competition like this. You should too, as the higher the difficult of the keyword, the harder it is to rank.
Asking yourself these questions will help you to decide on what you’d like to build your website around. As a general rule, I’d try to stick to whatever holds your focus. Once you’ve decided on your niche, the next thing you’ll need to do is register your domain name.
Step 2 – Registering a Domain Name
Once you’ve decided on the niche that you want to create your website in, the next step is to choose the right domain name for your website. Bare in mind, you can’t just change this afterwards. It’s a complicated process, and it’s something you’ll undoubtedly want to avoid.
Your domain name is effectively just the title that you’re giving your website; the name of your shop, if you will. It’s important to get the right one to help clarify with visitors what exactly it is that you’ll be featuring on your website.
For your niche website, there are three different types of domain name that you can choose from;
- Exact Match Domain (EMD): So, lets say you’re create a website about gardening, and you’re primary target keyword is going to be “best garden shears”, the EMD for this would best bestgardenshears.com. EMD’s used to be extremely popular amongst niche site builders, but have become decreasingly popular due to the fact that well, it’s pretty obvious you’re building a niche site specifically to make money, over optimisation is extremely easy with an exact match domain and they look kind of spammy.
- Partial Match Domain (PMD): Instead of an exact match, many SEO’s now choose to go for a partial match domain. For example, a gardening blog that’s targeting the same keyword make be called gardenking.com, or shearsbuddy.co.uk. These kind of partial match domains are a good choice, though they may narrow down the type of blogs you can write about and the keywords that you can target; so bear that in mind.
- Branded Domain: My preferred choice is to go for a branded domain name, where you are literally creating your own brand. An example of this would be thewirecutter.com, which is one of the biggest examples of a successful affiliate site. The best thing about a branded domain? You can expand your website to any market. If you create a website about gardening, and the domain name is ilovegardening.com, can you really then write an article about teddy bears? If you stick with a branded domain, you can then develop the site later into different categories.
Something you’ll also want to consider is the TLD that you use for your website. TLD stands for Top-Level Domain; this just means the “.com, .org or .whatever” bit at the end of your domain name.
Generally, it’s recommended to try and get the .com version of your domain where possible for a niche site. If that’s not available, go for the .net. This is really just for credibility purposes, as people are more likely to trust a .com domain than a .biz or another lesser used TLD. Outside of building a niche site, you should just use whatever TLD is most relative to your situation – .com is for commercial, .net is for network, .org is for organisation etc.
Of course if you’re targeting regional specific keywords, then you could go for a domain with that countries TLD (.co.uk for the UK, .de for Germany etc).
Using Expired Domains
Now, there are other options that may be a better choice if you’re building a niche site. I’m talking about using expired domains. If you don’t know what an expired domain is or whether you should use one, click here. Using an expired domain can be a great way to get a head start on your website, though you lack the option of choosing your own domain name.
Once you have decided on what type of named domain you wish to use for your website, you’ll need to go ahead and register the domain at a name registrar. The most popular ones are Namecheap and GoDaddy – though I use both, I try to avoid using GoDaddy for their expensive renewal fees. When you’re registering a domain, you’ll typically pay around $10 per annum though if you find a good deal, it might be worth registering the domain for a longer period of time.
After picking your domain name, you’ll need to get a hosting account.
Step 3 – Choosing a Hosting Account
Once you’ve picked your domain name, you will need to choose a hosting account. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, many people online are recommending Bluehost to host your site – even though it’s below average (1, 2, 3, 4). There are far better options for hosting than Bluehost for your first niche website.
Understanding Domain vs. Hosting
If you’ve built a website before, you can go ahead and ignore this. But if this is all new to you, you’ll want to understand what a domain is; what hosting is; and how they work together to allow you to building a website.
To put it simply, the domain name is literally just the name; address; label of your website. When you register your domain name, you’ll probably have to pay around $10. A small percentage of this goes to ICANN and your registrar (where you register the domain GoDaddy, Namecheap etc), but primarily it goes to an internet service provider like Verisign.
Hosting is simply where you upload your files; website; data to a server so that it can be accessed through the internet. To get the two to work together, you’ll need to direct your nameservers from your domain to your host. If you don’t know how to do this, click here.
Here’s a short list of all the hosting companies I’ve used;
- A Small Orange
- A2 Hosting
- WP Engine
- 1 & 1
That’s all I can recall off the top of my head, but I’ve definitely used a lot more at some point. You can do your own research to try and find the best hosting account, but a good option in my opinion is Siteground. Their web hosting packages are relatively cheap and their renewal costs aren’t extortionate. I also like WPEngine, but Siteground is significantly cheaper and offers lower priced packages from smaller websites. This means that with Siteground, you can start a website on a smaller personal plan and change to a larger plan as the amount of traffic you receive increases.
In reality, you can always change your website hosting later down the line so it doesn’t matter too much. After you’ve picked your hosting, you’ll want to install WordPress. The majority of hosts will have Softaculous Apps Installer or something similar;
You’ll ideally want to go with a host that provides this, but if they don’t you can always follow this tutorial. After you’ve installed WordPress, you’ll want to pick a good WordPress theme.
Step 4 – Picking a WordPress Theme
Choosing a WordPress theme for your site is important, but it’s not as important as you might think. Whilst the appearance of your website will matter for conversions, there’s many an ugly website dominating Google’s SERP results. That’s because the content of your website will always be infinitely more important than how it’s dressed up in whatever theme.
First, let me get this out of the way; you don’t have to used a paid theme. I especially wouldn’t recommending buying the first theme you see or that’s recommended to you, because there’s a good chance you will want to change your mind down the road. The main argument for using a paid theme initially is that with certain frameworks like Thrive, it takes a while to adapt to them and can be a long process if you wanted to switch to that theme at a later date.
If I were advising someone to start a new website now with no previous knowledge, I’d say opt for a free theme until you’re comfortable using WordPress. Heck, you could even stick with the original Twenty Seventeen theme and install the free Advanced Plugin that gives you a bit more optimization.
After you’re comfortable with WordPress, and only after you’re comfortable, you could look at a paid theme like;
- Metro Pro by Studiopress – Anything that runs on the Genesis Framework is usually good to go. I particularly like Metro Pro.
- Focus Blog by Thrive Themes – Focus Blog is a good choice for an affiliate website as it’s primed towards conversion. This means that you
- X Theme – If you want a highly customizable theme, then X is a great choice.
- Voice by Meks – Voice is another great choice if you want a theme that is simple and professional, yet easy to insert ads and affiliate links.
Like I said, you don’t need to use a paid theme and you can always change it later. It might be a good idea to use a free theme until you start to get some traffic, then switch to a paid theme later. Of course, this does require some work as you’ll have to change some of the customization options and maybe edit your text to take advantage of your new theme. If I were to start from scratch today, I’d probably write my first 10-20 posts with a free theme, then consider how I felt.
After you’ve picked yourself a nice theme, you’ll want to have a look at designing your website.
Step 5 – Using WordPress, Logo Design, Widgets, Plugins, etc.
If I had to give one piece of advice for a newbie blogger, it’d be this; don’t waste too much time fussing around with how your site looks. You can spend hours and days – literally – customizing how your site looks, only to change it back later in the day or decide on something else tomorrow. So just bare in mind that the content of your site is far more important than it’s appearance. Though appearance will play it’s part too, especially when considering the conversion rate of your niche website.
Another reason that I wouldn’t take too much care about how the website looks is that we want it to look as authentic as possible. This really depends on whether you’re creating the site genuinely as yourself, or you’re using the persona of someone else. Think about it; if you’re creating your first website – or your persona is building their first website – will you really be an expert in web design? Will you really be able to create an amazing logo in Photoshop? The likelihood is no, and our aim is to create authenticity with our website.
For your logo, it’s really dependant on the theme that you use. For many themes, the text logo that it comes with might actually look better than designing your own logo or purchasing one online. Unless you’re willing to spend a sufficient amount on your logo, I honestly wouldn’t bother – the $5 ones from Fiverr and similar sites suck (you might as well do it yourself).
If you do go ahead and decide to get a logo made, try and make it so that it fits in with the theme of your website.
For your widgets, they are defined into different areas dependant on the theme. Widgets are essentially just blocks to make it easier for you to design your website. Usually, you’ll find the widgets in the sidebar and the footer most common, though some themes will offer you other places for your widget, like this;
Some people just put things in their widgets to look fancy, though to me this is a waste of space. You want your widgets to have a purpose for being there, not just to fill the space. Here’s a list of things that you could consider in your widgets;
- Related/Recent Posts – Including related posts in your sidebar is a must for me. It makes it much easier for your visitor to navigate your site. They help create internal links between one posts and another, and are great for reducing your bounce rate and keeping your visitors on site.
- Links through to Social Media – Integrating your website with forms of social media is a no brainer; it’s free! Try and make sure you’re using the correct social media for your website, though.
- About You – Using an About Me section in your sidebar widget can be a good way to make it appear more authentic. Visitors to your site are often looking for real advice and real opinions, so it makes sense to hit them with your credibility and explain why you’re the one to help choose the best product for their needs.
- Newsletter Sign Ups – You don’t need to worry about this too much at the start, but if you’re getting more and more traffic, you might want to consider starting a mailing list.
- Ads Space – Widgets are a great place to stick a banner or some sort of advertising. If you’re going to place some advertising in the sidebar, you could look at using some sort of sticky widget. This is a widget that will follow your user as they scroll down the page, and it can be great for conversions.
The reason why we’re using WordPress is because of it’s simplicity. It enables you to design an appealing website without extensive knowledge of html and code. The likelihood is that whatver you’re looking to add or change about your website, there’s a plugin that can help you do so. If you say to yourself; I need “x“, it’s more than likely that with WordPress you’re only a click away from adding it to your site with a plugin.
In saying this however, there is such a thing as too many plugins. Now, it might be unique to each site which plugins that you’ll need, but here’s a short list of the plugins that I’d recommend you have as a bare minimum;
- Yoast SEO – The best plugin to help you optimize your posts for search engines and help your site rank in Google.
- A Caching Plugin like W3 Total Cache – A caching plugin is a must. W3 Total Cache is my favorite. If you want to understand more about what a caching plugin does, click here.
- An Image Optimizer like WP Smush – Optimizing the images on your website is also something that’s a necessity to keep your site fast and smooth. There’s a lot of plugins that offer this, but I like WP Smush the most.
- A Contents Plugin like Table of Contents Plus – If you’re writing longer posts, then a Table of Contents plugin is a necessity for your website.
- A Table Plugin like Tablepress – Reviewing products is good, but to do this you’ll need likely need to compare different products with each other. Tablepress or another table plugin is a good idea for this. Plus, it helps with your SEO as well.
Luckily, by using WordPress you can afford to make mistakes and you’ll be learning something new all the time. Check out some of my top tips for completely new WordPress beginners here. After you’ve finished installing your plugins and designing your site, you’ll want to consider the content you’re going to upload.
Step 6 – Creating Content/On Page SEO
Finally, we get to the most important part of the website (in my opinion, anyway!). Back in 1996, a young Bill Gates wrote an essay on the Microsoft website named Content is King. He predicted that much of the ‘real money’ made on the internet would be made through good quality content. No one can argue that Gates’ predictions came to fruition on the web, with blogging being a prime example of that.
Essentially, your website is split into two parts; On Page SEO, and Page SEO. On Page SEO refers to internal stuff and everything you’re in control of on your page; the content, images, the design of your site, it’s speed etc – basically, everything I’ve covered so far. Off Page SEO refers to the external stuff, like social media marketing and building links to your website. I’ll cover that part later, but let’s look at more On Page stuff now.
Remember the Keyword Research we was doing earlier? Well, now we’ll use these keywords to create our content. You should ideally write yourself a content plan based around;
- Your ability to write content
- How much research the article will need
- How much spare time you have
A content plan is probably the most effective thing that I’ve learned since I started building website. Giving yourself a plan can help keep yourself accountable for the words you write and help structure the look of the website in your brain. Take a few hours to design yourself a content plan and I promise you’ll find it easier to write the content for your website. Here’s an example of how you might start to design your content plan;
For this new hypothetical website, I’ve assigned myself two hours per day to devote to it. Of course, your content plan may be different and you may need more or less time to write a certain amount of words – remember to include research as part of this, as you may need to know a bit more about your topic to write a coherent article on it.
With content, I like to split the type of articles into three sections;
- money and review articles – best garden hose, garden shears review.
- how to articles and guides – how to mow a garden/lawn professionally, guide to planting your tulips.
- general stuff/current things in the media – why I prefer tulips over roses (you can tell how much I know about gardening lol).
Different people write different percentages of each, but I like to split it pretty evenly between them. So if I have 10 best articles, I’ll need 10 how to articles and 10 general articles as well, if not more. Why? Well, if you fill your website with best articles, it’s pretty obvious you’re just building a website for monetary purposes and aren’t genuinely interested in the topic.
The length of the articles is down to you, but I stick with 2,000 as a bare minimum for a review article, 1500 for how to articles and 800 for general stuff.
I’d try and get anywhere between 20-50 articles written to start with over the space of maybe a month. Don’t expect your articles to rank first in Google overnight, because they won’t – this is a long term process.
How to write an article
Writing content is probably the hardest and most time consuming part of building your website. The more that you write, the easier it gets; so don’t be put off if you struggle to write at the very beginning.
By now, you should be aware that there’s different types of articles that you can write. The Yoast plugin is handy in helping us structure our page, but there are things you’ll need to consider depending on the type of page that you’re writing.
For our hypothetical website, I’m going to show you how to write content for three different types of articles. Let’s say we have a buying intent keyword we’re targeting like “best garden hose”, you would likely lay your content out like this;
- Intro – Describing the topic with some witty introduction about garden hoses. 200 words.
- Table of Comparison – Include a comparison table with some specifications about the product e.g. hose length, adaptors that come with it, how well you rate it. Try and make it things that your users will actually care about. Including the price is a tough one, because it’s actually against Amazon regulations.
- Review of each product – This is where the monotony kicks in, and you end up writing about similar products. If you’ve used the product yourself, great! If you haven’t, scour the reviews of the products and try to see the users opinions. It’s good to choose mainly 4+ star rated products. 200 words x amount of products.
- Pros and Cons of each product – Again, look through the user reviews and try and pick out some pros and cons of each product. 100 words x amount of products.
- Answer some related questions – Things like How to attach a garden hose head is a great idea to make your content longer. Try and get 500+ words out of this.
Now, this is just an example of the type of buyer intent article you may write for your website. Buyer intent articles are much more competitive than regular articles, so you will have to learn some link building tactics to be successful with these kind of keywords (don’t try and rank for “best garden hose” straight away).
For this reason, I’d recommend you start off with mainly list articles and general guides, which are far easier to rank for. Once you start to build up some traffic and visitors, then you can start to write more buyer intent keyword articles.
For an article like ‘how to mow your lawn professionally’, it’s quite self explanatory to write content like this;
- Witty Intro – 200 words
- Explain how to mow a lawn professionally – 1000 words
- Conclusion – 300 words
Recently, I’ve been preferring to fill my site with content like this, then add more buyer intent keywords later. The more authority the site builds, the easier I find it to rank for harder keywords naturally. So, I’ll fill my site with 20-30 general articles, wait a few months and build a few links – then think about adding some buyer intent articles to the mix.
Basic On Page SEO
First things first, I’d definitely suggest you install the Yoast SEO plugin (it’s free). It’s great for newbies who have no idea how to structure an article, and give you an idea of what you’re doing right and wrong;
Now, let’s look at each of these issues objectively;
- Keyword Density – Keyword density means the amount of times you use the keyword you’re targeting in relation to the length of the article e.g. an article of 1000 words that uses the main keyword 10 times would have a keyword density of 1%. Each SEO will probably tell you something different, but I just make sure to use the keyword a couple of times every 1000 words – it’s very easy to use it too much. I mean, if someone recommends a 1% keyword density and I write a 5000 word article, am I really going to use the keyword 50 times? It just isn’t natural, and that’s what we’re aiming for here.
- Meta Description – This is one of the main reasons I use Yoast, is that it enables you to easily change the meta description of your posts. The meta description is the 320 words that a search engine will use to describe your post to visitors, so it’s important that you get it right.
- Using your keyword as a Heading 2 – Do this once, but try not to overdo it. It lets Google know what you’re writing about, but if you do it too much, it could be considered keyword stuffing.
- Alt attributes – It’s important to describe what the image is that you’re showing on your site. It’s exactly what it says it is; an alternative to the image itself. That means that if your image cannot show for whatever reason, they’ll get the alternative text. Use it to describe the image you’re showing your visitors.
- Focus Keyword in the first Paragraph – Again, this lets search engines know the topic that you’re talking about. Not a necessity, by any means.
- The amount of words you’ve written – Yoast recommends a minimum of 300 words. I personally try to double that on most articles I try to rank, but I do include some lower word articles on a site if it makes sense.
- Outbound Links – The amount of times you’re linking from your website to an external website. You should do this only where it makes sense to, and if you’ve read the article you’re linking to.
- Internal Links – The links within your post that link to other articles on your website. You should try and do this at least once in each article that you write on your website to help people navigate your site and define a hierarchy.
- The SEO Title – Generally, you want to try and include your keyword at the start of your page title to let search engines know what you’re writing about. Try to make it a good length also – don’t just called your post “Best Garden Hose“, call it “Best Garden Hose to buy in 2018″ or “Best Garden Hose – A Definitive Buying Guide”. Make the most of the title and make it look appealing.
- You’ve never used this keyword before – Try not to rank for the same keyword again and again on the same website as this may result in cannibalization.
Again, this is some of the basics of On Page SEO and there’s far more content out there for you to read. After you’ve written some articles, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right images to make your articles appealing.
Step 7 – Sourcing Images
It’s a common debate that I’ll have with some of my friends and fellow niche website owners – do you go for the cheesy stock photos, or do you try and make it natural by taking photos yourself?
Whilst many people think that you need to have a level of professionalism to your website, I’d disagree. For me, the more natural the better. This is why it’s a great idea to create a site around something that you actually have an interest in. If you actually own the things that feature on your website and can take pictures of them, this will undoubtedly be good for you in the long term.
Why? Well, stock photos are inherently designed to generate profit. For books, magazines and newspapers professional photos are a necessity, as the appearance of their media is paramount. For us, we aren’t trying to appear professional to our visitors. We want to at least appear genuine (in fact, it’s probably best to actually be genuine) in our intentions and we don’t want the site to appear as an obvious sales funnel.
If you can, try and take pictures for the website yourself. If you’re worried about having the right camera for this, then don’t. You definitely don’t need an expensive camera for this – smartphones have developed so much that even an old iPhone will give you good enough quality pictures for your website.
Is this a hard rule? No, definitely not. If you really have no other options, then a more natural stock image will be perfectly fine for your website. I’ve just personally notice an increase in conversions when I’ve changed from using stock photos to genuine photos I’ve taken myself (or had someone else take them on my behalf).
After you’ve added some photos to your articles, you’ll want to consider some affiliate links.
Step 8 – Adding Affiliate Links
Depending on which affiliate method you’re going to use, you’ll want to consider the placement of your links for optimum conversion rates. For this guide, I’m assuming we’re using Amazon affiliate, which is by far the most popular affiliate marketing option online, and what I’d suggest you go with for your first niche website. There are other affiliate marketing programs that you can consider, though I’d stick with Amazon at first (personal preference).
It’s relatively simple to sign up for the Amazon affiliate program. Head over to their affiliate site and register. They will ask to see your website beforehand to confirm that it fits in with it’s regulations, so make sure that you’ve made it look acceptable, even if you haven’t filled it with content yet.
Once you’ve been accepted, you can add the Amazon links to your website through the SiteStripe bar at the top of Amazon like so;
By copying and pasting that short text link, if someone clicks that text link on your site, they’ll get redirected to Amazon. If they buy anything, you’ll get a percentage, which is different for each category of products.. You can check the different affiliate percentages out here.
One of the main issues with Amazon Affiliate is that they operate their regional sites separately. For example, if you’re signed up to the Amazon.com affiliate program and someone in the UK clicks on your link, you aren’t going to get any affiliate revenue from this because they’ll order their stuff from Amazon.co.uk instead. This means that you’ll want to sign up to the different Amazon affiliate programs, primarily the .co.uk, .ca and .de. Of course, this depends on where the majority of your visitors come from.
Amazon actually introduced something called Onelink back in mid 2017, which is designed to deal with this problem, though I’ve read a lot of people complaining that they aren’t working properly (1, 2). There are a few other methods that you can use to ensure that you’re capitalizing on all of the traffic that is getting sent to your website;
Note: I stopped using EasyAzon in favour of Geni.us.
EasyAzon allows a simple way to create Amazon affiliate links within your text editor.
Honestly, I only really used this plugin for the easy localisation that it offered. Localisation is the ability to automatically redirect a click through to their respective Amazon site. So for example, if someone were to click your link and they was in Germany, they’d be redirected to Amazon.de, not Amazon.com. I stopped using this plugin when I started using Geni.us.
Geni.us, to me, is a better alternative to localise your links and tracking your clickthroughs. It’s great for noticing dead links on your site when a product gets taken down, and it’ll notify you if you’re getting traffic from an Amazon country that you’re not signed up for yet.
Much like you don’t need a paid theme, you don’t need to sign up to Geni.us and you could stick with using the original Amazon links directly from the site. This is just my personal preference, and I’m advising you of it now because if you change your mind at a later date, it can be a nightmare to change all of your links! Anyway, after you’ve added your affiliate links, you’re ready to start spreading the message of your site and start driving some traffic to your site.
Step 9 – Driving Traffic/Off Page SEO
So, you’ve put all this effort into building a nice looking website, lots of informational content that’s going to blow your readers away. But, days and weeks pass.. and no ones visiting your website. Well, there’s over a billion other websites and that numbers increasing all the time, so why should someone visit your website? For this, we need to consider our online visibility.
The main way that we’re going to drive traffic to the website is through Google because they have the largest share of the search engine market, by some distance;
So, we’ve done our Keyword Research and we’ve written some content for our site. It’s taken a while, huh? Well, don’t worry, this is where all that effort comes to fruition.
If you’ve targeted low enough competition keywords, you’ll start to rank in Google naturally. But for higher competition keywords, you’ll want to start building links to your website.
An extensive Link Building guideBefore I start, I should probably say that this is the best link building guide on the internet, and I don’t see any reason to try and improve on it. It’s pretty complex though, so it’s great if you’re after a more in depth link building guide, check it out. But if you want to learn the basics, I can help you out.
The main issue with building low quality Niche Websites is that the content you’re writing generally isn’t worth linking to naturally. This is why we need to build a high quality website that’s worth linking to. For this, you must have solid content otherwise you’ll need to look at some alternative methods of getting links to your website.
Step 10 – Tracking the Progress
Whilst you’re building your site, you’ll want to track the progress you’re making with your site. To be honest, you should probably do this stuff whilst you’re building your site, because these two things are absolute musts if you’re building a niche website and want to know how well you’re doing.
Google Analytics is the best way to track the amount of visitors you’re getting to your website. Using Google Analytics properly is an entire job within itself that needs a vast explanation, but I can give you some of the basics here.
To install Google Analytics, follow these easy steps;
1) Head over to Google Analytics. Sign up for an account, and head to Add a Property. Enter the details of your website.
2) You’ll get a tracking ID to use on your website.
3) Copy and paste the tracking ID into the header.php on your website. To do this, go to your WordPress admin dashboard. Go to Appearance, then editor. Then scroll down to find header.php and enter the tracking code!
After doing this, you can now track the amount of traffic that your website is getting. You can tell which pages and posts that people are visiting, how long they’re staying on your website, their location and even how they’re getting through to your website (amongst other things!). The Moz Guide is a bit more in depth if you want to learn what each part of Google Analytics really means and how you can use it to the best of it’s ability, though it’s not worth doing that until you’re getting some traffic to your website.
For tracking my keywords, there are many different keyword trackers that you can opt to use. I personally like to use Serpfox.
By tracking your keywords, I literally mean looking at how well you’re ranking in Google over a period of time. Ideally, you want to get to first place in Google (obviously!) because first place gets at least a third of all clicks on a search result, if not a lot more than that.
Here’s an example of how a keyword tracker works;
After you’ve done this, you should be able to see where you’re ranking in Google. This is for Serpfox, but generally all keyword trackers work the same.
This is an example of how a keyword tracker works, and how you can use it to see how well you’re ranking for a specific keyword. You’ll want to keep your biggest keywords in a keyword tracker to ensure you’re on the right path, but remember that it’ll take a while to get to the first page.
Step 11 – Adjust and Improve
And, you’re done! No, I’m just kidding. With any website, you’re not truly done because you can always alter and improve your site to ensure that you’re keeping it updated and relevant. This means adding a new post as often as you wish – I try to update my sites with a new post at least once a month at a minimum, but preferably weekly.
As well as keeping the site updated with new content, you can adapt and change your articles depending on what keywords that you’re ranking for. Often, you might find yourself ranking for lesser keywords that you wasn’t even intending to target in your post – great! Update your content to include that keyword exactly and you should notice a further increase in rankings. If you want to see all of the keywords you’re ranking for, my favorite tool to use for this is either SEMRush (you should be able to get a free trial) or Ahrefs. After you’ve posted a lot of content and started to build links to it, you should notice that you’re ranking for organic keywords in your posts.
Keeping up to dat with your website is important, and although it can provide a source or (almost) passive income, you want to give it at least some attention.
And that really is it, this time! I know that this guide might seem overwhelming (or underwhelming if you’re advanced this kind of stuff), but I hope you can take at least something from it. I appreciate you taking the time to check it out, so thank you. Please, feel free to comment (good or bad) and check out the rest of the site, although it’s probably something I’m rambling on incoherently about!
Whilst I do relatively well with my niche websites, I’m a noob in comparison to some guys who have been in the business for many years. Everything I know about these kind of things was learned online, so I thought I’d compile a list (off the top of my head) of people I’d recommend to check out if you’re interested in learning more about SEO and making money online.
Learning PBN’s: Lion Zeal
Keywords: Doug Cunnington
Backlinks: Diggity Marketing