This is part three of my series on how to build an affiliate website, where I’ll be using websitehosting.com as a case study. In part one, I discussed how to get the basic site structure set up – by selecting a web host, selecting a website platform, and doing some initial setup. Part two covered some basic content guidelines and my plans to submit the site to Google news. In Part three I’m going to cover my initial design and the overall progress of the site so far.
Website Hosting Progress:
It’s been almost exactly 6 weeks since I purchased Website Hosting, but there is already some fairly significant progress. First, I’ve been able to post over 50 news articles to the site. Remember, my goal is to get over 100 news articles on the site and then submit it to Google News. At this point I’m already half way to my goal. I’m going to continue adding about 2 news articles per day, so I should be over 100 sometime in April. In addition to the news stories, there are also 10 web hosting reviews on the site along with several articles related to web hosting.
I was also able to get my new design launched. My goal was to do this by March 1st, but I ran about a week behind. This was mostly because of a vacation I took. The week delay was well worth it as I’m much more relaxed now. I’m working with a new programming team, so there are still some kinks to work out. It’s mostly small usability stuff that most users won’t notice, but I’m VERY nit-picky. I should have most of these issues worked out this week. Once this layout gets overloaded with content, I’ll start working on the second version of the site. The next version will have a lot more features and some great “link bait” ideas incorporated. I’ll get more into that later in this series.
Last, but certainly not least, the site cracked the top 100 for the Google search “website hosting”. As you can see by the screenshot below, I’m currently sitting in 84th position. That way exceeds my expectations for this point in the game. Remember, the site just went live 42 days ago and this is a VERY competitive term. To be in the top 100 is a major win at this point. On top of that, I’m already getting about 50 unique visits per day to the site, mostly from long tail search results to my news stories – very encouraging.
Initial Site Design:
Please remember that this is only my initial design for this site. I plan on having a more elaborate design in the future, but I don’t like sites looking too empty. The next release of the site will make room for the 100’s of articles I will have on the site by that point. Remember, content is king, and a big part of my plan is to post lots of great content on this site. Think of it as a loss-leader, in a way, for the affiliate portion of the site.
The initial design is broken out into 3 main areas: high conversion area, top 10 list, and Google candy.
High Conversion Area
You have less than 3 seconds to capture the attention of the average visitor, so it’s important to make it clear to them what the site is about and give them something to click on – quickly. The top three hosts on the site are “in your face” and the green Visit Site butons are very inviting. This is the first site I’ve developed with the top 3 options at the top like this. I suspect this will increase my conversions significantly and I’ll be using click tracking tools to track my progress. Of course, I’ll be posting all the results here.
Top 10 List
This top ten list is really an extension of the high conversion area above. I’ve been using top 10 lists for years and find that they convert unbelievably well. Users don’t want to do a lot of reading and they want a reliable source to tell them what’s best for them. I have a top 10 list on WordPress Themes in the sidebar; I get a silly number of conversions from this. It converts WAY better than a banner since it builds trust with the user.
The final section is what I call the Google Candy area. Google doesn’t like sites that are content light, so I have lots of text on the page (about 1000 words) to help my rankings. Users rarely go below the fold, but Google crawls the whole page. Google does give more weight to text that is higher on the page, but only marginally. This area has several H2 and H3 tags, along with links to several articles that will rotate on a frequent basis. I’ll also go back and add some strong and italics tags in select areas. Finally, I’ll use this area to balance my keyword density to the perfect amount. Google likes to see between 2% and 5.5% keyword density on the page. It seems like every keyword is slightly different, so I’ll play around until I find the exact perfect balance.
You can calculate the keyword density by adding up the number of times your keyword appears on the page and dividing it by the total number of words on the page. So, in my case, I have about 1000 words on the page. My keyword, website hosting, appears on the page eight times. The math is 8 / 1000 = 0.8%. With highly competitive keywords, I like to start on the very low end of the scale and work my way up. The worst thing you can do is get a penalty for keyword stuffing. Over the next few weeks I’ll start to tune this number up a little bit.
There are a couple of other tricks I would like to point out in regards to header tags, using the current month, and keep your site fresh:
Header Tags – Header tags are the H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 tags. They are a way of labeling sections of your site from most important, to less important. There are lots of opinions in the SEO world about these tags, but I have my own opinion about them. Here are some guidelines I use with my header tags:
– Use the H1 tag on every page, high up on the page. On the home page use it to include your main keyword, but don’t make the tag only your keyword. For instance, don’t make the H1 tag “Website Hosting”, but rather include it in a longer phrase like “Website Hosting Top Ten List For March 2011″.
– On inside pages the H1 tag should closely, or exactly match the title of the page. On a news article the H1 tag might be “The Dallas Cowboys Website Prepares For The Big Show”.
– On the homepage, or other pages where you are trying to rank high for a particular keyword, it’s important to include several instances of H2, H3, and even H4 tags. On the homepage of Website Hosting, I have a total of 12 H2 and H3 tags. I include the exact phrase “Website Hosting” in only 3 of these. This way it looks natural.
Current Month – I find that including the current month and year on the page helps with SEO rankings. On any site that is trying to rank for a competitive term, try to include the current month and year in a Header tag. For Website Hosting it’s in my H1 tag as “Website Hosting Top Ten List For March 2011″. On WordPress Themes it’s in a H2 tag as “Top Theme Companies For March 2011″.
Frequent Updates – Don’t let your homepage become static! On Website Hosting I have several areas where the content will change from time to time.
– Each month the current month will update
– The articles in the middle of the page will change from time to time
– The news section will have new articles everyday
– I will add a blog post in the blog area about two times per month