Building An Affiliate Website – A Case Study With websitehosting.com – Part One
As promised, I wanted to make a post about what I’m going to do with Website Hosting in the first 60 days. Some of the discussion will be past tense, as I will be talking about a few things I’ve done already (I took possession of the domain on Jan 29th). Then, I’ll transition into what I plan on doing between now and March 31st. However, this series of posts won’t stop there. I plan on documenting my work step by step until I’m at the number one position for my terms.
This is the first in what will become a long series of posts on how to build an affiliate website. These posts are directed at SEO & affiliate marketing neophytes, up to more of an intermediate level. They will start very basic and build from there. If you’ve been doing SEO or affiliate marketing for a number of years, you might find these posts boring. The idea behind this series of posts is to help those who are struggling with SEO or affiliate marketing, or to inspire people to jump into this amazing industry.
So, without further ado:
If you are new to this blog, I suggest reading my post about keyword domains and my post about why I purchased websitehosting.com. This will give you a good insight as to why I purchased the domain to begin with and what my objectives are.
In a nutshell, my objective is to rank as high as possible for the keywords “website hosting” and “web site hosting”. My business model will be to convert as many of my visitors into paying web hosting customers at various affiliate partners. The average CPA in the web hosting space is $125 or higher.
To get a website like this up and running you need 2 basic components: web hosting (ironically) and a website platform.
Web Hosting – Hostgator
I went with Hostgator for my web hosting since they are one of the most reliable companies out there. I know people who have been using them for years and I’ve yet to hear anyone say a bad word about them. They are ultra reliable and have very little downtime (this is very important). Additionally, they offer amazing support via phone, chat, or email. Since site speed is a factor in Google’s rankings, it’s more important than ever to have a FAST and reliable host. I wrote a post about this here.
Website Platform – WordPress
There are several website platforms out there such as Drupal, Magento, ExpressionEngine, Joomla, etc. I went with WordPress for a number of reasons. First, there are literally millions of websites using WordPress (including this one). This means there are very few bugs in the software, since it’s been so refined. It’s also what’s known as open source, so it’s 100% free to install. Since there is such a large install base, there are also an insane amount of add ons for WordPress, most of which are free. These add ons, known as plugins or themes can change the functionality or look of your site with a few simple clicks.
Initial WordPress Configuration:
I’m going to skip talking about how to actually install WordPress since there is documentation for that on their site. However, I think it’s very important to talk about how I initially configured WordPress. I will do more configuration later, but this is what’s needed to have a good foundation before adding any content.
WWW or no WWW?
It’s important to setup your site to use www.mysite.com or mysite.com, but not both. People will inevitably link to you both ways and you don’t want Google thinking there are two different pages out there. The solution is to 301 redirect one to the other. There is a good article about how you can do this here. I personally like using www, but there really is no one right way here.
Permalinks – It’s important to update your permalink structure before adding any content to WordPress, since out of the box it uses a horrible URL structure. The default URL structure is www.mysite.com/?p=123. This means nothing to Google. You want URLs that looks something like this: www.mysite.com/name-of-post-good-seo-title/. This is one of the many factors that will help you rank higher. In order to make this change, simply goto settings and then permalinks – enter /%postname%/ in the custom box.
The next step is to get busy installing various plugins. All but two of these are 100% free to use; that is the great thing about WordPress. I will install and activate several other plugins later, remember I’m just trying to get to the point where I can post my first content.
Akismet – Akismet is a spam prevention tool that comes installed by default with WordPress. You’ll want to head over to their website and signup for a key. With every WordPress site comes spam. Do yourself a favor and install this plugin before you even post your first piece of content.
All In One SEO Pack – All In One SEO pack is a free plugin that turns your WordPress install into an amazing SEO machine. I love this plugin so much that I upgraded to the paid pro version to help support them. After you install this plugin, you’ll want to head over to its configuration panel. Be sure to add a good homepage title, home description, and home title. You’ll also want to make sure the Canonical URLs, Rewrite Titles, Use noindex for Categories, Use noindex for Archives, and Use noindex for Tag Archives boxes are all checked. This plugin also allows you to add a specific title, description and keyword tags to every post you make. I’ll elaborate on this later.
BackupBuddy – After spending 7 years as the Director of IT for a $100m company, I became obsessive over backups. The thing about backups isn’t if you’ll need them, but when you’ll need them. Every single day 100’s of people get their site hacked and have no backup, don’t let that be you. While this isn’t a free plugin, it’s a cheap plugin and will pay for itself someday. You should install BackupBuddy (or something like it) from day one. This way it’s not something you forget about.
Google Analytics for WordPress – This plugin allows you to link your Google Analytics account with your WordPress site. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, signing up is free. This is pretty much the de facto web stats software on the Internet. I like having this plugin installed from day one so I can see exactly what’s going on with my site.
Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin generates an XML sitemap for Google (and other search engines) to read. Think of it as a White Pages for your site. Google can still find your site without a sitemap, but it might not find all the content inside. After you install this plugin and generate your first sitemap, you’ll want to head to Google’s Webmaster Tools and notify of them of it. The great thing about Webmaster Tools is it will tell you other important information about your site. Things such as crawl errors, people linking to you, ways people are finding you, and page load times. It’s really important to install this plugin and add your sitemap to Webmaster tools, especially for new sites. It will help get you noticed by Google significantly quicker.
WP Smush.it – This is another essential plugin that will automatically shrink all the images you upload to your site. The plugin works by optimizing the images and usually reduces image size by 5%-20%. Since page load times are a factor, this is a very useful tool.
Scribe SEO – Scribe is a plugin designed specifically to help you optimize every post on your site from an SEO perspective. It will evaluate your content and then score it on a scale from 0% – 100%. It takes into account the number of links on your post, the keywords on your post, the title of your post, keyword density, and several other factors. While you can evaluate posts on your own, it’s a much slower process and Scribe will find things that you will inevitably miss. I signed up for the free trial of this plugin and was hooked in the first couple of days. I now use it to evaluate all my posts. Here is a screenshot of Scribe for another post I made on this blog:
Now that web hosting is setup, WordPress is installed, and the initial configuration of WordPress is done, it’s time to post the first content to the site. In part two I’ll cover that along with a couple initial strategies. Part two of this series will follow in a few days.