Alright, in my last update I pulled the trigger and purchased my domain through GoDaddy (on 10/25/2010) and now need to setup my site. Since my niche site is devoted to juicing and juice machines my keyword research suggested that best juicers would be a good place to start. I refer to this as my base keyword phrase. Ultimately that phrase was already taken so I had to be creative and add something to it to make it unique (and available). I discussed some of my strategies for doing this previously in Niche Site Duel Part 4 – Purchasing a Domain.
I didn’t want to break-up my phrase so I added something to the beginning of it. Adding something to the end of it would have been fine too BTW. I also wanted my domain name to flow off the tongue and sound authoritative. Ultimately I choose…. Drum roll please….
Setting Up The Niche Site
So now that I have my domain name I need to host it somewhere. I have a dedicated linux machine with Host Gator but a shared or VPS plan will do. I got along for many years on a shared plan before migrating to a dedicated machine. They didn’t offer Virtual Private Servers back when I switched. If I was new and getting into things today I would probably go for a VPS plan. It affords you a little more control over the server space by creating a “virtual dedicated” machine which allows you to install anything you want (similar to the control you get with a dedicated machine) without the exorbitant expense.
Another nice feature is that VPS machines are fully scalable which means you can start off with a lower-end spec virtual machine and bump it up later as your site and needs grow.
Many hosting providers offer this service now so shop around for the one that best meets your budget and needs. At the end of the day, it comes down to price, reliability, and customer support.
I typically use WordPress for my niche sites. I like it because it’s open source, free and there are literally thousands of plugins and themes available that allow you to customize things just the way you like. Plus, it is constantly being updated with enhancements and is arguably one of the best and most popular blogging content management systems out there.
You can create a site for free on wordpress.com which eliminates the need for you to pay for a hosting server (Previous Step) but you really can’t open things up that way. Site configuration and management functionality is limited if you go that route and ultimately you will have to pay for features to open things up and really get access to the goodies that make WordPress so good.
WordPress themes allow you to quickly customize the layout of your WordPress blog or website. It’s the first thing people see when they come to your site and sets the tone for its content. To show you what I mean let’s take a look at the default theme for my new niche site:
Now let’s apply a theme to it.
Alright, I also added content but a good theme makes adding content easy and makes your site look more polished and visually compelling which will help drive conversions.
The Spinning Carousel
I’d like you to believe that I’m this genius programmer that madly coded the spinning carousel widget on my niche site but that is so far from the truth. In fact, that widget is one that any amazon affiliate can grab and is aptly named the “Carousel Widget”. Select a few products, grab the code and insert it into your blog. Done! Now you can look like a coding genius too. LOL!
If you are new to WordPress then I should point out that it comes with thousands of free themes to choose from accessible from within the control panel, but I prefer premium themes these days because they are typically more visually appealing, easier to customize (with customizable bells and whistles that make setup as painless as possible) and of a higher quality. I am a programmer and even though I like to play around with code, I like to play around with my kid more so these days I go for speed. Plus getting the job done quickly means I can work on other niche sites which means more revenue.
In case you were wondering, the theme I used for my juicing site is called Lifestyle and is a premium theme available through Studio Press. This was my first time working with one of their themes and I must say their selection and framework is quite impressive.
Plugins are user created applications that allow you to modify WordPress’ core functionality. Many, if not most, are free. Here are the ones I typically install for every site I create. They are accessible from within the WordPress control panel via the Plugins tab. You can search for them, add them and install them all from the comfort of your WordPress control panel. What’s not to love about WordPress?
- All in One SEO Pack – Adds fields to your pages and posts to help you customize the meta tags. Also known as “on page SEO factors”, an important component in achieving high organic search engine rankings.
- Google XML Sitemaps – Dynamically creates a bot-searchable index of your site (called a “site map”). The search engines love these as it allows them to quickly find all your pages. Here’s the sitemap.xml for this site in case you were wondering what it looks like.
- Contact Form 7 – All sites should provide a way for people to contact the owner. A lot of the PPC search engines frown on sites that don’t have it as they appear spammy. This plugin creates a contact form that helps satisfy that requirement without publicly displaying your email address. Who needs more spam? Right?
- Google Analyticator – Cool plugin that integrates your google analytics data right into the dashboard of your WordPress admin page.
- Sharebar – Puts a quick link to a variety of social networking sites on the side of each page or post. The cool thing about this plugin is that it scrolls down with the user as they read your content keeping it always prominently displayed.
- Automatic WordPress Backup – How often do you backup your blog? Really back it up, plugins, themes and all? If catastrophe struck how long would it take you to get your site back online – if at all? That’s where Automatic WordPress Backup comes into play. It’s a fire and forget solution that can be configured to back up your blog (the whole thing) automatically at set intervals you define. Data is backed-up to the cloud using Amazon Simple Storage Service (a.k.a S3). S3 is not free, but it is dirt cheap and well worth it when you consider the alternative.
Tracking and Analytics
- Google Analytics – Free google tool that can show you all sorts of wonderful traffic metrics related to your site.
- Google Webmaster Tools – Essential for seeing what words or phrases drive the most traffic to your site as well as appraising the overall health of your site. Do you have a sitemap and is it configured correctly? This free service from Google will tell you.
- Prosper202 – This is a free tool that allows you to track affiliate link clicks and their conversions. It depends on the use of something called subID’s and when configured properly can really help you zero in on what word or phrase someone typed to get to your website that actually converted to a sale.
Once you have your site up and running you need to notify the search engines of your existence. Until you are indexed you won’t even begin to climb to the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) so this is not something you want to put off. The typical recommendation is to submit your site to a variety of social networking sites. I recommend Digg, Delicious, Twitter, & StumbledUpon. You could submit to more, but I don’t recommend less.
I also like to submit my sitemap to Google via Google Webmaster Tools to speed things along.
Finally, if I am feeling extra anal retentive (which I usually do) I also submit my links directly to the search engines via their corresponding site submission links.
Site Submission Pages
I lazily used my Posterous link wheel to broadcast my new sites existence and was indexed in about five hours. Twenty four hours after that my whole site was indexed.
How To Check If Your Site Has Been Indexed By Google
- Go to Google
- Type site:YourSiteName
- If you don’t see a list containing at least one of your pages your site has not been indexed by Google yet.
For example: for my site I type: site:worldsbestjuicers.com
Alright, that’s it for the WordPress configuration step. My site is up and running (albeit in skeletal form) and I’m indexed. Next I need to add more content and build backlinks to it so that I can climb the search engine ranks.
At the moment, Market Samurai reports that I am ranked 291 on Google, 10 on Yahoo and 10 on Bing for the term best juicers which is the keyword phrase I am targeting. I am already on the first page for the phrase worlds best juicers but that’s hardly a victory because that is not a keyword phrase that has any traffic worth competing for.
In the next installment of the Niche Site Duel things are going to get interesting as I go over my backlinking strategy which I will go over in painful detail. Alright, I will try not to make it painful. Unless, of course you are into that sort of thing. As always, I love to hear from you. Let me know what you think in the comments section.