I have decided to participate in Pat Flynn’s Niche Site Duel 2.0. This will be a great tool to keep me accountable as well as an opportunity to build relationships in the affiliate marketing and blogging field. I intend to do regular reports on my progress here, so you can follow along and see exactly how I go about building the site and what my results are. I can’t guarantee that my niche site will be a success, but I am certain that the journey will be a very valuable one.
What is the Niche Site Duel 2.0?
In 2010, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income was challenged to a duel by Tyrone Shum to publicly create a niche site from scratch. They both documented each of their steps on their own blogs and Pat also created a hub site that held links to many other blogs that also participated in this challenge. The corresponding blog posts had immense success and Pat’s niche site about security guard training is now earning a very respectable $2-3k per month through AdSense.
Pat has now launched Niche Site Duel 2.0 as a means to show people how niche sites are now built in 2013, after several Google SEO animals have mutilated many of the ranking techniques that were used during the first round. There’s now a complete NSD site with a leaderboard and community forums that you can find at NicheSiteDuel.com. You can also register on this site to take part in the challenge… If you want to know more about the NSD 2.0 launch by the man himself, head over to the Smart Passive Income blog and start reading!
What is my plan?
After some more intensive keyword research using Long Tail Pro, I’ve found a keyword that I intend to use for my next niche site. It has adequate volume (6’600 exact local matches per month) and a competition that still seems to be beatable (Long Tail Pro gives it an average KC of 34). It will not be too easy to rank for the keyword, but the good volume along with the promising monetization method I intend to use tell me that it is worth a shot.
I will not reveal just yet what the keyword is, I want to get some work done before making it public. It is about a specific kind of appliance, a fairly big ticket item which makes it so interesting to promote through Amazon’s affiliate program. More to come in a later post!
As I already have built similar sites in the past, I wanted to try something new this time around. I already have two sites that are monetized through Amazon products, one which I built manually from scratch with links copied in by hand, and one which uses ReviewAzon and a specialized Amazon eCommerce theme.
So, to try something new, I decided that I’ll build this site using the free WooCommerce plugin as backend. At first I was unsure whether this was even feasible with the WooCommerce plugin, as it is a full eCommerce solution which is normally used to sell your own products, with a shopping cart, tax and shipping calculations, and so on. But I have made some tests and it seems as if this should work out of the box. WooCommerce let’s you not only include regular products, but also what it calls “External/affiliate products”. When you add such a product, the “Add to cart” button is replaced by one that simply redirects you to the link that’s associated with the product.
What benefits does WooCommerce bring to the table?
WooCommerce allows you to add Categories, Attributes, Reviews, etc… to your products which can then be used through its widgets to navigate your product catalog. As I have built this whole navigation by hand before, I can tell you that it is way faster to use WooCommerce’s built-in features.
What’s more, the whole presentation of the base plugin as well as of the WooCommerce themes is laid out like a real eCommerce site. Your average WordPress standard theme is pretty far off when it comes to eCommerce presentation.
As a bonus, I’ve found a (paid) plugin that uses the whole structure that you define in WooCommerce’s catalog and rewrites the URLs to pretty permalinks so that they can be properly used for SEO purposes. As an example, when you have a website selling cars and you choose to show all the red convertible Porsches, you would normally get a link like this:
Google will typically ignore everything after the ‘?’, as these parameters indicate dynamic content that is dependent on context (and maybe even on the user logged in).
With the special SEO plugin, you get a link like this:
This is a clean permalink that Google will index and if a user searches for a red convertible Porsche, Google will point them to your corresponding archive page.
Let me be really clear on this: Coding something like this yourself through custom taxonomies and rewrite rules is… unpleasant! So, this feature alone makes it worth for me to use WooCommerce this time around!
I am also using another paid plugin called WooCommerce Amazon Affiliates which enables you to add Amazon products right from inside your WordPress dashboard and which should also update Amazon’s price automatically. However, I have not had much success with the price updating yet and have therefore opened a ticket on the plugin’s support site. I’ll let you know how that goes.
What about the real content of the site?
I intend to use two types of content to give Google something to rank for: in-depth reviews and how-to articles. I want to outsource these as much as possible, and I will browse through Amazon customer reviews and trough specialized forums to find people with the necessary knowledge to write for my site. I expect to pay about $10-15 per article and I have already planned to include a sign-up page on the site itself where writers can make their article propositions.
I’ll report in detail about my experiences outsourcing this content at a later time, and I’ll make sure to include some useful tips for you along the way!
I’ll work hard at getting a handful of products inside my WooCommerce catalog and finding some outsourcers that are willing to write reviews. When I have 3 or more reviews online, I’ll start indexing and building backlinks to the site. I’ll probably also reveal the site publicly by then.
Why not join us at the Niche Site Duel hub and try to build a niche site for yourself? Everyone can do this, and you can be certain to learn a thing or two…