NSD2: Using WooCommerce to Build an Amazon Associates Niche Site

Ants Dueling

Small Scale Duel

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.

Niche Site Duel 2.0 LogoPat 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 LogoWooCommerce 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:

http://www.carseller.com/shop/?brand="Porsche"&type="Convertible"&color="Red"

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:

http://www.carseller.com/shop/porsche/convertible/red/

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!

In case your interested, the paid plugin I am referring to is fittingly called WooCommerce SEO and can be bought on CodeCanyon for $13.

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!

What’s next?

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…

Image Credits

Comments

  1. Excellent introduction to the Niche Site Duel 2.0, Al. Thanks.

    I’m just getting into gear for the Duel myself, although I have to say I’m a bit anxious, because it will be the first of its kind for me. There’s quite a lot of experienced bloggers and marketers like yourself are involved this year, so I’m hoping I can learn from everyone.

    Your post has reassured me. At least I’m not thinking back to front. There’s not a lot online about using WooCommerce as an Amazon affiliates platform. I agree that WooCommerce is a suitable platform for affiliate products, and you are right to use it in this way.

    I have built a few niche sites based on WooCommerce, and a customized default theme. I found that the time to live was very quick, which meant that I could get my sites up in a few hours. The products post type for WooCommerce can even be extended to include schema.org microdata for reviews and products, which Google apparently loves. Thanks so much.

    I’ll definitely come back to see how you get on with the Duel. Goodluck!

    • Hi Colin,
      I have not found a lot of information about using WooCommerce in this context neither. At first I thought i needed a special extension just to get links that bypass the cart and go directly to Amazon, but WooCommerce supports this out-of-the-box. The only hack I needed to use so far was to use CSS to hide the shopping cart in the theme I’m using. When I know more precisely what I need, I’ll build a customized child theme.
      I’m still having trouble with the price updating, though, as Amazon only allows prices to be displayed that are at most 24h old. So, either you constantly refresh your prices, or you need to add a special disclaimer that these prices may not reflect the valid price on Amazon’s site. The plugin I specifically bought to this end only reads prices for products that are directly sold by Amazon, though, which is bad luck as the niche I’m in is not directly marketed by Amazon. I’m already thinking about writing my own importer…
      I sure hope you share your insights too, so we can compare our results!
      Good luck and have fun!

      • Thanks for that Alain. I think there must be others out there, using WooCommerce in a similar fashion.
        Just like you, I’m thinking of creating a platform for WooCommerce and Amazon, which I hope to try out on some niche website. Perhaps not for NSD2.

        I like WooCommerce’s support for external affiliate links. It makes it easy to add a product, and use WooCommerce features, for things like comparisons, wishlists, etc.

        I tend not to put Amazon prices on, because of their TOS, but I’ve used the Amazon Link plugin successfully, in the past. Although I believe the prices it pulls in are probably Amazon’s, rather than Marketplace.I have not combined use of that plugin with WooCommerce, however.

        Ideally, one would want to grab Amazon’s API, deliver a bunch of products to the WordPress DB, then let WooCommerce handle presentation (with a little hand holding). Persistence would be nice, so that the product details can remain in the WPDB as long as Amazon has it in stock. Then one would just have to add more content to the details in WPDB. It’s possible to do this, and I’ve started playing around with Amazon’s Webservice. I’m not a programmer or anything like that, but it was an interesting side project. Plus I can’t invest in WP-Zon, and co., just yet.

        For NSD2, I’ll probably end up with a mashup of WooCommerce and a customized theme. If the niche site gets profitable, I can then expand on my custom platform.

        The only question I have is how WooCommerce’s custom post type (i.e. Products) fares with regards to SEO and Google SERP? What I mean is: Is it better to just stick to posts and pages?
        I’ve read arguments that custom post types don’t perform as well in search results. What’s your take on this? Thanks.
        Colin recently posted..Niche Site Duel 2.0My Profile

        • I plan on building an Amazon plugin that scans through Amazon links in your WPDB and updates the prices on a daily basis. But I won’t do this for NSD2. As I already said on Twitter, I started with a new site, as I couldn’t find any motivation at all with the subject I’d chosen. The site should have been about washing machines, and I now have built up a deep hatred for them. All the images on site look nearly the same, all the content is similar, it really is the most boring subject I’ve ever had to deal with.

          So I chose a new niche topic, and this one will probably not use WooCommerce, as this does not fit the subject. But I have another site which could profit from a conversion to the WooCommerce platform, so I will certainly write more about this at a later time.

          Custom Post Types should not be any different to posts for Google. What Google sees is the URL, the meta data and the content, so you just have to make sure that these 3 things are optimized. What structure you use in your DB for that is irrelevant for Google. The use of Custom Post Types can even improve your site’s SEO because you can give better semantics and context to Google through your URLs.

          However, standard WooCommerce navigation builds URLs with parameters instead of pretty permalink URLs, so this certainly lessens SEO value. That’s why I recommended the WooCommerce SEO plugin in the post.

  2. Hi, good luck with your NSD site. I’m having the same problem finding a way to automatically update product prices. The only solutions I’ve found so far are CompariPress (not pretty, but it does work), and Datafeedr.com – which looks really awesome but has a monthly fee. I’ll be watching to see if you get anywhere with the Code Canyon plugin…

    • CompariPress might be interesting for some specific types of site. Datafeedr seems to be more versatile and looks very nice. The pricing is a bit on the steep side, though. $27/month for one single store, difficult to keep a small niche site profitable then…

      I just got a good scare though: when I looked through Datafeedr’s features page, I noticed that they are using post-it notes which use the exact same graphics as well as the exact same font as the ones on my site do. I’ve got the graphics from http://www.fuzzimo.com/free-vector-post-it-notes-push-pins/ and the font is called PermanentMarker… 🙂
      Big difference though: they have included them in the screenshots as pasted-on graphics, mine are built dynamically in WordPress with a shortcode that puts out the corresponding CSS.
      If anyone should be interested in a plugin like that, just tell me in the comments. If there is enough interest, I might polish my plugin and make it available through the plugin repository… (see the post at http://officenomore.com/goals-expectations-self-advice/ to see 3 examples).

  3. Good introduction to Niche Site Duel 2.0, Al.. Thanks!

  4. Awesome article. goodluck for future keep going….
    Arina Gouri recently posted..Download Windows 8 Pro ISO ( 32 Bit / 64 Bit ) For FreeMy Profile

  5. Eric Liddell says:

    Hey Al,

    Came here through the Nice Site Duel forum, where you are adding a LOT of value with your comments.

    First I want to thank you, since what you share there has been of a lot of value to me so far. I’m just starting on this, and researching and learning a dozens of things daily can be overwhelming if you don’t have some guidance. Your forum entries have definitely done the job.

    It has been tough to find a keyword to pursue, but “I think” I’ve decided to use one. And if I go along with it, the monetization could be Amazon affiliate products. Do you think that using the Woocommerce theme would be an option for a beginner? I mean, it sounds like there is quite a bit of modifications to do. Or would you recommend an easier path, like just adding normal links to reviews or tables?

    Thanks a lot. This article was eye opening for me 🙂

    • Hi Eric,

      I’m glad I can provide value in this forum, there are lots of motivated people in there that only need a tiny little push in the right direction to get going.

      When you’re just starting out, I would probably recommend you use one of the specialised Amazon themes like ProtoZon or SkyZon and so on. You can find most of them for ridiculous prices on the Warrior Forum, so you could start with a query like this: http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Awarriorforum.com+amazon+theme

      Just make sure to read the comments to see if they correctly support the theme, as quality can vary…

      Cheers,
      Al

  6. Very nice article. Keep sharing.

  7. Dear O-No-Mo

    I done found you on the NSD leaderboard. In fact, all over it!. You’re a mega huge help on the site and I wish you be bestest of outcomes.

    Word^

  8. Wanted to say Hi! Also it’s cool that you’re a Pat Flynn fan. I found your site because you purchased a plugin in of mine this morning. I don’t want to spam your comment with the title, but wanted to say thanks! It looks like you have a great site here, and you and I are on the same path of working towards passive income.

    Best of luck with everything and I hope you hit it big!
    Branndon recently posted..I don’t know that there is a whole lot in life period that I can say that I can’t do… Just things that I haven’t done yet.My Profile

    • Hi Branndon,

      Okay, I’ll spam then… I bought the GARD Pro plugin from Branndon which you can find here: http://thedigitalhippies.com/shop/gard-pro/ .

      I plan on writing an article on how I went about building my latest site to have it be HTML5 responsive, so I will surely include an in-depth review of your plugin as I found it to be really great so far.

      You’re on the right way, for sure, so keep up the good work!

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Al

      P.S.: I love your little Hippie family in your website’s header!

  9. Have you gotten the makers of Amazon Affiliate WordPress Plugin to successfully solve your product synchronization problem? I have also filed several support tickets but after spending about a month going back and forth, it feels like they are giving me the run around. How do you keep your prices and reviews updated?

    • Hi Brooke,
      I have not yet tested the new version, but it claims to be able to sync all of the prices now, not just the ones for products delivered directly by Amazon. I have not continued work on the above mentioned site as of yet, as I’ve found the niche I had chosen to be the most boring I’ve ever had to deal with… 😉
      I will test this, though, and I’ll share my results as soon as I’ve done so.
      One question: Did you see that you need to create a custom CRON job for the syncing to work? The standard CRON job that WordPress uses does not work for this plugin. Here’s an explanation: http://support.aa-team.com/#/knowledgebase-details/19
      Please let me know if you’ve figured out how to sync and what the limits are!
      Al

  10. Hi Alain
    What has your experience been like using the Amazon affiliate plugin for Woo? I set up an amazon affiliate store years ago, but haven’t done anything in that realm for a while. Then I saw this plugin, and was wondering how viable it might be for some niche stores. Seems like it could pair well with a content-rich site and a focused niche. I’d be interested in a follow-up to this post.

    Thanks
    Mike
    Mike recently posted..Modern fireplace options to enhance your home or apartmentMy Profile

  11. I tried the Amazon Affiliates plug in from Code Canyon but after the most recent upgrade in addition to a number of parse errors, the checkout page is now blank. Both the website developer and I tried a number of workarounds with no luck and neither of us ever received a response from support so we removed the plugin. As far as adding Amazon products to Woocommerce, I can use a cvs importer to load products although it is much more cumbersome than using the Amazon Affiliates importer,but not being able to automatically update the Amazon product prices is a HUGE problem. We have spent hours and lots of money building the Woocommerce site and I do not want to start over. Any suggestions for updating the product prices?

  12. Good introduction and very well written. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up!

  13. Came up in this article from the Nice Web site Duel online community, your location adding plenty of importance along with your reviews.

    Primary I would like to thanks, considering that everything you discuss there have been involving plenty of importance in my experience to date. I’m only beginning within this, and also looking into and also learning the a large number of issues everyday might be mind-boggling if you don’t incorporate some direction. Your online community items include undoubtedly performed the position.

    It’s been difficult to discover a keyword in order to follow, however “I think” I’ve made a decision to use one particular. And when My partner and i go with the idea, your monetization may very well be Amazon online affiliate marketer items. You think that will while using Woocommerce style will be a choice to get a starter? I am talking about, the idea feels like there may be a large amount of modifications to accomplish. As well as can you advocate a lot easier course, like only adding typical links in order to evaluations or maybe platforms?
    Thanks 🙂

  14. Really this is good think for new Blogger . Thanks for share this awesome post .Its really help full for us . We are wait next post….

  15. Hi Alain, I was searching for the plugin and stumble upon this blog post. How’s going with the Niche Duel?

    Are you making some Amazon Affiliate income with this approach. I’d like to follow how everything is going for you. Thanks!

    Kent
    Kent recently posted..3 Lessons I learned from my $11,000 Amazon Associates Income in the First YearMy Profile

  16. Hy my dear ! Have you gotten the makers of Amazon Affiliate WordPress Plugin to successfully solve your product synchronization problem? I have also filed several support tickets but after spending about a month going back and forth, it feels like they are giving me the run around.

    ______________
    Technology News

  17. WooCommerce is one of the leading ECommerce plugin for WordPress and using that you can create a great Amazon niche site and earn some really great profits and you really gave some great pointers.
    Gautam recently posted..All About WhatsApp MessengerMy Profile

  18. Hi,

    Any update for automatic updates of Amazon prices inside Woocommerce? Planning to do one ecommerce site but I am currently stuck because of price updating problems… Anyone successfully solved this problem?
    TrampolinePuss recently posted..ACON Air 14 ft Trampoline ReviewMy Profile

  19. nice post on niche site
    sandeep recently posted..Bihar 10th ssc results announced – http://www.biharboard.ac.in/My Profile

  20. I have also followed Pat’s Niche site reports to create my Amazon niche site. That guy really a gem! However, never tried going with WooCommerce, maybe in future.
    Anyways, nice writing.
    sanu dutta recently posted..Wealthy Affiliate University Review – Is It Worth Trying?My Profile

  21. Using WooCommerce to Build an Amazon Associates Niche Site is an wonder full block
    thank you

  22. Thanks for sharing really amazing post.
    Very helpful..
    Gayatri mantra recently posted..Sathya Sai Baba Gayatri Mantra MP3 and video free downloadMy Profile

  23. Thank you 🙂

  24. I hope this will help more for new blogger.

  25. You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve truly read through anything like that before. So wonderful to discover another person with a few unique thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is required on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

  26. Amazing website very informative post,there are many quality of article. trampoline review, Jumpsport Trampoline, Olympus Pro Trampoline
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyJKoQzoW0w

  27. .I have gain so much information from this blog.I like your blog.

Speak Your Mind

*

CommentLuv badge