There are hundreds of different ways to setup a niche website. You know this, but I’ll outline my process for you below because it’s easy to follow and it doesn’t require much know-how. If you have anything to add, I’m sure the people here who are unfamiliar with this process will appreciate your insight in the comment section.
1. Setting Up The Blog
For my niche site challenge, I’ll be using a WordPress blog with a domain and hosting from Bluehost.com (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you purchase).
In the past, niche sites were almost always static sites, and blogs were just a way to keep your friends informed about the shenanigans from last weekend’s party. They weren’t given much in terms of priority and ranking in Google’s search engine algorithm.
Now, as I’m sure you’ll know, blogs can rank really high.
Well, I don’t know the exact answer, but it’s probably because blogs have a better site structure and coding, promote conversation and interaction, and are usually straight to the point containing the most important, relevant keywords.
Whatever the case may be, this works in our favor because a blog is really easy to setup, and you don’t need to know anything about html, css, or any of that stuff to get started.
There are many blogging platforms out there you could choose from, such as Blogger, Typepad, and Moveable Type, but WordPress is the most popular. All of my websites, even static websites, are run on the WordPress platform.
Please note that there’s a WordPress.com and a WordPress.org.
The .com is where you can setup your blog for free. You don’t need to pay for anything, and you can have a blog up and running in no time. However, your website name will always have the word “wordpress” in it, such as smartpassiveincome.wordpress.com, which decreases it’s authority in the search engines. Also, you are limited to what you can do with your WordPress-hosted site.
The .org is where you can download WordPress to put on your own hosted domain. There is an installation process that can hold some people back, which is why I recommend using a hosting service like Bluehost.com (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you purchase) because you can get your domain and hosting cheap, and simply click one button to install WordPress on your site. It literally takes four minutes (I know because I timed it), and you can watch this YouTube video if you’re looking for step by step instructions about how to set that up.
For the rest of this tutorial, I won’t be going step by step through how to install plugins, how to install a theme, etc. Most of that is self-explanatory within the WordPress control panel itself, but if you do have any specific questions please don’t hesitate to ask here in the comment section, or just contact me privately instead.
As far as plugins are concerned, I install the following four plugins immediately after WordPress is loaded:
- All in One SEO Pack
- Google XML Sitemaps
- Syon Policy
- Google Analyticator
Then, I configure each of the ones that need configuring:
All in One SEO Pack
This plugin is the most important plugin you can install because it enables the search engines to look for information about your site. The plugin overrides all of your normal WordPress settings for your blog title, tagline, etc.
As you know from my previous niche site duel entry, my research led me to tackle the Security Guard Training niche, and pick up SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com. The exact match .com domain was not available, but it was for sale for $35,000.
Ugh, no thanks.
HQ on the end sounds kind of cool anyways for this niche, since headquarters is a term used in the industry already.
Moving on, it’s important that I properly setup my All in One SEO Pack plugin to be optimized for my niche.
Side note: I’ll do my best not to use the domain name I purchased, or even mention my niche so as not to skew any of the search engine results and numbers. It’s going to be impossible for me to keep my niche site 100 percent clean of non-related visitors and some incoming links, but that’s the price I pay when being totally transparent and sharing everything with you in this challenge. I hope that makes sense!
Here’s what I have:
Home Title: This is the title that will be shown at the top of your browser on your homepage and in the bright blue letters on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). I have included my keyword twice for more oomph (title and then tagline), but you have to be careful here because using your keyword too much will penalize your site.
I like to use the rule of two maximum Two max in your title, and two max in your description.
Home Description: This is the paragraph that gets shown underneath your blue link on the SERPs. Many people don’t use this plugin and fail to set this up, which leaves their description totally weird looking, sometimes containing random excerpts from their websites.
Be descriptive here, and be sure to include your primary keyphrase once again. I also used a secondary keyword that is related to the industry (protection services) as well here, just to give it a little bit more relevance to the
Both of the above (title and description) are what people see in the SERPs, so you can have more of an impact (i.e., get more traffic) by not only optimizing for keywords, but optimizing to catch people’s attention too. Sometimes, a #3 ranking site will have more traffic than a #2, simply because the copy is better.
My copy changes from time to time, so what you see in Google now may be different than what you see above.
Home Keywords: Keywords in the meta data (background of your site) are less important nowadays. The weight has been taken heavily off of them since a lot of people would just insert unrelated keywords into their meta data and rank for keywords they shouldn’t. Still, you should put in your primary keyphrase first, followed by any secondary keyphrases related to your niche which you know are being searched for.
Google XML Sitemaps
This super important plugin helps create a certain file that is used by Google’s bots that crawl your site and it’s content, for proper indexing in their system.
Once you activate it, it’s ready to go – you don’t need to do anything further.
This plugin helps me hook up my site to my Google Analytics account so that I can see all of the traffic and keyword data I need to see right on my WordPress Admin panel. There are a bunch of advanced options that go along with it, but I don’t mess around with that stuff at this point.
Before setting up this plugin, you’ll need a Google Analytics account. Then, follow the instructions on the plugin settings page to get everything configured properly.
3. The Theme
The theme of your website (the look of it, which can easily be swapped for another look), is really easy to setup.
I’ve changed the theme on this blog (Smart Passive Income) four or five times before I finally ended up with one I liked, but what’s nice is that there are a million and one themes available to you (both free and paid), so there’s bound to be one that suits your needs.
For my niche site, I found an awesome free theme, SimpleFolio that works for what I’m trying to do at the moment. It has a number of features that a lot of paid themes include, which is cool.
It’s not a theme, however, that you can get in the free theme directory. So, you’ll have to visit the link above, download the zip file, extract it, and plop the folder into the wp-content/themes/ folder in your site. Then, it will show up as a theme you have installed on your blog, and all you have to do is activate it to make it live.
If you purchase a premium theme from a site like WooThemes (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you purchase), you’ll have to use the same method to get it onto your site.
Here’s a screenshot of my niche site up and running with the SimpleFolio theme:
You can see some of the content on there already, and in fact as I write this post, I see that my page has actually already been indexed by Google. Not ranked, just indexed, which means they know it’s there. I’ll go over how that happened in the next post.
Right now, the look of the theme isn’t actually that important, since no one is going to visit the site until it’s on the first page of Google, which is my top priority. What’s important now is that the content I publish is categorized, tagged and optimized for my keyphrase, and that I’m sending backlinks to the site (again, I will discuss this process in a later post).
Many people have been asking me what my plan for monetization is, since I’m not starting with a product keyword as I normally do. This is something that I thought about before deciding to tackle this niche, which is something everyone doing niche sites should think about before they start building a site.
There are training manuals available that I could be an affiliate for, but I’m looking more toward the online training courses that are required as part of the process to become a security guard. There are a bunch of them, and I’ll have to contact the site owners to work out a deal of some sorts (which is exactly what I did with my site at GreenExamAcademy), but that won’t happen until I have some leverage and traffic in this niche. Until then, I will probably and strategically sprinkle the site with AdSense, since I know the cost-per-click is rather high, at $2.32 per click.
Again, I started GreenExamAcademy.com the same way, using AdSense, and what’s cool is that I can actually see what ads are popping up on my site and contact those companies directly for advertising and affiliate opportunities.
Niche Site Content
For the purposes of this challenge, I’m writing all of the content myself.
You can (and in some cases, probably should) hire and outsource people to create the content for you, but I like to write, and since this is a topic I’m actually interested about (since it came from my 777 passions-problems-fears niche selection method), I know I’ll be able to produce content that people are looking for.
Because I know nothing about this niche, I’m in the same shoes as those who will actually use my site. Because of this, I think I’ll know exactly what people want to know and how to present it to them.
I’ll talk more about what I do with the content in one of the next Niche Site Duel posts, but just to give you an idea about how I come up with the content, I simply create a list of questions, concerns and topics that I could possibly write about and go from there.
Some come from common sense, some are based on further related keyword research, and some are generated from research with competing websites.
Cool Resource: You can use this Keyword Questions Tool to find out what types of questions people are typing into search engines related to your niche. I wouldn’t look too hard at the numbers next to the questions, but you can get some good ideas about what kind of content people want to know about. Here’s a screenshot below:
Based off all that, here is a screenshot of a Google Doc that has a few of the posts that I will be researching and writing about:
So Far, I’ve Spent. . .
Setting up the domain and hosting, the WordPress blog, configuring the plugins and uploading the theme took a total of about 1 hour.
Doing the research required for the content topics for the site, maybe another 1 hour or so.
Each blog post I’ve written so far (shown in red in the screenshot above), has taken about 30 minutes to 1 hour each, so maybe a total of 4 additional hours.
Total Hours = 6 hours.
I could stop with the blog posts I’ve already written and just work on building backlinks, but I really want to go hardcore in this niche which is why you’re seeing a lot more than four or five blog posts, and why some of them aren’t totally related to the training aspect of this industry. I want the site to look natural (which it will be), because that’s what works best.
As far as cost, all I have paid for up to this point was the domain and hosting package, which runs at $6.95 a month from Bluehost (full disclosure – I earn a commission if you purchase).
Total Cost = $6.95.
Anyways, this post is rather long, so I’ll finish up and get back to work. Remember, it’s all about working hard now, so you can reap the benefits later.
Tyrone, my challenger in this duel, has selected his niche, but I think he may be switching it up too because of some further research done on his initial selection. I’ll do my best to link to his updates as much as I can. It’s difficult to coordinate perfectly because of our time zone difference (he’s in Austrailia, I’m in California), but we are trying to coordinate everything for you as much as possible.
Thanks again for your support, and I wish you all the best. Cheers!
Other Posts in The Niche Site Duel Series
- Niche Site Duel: I’ve Been Challenged, and I Accept! (8/16)
- Niche Site Duel 002: Finding a Profitable Niche – My Process Revealed (8/18)
- Oops. The Niche I Selected is Bad, and Here’s Why (8/20)
- Niche Site Duel 003: How to Setup a Niche Site – Before You Add Content (8/25)
- Niche Site Duel 004: My Content Strategy (9/10)
- Niche Site Duel 005: My Backlinking Boo Boo (9/13)
- Niche Site Duel 006: My Backlinking Strategy (9/14)
- Niche Site Duel 007: Ranking and Traffic (and Earnings!) Update (9/29)
- Niche Site Duel 008: My Monetization Strategy (10/26)
- Niche Site Duel 009: I’m On The First Page of Google! (10/27)
- Niche Site Duel 010: I’m Ranked Number One in Google!! (11/8)
- Niche Site Duel 011: THE Backlinking Strategy That Works (11/10)
- Niche Site Duel 012: An Experiment and Income Update (11/29)
- Niche Site Duel 013: CPA Promotions, Private Advertising, Job Board and Income Report(1/14)
- My 275% Increase in Adsense Revenue (1/26)
- Niche Site Earnings and Directory Listing Update (3/11)
- I Was Just Offered Five Figures For My Niche Site! (5/11)
- Niche Site Update – New Content, Record Earnings, and What’s Next (5/26)
- Niche Site Duel – One Year Later (Earnings and Traffic Update (8/15)