Building An Affiliate Website – A Case Study With websitehosting.com – Part Two
This is part two of my series on how to build an affiliate website, where I’ll be using websitehosting.com as a case study. In part one, I discussed how to get the basic site structure set up – by selecting a web host, selecting a website platform, and doing some initial setup. Now that that’s out of the way, I can start adding content to the site. So, part two in this series will be all about content.
I cannot stress how important posting regular content can be in regards to your SEO efforts. When Google sees a site that is static, lethargic, stale, insert any other adjective here, it’s simply doesn’t give it the same credit as a site that is continuously updating and adding content.
Now, it doesn’t make sense to just post content for the sake of posting content. You want to post content that is relevant to your site, benefits your visitors, and most importantly will attract links. This content can come in the form of how-to articles, news articles, blog posts, instructional videos, white papers, industry statistics, or product reviews. In the case of Website Hosting, I plan on posting a variety of all these types content.
For sites in highly competitive sectors, I like to post at least two fresh content pieces per day. However, if you are targeting less competitive key terms, you can get away with as little as three posts per week. In the case of website hosting, you will see at least two fresh content pieces go up everyday. Since I run a number of sites, I hire a number of content writers to do the bulk of the work for me. I haven’t been 100% happy with the news articles that have been turned into me for Website Hosting yet, but I’m working on that. I feel pretty good that I’ll have a solution in the next 1-3 weeks that will make me happy.
Search Engine Spiders
For those of you who aren’t familiar with how search engines work, I’m going to take a second to explain what a spider is. A spider is basically a robot (or program) that continuously searches the Internet for new or updated content. In the world of Google, this is known as the Google bot.
In the first post of this series, I mentioned why it’s important to create a Webmaster Tools account and notify Google of your site map. This basically tells the Google bot “Hey, there is some content over here you should take a look at.” When the Google bot comes to your site and sees new content, it kind of files that away in the back of its mind. Then, when it comes back the next time (maybe a week or two later) and finds new content again, it thinks “Maybe I should come back here sooner next time.” What ends up happening is the Google bot will visit your site more it more often. The more often it visits your site, the quicker your content will be indexed. If you post content often enough, you will find that your content is eventually indexed almost immediately. This is a sure sign of what I call “Google love”.
Important Content Guidelines
So, now that you know how important posting content to your site is, there are some general guidelines you should follow for each and every post. I will get into more depth on this subject as I continue in this series. For now, I’m just trying to teach some basics and talk about things I’m doing with my initial posts.
Content Length – 250 words is regarded in the SEO community as the absolute minimum any post should be, but 300 is the generally accepted minium. This is not a race of quantity verse quality. You don’t want to get in a situation where you are posting articles that are short snippets or full of hot air. Every post on your site should be at least 300 words long. This doesn’t mean you should be writing posts just to get in under the minimum mark. Personally, I try to shoot for at least 400 words in each of my posts.
Good Titles, Descriptions, and Keywords! – In part one of this series I talked about a WordPress plugin called All In One SEO Pack. This is where this plugin comes in to play. On every post you should be adding a Custom Title Tag, Description, and Keywords. The title tag is regarded as the single most important SEO factor. You can add all these settings via the All In One SEO plugin. Below is a screen shot from a post I made on WordPress Themes with data filled in.
Don’t overtarget keywords – If you are writing a post with a keyword target of “blogs”, then don’t write something like “Blogs are good. I like blogs. Blogs are great. You really should have a blog. Blogs make me feel good.” First of all, no one is going to want to actually read that crap. Second, you are wasting your time because it will never get linked to (remember this is the real reason for posting content). Third, you won’t fool Google and you might even get a penalty if you continue this practice. You should target something in the range of 3% – 5% for keyword density.
Spice It Up – I’ll talk about this at great length in a future post, as this is a topic all on its own. However, I want to briefly mention that you should do your best to incorporate as many HTML tag attributes in each post as you can. It makes the post a lot easier to read and follow. Again, I will elaborate on this later, but you can use this post as an example of how html tags make posts easier for visitors to read.
HTML Tags To Include
- H1, H2, H3, and H4 tags
- Strong Tag
- Italics tag
- Underline Tag
- Lists (such as this one)
Include Links – Since Google is built from a world of links, it likes to see links on every page. At one time, it was an SEO practice to include as few links as possible on your page to prevent something called page leak. However, I like to build sites that look as natural as possible. If you look at content that is naturally written, there are always links in that content. Look at this post (for instance) written by the New York Times. First of all, it’s a fascinating article about how JC Penny’s tried to game the system. However, the main point is that there are plenty of links throughout the article. You should have at least one link for every 150 words on the page.
Use Scribe SEO To Evaluate Content – I talked about Scribe SEO in post one of this series, but it’s worth talking about again since it has everything to do with “content”. Scribe SEO quickly evaluates your post and suggests corrections. Here are a few things that Scribe will evaluate:
- Post Length
- Keyword Density
- Title Length and Keyword Positioning Within
- Meta Description
- Meta Keywords
- Number of Links In The Post
- Primary and Secondary Keywords
- Flesch Reading Ease Score
- Suggest Tags For Your Post
- Much More
They offer a free 30 day trail, so it costs nothing to try out. Even as a seasoned SEOer, I was hooked after just a couple days.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Google has a whole separate area for news called Google News. This is a great way to increase the amount of traffic to your website, especially if you don’t rank on the first page for your keyword yet. By posting relevant news articles, it can temporarily grant you first page results. Here is an example of how Forbes was ranking right below the top 10 search results for an article they wrote about Rackspace. Forbes doesn’t otherwise rank anywhere near the top 10 for the search “web hosting”, but thanks to Google News they are getting traffic for this keyword. In the future, plan on seeing lots of my articles show up in this position.
The bad part about getting traffic from Google News results is that they are much less likely to convert into a referral commission. However, they are much more likely to attract links. This alone makes it worth the effort to write all these articles and get submitted to Google News. Links to articles like these are what is known as deep links. These types of links are critical to the long-term success of any SEO project. I will get into more detail about this in future parts of the series.
There are no exact guidelines of what your site needs to do to qualify to be accepted to Google News. However, my experience has showed me that the following will get you get you in:
– A site with at least 100 news articles
– A site with at least five different authors
– A site that has been up and running for at least four months
– Quality articles
Finally, I also strongly believe that any site listed in Google News is seen with a higher authority than one that isn’t. So, after getting accepted to Google News you might find everything else on your site ranks just a little bit higher.
In part three I will be covering the initial design that I’m working on for Website Hosting. I already have the design completed and it’s currently in the programming phase right now. I will go in depth about everything on the page, talking in detail about conversion and SEO. Hopefully, with a little luck, the new template will launch before March 1. I’ll have my article about this up sometime next week.