Why WordPress Sucks for Niche Sites (And What To Do About It)

Why Wordpress Sucks

You know that WordPress is super-easy to install.  It's a 1-click thing with most web hosts.  It's easy to enter content.  You just type a title and then type the content.  What could be easier to use to set up an army of niche sites?  

There's just one problem.

WordPress blogs suck for niche authority sites.

Wait…  I can hear you now “Kristen, you just told me how great WordPress is, and now you say it sucks?!”. That's right.  See, the problem is, WordPress is a blogging platform, but your niche site is probably not a blog.  It's an informational site geared to get your visitor to sign up for your list, click on an ad, or buy a product (yours or an affiliate product).

[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”Update!”]I've been using WordPress to run a large authority site for 3 years now, and I've revised my ideas on what parts of WordPress you should use – in the original version of this article, I recommended using Pages for your core content, but now I feel differently. Read on for how I believe you can best tweak WordPress to build awesome niche and authority sites.[/thrive_text_block]

The Bad News

A low-quality blog may get someone to click on an ad (maybe just to get away from crummy content!), but do you really want to build your brand around that?  

No?  

I thought not.  To get someone to sign up for your list or purchase a product, you need to build some trust by showing them you have quality info on the topic they're looking for.  A low-quality blog probably isn't ideal for this.

It is possible to build a blog around a personal project – like a travel diary kind of blog, or a cooking or renovation project. But if you're building an “authority site,” people come to search for particular topics and probably want a kind of order or organization to the topics on your site.

The search engine spiders also have a hard time getting a good feel for your content if it's organized as a blog.  You need a solid, logical layout.  Otherwise, your quality content and vital information get lost in a sea of newer posts.

The Good News

I'm not going to leave you lost in a sea of jumbled categories and newest posts while that brilliant tutorial you wrote last month gets lost forever.  In fact, WordPress is a powerful tool you can use to create your niche site.

Here's where my advice differs from the original version of this article. I don't think you need to use a Page-driven layout. You can still harness the power of blog posts to bring attention to your freshest content.

**The key, though, is that you don't create a Post and move on…

…you first create a logical layout plan for your site.**

First, you can create a Page-driven, logical layout.  Pages are different than Posts, in that they're created to be enduring content.

Here's an example:

So your post giving a general overview on dog grooming leads to a post on giving your pooch a bath, and another on tools you need to keep your dog well-groomed.  Another post (linked in your navigation menu) features feeding your dog.  That post leads to a post on puppy feeding, another on feeding the mature dog, and another on best dog food reviews.  Check it out:

This isn't all, though.  Wordpress makes it easy for you to create custom menus so you can highlight recent content, popular content, etc.  Plus, if you want to have a blog-style page featuring news and opinion pieces, you can set that up, too.  It's very powerful if you do it right.

Another advantage of doing it this way is republishing. You may update the content on your site every year, or when new information is available in your field. If you've created the content as a post, you can easily “re-publish” it with the date you update it so it shows up again on the blog.

Spend a Few Minutes Planning

The key to this is that you do planning. Sometimes your posts may center on current events, breaking news, and holidays. Those posts can probably fall into your archives without you needing to worry about them.

But work through a plan for the rest of your content. What's key, core content that needs to be on a site covering your topic? What are the logical subsections? Market research and keyword research can help you start to get a good feel for the niche and trends within it. Plan a site structure like we discussed above.

Then, as you add new content, you can link it to other, related content, and have pages that serve as “Tier 2” sections – which link to even more detailed “Tier 3” sections. (For example, a dog feeding post can link down to a detailed post on feeding puppies, on feeding your dog a raw food diet, etc.).

When to Use Pages

I do think you should use Pages for some things on your site:

  • Contact page
  • “About” page
  • Disclaimers / Privacy policies
  • Sales letters
  • Squeeze pages / dedicated opt-in forms

Content of this nature is well-suited to pages. They form a backbone of crucial pages, but they're not really informative content pages, so they don't need to go in the blog feed.

WordPress makes it easy to add pages or posts into menus – we'll explore the robust menu-creation system (which can be used for far more than the navigation menu) in a future post!

Don't wait to take action – use a 1-click webhost like Bluehost and do some market research to plan your site. Choose a nice theme and publish well-organzied content – that's the key to a solid, growing authority site.

Keyword and Topic Research

I had an idea for the niche that I wanted to dig into with this little test site. I'm already in the natural fertility niche, and this was a spin-off of that niche that I'd toyed with already and gotten some good response to. I wanted to take it further and create a stand-alone site that could really delve into it.

The first thing I needed to do, though, was keyword research.

Passion vs. Profit

I've covered this fully in my post on Profitable Keywords vs. Passion but I want to mention it again here. It's really important, in my opinion, that you target a niche where you at least have some interest.

Now, it's possible you'll have an outsourced worker doing a lot of the content creation and marketing of your site for you. That's just fine. I want to get to the point where outsourced workers are doing essentially all of my backlinking. But there's a good chance that you're going to write at least some of the content. Even if you're not writing a word, you want to know that your site is providing value to your target audience.

So I do think it's important that a measure of interest come into your work.

That said, look for the profitable spin on your subjects of interest. What do people who are interested in your niche need? How can you help them get what they need? What information can you give them?

Help people in a way that they need to be helped… you can best do this in an area you're passionate about.

Use this brainstorming as a jumping-off point.

Work Those Keywords

I had an idea for my site, but I needed to see if it panned out financially. I followed the exact steps that I show you in my keyword research video, so check that out when you have the time. I walk you step-by-step through my research in a particular niche (and come up with two possible site concepts!)

I used those steps to go through keywords and verify that the niche I was looking into would be profitable. I also got a great idea for exactly what phrases people were looking for in the niche.

I was surprised by some of what I found, so it was good to get a feel for what people were really after. It also helped a rough plan for my site start to form in my head. I'll go through this more in-depth when I detail the content creation for the site.

One thing I found frustrating with keyword research was how many topics came up that were related to women who were already pregnant (my niche is targeting them before they get pregnant). Some of Market Samurai's filters and options really helped cut down on these irrelevant searches, so I was glad I was using a fully-featured tool. (You'll see me use some of these options on the video)

Products Here and Products There (Products… Everywhere!)

At this point I had a topic I was interested in, and I knew it had the search numbers to back it. I also know that there are a couple of well-established sites in the search engines but I feel pretty confident I can get myself into the top three and eventually #1 🙂

So the next thing was to figure out if people were really paying for this information. See, this is a topic that I can really help somebody find out information on, but I've done a lot of research on it. I've dug through a lot of stuff, and well, I've spent a lot of time organizing things. I want somebody who values my time and efforts enough to pay for it.

So, off I went to check out the money aspect:

  • Books on Amazon for sale? Check!
  • Products on Clickbank for sale? Check! (good gravity and sales are important, too… Check!)
  • Related products? Check!

There are physical products used by women in this niche, which I can recommend. One of my top affiliate merchants in my fertility niche has some products that can cater to these women. It's always great to know I can use a merchant that provides great products, offers a good commission, and pays their commissions!

This little niche market isn't a huge, booming market like weight loss… but it's definitely making money through information products and physical products.

Can We Start a Dialogue?

One final check for me before I solidified this niche as my site concept. I went and checked out forums.

People often say look and see if you can find forums to verify that there's traffic and interest. I knew that from my research above. The gold I mine in the forums is further information on exactly what my visitors are going to be looking for when they hit my site. Forum “hot topics” are exactly the gold I want.

You can also check out Twitter, Facebook, etc. – the social media sites to see what you can find. But this niche is a niche that women and families tend to be very private about, so they're much more likely to use a private forum dedicated to the niche than social media. Think about which fits your niche better.

Okay, so all of this research yielded me a nice niche where I have some interest. The numbers and sales potential back it up.

Please note I'm planning on making my own product funnel for this niche. I will serve some Adsense on the site, but it's not “made for ads” — it's made to sell my own products and funnel into my own back-end system 🙂 So I didn't really look too much at ad yields, other than as an overall traffic measure.

 Photo by stockerre

Static Website vs a Blog: Which Makes More Money?

One of the first things you realize when you decide to make money online is that there's a lot of debate on the best way to do it.  Huge debates center around your website.  Should you generate passive income by being a blogger or by setting up a static website?  I'll go over some advantages and disadvantages to both in this article.

Static Websites

A static website is a site that's built with the basic coding languages of the web, HTML and CSS.  These languages create websites that stay the same — they don't change in reaction to your visitor.  They can and often are quite beautiful, but they're not “dynamic.”

Understanding basic principles of HTML and CSS is important for any internet marketer, and a static website gives you a great introduction that that.

Static sites tend to be simpler to organize and their layout and navigation is often optimized to build a strong site that will become an authority in your niche (your area of interest).  Because of good central, visitor-focused navigation, these sites are often easily “crawled” by search engine spiders and get indexed into search engine listings.

Static sites generally load very quickly and are less likely to get bloated or bogged down, though it can happen.

You need to either use a text editor and code your website by hand, use an HTML coding program, or use a website builder to create your website.  Most hosts provide a website builder, but the host you choose will determine how high quality of a site your site builder can create.

Some people also find it harder to update a static website, though others find a lot of freedom in being able to create it the way they want to, using some dynamic elements such as server-side includes.

Dynamic Blogs

The most common type of dynamic website is the blog.  Blogging is very popular nowadays, but if you want to make a lot of money from your site, a traditional blog setup may not be best.  Organizing your site as a strong authority site, with some blogging elements is probably best.

Blogs dynamically generate a page by pulling information from a database as soon as a visitor hits your site.  They bring up, or render, your page in HTML and CSS when your visitor sees it, but there's a dynamic language powering the back-end (PHP is the most common on the web).

You can usually use a “theme” on your blogging platform to instantly change the look and feel of your site — no coding required.  It's also usually quite easy to enter new content.  Most blogging platforms have a visual editor that you write in just like a word processor.

Plugins are small scripts that can be added onto your blog to give it added functionality.  These plugins can add great features that enhance your site, but they can slow down your website or possibly make it vulnerable to hacker attacks.  Keeping your blog installation and plugins up-to-date can decrease these problems.

Blogs tend to be organized simply by categories, tags, and archives, rather than the logical and topical order of static websites.  This is fine if you're keeping a personal blog, but if you want people to see and utilize the information in your archives, it doesn't work so well.  Being purposeful in organizing your blog will help immensely.

It's sometimes hard to customize your blog.  Trying to work within the rules of your blog's script and theme can make you pull your hair out!  It's good to know some basic HTML and CSS to help you get what you want.

Which is For You?

So which option will make the most money?  The question depends on your level of experience and your business model.

If this is your first niche website, you set up a blog because it's “easy” — but you'll probably be more successful if you take the steps needed to set up a well-organized static site.  You'll learn the basics of HTML and CSS, and you'll also discover the best way to organize a website so you drive traffic to where you want it to go (your money-making pages).  If you're setting up an “authority site” that will have lots of information and money-making sources, a static site is a great option.

If you want to make money as a traditional “blogger” by simply voicing your opinions and tutorials, you can go for a blog.  A blog is easy to set up — you can generally be up and running in a few minutes.  If you're building a small niche site, a blog may work  best, especially if you're planning to set up a whole network of these sites rather than becoming an expert in your niche.

What you choose and what works for you will depend on your model and your experience — but both types of site will have a learning curve and will require that you work at them.

Photo by Sam Bald

A Review of the Stallion WordPress SEO Theme

You know that you need a premium theme if you're serious about creating your business with WordPress.  But with so many choices out there, it's hard to know what to pick.  I recently set up a niche site and decided to give the Stallion SEO Theme a test-drive with my site.  I've been incredibly impressed with the power and versatility built into this theme, as well as the responsiveness of the developer.

Easy Out-of-the-Box Setup

Click 'Activate' and it's ready to go!

Stallion is a piece of cake to get installed on your server.  I did have to upload it via an FTP program.  It's packed with features so the file size was more than my WordPress back-end wanted to upload.  No problem, I just unzipped the theme file and uploaded them into my themes folder.  Once I did that, it was one click to get it set as my theme.

The first place I visited was Stallion's general options.  You'll notice right away that everything there is to do with Stallion is extremely well-documented.  I have used other premium themes that have their own custom configuration menus like Stallion.  The difference is that David, Stallion's developer, has given instructions on each setting.  If the settings are more in-depth, there's a link directly to the help pages on Stallion's home site.  David has taken the time to set up help pages for every feature of Stallion.  It's very friendly, even for newbies.

The general page lets you register your copy of Stallion and input all your credentials for the built-in Adsense, Clickbank, and Chitika integration.  Yeah — that integration is all built in, along with integration for some major SEO plugins and other monitization services like in-text ads.

Any Color You Like

After setting up my Adsense and Clickbank, I headed right over to change the layout and color scheme.  Stallion has tons of different color choices.  It's easy to pick a color scheme that matches your visitor's expectations and fits well with your brand.

There are a lot of customization options beyond just color.  There are quite a few built-in headers to choose from, or David gives exact instructions for adding in a custom header.  I designed a custom header with my niche site's branding on it and had that uploaded and selected in Stallion's settings in a snap.

You can also easily change your background color to a new color or seamless texture.  Again, there's exact documentation on how do that and I had mine changed in seconds.

You can also choose from a wide variety of layouts with just about any column configuration you wish.  I wanted a two-column layout with a wide sidebar on the right (there are three column layouts, too).  All it took was one button click 🙂  It took me a little longer to figure out how to work with my column in the WordPress widgets panel.  This is where I found out personally that Stallion's developer David is quick to give personal response and very open to user feedback.  I was impressed!

There are instructions on how to use WordPress's new custom menus with Stallion and the integration worked perfectly with my top navigation menu.

My Stallion theme now looks really fantastic and fits my site's niche and branding perfectly.

A little peak at the start of my niche site...

I also want to add that Stallion inserts pictures into posts beautifully, with a border and nice padding.  It looks professional… something that other “premium themes” don't do so well.  Images are a big deal in blog popularity now — they should look good.

Custom Ad Layouts

One of the powerful features of Stallion is the ability to place ads just about anywhere you want in your theme's template.  I immediately used the widget to add an Adsense box to my site's sidebar and a small horizontal link unit just under my navigation menu.

Just some of the built in Adsense customization options

Adsense in WordPress is honestly one of the biggest pains when setting up a site.  You have to remember to manually add the code… or you have to use “shortcodes” to add it into your theme (which you also have to remember), or something doesn't look right, or this or that.  Stallion takes all that pain away.

You can choose where you want the ad to be in each post, and it will just be there!  You also pick the size you want and you can choose what colors you want your ads to be.  There's even a search box feature where Stallion will build a custom Google search box for you.

I haven't tried the search box yet, but I have inserted a large ad into the content of each of my posts and it works really nicely.

I did run into a problem… I wanted a static homepage for my site, and I didn't want an ad block in the same place on that page.  I looked at the Page Templates provided with Stallion and was thrilled to see “Static Page, No Ads, Main Content Only.”  Bingo.  Exactly what I wanted – just my content with no ads and no time/date stamp.

Stallion also has a number of other templates, including a single page, no sidebar template.  I used this to set up a squeeze page and it looks awesome — I'll also use it for a sales letter when I get this niche site's product done.

You can use Stallion set up your ads for Chitika and Clickbank so those networks can be featured in your ad blocks, too.

SEO and Tracking

There's complete documentation with each of these customization menus

Stallion keeps on going with SEO features and the ability to easily integrate tracking.  It was easy to install Google Analytics so I can keep track of my stats.  Along with Analytics integration, Stallion includes easy verification of your site in Google, Bing, and Yahoo's webmaster tools.

There's also a lot of opportunity for SEO and social networking.  Social Networking buttons can be quickly configured from the Promotion Options tab.  You pick which networks you want to show buttons for you and you can configure your buttons. You also decide where you want them to appear on your posts – all with the click of a button.  I do wish there was an option to have them both at the top and bottom of each post/page.

Stallion gives the ability to set up widgets for your social network profiles, Youtube video feeds, a Google Translate box, and more.  Plus there's set up for custom advertizing (so if you want to show affiliate banners in your sidebar, for example).

This leads to another great feature — built in affiliate link cloaking!  This is a great feature, especially if you're like me and plan to promote affiliate products on your blog.

Stallion makes it easy for you to optimize your main Meta Tags for SEO purposes, and it plays nicely with other SEO optimization plugins.

Summary

I have been really impressed with Stallion.  I'll admit that it took some time to go through all of the settings and get everything working.  There's a lot to it and tons of features, so it really does take focus to sit down and get it all set up the way you want it.  I spread the setup over a couple of days as I have gotten my niche site set up, and I still have a little exploring to do 😉

The good news is, it's packed with features!  There's also tons of help in the help files if you need it, and David has linked all the help files right on the configuration pages.  If you mess up, don't worry.  Each config page has a button that lets you reset to default values.

Sit down with Stallion SEO theme and in a couple of hours you'll have a blog that looks awesome to you and your visitors.  You can set up navigation that makes it easy for your visitors and the search engines to explore, meaning you get ranked faster and stay at the top.  Plus, it's easy to integrate Adsense and other monitization modules… so you make the money you deserve 🙂

Click Here to read about all of Stallion's premium features

I think Stallion is awesome, and I want you to know that I do receive an affiliate commission if you grab it via my link – I appreciate it 🙂

WordPress Categories vs. WordPress Tags

Did you know that from a search engine optimization perspective, WordPress categories are the same thing as WordPress tags?

I didn't know that!

In your WordPress database, tags and categories are treated exactly the same, and the search engines see them as essentially the same.

That means it's redundant to have a tag and category with the same name — if you do, you're essentially just applying the category to the tag. Some themes use tags and categories in different ways, but the database still stores tags/categories the same.

Here's an analogy that WordPress uses to explain how you should use them:

Categories: “Baking” and “Cookies”

Tags: “Chocolate,” “Macadamia Nut,” “Gluten-Free”

The categories are the broader, well, categories. The tags are something descriptive about ingredients. Somebody looking for all of your chocolate or gluten-free recipes could search by tag, and get recipes regardless of category.

I'm going to be doing a niche site case study over the next few weeks and talk more about organizing and planning out a WordPress site for search engine optimization. This quick tip provides something of a foundation to get started with 😉

Don't want to wait for my case study? I used Lisa's WordPress guide to help set up this site and I'll be working through it again throughout the niche site case study. Click here to grab it for yourself now.

Photo by feeliz

Profitable Keyword vs Passion: Which is More Important?

When you get started making an online business you hear a lot of different things.  The advice comes from all different directions and on any number of topics.  There are so many ways to make money online!  Two of the most common things to hear are “follow your passion” and “it just takes good keyword research and a niche.”

Which one of these do you pick?

They seem at odds — do you follow your interests and passions, or do you just go to where the money is?

Show Me The Money!

It's an overused phrase, but it sure is a good one.  You want to make money — preferably passive income that keeps working for you long after you've stopped working hard to make it.  You want your business to show you the money!

Doing keyword research based solely on how profitable something is makes a lot of sense when you think about it from this viewpoint.  You want to make money, so you're going to pick a topic that you know makes money!

It's Got to Have Passion

Of course, you also want to do something you're interested in.  Is it really worth slaving day after day, month after month, year after year over something that you really don't enjoy?

How are you even going to build a business around something that you don't enjoy?  Is it possible?  Surely people do it every day, but how fulfilling can it truly get?

Strike a Balance

What's important is that you balance things.  There are always going to be needed services that it's hard to get passionate about — how many people truly feel passionately inspired to be dry cleaners?  But if you want to build a business and see it through the early months (years) of scaling it up, building systems, and seeing a profit, you should be interested in it.

How can you do that and still make money?

Write down what you're interested in.  Don't stop there, though.  Write down what your problems are!  What are the top 6-7 things you're interested in?  What are the top 6-7 problems you're facing?

There's your jumping-off position, your starting place.  Start narrowing down those topics.  Research them.  If you have the interest, somebody else does, too.  If you have the problem… yep, somebody else does, too!

Take a look at what others are doing in your areas of interest and with your problems.  What solutions are out there?  What online businesses are built around them?  Are people pulling in passive income from this?

Don't be afraid of a little competition… if other people are making money, you can too.

Now you have a solid foundation for your research — based on something that relates to you, personally.  You'll be able to keep going with this project much more easily than if you just picked something for profit.  At the same time, however, you've built a pool of possible topics so you can select the most profitable one to build a business around.

A Foundation

Make that interest a small niche site to learn the ropes of passive income.  Or, realize you hit a winner and scale it up into a solid authority site.  Build out a mailing list.  Create a product.  You'll figure out what to do with it and plan the next profitable steps to your journey.

By the way, if you're interested in getting more information on how to profit from your passions (and how to know when your passion is profitable), Site Build It's system is the best I've seen.  It guides you, step-by-step, through sorting through your own unique interests (and problems) and figuring out which one you can scale into a rock-solid business.  Click here to get more information on how it can work for you.

Photo by bikehikedrive

Why Did I Use Site Build It for My Niche Sites?

Why did I choose to use Site Build It for my first websites?  Why, when I could get a domain for around $8 a year (at that time), and free hosting from a friend's hosting company, would I choose to use something that (at that time) was a huge $299?  Why, when I was living below the poverty line, would I take a tiny inheritance from my grandmother's death to buy SBI?

Because I knew it would work.

In the six years since I purchased my first SBI site, it has made me tens of thousands of dollars.  I won't go overboard — it hasn't made me rich or anything (yet).  But for the “part time” time I have put in, it has made me more than a comfortable income.  When I was a single mom, it paid the lion's share of my bills (with some help coming from my fiancee, now husband).

I want to be real here.  If I had full time to work on my site, it would make more.  If I hadn't taken months off at a time where I completely ignored it, I'm sure it would be making more passive income than it already is.

But regardless, my first site and my second SBI site both make a nice income for me today, with the promise of growing for my tomorrow — and my children's tomorrows.

Life Then

Back then (it feels like a lifetime ago) I had three kids and life was a struggle.  I desperately wanted to be home with them, and I knew people were making money on the internet.

I can remember exactly how I started researching making money online.  I came across some kid's site about brokering JV partnerships.  That's where it started… but it ended up with me coming across a Site Build It book on affiliate marketing.  When I read that, I knew I'd found something that worked (and it does… I love seeing those little “Sale” emails pop into my inbox every day from affiliate sales).  I knew I wanted to use SBI.

My grandma passed away as I was researching all of this.  I feel like maybe I let my grandma down while she was alive.  I wasn't doing too hot.  But I hope that I am honoring her legacy now that my website, built in her name, has become a strong business.

I chose SBI because it had all the tools that I needed to get started.  I didn't know anything.  In fact, I didn't even write well.  At the time I though I wrote pretty well, but I look back on my original writings and I laugh 😉

I Could Work

But I could read, I could learn, and I could work.  When I put my kids to bed, I wrote.  And I wrote, and I wrote.  I wrote for my site, I wrote for article directories.  I sought out links.  I did pretty much everything the SBI documentation told me to do.  And I watched my site watch in the rankings. It took a little while for my site to start making money (and to be honest, I didn't pick a niche that was an extremely hot money maker… birth isn't quite the money maker weight loss or making money is :p)  But make money it did, and the income just kept rolling in once it started.

When I started my second SBI site a couple of years ago, it started making money almost right away.  I'd learned a lot, and I put the SBI system to work.

I put a lot on the line to get that first site.  To my family, at that time, $299 was a huge sum of money.  It was month's worth of money…  but I knew that investment would pay for itself hundreds of time over.  I knew my Site Build It site would work and work for me.

It Keeps Working

Can my sites be more awesome?  Yeah.  They can be.  I'm working on it.  But you know what?  SBI didn't stop back there six years ago when I first bought it.  They've kept up with everything going on and keep putting out up-to-date modules and how-to's (not to mention huge forums where members post even more how-to's).  I know that with my renewed focus on my niche sites and Site Build It's resources, I'll be at the top of my game.
This is more personal than technical, really.  I'm not giving you all the great reasons step-by-step in nice little bullet points.  I'm just telling you, I picked SBI because I knew it would work.

Guess what?  It did.  

Click here if you want to know more about Site Build It!  This is an affiliate link and I do make a commission if you order through it (your price doesn't change).  Thanks in advance for your support.