NSD Episode 3: Setting Up My Niche Website

niche-site-wordpress-seoHey guys!

It’s been a few months since I last posted an update on my niche website. The truth is a lot has been going on behind the scenes. I have covered a lot of ground and I’ve actually finished setting up the website.

This post is therefore coming late but for the sake of chronology, and helping anyone who may be following the study, I thought it would be good to show how I’ve set up my niche site.

From my last NSD2 update, you already know I am using WordPress for my niche site. There are a number of reasons why I prefer WordPress to Joomla, other content management systems (CMSs) and perhaps creating static sites.

Here are the main reasons why I prefer WordPress, and why I also think it’s better than other options:

i)   WordPress is optimized for SEO. It is easy to set up any WordPress for the best SEO performance.

ii)  WordPress is easy to use. The CMS is more visual in nature. Creating and editing posts is easy.

iii)  There are a wide range of plugins that can help me in driving traffic and generating leads on WordPress.

These are the main reasons why I love WordPress.

For a niche site, updating content can be crucial to your SEO. If you have a static website, you would need to download the page you want to edit, do the edits and upload the page again. Making design changes is also a big nightmare with static sites.

On the flipside, making edits in WordPress is a breeze. You can make edits and see them in real time.

Now, I believe everyone reading this is familiar with WordPress. If you are new to WordPress or are looking to switch from a static HTML site to WordPress, check my 5-minute WordPress installation guide. There, you will find solid information on how to get started with your WordPress site.

Now, back to the task at hand; setting up my niche site using WordPress.

Ultimate Guide to Setting Up a Niche Site Using WordPress

The WordPress setup that I follow is meant to make the website take advantage of SEO and be in line with Google’s best practices. Below are the things I did, in no particular order.

I will use screenshots of my primary domain name to show what I did. This will help you follow along in case you may not know what I’m talking about. Moreover, some people understand better when they see images (Did I hear a lady say men are visual creatures?)

Okay, let’s get started.

Site Design Matters

The first thing I started with was fixing the design of my site. You can actually use the free themes that WordPress provides at the dashboard. However, like I indicated in my previous post, I am using the Gonzo theme from Themeforest.

With the theme already installed, I went on and customized it to look good. I used the Gonzo theme since it looks professional. This professional look will be important in making visitors to convert on the site. I don’t want the site to look like another shoddy affiliate website.

I want visitors to be comfortable being at the site simply from its design.

If you have bought a premium WordPress theme, you will have to customize it depending on how it has been designed. The customization button will be on the left hand side menu or under “Appearance”.

If you have not chosen a theme yet, you can check the variety available at Themeforest. Most good themes cost from $40 to $60. This is much cheaper than it would cost you to hire a designer to create a theme for you.

Now, back to setting up the site.

WordPress SEO Site Options

1. The General Options

To access the General Options, you will have to click the Settings menu on the left hand side. Here is a run-down of what I filled, and what you essentially should for your niche site:

Site Title: Here, put the Title of your site. As you can see from the image below, the Title of my blog is Don Modekali, and that is what I filled. The title is basically the overall brand of the website. For the niche site, I filled product name reviews because that is the brand I want the site to rank for.

general-settingsPS: Product name reviews means the actual name of the products that I hope to sell. Not the word “product”.

Tag Line: Filling this section is not really mandatory. However, it’s good if you fill it since it can give first-time visitors a reason to stay. The Tag Line should be a short blurb about what your niche site is about.

For instance, if you were selling iPhone cases, you may want something like “The Best iPhone Cases Online”.

WordPress Address (URL): Put the URL of your niche site here. You can either choose to have your website referred as with the “www” or without the “www”.

Now, you may be wondering with version to use. Before I explain further, I would like to explain the results of not specifying which version to use. Google Webmaster has a good explanation on the effects of using www or non-www for your domain.

In simple words, Google bots see www and non-www domains as separate domains. Therefore, any authority meant for your website can be shared between the two URLs.

Here is a good example.

Some websites will link to your site as http://yournichesite.com

Others will link to it as http://www.yournichesite.com

(Notice the difference in the www and nonn-www versions)

Now, any authority that the sites linking to your niche site are passing will be shared between the two URLs. To ensure you get maximum authority from any links from outside domains, you should specify to Google which is your preferred domain name.

How do you do this?

i)  Log into your Webmaster Tools account

ii) Check the Gear icon and click “Settings”

iii)  Next, indicate whether you want a www or non-www extension in the Preferred domain section

After completing the above steps, you will need to use a 301 redirect to tell search engines which is your preferred domain name version.

To create a 301 Redirect, log into your hosting account and find the .htaccess file. If you are not seeing the file, make sure you have set your cPanel to show hidden files.

Open the .htaccess file with notepad and add the following lines of code depending on whether you want the www or non-www version.

 Force Use of WWW

Paste the following code in the .htacess file

# Start 301

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yournichesite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www. yournichesite.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

#End 301

 Force Use of Non-WWW Domain

Paste the following code in the .htacess file

#Start 301

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.yournichesite.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://yournichesite.com/$1 [L,R=301,NC]

#End 301

In the codes above, remember to change “yournichesite” to your niche site’s domain name.

Question: Between WWW and NON WWW, which one is better?

The answer is that there is really no version that is better than the other. If you have put the 301 redirect, visitors will be automatically sent to your website regardless of whether they put a www or not when typing your domain name.

Now, let’s go on with other WordPress settings.

Site Address (URL): This will only apply if you installed wordpress on a different folder from the default one. For instance, some people opt to install WordPress on their existing websites in a folder called “blog”. If this is the case, the URL to fill here would be http://www.yournichesite.com/blog

However, if you installed WordPress on your main directory, leave this part blank.

Email Address: This email is used for admin purposes. Set a separate email for this. Otherwise, you can get lost of user registration emails that can cloud your inbox if you use your primary email.

New User Default Role: Leave all users to be subscribers.

The next options are self explanatory and will not really have a major impact on the performance of your site. You can leave them in their default settings. The settings are for Time Zone, Date Format, Time Format, and Week Starts On.

Writing Settings

Leave everything in its default state.

2. Reading Settings

reading-settingsHere is how I set up the reading settings for my niche site.

Front Page Displays. Here, you have an option of setting the front page to display your recent posts or a particular page. For a niche site, I would recommend you set up the front page to display the main article you may have about the site.

For instance, if you are selling iPhone cases, you may put the front page to display a comprehensive review of the top 10 iPhone cases in the market. This way, you give visitors a headstart on what to read that is likely to make them purchase.  Also, setting the front page to be a particular static page is likely to improve the pages ranking on search engines.

So, for this option. I chose to set the front page to be a static page. My static page is a review of the top products in my niche. For the Posts options, choose the page that you have designated as your blog page.

Blog posts to show at most. I set 5. You can set any number you feel like. But generally, try to keep the number under 10.

Syndication feed shows the most recent. I chose 3. You can choose any number. Generally, 5 or less is better.

For each article in a feed show. I chose “summary”,. You can set it to “full text” if you want. Your choice will not really affect the SEO of the site.

Search engine visibility. Make sure the box is unchecked, unless you do not want your website being indexed by search engines.

Follower settings. You can leave these as default or can customize them with your own message. I left mine in their default state.

3. Discussion Settings

This next section has a lot of options that you can customize to your liking. I will highlight the options that I think are important in setting up the niche site. Otherwise, the default settings will still work. Here is a screenshot of the Discussion Settings of this blog.

discussion-settings

Default Article Settings.

I like to keep the three options here checked. Here’s why:

i) Attempt to notify any blogs linked from the article. When i publish an article and I’ve linked to other people’s blogs, the blow owners will get a notification that I’ve linked to them. They may in turn come over to check my site and even link back to me in their next posts. This linking is beneficial both in terms of SEO and driving referral traffic.

ii) Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks). With this option checked, I will get notifications when other sites link to me. I can go over and check the sites and see what they are talking about with regards to my site.

iii) Allow people to post comments on new articles. You can check this if you would like people to comment on your articles. I generally like checking it to encourage readers to leave comments.

For the other setting, i.e. Other Comment Settings, Email Me Whenever, Before a Comment Appears, Comment Moderation and Comment Blacklist, you can leave them in their default settings or tweak them to suit your needs. The same also applies to the settings under Avatars.

4. Media Settings

Leave this section in its default state.

5. Permalinks

permalink-settings

And this brings us to the end of the settings for our niche site. Hopefully, you have found value in this post. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comment section below.

PS: Let’s connect on Facebook and Twitter!

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About Don Modekali

Don Modekali is busy with a number of income experiments.

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