As mentioned in an earlier video this year, both Tess and I are going to be creating experimental sites, to test a few theories each of us have. While we have our own specific business model that we follow for creating new sites already, the online environment is ever changing, and it’s important to keep experimenting with new ideas, and “tweaking” the model as necessary to improve it where possible.

As mentioned above, unlike other niche sites out there like Spencer’s over on nichepursuits.com, these sites are experimental, which means they may or may not succeed, but we can all learn from them, and as Tess and I can be a bit competitive, we’ll no doubt be trying to make our own particular site the most successful.

Me First

I managed to get a bit of a head start on my project, and although both mine and Tess’ sites are up and running, I did get a one week bonus thanks to the fact that her domain registrar took a while to “clear” her domain. I’ll be conducting several experiments as follows:

Non-Buying Keywords

My primary keywords for this site are not “buying” keywords. In other words, people inputting these search terms are not actually searching for a product directly, but are searching for information about the products. Usually we go after keywords that are directly product related. For example, if someone searches for “blue widgets”, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re looking to buy a blue widget. If they search for “what is the benefit of using a blue widget over a green widget”, then they’re not necessarily looking to buy straight away, but they’re clearly starting to get interested in the idea. Another way of putting it is that these are “warm” prospects instead of “hot” prospects.

So why would I go after warm prospects instead? Well, mostly it’s because these keywords are low competition, as well as high traffic. The related low competition keywords I have found have a combined exact match traffic volume of over 20,000 searches in the U.S. alone, so while my conversion rate might end up being lower than our usual “hot prospect” sites, I think the volume of traffic will make up for it. Only time will tell!

Authority Site

I’m going to start by creating a site in WordPress that is not an e-commerce site at all. I’m creating 50-100 pages of content that target all aspects of the niche, providing information not only on the higher volume lower competition keywords, but also on every other related keyword I can find as well, even the high competition ones. This is because I want Google to see that this site is the “authority” in its niche, not just some thin affiliate site that is clearly only targeting a few keywords.

I will be putting more emphasis on the low competition keywords though. One in particular is lower competition, and still has around 6000 monthly searches, so it will be getting an in-depth article of at least 1000 words, and will be fixed to the front page. This keyword will also feature on the home page in the title, as well as in the headline (in H1 tags).

Expired Domain

One theory out there is that brand new domains can take longer to rank than older domains. The jury is still out there for me on this one, but as an experiment, I’ve purchased an expired domain through expireddomains.net. It is a few years old, has a page rank of 2, and not many back links. The name of the domain is quite relevant to the niche though, and it was this reason that I chose this particular domain. Because the domain had just dropped, it didn’t cost me any more than just registering a new domain either, and the page rank came back immediately.

Ebook Experiment

By this point, you may be wondering if this is an e-commerce site experiment at all, but please bear with me – this is an experiment after all! In the past, we have written ebooks, and submitted them to Amazon’s KDP select program. This program allows you to advertise the book for free for 5 days out of every 90 days. What we noticed is that when you do this, Amazon promotes the book for you quite heavily. We’ve had books that have been downloaded over 2000 times in 48 hours using this method. So what if you could advertise your website and product to 2000 people in 24 hours? Sounds like a no-brainer doesn’t it! The problems I can foresee is that you can only do this for 5 days in every 90, which is not very often, but there are other benefits. Firstly, you can still be selling that book both on your own site and through Amazon – it’s still a retail product after all. Secondly, this can also help establish you as an authority in your product niche, which should help with branding and conversion. Finally, you could always give away the first part of the book for free on your site – if they sign up to your newsletter of course!

If you’re thinking that writing a whole book is difficult, well it might be. Except that I’m not writing it. In fact, I’m not writing any of the content for the site at all.

Outsourcing Content

For this site, I have created a small team of native English speaking writers, who for less than $6 an article will be writing the 50-100 articles for the website. I will then be collating those articles into a book that will be converted to both a kindle book, as well as a print on demand version through Amazon’s Createspace program.

Outsourcing content writing cheaply and getting well written, well researched articles is not easy. We have been having success though, but you have to interview and test a fair few writers before you get a good team. How to do this is a whole other topic in itself.

SEO

Okay, so we have low competition keywords, and lots of original well-written helpful content. I’m hoping that this will get my site traffic without having to do much in the way of “forced” backlinks. I will be doing a little bit of my own backlinking though.

Basic Links

We have a range of sites that we get links from for every site that we build. These won’t necessarily get you a lot of juice, but they are a must have for any new site in our opinion, for quick indexing and some authority. We have somebody on fiverr.com who goes out and does this for us, and they can do around 5-10 new websites for a total of $5.

Web 2.0

I’m going to have a few of the articles re-written and then posted on sites like Squidoo, Tumblr and WordPress.com. They will all be helpful, and full of original content. They will also each contain a link to the homepage of my new site, as well as a link to an inner page (to another one of the low competition keywords’ page). Tip: It is really important that you do not just post the same article, re-using the same content, as Google hates this!

Expired Domains

I’ve picked up a few expired domains over the last month, including one PR4, three PR3’s, and a couple of lower ranks. I’ve hosted them all on gotonames.com, under different accounts. I’ve done this because gotonames.com give you a free small hosting account with each domain name, and if you create them under different account names, they usually end up on different servers. This ultimately allows you to very cheaply create a bunch of different websites, on different servers. You can then create free wordpress sites, filled with “news” content, that can then link back to your other other sites for a bit of contextual link juice.

This is a little bit “black hat”, so should probably come with a warning. The topic of using expired domains to create your own little network is a big one, and maybe one we can cover in a bit more depth down the track if you guys would like, so please let us know if this is something you are interested in.

Monetisation

So how am I going to convert this information/book site into a retail product site? Well, it depends on how things go, but I do have a range of options. Firstly, I can start by putting adsense on it to get a few bucks out of it that way, but I’d prefer to get a sense of how a retail product would go, so I’ll probably use Amazon’s affiliate program, and see if I can get a few “sales” that way. You don’t make as much money as if you had a “real” product on there, but it only takes a few minutes to setup, and it might give me a ballpark idea of conversion.

If I then do decide to add our own retail product, I could do it in a couple of ways. Firstly, I could simply add a plugin called “Woocommerce” which we have been testing a lot lately, which would allow us to add a fully functional e-commerce section to the WordPress installation. Alternatively, we could start a separate website, and simply advertise its products on the the information website.

I’m not really willing to commit to a monetisation strategy this early in the game, but there are plenty to choose from, and once we have the traffic, I am reasonably certain we’ll be able to find a way to monetise it successfully.

Pros And Cons To This Experiment

Pros:
  • Should be easier to rank, because I have a lot of lower competition keywords to work with, and this style of site is easy to produce content for (unlike a lot of product specific sites);
  • There are different ways to monetise it along the way, which means we can be making money before we even launch our own product;
  • Using expired domains may assist in getting the site off the ground quicker;
  • This style of information site is easy to produce a book for, which could be a good way to gain authority in the niche, as well as an alternate source of traffic and income;
  • Having lots of “how-to” and “benefits of” content means that our content should be quite “shareable”, as they’re not direct sales style articles.
Cons
  • The keywords aren’t direct buyer keywords, which means that I may have more difficulty when it comes to converting the traffic to sales;
  • My SEO strategy is pretty lightweight, I may need some extra “juice” to get the traffic that I will need to make it successful;
  • Outsourcing the content can often produce varying results, as well as being costly.

So there you go. There are quite a few experiments I’m conducting with this one site, so I will keep you informed on how it all goes. If I had gone into full detail for all of the “how to” bits contained in this experiment (eg. How to publish a kindle book, how to publish on Createspace, how to find expired domains etc.), then this wouldn’t be an article, it would be a whole book in itself. Having said that, if there are areas you’d like me to expand on, please contact us or leave a comment below, and I can explain it all in subsequent articles. I hope you find this experiment helpful, and I also hope it inspires a few new ideas on how to think outside the traditional e-commerce square.

Tess’s niche e-commerce experiment will be released next week so be sure to come back or subscribe to the newsletter so you are notified.