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Creating a Niche Affiliate Site

Niche marketing is a simple concept. Create an audience around a niche that has sufficient organic traffic to profitably promote products. But like many simple concepts, it can be tricky to execute. The most important step is to settle on your niche and develop your audience.

Typically after selecting a niche you will build a website and create an audience. The best website, products, reviews, and offers are useless without an audience to present them too. WordPress is the platform of choice for the vast majority of these sites..

You have a few choices when it comes to creating a WordPress website. There are a number of free website builders like WordPress.com that you can use.

Remember WordPress.org is the home of WordPress itself and free themes and plugins while WordPress.com is the free blogging platform based on WordPress.

It is best to self-host your site. It is inexpensive and you can control your domain name and tools. The only two costs are …

  • Purchase and register a domain name < $15/year
  • Purchase a hosting package <$25/mo
This is the one of appeals of niche affiliate marketing — the low barriers of entry.  If you provide content that helps people and makes a difference you will develop trust. Once you have trust, you can make product recommendations that are more likely to convert. This guide is a detailed look at the building of a niche site with WordPress and how to get organic traffic via search and your content. We break down the affiliate site creation into five functional areas:

  1. Initial research and niche selection — establish your focus and audience.
  2. Hosting setup — your performance and reliability foundation
  3. WordPress setup —  the stage for your content and marketing
  4. Content Creation — your customer value proposition
  5. Marketing and technical  SEO — lets Google and visitors understand and find you

At Prosociate we explore these areas in more detail in our Affiliate Marketing Section. We have an extensive collection of articles and tutorials to help you build your affiliate business. Let’s get started on your affiliate journey!

1 — Planning and Research

Keyword Research

Building a niche website starts with researching your potential niche topics. This first step is key, it sets the course of your website. Niche sites typically get most of their traffic from Google search. The commission per transaction from Amazon, eBay and other product-focused affiliates are too low for paid ad campaigns. Ads certainly can be used for promoting your brand an content but SEO is the backbone of most affiliates.

Most affiliates will have a mix of information type posts and money posts. The information posts help develop authority on your topic and generate traffic. Many affiliates also use ads and the info keywords are easier to rank so attract more search volume. The money posts tend to be reviews and other posts that attract people in the buying funnel — they have commercial or buying intent. You need a good volume of visitors, with buying intent from search, to succeed as an affiliate.

Since niche sites depend on search results for traffic, your niche selection research focuses on the info and buying keywords. These keywords will help guide your content creation efforts. 

It makes sense to choose a niche you are interested in. It is easier to stay engaged with a topic that you enjoy. You want to develop deep knowledge and expertise to be a trusted leader in your niche. If you are an authority in a popular niche, you will be able to develop an audience.

selecting a niche

But you must find just the right size niche. You need to find that Goldilocks niche. A general niche, like electronics, is too broad. You would be competing with established national and international companies.

These broad niches will also have competition from the bigger affiliates with high domain authority. It would be difficult to rank in the first few search result pages without an ad budget or aggressive black hat SEO techniques.

On the other hand, if you choose a super-narrow niche you may get in the top 5 of the Google SERPS, but so few searches for the niche that there is not enough traffic to monetize. Most people start too broad, don’t be afraid to niche down. Generally, 3000-8000 Google searches a month, from the main keyword, is a good range. There are lots of tools out there to do your keyword research.

You can get lost in all the data and become paralyzed and not take action. There is no reason to have more than 1 or 2 paid keyword research tools and you can likely get by with free tools and trials to start. Though not as good as Ahref or SEMRush, Moz offers 30 day free trials. They have a solid database and you can back that up with a low-cost, one-week trial from Ahref.  A good strategy would be to start with free tools, create a short list of niche targets and then start up your trial period with Moz.  Finally, research your shortlist items with a one-week Ahref $7 trial. Keyword research will validate your niche, assess your competition and help guide your ongoing content marketing strategy.

Research and use keywords with buying or commercial intent.

Commercial Intent Keywords
DiscountDealCouponAffordable
SaleTopComparisonShipping Cost
BestReviewCheapestFree Shipping

We have a few detailed articles on niche selection …

Free Keyword Research Tools

There are a number of free tools that can help you refine your keyword strategy. Some limit the number of results or eliminate the statistical info. Keyword research and tools is a huge topic. We have a complete write-up on keyword tools for affiliates. Favorites that I use on most projects include:

Soovle

Auto-complete information from many search engines: Google, Bing and Amazon among others. Just type in a keyword and Soovle wil show you what related phrases users are entering into search engines. Great for finding seed long tail keywords.

Google Trends

Google Trends will show you the trend of your keywords. You don’t want to be in a declining market.

LSI Graphs

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) a fancy term for synonyms.  Using these terms helps Google understand the topical relevance of your content. Related keywords that allow you to increase rankings by being the authority in your niche.

Answer the Public

Answer the public is a great way to find out exactly what questions are being asked in Google search. They are also a good source of FAQ content for your article. Find out what questions people are asking about your keywords.

Premium Keyword & SEO Tools

Premium SEO tools can get expensive. The better tools like Ahrefs and SEM Rush start at $99/mo. If you are building your first site it may be best to start with free tools and contract someone to do some research for you. You have the added benefit of another set of more experienced eyes to validate your findings.

Premium ToolsDescriptionTrialCost
ahrefsNumber one for data depth. The broadest mix of competitive, keyword and content research. Like SEMrush a complete solution for keywords and backlink profile research.$7/7-day$99 – $399
SEMrushCompetitive analytics, Keyword difficulty, domain comparisons. Goes head to head with Ahrefs in some areas but has unique features. If you could have only one premium tool this would be itnone$99/mo
MozAnother large SEO toolkit in the $100/mo range. A great free trial for new site builders well with trying. I use the free moz chrome extension but prefer SEMrush for paid tools.30 day$99 – $249
Longtail ProExcellent Keyword traditional keyword difficulty and suggestion tool with competitive domain strength, page strength for the results.7 Day$25-$45
Keyword FinderSimilar to Longtail pro, KWfinder finds long tail keywords including. It uses Google Suggest as a source.Free Lite Version$29-$39

 

Low Competition Keywords

A proven strategy for new sites is to start with low competition keywords. Use the tools above and find keywords that you can create content around that has little competition. With these tools you can find how difficult a keyword is to rank for and its monthly search volume. Most Google users see 10 sites in the search result that are not sponsored (ads). It is better to be on page 1 or 2 for a keyword with a few hundred searches per month than on page 9 for one with 2000 monthly searches.

Once you have gained authority on a topic you can move up the keyword competition ladder to higher search volume keywords.

Getting to page 1 is always the goal. The old cliche of Google page 2 being the place to hide bodies is based in truth. Once you do reach the top 10 on page 1 your work is still not done. The #1 post gets near 50% of the search volume.

We have a few articles on keyword research …

Domain Name

You have selected your niche after thorough research, now time for a domain name. In the past, having an exact match domain (EMD) like thebestcordlessdrills.com would have been desirable. There was strong SEO value. Now, long EMD names are more likely to get you penalized than rewarded. Since Google no longer values these long EMDs, it is best to look for a brandable or partial match name.

Often a name uses one of the head keywords from your niche and a descriptor. This is a partial match domain. It will always evoke your niche because of the keyword and your descriptor can make it memorable. The single keyword in the domain name stills adds some SEO value.  In this case, zippydrills.com, for example, would be a better name than thebestcordlessdrills.com.

Brandable domain names are those where there is no keyword in the domain name. Kayak.com and Google.com are good examples of these. The benefit is that you can have no ties to a specific keyword and can expand the domain topic as you need. They also have an advantage if you sell a site and the new user wants to move in a different topical direction.

Best to go with a .com domain or perhaps .net or .io Most other TLDs should be avoided with the exception of other country specific domains like .uk. Google does not care, but domains other than these look less professional to some consumers. A .com domain is always going to be easiest to sell as well. Every little bit you can do to be perceived as a resource vs. an affiliate marketer is helpful. When choosing a domain registrar, check their reputation for name server changes and general administrative responsiveness. A good benchmark is Namecheap who has good pricing and an easy to use dashboard for name server and other updates. A new domain at Namecheap is under $10, with a year of free private registration.

Site Concept & Styles

After you have selected a niche, you need to determine how you will present information and value to your audience. You are in the content marketing business, so you need to organize your site around these concepts. Some affiliate marketers build multiple product sites, others are monetizing health and fitness blogs. Editorial formats include Top 10 sites, review sites, niche expert blogs? Perhaps a storefront in a larger association’s site. After you decide this editorial format, you can design the site and start creating content. There are a few tried and true formats that convert for product niche marketers. Among them are:

  • Top 10
  • Niche Authority
  • Comparison
  • Review
  • Storefront
  • Blogger

Top 10 site –  Everyone loves lists. People looking at Top 10 lists also are showing buying intent. Visitor Benefit:  You have researched the marketplace, curated and compiled a list of the best in class.

Niche Authority Site – These sites aim to have the deepest, most complete set of information available for the niche. Even to the point of obscure. You want visitors and Google to perceive you as the industry expert. Visitor benefit: The go-to site for this niches detail.

Comparison Site – Much like the top 10 site. These sites compare multiple related or competitive products within a niche. Visitor Benefit:  You have researched the marketplace, curated and compiled a list of the best in class.

Review Site – In-depth reviews of typically a small set of products. This type of site needs to pay very close attention to product selection. You need products that are feature rich to give you points of differentiation. You want products that are fairly high-priced and in the high-end of Amazon’s commission schedule. Trending products work best. Visitor Benefit:  You have researched the details about a multi-featured product. Visitors can have tables comparing features side-by-side.

Storefront or Catalog – These sites have lots of products. Some may curate the best products of a certain niche, others offer best deals for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. These are the hardest to convert. You will have a lot of thin content if you use the images and descriptions from Amazon and eBay. It is best to rewrite the descriptions. Some marketers would spin them, some would just not index them and let the site rank on the basis of the non-product information. You need to be careful to have plenty of additional content or risk a de-authorization from Amazon for thin content TOS violation. You will definitely need to be on top of your social game as getting a viral social following is the best way to succeed with these sites. Visitor Benefit:  You have researched the marketplace, curated and compiled a large list of niche specific products organized in a store or catalog format. They also can work well for organizations and other communities.

Blogger — Typically these are sites that identify themselves closely with the individual creator. So a mommy blog would highlight the blogger, their experience etc. It is much easier to create an audience with these types of sites. People develop a loyal connection to the blogger. A lot of trust is created with the audience which is a critical part of affiliate conversions. These sites can be harder to sell because of the tight association with the original owner.

Start Networking Early

When building an authority site, you need to start networking while you are in the planning stage. You don’t want to show up on a Facebook group the day you launch. Join the groups relevant to your niche and be helpful. Then down the road, you can lightly promote your new site.  Be active, be helpful, don’t sell anything. Get a feel for the tone of the group before posting. Also, find Sub-reddits for your niche. The same as the Facebook groups; be active, be helpful, don’t sell anything. In fact, Reddit users are particularly sensitive to sales pitches in their groups.

During the earliest days, just focus on networking and great content that is valuable to your target audience – don’t sell anything.

2 — Hosting Selection & Setup

Hosting Setup

There are 3 broad choices for hosting as an affiliate:
1. Shared Hosting
2. Virtual Private Server (VPS)
3. Hosted WordPress

You can certainly start with shared hosting. Most people do. Be careful to not purchase the lowest cost provider or package. Performance is a ranking characteristic for Google so you don’t want a sluggish site. Shared hosting performance is largely dependent on the number of other sites on your server.

A managed VPS is a virtual machine within a large server with support from your hosting provider. This means you have your own dedicated slice of a server that you have total configuration control over. Closely related is cloud-hosting which allows flexible changes by using cloud-based resources In both cases you will have cPanel access with full control of ftp, email etc..

Finally, a Hosted WordPress server is tuned for WordPress. Rather than cPanel, a dedicated user interface for management is used. Managed WordPress often comes with a staging site – a nice option if your budget allows. Hosted WordPress is typically priced by the number of sites per account. With a VPS generally, you can add as many new domains as you want.

Skimping on hosting will lead to frustration for you and your visitors. But a hosting package doesn’t need to be a permanent decision. You can easily upgrade at your existing host or move hosts. Always provide the best performance for your visitors. You will have better on-site visit times, more conversions and better ranking from Google.

The aggravation of cheap hosting remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

Setting up a Domain

Your hosting company will typically setup your domain. If you plan to have multiple sites, it is good to know how to make new accounts on your host.

Setting up new domains is different from host to host. It is best to discuss this with your host. They will walk you through this. After you do it once you will be able to create them easily in the future. Once you have added a campaign you will need to get the ip address of the new domain.

After you setup your domain with your host you need to let your name registrar know about the domains ip address.  For each domain registered with your registrar like Namecheap, you will have a dns field. Just add the server number the host gives you.

Your new domain will be online as soon as the DNS information is updated across the Internet. DNS propagation is usually quick but you can check if you got everything correct at DNS Propagation

Best Hosting Choices for Affiliates

Hosting TypeBest ChoiceProsPromo Link
Shared HostingHostgatorBest pricing, good support$.01 first month
VPSLiquid WebBest Performance, great support33% off first 3 months
WordPress HostingwpEngineWordPress Specialists, Rock Solid, includes Development Site20% off single site
GreenGreenGeeksEnvironmentally friendlyGreenGeeks Sale

FTP

You will want to upload files to your host. To do this have an ftp account. This will allow you to quickly add files to your server and also allow you to let developers add files without giving out your cPanel credentials. New ftp accounts are created in your cPanel or by your host. You will want an ftp client like FileZilla on your computer. If you have cPanel access you can also manage files with File Manager.

 

Email

Setup email accounts so that you are not using yahoo, gmail etc. Setup emails ending in yourdomain.com for info@, newsletter@, yourname@ and any others needed. You can set this up in your cPanel. I find Google’s G-Suite to a great way to have domain specific email and a modern cloud experience. For $5-$10 per month, you will have email, a cloud-based toolkit, storage and more.

 

Installing WordPress

Installing WordPress is easy if your host does not do this.  Most hosts will provide Softaculous in your cPanel for installing common applications like WordPress. Run the Softaculous WordPress installer adding your desired admin username and password. Remove the default wp path and leave it blank. Now your new installation will be at https://yourdomain.com.

If you choose a Managed WordPress host like wpEngine or WPX, than WordPress will be setup for you.

3 — WordPress Setup

How to Setup WordPress

There are a few WordPress setup items to take care of before you start adding content.

  • Set your Site Title and Tagline in Settings -> General. Your site title and tagline are important for both SEO and user experience. Often the first words a visitor reads is your tagline.
  • In Settings -> Reading select the page for your Home Page (front page).
  • Add any additional users and create a second Administrator account in Users.
  • Disable pingbacks: You can turn it all off in Settings -> Discussion. Just deselect Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks). This will help you speed up WordPress some more.
  • Set your permalink style to post name in Settings -> Permalinks

Plugins and theme

Next, you will want to install your theme and core plugins. Many prefer to use general purpose themes with page builders like DIVI or Thrive. They give a lot of flexibility for non-CSS and HTML knowledgeable operators. You do need to be committed to these platforms as your content will have many shortcodes that will not migrate easily to a new theme or page-builder. You certainly can use dedicated themes for affiliate marketers as well. Many themes will work for affiliating marketing; selection has more to do with your comfort level with CSS and php templates. You need to make a child theme after you complete the initial theme install. A child theme provides a separate copy of theme files that are frequently edited like style.css. If you do not make a child theme your changes will be overwritten when you do a theme update. There are plugins available to do this: Child-theme-configurator There are many plugins to add functionality to your site. Each plugin, however, takes some processing/performance time and adds a point of conflict. Below are our favorites for niche marketers.

Free Plugins for Niche Marketers

YOAST

Leading general purpose SEO tool for WordPress. A must have.

Akismet

Akismet checks your comments and contact form submissions against their global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. You can review the comment spam it catches on your blog’s Comments admin screen.

BackupWp

The backup plugin BackWPup can be used to save your complete installation including /wp-content/ and push them to an external Backup Service, like Dropbox, S3, FTP and many more.

upDraftplus

Another great WordPress backup plugin.

Wordfence

WordPress security stops you from getting hacked.

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup.

TablePress

TablePress allows you to easily create and manage tables. You can add the tables to posts, pages, or text widgets with a simple shortcode.

WidgetLogic

This plugin lets your widgets appear on selected pages. It gives every widget an extra field called “Widget logic” that lets you control the pages that the widget will appear on.

fast-velocity-minify

This plugin reduces HTTP requests by merging CSS & Javascript files into groups of files while attempting to use the least amount of files as possible. It minifies CSS and JS files.

Lazy Loading

This plugin replaces all your post images, post thumbnails, gravatar images and content iframes with a placeholder and loads the content as it gets close to enter the browser window when the visitor scrolls the page.

google-analytics-dashboard-for-wp

This Google Analytics for WordPress plugin lets yous ee your analytics information in your WordPress backend. Exposure is control and having quick access will help you stay on top of your analytics information.

broken-link-checker3

This plugin will keep a watch on your site’s content looking for broken links. This will keep Google happy as your users will never find dead-ends on your site.

wp-smushit

Resize, optimize and compress all of your images with the incredibly powerful and 100% free WordPress image optimizer.

Optimize WordPress Database

WP-Optimize is an effective tool for automatically cleaning your WordPress database so that it runs at maximum efficiency.

social-pug

Add highly customizable social share buttons to your website to increase the interaction on your website. Place the social sharing buttons before and after the post content or have them follow your readers as they scroll up and down the page, in the form of a social media floating sidebar.

Content-Views

Content Views helps you to create posts grid, category posts grid, tag posts grid, author posts grid, and other types of grid layouts for your WordPress site in minutes, without any line of code!

Insert Headers and Footers

A great plugin that lets you easily insert code into each page. You can add codes required for optimizing your website and external tools like; Google Analytics, custom CSS, Facebook Pixel, and more to your WordPress site header and footer. No need to edit your theme files!

Ultimate Shortcodes

Shortcodes Ultimate is a collection of various visual and functional elements. You can easily create tabs, buttons, boxes, sliders and carousels, responsive videos and more.

Child-theme-configurator

The Analyzer scans the rendered theme and automatically configures your child theme. It correctly enqueues theme and font stylesheets for optimum performance.

PrettyLinks

Invaluable for affiliates. cloak links to make short user-friendly urls rather than long links with affiliate codes. Some affiliate programs like Amazon do not allow these shortened links.

 

Optional or Premium Plugins

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a free eCommerce plugin that allows you to sell products online. There is a huge ecosystem of extensions for; product sliders, search, wishlists. Affiliate plugins like Prosociate convert Amazon and eBay products to WooCommerce products. You then have access to WooCommerce tools for your affiliate products.

Prosociate

With the Prosociate WordPress plugin, you can build any type of Amazon affiliate business; authority site, Amazon WooCommerce store, top 10 or niche review site.

EasyAzon

EasyAzon is an Amazon affiliate plugin. For bloggers, it is the perfect way to insert Amazon products.

Backups and Performance

Right after your WordPress install is a good time to check server performance. You have no extra plugins or complex pages on the site so you are checking the server configuration with a basic WordPress install. You can use Pingdom or Google Speed Test which will also give suggestions to improve performance. Best practice is to have both a server backup from the hosting company and a WordPress backup to a cloud storage provider like AWS or DropBox. There are many plugins available for backing up your WordPress site. There are free options like updraftplus as well as premium licensed and monthly services.

Performance Enhancements

Choosing a solid host running PHP 7 is your first and most critical step. You can only optimize your site within the performance window of your server. If this is a business for you then you should invest in great hosting. Your visitors and Google will thank you. There are many  tuning tasks that will make additional improvements in your site’s performance:

wp-rocket

wp-rocket is amazing! Every other cacheing and performance plugin I have used has a risk of conflict or site issues. wp-rocket you activate it and you are done. You can tweak it a bit to get the last 15% of performance. Highly recommended. The small cost is paid back with no hassles and no downtime.

w3 super cache

The standard bearer for WordPress caching software. It is also integrated with Cloudflare for a great combination of server caching and CDN.

Smush Image Compression

Images for web display can often be reduced with no quality impact by compressing better and reducing files size. Smush will do this automatically.

Cloudflare CDN

Cloudflare is a content delivery network (CDN). They place your content closer to your customer and also provide free SSL. A great service – for free.

Optimize WordPress Database

WP-Optimize is an effective tool for automatically cleaning your WordPress database so that it runs at maximum efficiency.

Autoptimize

You may have many CSS and Javascript files. Load time is reduced by concatenating them. This plugin also minimizes them by removing the overhead of spaces etc.

LazyLoad Images

lazy load waits to load images until a user scrolls to them. So below the fold items are not impacting initial page loading.

LazyLoad Videos

Videos are great for keeping your bounce rate low. When you embed a YouTube video it will need to load 8 js files, for each video. This can be eliminated with an image link to the video. Then the video loads when the user selects it, not when the page loads.

Content Delivery Network (CDN) & SSL

A CDN stores a copy of your content at locations on the edge of the Internet. These content servers are distributed to be closer to your visitors. A New York visitor and a Los Angeles visitor will receive your pages from different servers. CloudFlare is a large CDN company that services global websites. Many of the hosts like WPX provide their own CDN, distributing your content around the world for fast delivery.

They also have a free SSL product. SSL is the encrypted version of http. Google wants all sites to be SSL, using https and have advised existing sites to migrate. CloudFlare provides free SSL along with distributed content caching.

With CloudFlare it is only from the CDN copy to customer that is ssl encrypted, but that is all Google sees. You will show as an SSL site in visitor’s browsers with the free CloudFlare option.

More and more vendors include free SSL. There is little reason to buy a certificate if you are not an e-commerce site or otherwise collecting financial or other private information.

When you setup your SSL https version you want to avoid mixed content. You don’t want images have an http: url,  and the content pages an https: prefix. The easiest way to manage this is with the free plugin Really Simple SSl. This is one of those set-it-and-forget-it plugins that just work.

Silos and Site Structure

content silo for affiliates

When you are completing your WordPress setup it is a good time to consider how you will organize your content. This can be changed as you go but a good foundation is beneficial. Many marketers internally link their content into silos of information. This helps Google understand the topical relevance of your site. For instance, if you were creating a kitchen appliance site, your silos might be toaster ovens, blenders, mixers etc. It is easier for users to navigate and easier for Google to determine your site’s intent. It is also easier for you to develop content around keywords.

Many sites will have an in-depth topic page like a landing page for people to discover your content on a topic. Within each silo are reviews, top 100 articles, roundups etc. Think of it as your content architecture.

Final Touches

Favicons

Favicons are 16×16 icons in that identifies your site in a visitor’s browser tab. You can use a product like Favicon generator to build these. You will copy the files (different browsers need different files) to your root directory and put the links to them in your page headers. You can use a plugin like insert headers and footers or your theme may have a place for header content.

404 Page

A 404 page is what a user gets if they mistype a document url on your website or otherwise the document does not exist. You also should add a custom 404 page that fits your site’s design and provides navigation information.

Setting up Social Media, Analytic Accounts & Advertising Pixels

You are also going to want to leverage social media and Web 2.0 for both traffic to your site and the signals it sends to Google about your authoritative value. You should register and post regularly from your niche site to the big players: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+. Also, establish accounts for SEO value now or down the road at sites like WordPress.com, Wix, Weebly, Vine, Ask, Tumblr and Flickr.
You also should register for: Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, BingWebMaster, FaceBook pixel, and others.
Keeping up with postings for multiple social channels can be time-consuming. There are automation tools like Buffer to manage your posting will save time. Save time managing your social media, Buffer is a simpler and easier way to schedule posts, track the performance of your content, and manage all your accounts in one place.

Social Media Registration

Social Networking SitesDescription
FacebookYou likely have a Facebook account so you should add a business page there for your Niche site (Facebook requires all Business Pages to be linked to a personal account so that they can administrate the Page.
PinterestPinterest is a big social network and particularly strong in women’s, events, gifts etc.
TwitterTwitter is for instant communication, particularly new and hot thoughts.
Google+Your Google+ account will be tied to your Gmail or other Google account

LinkedIn

LinkedIn Business

First get a Linkedin Account then …
Create a Linkedin business page
YouTube ChannelYou can easily create a business YouTube Channel for all of your video content.
RedditReddit is a perfect fit for affiliates with subreddits on every imaginable topic. Go very light on the offers here or other Reddit users will respond negatively.
VineSign up only available on mobile (IOS or Android)
AskGo ahead and ask
TumblrTumblr is a microblogging and social networking website
FlickrYour Flickr account will be tied to your Yahoo account
InstagramBest to do from mobile (IOS or Android)
HAROHelp a reporter out is a site to link reporters and news sources (you). Setup a free account and pitch your best news story
WordPress.comWordPress.com as a web 2.0 site to send backlinks from. Not the strongest link juice but still worth doing.
wixAnother free website-building product that you can use for link-building
BufferManaging social content can be a chore. Buffer is a service to automate your social posting. Free version available

 

Analytics and Advertising Pixels — Tracking visitors

There are certain things that you want to track on your site.

You want to be able to track your visitors, content performance and reach — to do this you let Google know about your site. You also want tag users with appropriate pixels/cookies to be able to retarget and analyze your audience.

This involves Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, FaceBook Pixels, Google Ad Pixel. Each of these will require a small bit of code to be placed in your document header. You can do this manually by editing your sites php files or you can simply use a free plugin like Insert Headers and Footers.

Google Analytics
You need to know who visited. How long they stayed. Where they came from etc. You need to be able to measure your marketing efforts. Did that Press Release bring any new traffic etc? There are a number of Analytics dashboard plugins available to monitor or you can just visit analytics:

Google Webmasters
You need to check your Google webmaster account regularly. You will see any page problems like; crawl errors, new backlinks, manual actions. Pay attention to the messages from Google. You should check a few things in Google Search Console. You want to give your content an edge over your competitor’s. Log into your Google Search Console and do the following:
-Submit Sitemap to Google Search Console in Webmasters
-Check structured data
-check manual actions
-check blocked resources
-check crawl errors
-check robots txt

FaceBook Pixel
The FaceBook pixel is going to set a pixel (cookie or localStorage) in the visitor’s browser. You can use the pixeled visitors as a Facebook Audience to send ads and information to when they are on FaceBook.

Google Retargeting
Just like the Facebook cookie, Google Adwords lets you “cookie” your visitor for future ad campaigns:
Paid ads are generally only used with high ticket, high commission affiliate products.

Tag Manager
Now is a good time to signup for tag manager. It is a bit more advanced tool that will let you have more granular analytics.

Bing Webmaster
Bing Matters just do it. You want every possible visitor, it all adds up.
A) First, go sign up for an account:
B) Then you must add your website. They provide three options to verify your control over the site: 1) putting a file in your route, 2)adding a cname or a 3)meta tag in your head. It is easiest for most to just use the file at root directory method using ftp or file manager in your cpanel.
C) Now just add your sitemap that Yoast created

Analytics Registration

Analytics RegistrationsDescription
Google AnalyticYou need to know who visited. How long they stayed. Where they came from etc. You need to be able to measure your marketing efforts. Did that Press Release bring any new traffic etc? There are a number of Analytics dashboard plugins available to monitor or you can just visit analytics
Google WebmastersYou need to check your Google webmaster account at least weekly. You will see any page problems like; crawl errors, new backlinks, manual actions. Pay attention to the messages from Google:
FaceBook PixelThe FaceBook pixel is going to set a pixel (cookie or localStorage) in the visitor’s browser. You can use the pixeled visitors as a Facebook Audience to send ads and information to when they are in FaceBook.
Google PixelJust like the Facebook cookie, Google Adwords lets you “cookie” your visitor for future ad campaigns:
Bing WebMastersThe Bing webmaster tools

 

4 — Content is King

Content Marketing

The goal of many niche marketers is to become an authority site. Google wants to link search results to the most knowledgeable site with the best information. A good starting point is to create a best-of-class Skyscraper post of 4000+ words with visuals, comparison tables, infographics etc. Then this post will link out to all of the relevant shorter posts on the topic. This internal linking is what creates silos or clusters of information that Google likes.

When you did your keyword research hopefully you looked at competitive sites and got an idea of the depth of knowledge in those. Your goal is to go deeper, update the information and be better than those competitive sites. Create an infographic or other dedicated companion objects. Your goal is not to have a long puff piece but to create the most-inclusive, up-to-date article in your niche. You want to have 5-10 additional articles ready to go. You may want to consider outsourcing some of this writing.

If possible, write the Skyscraper and one article yourself. By researching and writing the skyscraper, you have gained that knowledge. By writing a few reviews or other posts, you create a style guide for outsourced writers. If you want to write everything yourself – great! For many, doing the writing in advance and scheduling their release is the best approach. Writing to a deadline can be stressful for many. Missing scheduled items is not good for business and again stressful. For almost everyone, this will be an, at least partially, outsourced task.

Unless you are building a churn and burn PBN driven site go for native English writers. Find a writer you like on fiverr or upwork, or one of the writing service providers such as:

Best practice is to have great content and use your time to market it.

All of your content needs to be relevant to your keywords collected during the research phase but not written for search. Google is now very smart about keyword stuffing and other tricks.  The content should naturally engage with topics of these keywords. The actual keywords should be in the first few sentences and the Tittle, H1. Each H2 can have a unique keyword or keyword synonym. Remember, do not keyword stuff, it will hurt you.

Other than the keyword locations above the article should be written as naturally and without repetitive phrase or keywords. Like any quality writing, you look for synonyms, visuals, etc. rather than repeat your keywords. Look for article ideas from:

– keyword rankings of your competitor’s articles in Ahref
– Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest
– AdWords Keyword Planner
– Poll your audience on Social Media
SerpStat Keyword Suggestion
– Hubspot’s blog topic generator.

 

Types of Articles

There are many kinds of articles that can be used in your niches. By mixing up different types of content your site will have more interest. Consider content like:

Document TypeDescription
Cornerstone PostDetailed post that fully covers a topic. Typically over 4000 words. Rich in visuals and
often with a companion infographic. Variations on this are the Skyscraper post.
How to GuidesHow to guides are popular. Try to focus on How To topics with commercial intent like “How to
Select the best Cordless Drill
ListicleA Listicle is a short easily digested, visually rich article. This is a good choice for brand building
– not full of affiliate links.
Top 10People love top 10 posts. Everything is netted out for them
ChecklistsLike the Top 10 these appeal to people in search of net information and to help organize their
projects. If possible make these dynamic with cookies or local storage to recall checklist state.
Ultimate GuidesOne place to find every bit of information about a product or service.
Beginner GuidesFor complex products and topics gives readers the sense that they “can do it”
Resource ListsSecond level information about a product or service.
Best of YearBest of 2017 etc. Great SEO value and shows inherent buying intent.
FAQMore complex products or services can benefit from grouping the typical questions in a
single guide.
InterviewsInterviews exude authority. Suddenly it is not just the affiliate marketers opinion.
Case StudiesShow other peoples experience with a product or service.
GlossaryMany industries have a unique set of vernacular. This also helps build authority.
Common MistakesLearn from others mishaps.
Myth DebunkingPresents facts vs. myths helps build credibility and authority
Trouble-Shooting
Guides
Complex products sometimes break down or are in need of work.
Repair GuidesHow to repair or provide common problems with the product
Maintenance GuidesTake care of your product and prevent breakdowns or premature wear with
preventative maintenance

 

You need to have a visually appealing page. People are skimming your content and will leave if they see a wall of text. Quotes, tables, screen captures, and videos should be used throughout. Pay particular attention to videos and comparison tables.

Video content performs well and also forms the foundation of a YouTube channel that will further generate traffic and authority with Google. When including video on a page be aware that if you embed the video you are embedding the YouTube player when the page loads. If you have multiple videos on one page it will increase load time.

Comparison tables are another great content type. They are valuable to readers and convert well from a content marketing standpoint. Some styles of affiliate sites will have a comparison table per article. TablePress is a popular plugin for tables including comparison tables. It can be tricky to style and does not pull Amazon pricing or images etc. There are table products dedicated to Amazon affiliates that will pull images and update prices automatically.

Don’t over-design. Affiliate sites that are clean and have a simple design tend to do better than complex slick designs. It is all about the content itself.

 

Required Pages

There are a number of pages every site needs to have: Privacy Page, Disclaimer Page, About Page

Privacy Page
A must have page, the privacy page should include cookie statement.

Affiliate disclaimer page
This is the FTC compliance page and may also include the Amazon and any other specific affiliate disclaimer content to meet their TOS. This does NOT replace the Amazon disclaimer which should be displayed on every page with an Amazon link.

About Page
Tell your visitors who you are, why you do this, how to contact the site management.

You also must include an Amazon Affiliate Disclaimer on the sales pages.
Your Amazon disclosure should be visible at the bottom of any page with Amazon affiliate links. You can also address most of it again in the affiliate disclosure page which is generally used as an FTC compliance page.

 

 

Images

Images should be carefully selected and in the public domain or purchased. Don’t just copy images from Google or other sites.

Ideally you purchase access to a library of images. It takes all of the guesswork away from is an image free to use. But in the beginning you may want to use free images.

There are plenty of free image sites. Look for images that have the CC0 license. This means the creator has given up the copyright and placed the image in the public domain:
Pixabay 
Public Domain Pictures
New Old Stock 
There are many more sources of free images for clipart, photos and more. Check out our. big checklist of free graphics sources.

 

Engage

Sites with authority aspirations need to become part of their community. You need to share content in your social world. It needs to be a multi-directional flow. People sharing your content on their Social sites with social buttons, you sharing content to your niche social sites. Getting visitors to share your content while on your site can be managed with one of the many the social share plugins.

 

Final WordPress Checks

You should do a final set of checks on your content. Always check outside writers content for plagiarism. There are free services at, Copyscape and Plagarism Checker.

Check the readability of your content. You are not writing a business or scholarly work. It is being skimmed and quickly digested. Don’t slow this down with run-on sentences. No vocabulary that requires a Ph.D. to understand. In general, the readability should be 9th grade or so.

This is not “dumbing” down your content to an adolescent level, it is making it quick to digest. Check it here: Readability checking.

None of us are perfect writers and it is easy to miss your own errors. Outsourced documents should be proofed. Grammarly is a great tool that every writer should be using. Also available as a Chrome extension

Review calls to actions

These are your money links. The ones that have your affiliate links. They are your products. Each one should be examined for location, accuracy, visual appeal. You should a/b test different link styles if you have sufficient traffic

Internal Linking

You need to tie together your website with links. Content should not be isolated. You should be linking to high authority external sites. Silos are often used to compartmentalize content.

External Linking

Who you link to matters. You are recommending these external pages to your visitors. Google search uses this to understand your “neighborhood”. You want to noFollow external links and open them in a separate window/tab. This is easily done with the free plugin Ultimate NoFollow.

Test

Make Sure the Site Displays and Functions in All Compatible Browser and devices. It is particularly critical that the site performs equally well on mobile. In fact for most niches mobile performance is as important as desktop.

You can use emulation software for mobile devices. Then test in Opera, Chrome, IE. Firefox on your laptop and desktop. Check If Your Website Is Mobile Friendly with Google cares Mobility Check.

 

5 — SEO and Marketing

SEO & Marketing

Technical SEO is the information you provide to Google to help understand your content and site depth. This includes structured data and backlinks. There are a number of technical SEO items to check:

Sitemap

Your sitemap is a tree-like representation of the content you have published. You should create your sitemap and submit it to Google. You can use Yoast to create the sitemap. To submit it to Google:

  1. Login to Google Search Console.
  2. Click Crawl.
  3. Click Sitemaps.
  4. Click ADD/TEST SITEMAP.

PageSpeed

Speed matters. Slow sites have high bounce rates. Google rank is negatively impacted by slow page load times. Try to have sites load in < 2 secs. You can test at Pingdom or Google.

Mobile Optimized

Mobile represents more and more of site visitors. Google rank is affected by your mobile friendliness. You can check your mobile readiness at Google.

Marketing and Affiliate Final Steps

Sign up for Accounts

Sign up Amazon Associates
Be sure to accept all terms and conditions.

Sign up Advertising API
The API is how plugins search Amazon and pull images and other content:
Log in to your Associate account.
Go to Tools -> Advertising API
Join then issue new keys

Amazon Canada
signup for Canada

Amazon UK
signup for Amazon UK

Setup Onelink
OneLink is a quick and easy way to expand your traffic geographically. While many of the Amazon plugins offer worldwide Geotargeting, smaller sites can get access to US, Canada, and UK directly from Amazon.

OneLink
Select Link Accounts (easiest if you set up first)
Get the OneLink Code
Insert in pages via insert headers and footers plugin

Sign up for Amazon Bounty Program
Get paid to refer people to Prime, Baby Registry and more
Setup Geotargetting – Larger products like Prosociate, WooZone, and EZAzon have full geotargeting capabilities. Sign up for affiliates in other countries and refer traffic based on IP of visitors.There are a few countries where local bank accounts may be required.

Register for other Affiliate Sites

Clickbank
Clickbank is the dominant affiliate marketplace for electronically delivered products. Select carefully some junk mixed in with good products.

ShareASale
ShareASale has lots of products available to affiliates from Hosting companies to national retailers. Best to have a mature site as many require preapproval and will check your site and traffic first.

JVZoo
JVZoo has lost a bit of its former luster but still has many good Internet Marketing and other electronic products. Like Clickbank check that your offerings to be sure you have the quality that meets your audience expectations. Most new affiliates will have a 30-day hold on payouts:

Rakuten
The #1 affiliate network. 100 million transactions. Sometimes difficult to get approved, so have your site in order and a bit of traffic first:

eBay
eBay can be a very useful site from a branding standpoint. Like Amazon, they are a household name that is good to be associated with.
If you are using a premium plugin like Prosociate you will also need to join the developer program to get API access.

 

Email List

Setup an email list form in your contact area (often on your about page) Also set one up as an exit intent popup. No one is a huge fan of popups but when the visitor is leaving it is less intrusive than 15 seconds after they arrive on site and are reading something.

On-exit intent is covered by a vulture patent company and can be difficult to find. It seems to be getting better lately. Many get their popup technology from their email list service providers for a plugin solution, Optimonk also works well.

There are lots of free email service providers to get you started. After-all you won’t have thousands of subscribers when you start so why pay for this.

Here is our list of free email service providers.

Press Release

A press release is often appropriate, It is low cost and gets you some exposure. You can also use icons such as “seen on NBC” etc. This is best to farm out to pros rather than invest the time to get the distribution right.

You will provide the key points, a draft to their template etc. The vendor will edit for media consumption and distribute it. You should get a report of the reach and exposure. You should email to your list, family & friends, Facebook and other Social. It is a good Milestone item as well to keep you on track.

Affiliate Registrations

Most affiliates will represent Amazon products. they have products for any niche and high trust with visitors. But there are affiliate programs beyond Amazon. Having a rich mix of affiliates that have quality products and services, is a winning affiliate strategy.

Affiliate RegistrationsDescription
Amazon AssociateAmazon affiliate registration
Amazon APIThe API is how plugins search Amazon and pull images and other content:
Log in to your Associate account. Go to Tools -> Advertising API
Join then issue new keys
Amazon CanadaCanada is part of Amazon OneLink
Amazon UKThe UK is part of Amazon OneLink
Amazon BountiesGet paid to refer people to Prime, Baby Registry and more
ClickbankClickbank is the dominant affiliate marketplace for electronically delivered products. Select carefully some junk mixed in with good products.
JV ZooJVZoo has lost a bit of its former luster but still has many good Internet Marketing and other electronic products. Like Clickbank vet your offerings to be sure you have the quality that meets your audience expectations. Most new affiliates will have a 30-dayhold on payouts
ShareaSaleShareaSale has lots of products available to affiliates from Hosting companies to national retailers. Best to have a mature site as many require pre-approval and will check your site and traffic first.
RakutenThe #1 affiliate network. 100 million transactions. Sometimes difficult to get approved so have your site in order and a bit of traffic first:
EbayEbay can be a very useful site from a branding standpoint. Like Amazon, they are a household name that is good to be associated with.

Launch Amplification

When you are launching your site you want to get as much new exposure as possible. This means having fresh engaging content, a press release, social media posting of the press release, email campaign to your list, announcements on related Facebook groups (best to have joined a few months ago and have made helpful contributions), any industry associations, clubs, usenet groups, reddit (again only if you are a member of standing).

Setup Email Responder

Setup some free email service. Mailchimp works well. Collect emails as noted above in the content discussion.
Emails are a great source of leads for your non-Amazon affiliate campaigns. Check ClickBank, JVZoo etc. for related products to your niche. Create a lead magnet for emails like a free ebook or other valuable content. Then create a drip tool to send a multi-email campaign to new subscribers. The first few emails are nothing but valuable content, eventually, after you have helped them you may want to offer them an affiliate product that you believe in.

Backlink Outreach

  • Guest posting — Not the spammy kind, written by outsiders and put on low-quality sites or even pbn sites, but real outreach, to high-quality sites with your quality content.
  • Alumni Directories — Universities typically have high DA try to get a link on your alma matter’s alumni site
  • Join Associations and get on their directory — There is an Association for almost every imaginable topic. I imagine there is a screen door association.
  • Blog comments — This is more a branding exercise (you and/or your site) as few if any have do-follow links. But it helps establish authority

Private Blog Network (PBN) links

PBNs are a controversial topic … but no denying they still work. Just look at EmpireFlippers for people selling successful Amazon affiliate sites – many use pbns. They are risky and as with any blackhat technique, you are exposed to a Google de-index. Setting up your own is a huge time investment. Best to wait until you have a good amount of natural backlinks and best to use a trusted resource:

Diggity Links

Press Releases

A very useful tool but do use a reputable service or you will have spammy links that need disavowing. Given that this is done at the launch of your site these will be some of your earliest backlinks. An added benefit is that the PR will show on many national sites. These sites allow you to have links like …”As Seen on …”

Paid social links

There is some indication that these are sending helpful SEO signals and are a relatively low risk. You can purchase Social links from many sources. I have had good service from SEO Butler (formerly PBN Butler)

Guest Posting

Outsourced guest posts are currently a grey area. Google has indicated a desire to reign them in (which means they must still be somewhat working). Legitimate guest posting will always be of value. Outsourced guest posting on a private blog network (PBN) should be done with care.

Wrapping Up

Creating your online niche business is an exciting, challenging and rewarding opportunity. There are many tasks to build your WordPress affiliate site but they can all be compartmentalized. The tasks can be grouped into five functional areas:

  1. Initial research and niche selection — establish your audience.
  2. Hosting setup — your performance and reliability foundation
  3. WordPress setup —  the stage for your content and marketing
  4. Content Creation — your customer value proposition
  5. Marketing and technical  SEO — helps Google and visitors find you

 

You do not need to do this alone. Companies like Prosociate specialize in affiliate sites and will take care of the setup and technical issues in this guide for you.

Take action today. You can do this!

FAQ

Why create an affiliate site with WordPress?

Wordpress is the dominant content management system (CMS). This allows you to create rich content without html knowledge and add functionality with plugins. It makes you more productive.

Is WordPress hard to use?

Defiantly not hard to use. If you have no experience the initial setup can be a small hurdle, You can hire someone to do the install and theme setup. Better yet, take a week or two to figure it out. It is time well spent.

Where do content ideas come from?

Content can take two broad forms. Information pages that are meant to educate and establish your credibility as a topical authority and money pages. Money pages have your affiliate links and are designed to convert to sales.

What kinds of compliance should I consider to be an affiliate marketer?

You need to conform to the terms of service from your affiliate marketer. You also want to be FTC compliant for US targeted customer sites and GDPR for European sites.