Basic foundation for all sites

April 28th, 2007 by Shawn

There’s a basic foundation, or recipe if you will, for all new content sites that I produce. Each item in the foundation serves it’s purpose for generating traffic, retaining visitors, and/or monetizing the site. In no particular order:

Related articles
This is generally the base of any site. It’s debatable how many articles you should start a new site with, but a dozen is a solid amount. It’s more important to regularly add new articles then it is to start with 50 and to never add anymore again.

Articles have many benefits, such as displaying your knowledge/credibility in a field, increasing the time a visitor stays on your site, and making your site larger. While articles do bring you more search engine traffic, more and more content sites are produced everyday — being found for terms in your “How to buy a television” will get increasingly harder over time.

Directory of related businesses and sites
You can either purchase a business directory from a private seller (DigitalPoint is good) or find a reliable website that sells them. I love directories because of the long tail keyword searches that they generate in the thousands. For a real life example, a site of mine has been found for the terms “bennetts used cars denton tx” and “used cars in houston 77016.” These kind of terms are the majority of my traffic.

With a few bought or bartered links, your directory will start getting indexed and will bring you traffic within a week. You should have links that point to different city/state pages in your directory, due to the amount of pages that your database will produce. To expedite crawling and indexing, buy a few links.

While directories can generate a lot of traffic, they can also generate residual income. Directories have a lot in common with the phone book. You have two kinds of listings — basic and purchased. Purchased listings are in the yellow book, bold, large, and standout from the rest. Taking into consideration that most directories have thousands of business listings, it’s important to have a system like this setup so that advertisers can purchase an upgraded listing that gives them more exposure.

Service or Tool
This is something that helps users or visitors accomplish a task. A service or tool brings you recurring visitors and generates traffic for you virally, making your site less dependent on search engines. A perfect example of this would be Universal Wedding Registry — it’s marketed “by the people” and it keeps visitors coming back to the site without relying on the all-mighty aglorithm of Google.

More common, less unique examples of a service or tool would be a mortgage calculator or a budget worksheet.

Community/Visitor Interaction
Your site needs to have a community feeling. While you may not want to deal with the hassles of a forum (early promotion, moderating, etc), you need a way for visitors to interact. A blog or mailing list are simple options. Another idea I use sometimes would be to enable people to write reviews on the business listings in your directory. Much like a forum though, that requires moderation due to potentially libel or slanderous comments.

In addition to having a community feeling, setting up a point of interaction usually provides you with the contact information of your users. With their permission, this is data that you can store and use at a later point for marketing purposes (specials/coupons to affiliates, ads in newsletters, etc).

What to feature?
With so many major parts to a site, it becomes hard to decide what to market to your visitors — meaning, the action that you want your visitors to take. Made for Adsense (MFA) sites push AdSense, obviously, hence the name — your site should have a simple, straightforward objective as well.

Do you want to push your directory and try to get advertisers? Want to market your forum? Trying to get a big newsletter base? Just want people to click on ads? It’s up to you — there’s no right or wrong. For example, every section/article of WebsitePublisher pushes ads (3) on them. At the top, middle, and bottom of every article you can find a banner, usually AdSense. With it’s current setup, first time visitors that land on these pages through the search engines arrive, read, then click the banner never to return again. If I were Chris, I’d push the forum’s recent posts in the middle banner space — it would allow me to generate some revenue from the article, while retaining some visitors for the community.

Of course, it’s current setup is fine too. While my suggestion can potentially make the community larger, it’s current setup maximizes revenue and gives Chris a bigger check in the mailbox each month.

Does your site consist of some cheap articles and some ads — or is your foundation strong?

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