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amazon-affiliate-challenge-02-seo-and-tech-tls

Amazon Affiliate Site Challenge E02 – Onsite SEO and Tech TLC

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This is the first update of my niche site challenge. (Head here for the E01 launch post.)

For those that don’t know I am attempting to turn around one of my failing Amazon affiliate sites.

My goal is to increase the current average monthly income from $150 to $2000, within 6 months, (working just 8 hrs a week on the site part time).

Today I am going to provide a detailed account into exactly what I have done during the first week of the challenge. I have been focusing on redesigning the site as well as some much needed technical TLC.

The content table below will give you an idea of the 5 main issues I have dealt with.

Site Structure & Theme Change

site structure and theme

The original theme on the site was Twenty Fourteen from WordPress org.

In my opinion, the theme is the last thing you should be spending a great deal of time over when you first begin a niche site.

The most important issue is to get your site structure sorted, logo up and some content on there.

However, because this website was built several years ago, I was still busy following what everyone else was doing.

My homepage was a massive product guide with comparison chart and I had concentrated my link building efforts to that.

following a herd of sheep

But my ‘labour of love’, (a 5000 word guide – with mostly regurgitated content from sites that already dominated the first page) wasn’t doing very well.

Quite simply, the main product niche was too competitive, my article didn’t really offer anything new and I didn’t have the skills at the time to push the site higher in the rankings.

In fact, I don’t think I ever managed to score better than page 4 in the SERPS for the main keyword I was attacking.

Don’t get me wrong, it is all okay to make your homepage a stellar product guide. But for it to work, you need to rank.

I could of course work on this main frontpage article now, build more links to it and concentrate my time on getting it to the front page of Google results.

But that’s not the strategy I am going for.

I am going to build domain authority via a wide range of fresh, regularly updated content. In time that main money page will perform better as a result.

Magazine Structure

In order to deliver all this new content to my audience I have revamped the site into a magazine blog style structure. (HiConsumption is an excellent example of what I mean.)

I did not want a static homepage with a comparison table at the top anymore.

In my opinion websites that go for this set up look like thin affiliate sites where the owner hasn’t been within a mile of the products being reviewed.

They look untrustworthy.

A magazine design is better. You can have a combination of the latest and/or most important articles on the homepage, and this invites exploration.

Websites such as HiConsumption and Outdoor Gear Lab, although predominately monetised via affiliate links, come across as quality publications.

They have a combination of review content, guides and other non-affiliate type articles as part of their content plans.

To replicate this type of my site (on a smaller scale) is my aim.

Theme Choice

justwrite

To keep things simple my chosen theme for my challenge site  is JustWrite by Acosmin. It is available for free from WordPress.org

One look at the design and you can see how it matches my goals.

This is not an affiliate style theme, it is one designed for a magazine style content site.

At a later stage, depending on the volume of content I create I may use my favourite magazine theme, 15Zine.

With built in review features and a very beautiful front end it definitely raises the bar on the way your site can look.

My main product review money site that currently brings in over $5,000 a month from Amazon uses this theme.

15zine theme

Installed Plugins

Thankfully there was very little I had to do here. The site already had most of my recommended plugins installed.

Here’s a list of what’s on there. They are all absolutely free.

  • JetPack – From the guys that bring you WordPress I use this as it is the quickest way of adding image optimization, analytics, social share buttons and your Facebook page stream to your site. No need for any other plugins, (the less you have the better)
  • W3 Total Cache – extremely important for website performance optimization
  • Google Analytics Master – in my opinion the cleanest way of getting GA onto your site
  • Table of Contents Plus – Adds a content box to your web posts using a simple shortcode, (see the box at the top of this very page).
  • Tablepress – Ideal for making product comparison tables
  • Updraftplus – in my opinion this is by far the best WordPress backup plugin. Link it to your chosen cloud storage service, (I use Dropbox) for full automated backups.
  • Yoast SEO – my preferred way of controlling and monitoring onsite SEO
  • Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy – add important legal information to your site in seconds with a shortcode.

In addition, I have now added the following:

Easy Bootstrap Shortcodes

I love this free plugin. I use Easy Bootstrap Shortcodes on my main money sites every day. The boxes, tabs, accordions etc you find on this site are all created in seconds using this tool.

EasyAzon

Easy Azon is the only paid plugin I am using on the challenge site.

If you are building an Amazon Affiliate website this is a must have tool. It speeds the process up of inserting affiliate links and images better than any other solution I have come across.

Content updates

One of my favorite ways of increasing traffic on a site that requires updating is to make pages that are already performing well, perform even better.

Let’s take a look at how I do this step by step:

Finding the content

First you need to login to your Google Webmaster Tools. (If you haven’t linked your site up yet, this beginner’s guide from Kissmetrics will show you how.)

  • Head to the dashboard for your chosen website
  • Click the Search Traffic tab in the left menu
    • Click Search Analytics that appears below that.
  • Then below screen will be appear.

  • Make sure both clicks and position are ticked.

Google will now give you a nice long list of the main search queries that users have been tapping into Google, along with amount of clicks you’ve received for that query and your position in the results.

Very valuable information!

Now it’s time to download all that lovely data (click the button at the bottom of the screen) and load it up in Excel.

Within excel filter the data so that only your pages that are currently average at position 11 – 15 are showing, (or whatever range you prefer).

Improving the content

Now check out the posts that fell within your filter.

Are there any changes you could make that could potentially knock those posts onto the first page of Google, (position 10 or below basically).

For my site I found 13 pages that fell within my filter. Immediately I discovered some basic onpage SEO fixes I could carry out. For example:

  • Thin content that could definitely improved upon (this is a biggy – if you can add more value by updating the article, this is very often enough to push it up a few positions)
  • Ugly page structure – walls of text, lack of images, multimedia elements etc
  • No H1 titles
  • No meta description or Schema Markup

For a more detailed look at the most essential elements of on page SEO check out this infographic from Optimization Theory

Carrying out the simple TLC to those pages took very little time. Within a few weeks I expect to see tangible improvement within the rankings.

Internal Linking

Internal linking (where it makes sense) is a good habit to get into with your site. An internal link is simply a link that points to another page on the same website.

Unfortunately, I did very little of this with my site when I was building it.

I will be changing that now.

Why is internal linking important?

The two main reasons is that it helps with user experience if they can easily navigate around your website to relevant pages as they consume your content.

It also helps keep people on your site for longer.

Not only does this increase the chances that they will eventually click an affiliate link, it also aids your bounce rate, (a metric that Google may or may not consider within their ranking algorithm.)

From a domain health perspective, interlinking also ‘binds’ your site’s pages together. Together the sum of the parts is greater than the whole so to speak.

In short, it creates a more robust site structure and is a practice definitely worth pursuing as you build out your site.

I spent some time this week going through my sites pages doing the above TLC. Some of that included creating internal links where appropriate.

Site Speed & Cloudflare

cloudflare

Finally, I ran some speed tests on the site and made some improvements, including linking up the site to Cloudflare.

What is cloudflare?

Cloudflare is my content delivery network of choice.

Before I started using Cloudflare the viral content sites I was running throughout 2015 were crashing on a regular basis.

I will explain more about all that in a later post, however if you consider the fact I was very often bringing between 3000 and 7000 users to my site at any one time, (Frontpage Reddit or massive shares on Facebook), you can understand the strain on was putting on my hosting plan.

Anyway, using a service such as Cloudflare I am able to ensure optimum performance on my sites at all times.

If the server couldn’t handle the traffic, the CDN will keep on delivering the data for you.

Site Speed Original Site

The below screenshot is a site speed analysis of my site before I touched it with any changes. I had no idea it had been running so poorly.

Pretty terrible I am sure you agree.

However, after the theme change and going for a blog style homepage, connecting up to Cloudflare and optimising W3 Total Cache, the change was quite considerable:

This is the kind of foundation I want for my site.

If I am going to be spending time and money adding new content, the website has to be performing from a technical standpoint as best as it possibly can.

I am going to be relying on Google organic search for the majority of my traffic. For that I need to Google to like me. Going through the steps above has put me in a good place for that to happen.

Are you in the process of giving an old website an overhaul in the hope of increasing your online income? Or maybe you are starting a site from scratch.

Either way, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.