Niche Site Case Study 004: Plugins and More

by Benji Walklet on June 5, 2013 · 3 comments

Niche Site Case Study 004: Plugins and More

Welp, I fortunately haven’t had to change keywords again since my last post. But who knows, it could definitely happen again. It kind of reminds me of changing majors when you’re in college…it definitely happens, and in many cases more than once.

Sure, it’s not quite as big a deal when you change keywords…after all, you are losing far less money and time invested, but it’s still frustrating to have to start over. That’s why I truly recommend that you take your time when conducting keyword research. I know I don’t really practice what I preach here, but I think it’s because I staying in one stage of a project for too long leads me to inaction from analysis paralysis.

So I guess the bottom line here is to find a balance between taking your time in conducting keyword research and getting started on the next step as soon as possible…i.e don’t take too much time.

What’s the next phase?

As I already discussed in part 2 of this case study, it’s all about creating your niche site’s architecture. I don’t like spending too much time planning and strategizing here, but it is important to create a basic outline of your future site after you have bought your domain and setup with WordPress.

I like to use mind mapping software to create my site’s architecture. It helps me visualize things and keep everything pretty organized. I use a paid app called MindNode Pro for Apple computers, but there is a ton of free software out there for all kinds of computers where you can create mind maps.

Plugins

For me, installing plugins to my site is one of the first steps after I install WordPress. Here are the plugins I’ve already installed and their respective purposes:

Please note: this list will be updated as I continue to add plugins in the future. Make sure you refer back to this post from time to time.

  • Akismet – This plugin is a must (in my opinion) for comment spam protection. I pay $5/mo to protect my sites with it. You can also use it for free with “personal blogs”.
  • Google Analyticator – This is the plugin I use for installing Google Analytics on my WordPress sites. There may be better ones, but this one has always been easy and works just fine for me.
  • Google XML Sitemaps – This is the plugin I use to make sure Google can easily and quickly index my site through up-to-date sitemaps. Super easy to use and definitely recommended.
  • Gravity Forms – A premium plugin that I already own for creating forms. Will probably only use it to create a contact form (which I’ve already done). But there are some other creative possibilities that I may use it for in the future…I’ll keep you posted.
  • W3 Total Cache – I’ve been told this is good for speeding up sites. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not…but I’m gonna stick to the status quo here.
  • WP No Category Base -WPML compatible – I’m basically using this to remove the “/category” from my permalinks. In other words, I don’t want a url that looks like www.mysite.com/reviews/category/blah-blah…I’d rather have www.mysite.com/reviews/blah-blah. Know what I mean? This plugin makes doing this easy.
  • Login Lockdown (Added: 6/26/13) – Records the IP address and timestamp of failed login attempts to block out bots (or humans) tying to discover your password
  • Better WP Security (Added: 6/26/13) – A thorough and highly rated security plugin. I honestly just bought it because of all the positive reviews. Plus, a little security never hurt anyone…right?
  • Easy Responsive Adsense (Added: 7/23/13) – A great plugin for enabling responsive Adsense ads on your site. If a user’s screen size is smaller than the fixed width of the Adsense ad in place, you can display an ad that fits their screen as a backup. Really cool…has made a big difference for my earnings on my first niche site.

Making progress with Thesis 2 and MD3

While Thesis 2 definitely isn’t the easiest theme one could use, I feel like the steeper learning curve is well worth it. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Marketer’s Delight 3 looks really, really good. I’m head over heels in love with this skin and use it on pretty much every one of my sites. The responsiveness is an incredible bonus too. While many people might say not to waste your time on design, I really don’t believe in a crappy looking site. In fact, I think if my existing niche site weren’t on Marketer’s Delight I’d have lower conversion rates. Sure, I can’t prove it…but would you feel more confident buying something from a bad-looking site over a good-looking site? Didn’t think so.
  2. Thesis 2 is a timesaver in the WordPress world. Yes, I’m spending a good amount of time learning it, but I can already see how it will save me lots of time once I have a good grasp on how everything works. You see, making templates with Thesis 2 is incredibly intuitive. I can’t say the same for any other WordPress Theme I’ve tried…where you actually have to mess around with code. Yuck. The CSS packages are also great time-savers that help keep things a lot cleaner. Love it.

Putting the pages in place

All of the pages I outlined in my mind map are now being developed. I’m just starting by creating the pages, adding their titles, and on-page SEO properties. I will fill in the content for these pages once I actually start getting some posts up on the site.

Most of these pages are merely categories for storing posts. But the idea behind them is to make it easy to navigate reviews based off of criteria the user is looking for.

More details to follow…

I realize this post is a little bit vague…but that’s because I don’t want to reveal specifics yet for the reasons I stated in my first post. I will eventually update this post with more details, but I just wanted to give a brief update to help you take some action after choosing a keyword.

About Benji Walklet
Benji Walklet is the owner, founder, and main writer of Search and Perch, a holistic internet marketing blog for entrepreneurs. When he's not on his computer he's either playing some hoops (basketball, duh), reading a book, or hanging out with friends and family.

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  • http://www.bestcheapkayaks.com/ Justin A.

    Did you find Thesis easy to use out of the box or did it take some time to figure everything out? I am on the fence about purchasing it. i currently build sites using the niche website theme by Spencer at Niche Pursuits. Great Theme for building small niche sites but for my authority sites I want something that has some POP and Zing! How was your experience learning Thesis? Got any tips?

    Great post over there at Niche Pursuits by the way. Awesome and inspiring to see success stories about niche website business!

    • http://www.searchandperch.com Benji Walklet

      Hey Justin,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Both Thesis 1.8 and 2.0 have a pretty steep learning curve in comparison to other themes…but I think it’s well worth it. Thesis 2 is a completely different beast, but revolutionary.

      Thesis has a great support community too…and now that 2.0 has been out for more than a year, there are a bunch of free video tutorials online.

      I would definitely recommend Thesis in conjunction with Kolakube’s themes (it’s all I use now)…but only if you’re willing to put in a bit of time to learn the framework and willing to spend the extra cash.

      I hope to share my new niche site that is using 2.0 with the Marketer’s Delight 3 skin soon. It looks really clean!

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Mike

    I’ve noticed your site is also using the go responsive pricing table plugin. I know one of the downsides to the plugin is the fact that it only allows 5 columns but how easy did you find customizing it was? I’m kind of having trouble adjusting and getting the formatting right espicelly with the pictures so I’m asking if you have any pointers?

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