At the end of my review of the Autoblog Blueprint course earlier this month, I mentioned that I might do a case study on one of the blogs I build using the techniques and methodologies laid out in the course. So that’s what I’m beginning here.

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Here’s what I did in the first week of setting up a new blog:

Week 1:

1. Pick a niche: I have some interest in the Green Energy / Alternative Energy / Renewable Energy niche so I did some keyword research using Market Samurai to see how competitive the niche is and if it would be worth devoting some time to.

Try Market Samurai now for free!2. Keyword Research Part: I don’t just build a single large list of all the keywords I find for a niche. I use Market Samurai to check the competition for different keywords. That competition is measured by the PageRank of a site, how many backlinks it has, where those backlinks come from and how good a job the site’s webmaster has done with SEO. While the niche is somewhat competitive, using Market Samurai’s keyword competition tools showed that I could probably shoehorn a domain into the Google page 1 results for several keywords given a bit of time. If a large enough list of keywords comes out of this selection process, then I proceed to Step 2 of keyword research. With the green energy niche, there were enough keywords.

3. Keyword Research Part 2: Having a good list of keywords is only part of the equation. You need to know if you can monetize those keywords effectively. Market Samurai and another keyword research tool I use called Micro Niche Finder can provide bid amounts that advertisers are paying for keywords on Google Adwords. I generally filter out keywords that are worth less than $1.00. If you have Adsense on a website, expect to earn about 50% of that (possibly a bit more). So if I opt to use Adsense on the built blog, I’m looking at using keywords that would generate at least $0.50 per click on Adsense. In my selected niche’s case, there were enough keywords that met this criteria to continue.

4. Keyword Research Part 3: Ok, so now I had a list of keywords that could at least earn something from Adsense. But I prefer to have some other options such as physical or digital products. Market Samurai can help here too by providing a list of products from various marketplaces (e.g. Amazon, Clickbank). I found that there’s a diverse selection of green energy products to choose from. A quick check on offervault.com showed there were 20+ additional products (no CPA offers though). So it looked like my niche was good to go, all checkboxes ticked.

5. Select a Domain Name: I like to use a keyword as a domain name as it helps with site SEO. Sometimes that’s not always possible as others have beaten you to the punch. I try to look for a .com first; if I can’t find a suitable .com, I’ll look for a .org or a .net. I don’t use .info or other domain extensions. .com. .org and .net are the top three in people’s consciousness. .coms I usually register at GoDaddy because you can use coupons to cut the registration (and renewal) fees to $7.49. .orgs and .nets I register at Dynadot, simply because GoDaddy charges too much for them (they’re 50% dearer than Dynadot).

Since Market Samurai and Micro Niche Finder return pretty much the same lists of keywords for a seed search term (they pull their keywords from the same sources), I use Micro Niche Finder’s domain checking tool to check what domains (.com, .org, .net) are still available for the selected keywords. It’s usually pretty clear cut as to which domain to buy – the one with the highest number of searches. Where there’s a similar number of searches for different keywords and a .com is available (even if it has a lower number of searches than a .org or .net), I’ll buy the .com.

Once I’ve bought a domain, I immediately update its nameserver settings to point to the webhost server that will actually host the site built on that domain. Since domain propagation can take up to 72 hours, it’s best to get the ball rolling on this ASAP while you get on with other things.

Usually within a short time, your webhost will know about the nameserver update and allow you to add your new domain to your account. I now use VPS hosting rather than shared webhosting because sites load faster due to the greater percentage of server resources you’re allocated. A2 Hosting and InMotion Hosting are my current choices. Both offer 4GB+ RAM plans which you need for running multiple blogs. I’ve had problems with other VPS hosts in the past, so select a VPS host with care!

6. Installing the Blog: With the new domain added to my hosting account, I uploaded the WordPress install file that AutoBlog Blueprint (ABB) provides. This is made up of WordPress 3 plus a selection of recommended plugins. The install also includes a database and most of the plugins are preset with the ABB recommended settings. This saves a huge amount of time on installing all the plugins manually and configuring each one in turn. Some plugins do require being manually configured, so that’s the next step. The blog also does not contain the default WordPress Welcome post and About page as these can identify new blogs to hackers and such.

At this point the blog is up and running although it has no content and still uses the default WordPress theme.

7. Removing the Blogroll: The AutoBlog Blueprint WordPress install does not include any Blogroll links. When I used to install WordPress manually (via Fantastico), I always deleted the default Blogroll links. I’ve stopped using a Blogroll on sites now and rely on using links to external sites in articles (where they’re more relevant) instead. If I want to provide a list of links, I add a page to a site listing those links. Not using a Blogroll means there’s also a bit more space to show some advertising.

8. Selecting a WordPress Theme: I have a couple of favourite WordPress themes I use because I can make small changes in their code to get them to do what I want. The theme I selected for my blog was Flexibility 2. I spent a bit of time selecting colours and a font for it, turning on and off some features and adding some graphics to the theme. I usually end up spend far more time tweaking and fiddling here than I should (if you buy the AutoBlog Blueprint through one of my links, I’ll give you the Flexibilty 2 mod that allows you to include eBay auction listings on the blog search page [you need to have the phpBay Pro plugin installed] and the mos that allows you to have clean excerpts on your archive pages – forward your receipt to me via the Contact page).

9. The About Page: Next it’s time to write the About page. This doesn’t have to be a magnum opus, just a couple of paragraphs telling what the site is about.

10. The Blog Homepage: I always configure my money blogs to have a static home page rather than a list of the latest posts. Why? Well, the home page is the front door to your site so it should look as appealing as possible. It should be about the topic of your site and provide useful information to visitors. It should also be 100% unique. If a site reviewer at Google visits the site, they’ll see this page and get an instant impression of the quality of the site. Most times, they’ll only look at the home page, so it’s vital that it gives a good impression. So I spend time writing the home page article, adding photos, doing SEO on it, adding a video at the bottom of the page. I also add one link to a quality external site into the home page article. By a quality site, I mean a PR4+ authority site such as a government or educational site. Doing this tells the search engines that your site is not a dead end on the internet and that you’re providing valuable ways for visitors to leave your site.

Wrap Up

So that’s Week 1. So what’s the name of this case study blog? It’s Cheap Electricity Options.

Cheap Electricity Options banner imageWith the Green Energy niche being somewhat competitive, all my preferred domain name choices were already taken, so I had to get a bit creative with the domain name. The domain name was registered on August 6th, so at time of writing, the blog is 3 weeks old.

If you visit the site, you’ll see there’s already content on it. I’ll talk about that content and other site features I’ve added in the next blog post, coming to browser near you soon…

 
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