Want Affordable E-Commerce? Check out Site Build It | 3 | WebReference

Want Affordable E-Commerce? Check out Site Build It | 3

Want Affordable E-Commerce? Check out Site Build It

Grow, Prune and Group Best Affiliate Programs

In Chapter 5, you'll research different affiliate programs. In the Fast Start Guide, you’re advised to spend at least an hour in each of the top 3 affiliate directories, where you grow and prune your list of merchant partners. For the record, the top 3 specialized affiliate directories (as listed by SiteSell) are:

In actual practice, I got some of my best results from Associate Programs and Refer-It, which is owned by our own JupiterMedia group. I also got some good results by searching through Affiliate Backend Providers such as Commission Junction and the LinkShare Corporation.

Depending on the affiliate directory, there may be some ranking information (as with Associate Programs and Refer-It, or none at all. You link to affiliate programs that match your site concept. How you’re paid depends on the program. As an example, if you sign up with the Google AdSense program, you’re paid by the click, but with other affiliate programs, payment might only come when sales are made. As for commissions, those can range from 3-15% or more. Also, it’s a good idea to sign up for affiliate programs before you build your site, as some take awhile to approve your application. However, some want to see your site up and running before you’ll be approved and then you have to wait a long while for their approval, a Catch-22 situation.

When you find an affiliate program that matches with your site concept, you need to drill down into their agreements and study them. In the fine print, you’ll discover whether they’re a good fit or not. If they are, sign up with them. Some will give you an automatic approval, while others approve submissions manually. Once your submission has been approved, you can use their affiliate codes on your site.

Refine Site Concept and Register Domain Name

One of the goals of building a theme based content site is to make it niche focused, but not so much so that you won’t be able to expand on the site concept. When you’re working on your site concept, you want to look at the keyword combinations that best describe what your site is about. In the manual, it refers to the Valuable PREselling Proposition (VPP), which is your service’s most powerful benefit, in combination with a strong, unique feature of your business. And if you can fit that into your domain name, so much the better. Here are some examples of that by SBI users:

In my case, the best keyword combination was "photo shop tutorials." Looking at that combination felt counterintuitive to the way I wanted the name to appear, but I followed the logic of the manual and registered the name as www.photo-shop-tutorials.net.

Note: If you’re wondering about the hyphens between the words, it improves readability.

One other thing to mention here is when you’re brainstorming your domain name, it’s important to make sure that it doesn’t infringe on someone’s trademark. Here’s a couple of resource you can check to make sure your domain of choice is ok:

http://www.nameprotect.com/cgi-bin/FREESearch/search.cgi

Build a Site That Gets the Click

Once you’re registered your domain name, you’re ready build your site. One of the first things you’ll encounter is the following diagram (as seen in the manual) about build Keyword Focused Content Pages (KFCP).

The home page (Tier 1) uses the fundamental keyword of your site and is used to convince the search engines that this page is the most relevant page for your site concept. It links to 5-15 Tier 2 pages, which each focus on one specific keyword. Each of these pages links to 5-15 Tier 3 pages. If you use all of these pages, you’ll wind up with an extensive site, of at least 226 pages (including the home page).

To begin the process of building pages, you need to log onto the 5 Pillars Club of SiteSell, which takes you to Site Central. This is where you build your web pages. You can also choose to upload your own HTML as well. As I’d mentioned earlier, I chose the template design for the most part, because I wanted to see how much was possible without knowing HTML.

Site Central is the where you can upload graphics, track links, build forms, conduct mailouts and much more. At this stage, though, my task was to create a layout for the site. You access this by clicking on the Look and Feel button, which brings up 10 different page layouts to choose from. Among other things, you can choose from several different types of navigation buttons, shapes, rollovers, type and color. Initially, I chose the layout below:

But after considering the look of this template, I decided to build my own. SBI gives you the ability to do that and you can download their files which you can use for reference. The only issue is to make sure that you use the same file names when you reload them back to Site Central.

Here’s the design I’d chosen. Note the buttons that allow you to edit the layout or to build your own.

Here’s the result using the SBI templates for the navigational buttons.

However, after having a closer look at the layout, I felt it didn't showcase Photoshop very well, so I downloaded the templates and built my own layout. However, the navigation buttons were convenient, so I kept that part of the design.

From there, it was time to build the home page, which is essentially all text. However, you’re given some basic HTML tags that you can spice it up with (in my case, I chose to add a photograph). If you have a question about how things work, there are tiny question marks on the interface. Clicking on any of those will bring up a dialog box with more information.

Note: SBI recommends that you write all your content using a plain text editor like Notepad and to save your files as straight ASCII text files. If you use curly quotes or apostrophes in word processing program like Word, you'll get weird symbols.

After creating the home page, you use SiteBuilder to build the different pages for your site.

As you can see in the screenshot, this is a part of page, where you enter your data in blocks. Here, you have the choice of entering Headlines, Text, Text Links, E-Mail Links, Graphics, Dividers, Line Breaks, etc.

It’s here, that you enter the codes you’ve gotten from different affiliates as part of your articles. Depending on the information they provide, you can use banners, pictures and text or just text links. In the manual, SBI advises against using banners, as they can actually turn visitors off. What they recommend instead are in-context text links, which many affiliates provide.

One exception to banner ads is the Google AdSense program. Those come in a variety of formats and are an excellent way to earn income on your site. However, placing them into your site without knowing of HTML can be problematic, especially if you want to use a Google tower ad. If you don’t use HTML tags, it doesn’t work properly. Fortunately, there are forums you can access which give out the necessary information.

Note: I’ve applied Google Adsense ads to two of my other web sites (CosmicStock Photography and Nathan Segal Illustration) and I’m already making money from the clickthroughs.

I ran into another issue when building pages, specifically when I wanted to create multiple pages using the same keyword information. In Dreamweaver, I usually create one page that I want to use and save it, then resave it multiple times using different file names. But that didn’t work in SBI. If I tried to save a new file name, it simply overwrote my first file and I lost all my data. The only solution was to create a new page from scratch, re-enter my keywords, and save it with a new file name.

As you build your pages, you can check to see how your content is working by clicking on the Analyze It! button at the bottom of the SiteBuilder page. Analyze It! checks to see if your page meets over 30 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rules. This report will tell you exactly what you need to do to get your page scoring as high as possible at the engines. However, each themed site is different, meaning that the rules change. It’s good to use this report as a general guideline and to also experiment beyond the boundaries of the rules.

Once you’ve built your web page, the SBI World Submitter automatically submits it to a variety of search engines.

 

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: August 3, 2004

URL: http://webreference.com/authoring/sbi/1