WordPress Setup for My Niche Sites

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I use WordPress for my content management for this blog and all of my niche sites. In my former blogging ventures and experimentation I stuck with Blogger – but have now seen the light. WordPress is far superior with its endless options and easy plug-ins that are available. It takes a little bit of learning and getting used to if you’ve previously used another platform – but it is worth it. I highly suggest you familiarize yourself with WordPress if you wish to take the easiest route to success with niche sites (or a blog for that matter).

Loading WordPress Onto My Domain

In a previous post, I explained in detail my process for purchasing domains and hosting. As mentioned in that post, I use HostGator for my hosting because of it’s extreme ease of use, great customer service and ability to host unlimited domains on the same account for one low monthly price. For this next step, I simply log into my Control Panel (cPanel) at my HostGator account. I scroll down a bit to find the portion of the cPanel that looks like this screenshot.

In my case, I already had an account at HostGator and wanted to add my domain (gettingridoffleasnow.com) to my hosting account as an add-on domain. Under the “domains,” section, I simply click the icon for Addon Domains and it walks me through the steps. I already had this hosting account associated with the domain (gettingridoffleasnow.com) over at GoDaddy – so the domain showed up on a pull-down menu and was very easy to do.

The next step was to install WordPress onto the domain. Under Software/Services, click the icon for QuickInstall. It brings you to a screen that looks like this screenshot.

To get to the WordPress installation, I simply needed to click on WordPress on the far left under Blog Software. I then chose my domain from the pull-down menu and filled out the rest of the appropriate information. I clicked the button at the bottom for Install Now! Easy as that! WordPress is now loaded onto my domain.

WordPress Themes and Options for Niche Sites

This being my 4th attempt at building a niche site, I’ve used different options and plug-ins every time. I’m still experimenting with different things and trying to find what I like best and what works best for me. Some of these things will be essential for all sites and others could be considered optional. If you are following along and thinking about building your own niche site, you may want to do things totally different than me. Again, for this particular niche site and follow-along project I am not using any paid tools. This includes plug-ins and themes. Everything associated with this site (except the hosting of course) is free.

One of the first things you’ll probably want to do is choose a theme. On the left sidebar within WordPress click on Appearance and then click on Themes. From here you can search through countless free themes. I’ve experimented with several, and settled on a theme called Magazine Basic. It’s a clean and somewhat customizable theme. The customization menu is easy to navigate. When searching for a theme, custom menus is a must-have for me. I want to have complete control over how the navigation bar is set up. I also prefer the option to have three columns, in case I want a left and right sidebar. Sometimes I’ll have Adsense in one sidebar and Amazon products in the other. Currently, I only have a left sidebar for this site. If you want to see what my Getting Rid of Fleas Now niche site currently looks like with the Magazine Basic them, check it out here.

Changing your permalink settings within WordPress is pretty important for niche sites. Under your settings tab (near the bottom far left within WordPress), click on Permalinks. The default setting basically assigns a number to each post, so your URL for each separate post would look like the example in the screenshot below. For best SEO, you will probably have the keyword you are targeting within the title of most or many of your posts. Simply change the permalink settings to “Post Name,” so that the URL’s for your posts will match the titles (which contain important keywords). Make sure this is one of the first things you do – before posting any content. Otherwise you’ll have to manually change your permalinks until this is done.

Changing my discussion settings is a preference of mine that I do mainly to avoid all the spam. If you have several niche sites, you don’t want to be constantly monitoring comments to posts. I’ve found that nearly all of the comments for my first few niche sites were spam anyway. The following screenshot shows how I have my discussion settings set. (Again, under the Settings tab – click Discussion)

WordPress Plug-Ins for Niche Sites

The following screenshot shows all of the basic and essential plug-ins that I use for my niche sites. There are several other and different plug-ins available in varying forms that perform all of these functions. These just happen to be the ones that I like and that I use.

Google Analyticator is just a simple way to connect my Google Analytics account to the niche site. Very self explanatory and easy to use.

Google XML Sitemaps (or any other site mapping plug-in) is absolutely essential for niche sites. This basically tells the search engines about your site and the content on it. You only need to install this and activate it and then nothing else. It takes care of the rest automatically.

HTML Javascript Adder is just a plug-in I like to use for adding different 3rd-party html stuff to my sidebars. This is not necessary, just something I prefer to use.

All in One SEO Pack is pretty important for niche sites. When you install and activate this, you can setup (or change) the META data for your site title, description and keywords you are targeting. This plug-in also adds a box underneath your post editor for every post so that you can add and modify this information for every single post. If search engine optimization is your goal, a plug-in like this is essential. The following screenshot shows how I set up my main META data for my niche site, gettingridoffleasnow.com. Notice how I have my targeted keyword (getting rid of fleas) in the title, the description and in the home keywords boxes. This is very important if you are targeting a specific keyword.

Instant Adsense is one of many available plug-ins for easily adding your Google Adsense code to your site. I like this one because I can easily change the color options for my ads as well as my ad placement (within posts) right from the plug-in. This screenshot shows exactly how I have this set-up for my Getting Rid of Fleas Now niche site.

UPDATE: 10/04/12 – Thanks to Chris, a commenter on this post yesterday, I found out that Instant Adsense STEALS revenue from unsuspecting users. DO NOT USE THIS PLUGIN! It is no longer available in WordPress Plugins and should be uninstalled immediately if you are already using it. Read more about this here: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/plugin-instant-adsense-plugin-steals-adsense-revenue

TIP: If you want your text to wrap around your ads the way I have mine, add the following code (shown circled in red in the screenshot) – <div style=”float: left;”>

ShareThis just happens to be the service I use to add social sharing buttons to my site. The setup screen looks like this.

This is pretty much it for the basic setup of niche sites for me. Countless other settings, options and plug-ins can be changed and/or utilized. This covers the basic stuff though. If you are following along and thinking about building your own niche site, I hope this was helpful to you. My next post as part of this Niche Site (the Dumb Way) Follow-Along will describe my content strategy.

Until then, remember that there are several dumb ways to create passive income online, but only one site that is blogging about it! Dumb Passive Income… dot com.

-Matt