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I've had an idea for a site which would be ideally suited for AdSense. I've found a subject for which there is a real gap - I needed some information back in December, and after many hours spent on Google and Altavista, I had found only two relevant and useful items - one of which was a casual paragraph on an internet forum, and the other was one old, random entry in somebody's blog. Bingo - ideal first AdSense site for me - create the site for which I had searched in vain (I searched again today and the gap still exists). Much of the traffic visiting such a site would be (as I was myself) on the verge of making a purchase, therefore I have to presume that targetted advertising could work well on the site. I'm not sure what volume of traffic I might expect, but there's only one way to find out, and that is to roll my sleeves up and start building it. I'm experienced at building websites, so that part is easy, also I love to write, so I'm not going to struggle to compile interesting and informative copy.
Although I've built many sites, I've never felt the need to get involved with search engine optimisation, so I have some learning to do there, for which I'm quite prepared to devote as much time and effort as necessary. One other point is that I don't have paid-for hosting; my other sites are on free (but reliable and ad-free) hosts.
Below is what I have in mind as my next steps.
1. Write copy, then build site, and upload to my usual reliable, free host
2. Live with the site, and fine-tune it, whilst I'm doing the following:
3. Research SEO techniques, read up on the Heat Map, continue to learn about AdSense
4. Make application to join AdSense
5. Apply the SEO tweaks, then add the AdSense code (assuming they accept me)
6. Move on to creating my next site, whilst (obviously) monitoring the first
I'm not looking for anybody to hold my hand through this - I'm more than prepared to do the necessary research for myself, but I'd still welcome any comments on the broad plan. Thanks.
Never go with free hosts. For God sakes, I've had hosts who charge 20 dollars a year and they are reliable! Free hosts even if ad-free have no guarantees to you so they may go down overnight making you lose all your data. Go with something really cheap and when you get traffic go with something better - but never free.
I would also encourage you to consider going with a paid host. Even though your free host does not serve up ads, you probably don't have a verified domain name like: (www.yourdomain.com), no?
Aside from that, think about future revenues and the fact that your site may become a cash-cow. If and when that happens...(either through Adsense or other programs)... the page views and traffic may be better suited for a shared, (or possibly) a dedicated server.
Well, it seems that the hosting may be a weak point, and if not weak then it's at least a contentious issue. I did make use of the forum search facility to read others' views on it, but, as here, there are strong advocates of both free and paid-for hosting.
If this were just an idle experiment, then free hosting would do the job just fine, but I do intend, through sheer stubbornness and perseverance to make it more than that; hopefully much more. That being the case, then I know deep down that my own domain on a commercial server would be the route to take.
I think celgins makes some good points: think to the future, that the site might just be a winner (be it large or be it small), and if I have my own domain name, I can move servers as when required.
Well, I'll sleep on that one but I'm still open to comments, and thanks to all for taking the time to reply.
Edit: I've just read your reply, wonderboy, do you know that selling the product hadn't even crossed my mind. I'll ponder that over a cup of tea.
Also I've seen free hosts make changes unilaterally that can have a huge effect on their customers. Showing more or different kinds of ads, changing disk/bandwidth rules and shutting down sites that don't comply, changing URLs, even closing down altogether. It would be a shame to put in hundreds and hundreds of hours building links and bookmarks and mindshare, just to have your host make some change outside of your control that wrecks it all.
If your visitors will visit your site on the verge of buying this product, why not sell the product?
I used to sell products online but with crappy margins, vendor hassles, shipping hassles, employess hassles, customer hassles, yada yada yada and it turned out at the end of the day, when the smoke cleared and the net income was tallied, that affiliate marketing and AdSense could make just as much without all those hassles.
Been there, done that, over it.
However, online SOFTGOOD sales with instant delivery and NO WORK is great, but forget physical products, ick.
I'd tend to recommend against the free hosting too, for a few reasons: domains are fairly cheap, reliable web hosting is fairly cheap, and if you decide at a later date to move to your own domain name, you won't have problems losing PR by trying to redirect people from the old site.
I still have redirects lying around one of my sites from 10 years ago because there are so many links to the old site structure with /~user/ . In hindsight, I would have gotten my own domain name straight away because that name can always go with me while www.some_free_host.com/me or me.some_free_host.com may not.
Just my 2 cents.
[edit: Darn, I got distracted before posting this, went off for a few minutes, came back and jomaxx had beaten me to the link thing. I am always so terribly late to the party! :-)]
2. Choose a reliable host. It is a pain moving once the site is large and established. You can find really good hosts that cost <$10 per month, give you good tools to help you manage your site in a time efficient way and let you have dedicated IP and multiple sites per account.
Best of luck.
Thanks for the input on the SEO, nubbin. Of course you are right, it likely will affect everything from the url right on down to the alt text, so I'll learn from your hindsight and I'll research it thoroughly before I start building. I'll research it before I even write the copy, because I imagine that will be affected too.
Wise words. Thanks, I appreciate it.
It's entirely possible that I will use a US hosting service, with a US-based server.
Should I write my copy in British English or US English - neighbour/neighbor, specialise/specialize, etc., and does this really matter? If the Googlebot picks up British English spelling, will it try to serve British adverts to American visitors, or does it serve adverts based on the IP address, and the geographical location of the visitor?
Edit: my point being, that if an advert for Wal-Mart is served to a British visitor, they are not likely to click on it, and similarly, a visitor from the USA is unlikely to click on an advert for a British high street retailer.
And yes I am serious. These are doorway pages to the English pages in different directories for SEO purposes. With the correct
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en-gb">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en-aol">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en-us">
[edited by: Nitrous at 9:15 am (utc) on Mar. 2, 2006]
[edited by: martinibuster at 9:21 am (utc) on Mar. 2, 2006]
[edit reason] TOS 4 & 19. [/edit]
I also strongly advocate quality hosting--downtime costs more than just missed ad clicks, if your site is missing too often Googlebot will think you're out to lunch. Unless you're selling graphics, bandwidth should be a small portion of your overhead and it doesn't make sense to economize there.
It might pay to think about related products. People who shop for urban widgets often need agricultural or maritime widgets and a variety of related keywords can draw traffic that narrower markets miss.
Best of luck.
[edited by: andrea99 at 9:34 am (utc) on Mar. 2, 2006]
Well placed affiliate text links can make you FAR more than AdSense ever could.
I wish I could list the big-names that brought in less than 1% of AdSense's revenue and weren't even worth walking to the mailbox to pick up the check.
Your collective input has been very useful. I can see that I was much too narrow in my thinking when I first came up with the idea, and I've learned a lot already which I'll be able to keep in mind when planning future sites. Thanks, everybody.
Just get some content up and get some incoming links and some search engine traffic! Remember the most important thing is content that people want and will naturally want, return, and like. After that everything else is just "messing about" ...
And although I use free servers its only because I am stuck now! All the search engines and forums have links to me on the original free webspace I used before I ever thought about ads...
Now I cant move...
My question now is, what do I require in the way of a domain/domains, given that I plan to add several more (unrelated) site in the future. Do I try to work from a single 'umbrella' domain, like so:
... or do I work from three separate domains, like so:
I suspect I need the latter, but would there be any good reason to use a single domain instead? Any comments would be welcome. Thanks.
So... assuming domain.com is getting good traffic already for queries for "brain surgery for beginners" then create some intro content on the "www.my-domain.com/brain-surgery-for-beginners" which gets the visitor's interest, and then continues the most valuable related content on its own domain, www.brain-surgery-for-beginners.com domain.
Building traffic on several domains makes it easier to dispose of parts of your site for cash should you ever be inclined since much of the value resides in the traffic.
On the other side of the coin a single domain/hosting package will be less costly initially.
just mho, I'm pleased to present it. :)