Setting Up An Art Affiliate Site – Part 2
Step 4 – Choose a Domain Name
This sounds like an easy step, but you may soon find it can be surprisingly difficult. As mentioned before the majority of your traffic will hopefully come from search engines. To rank well in search engines one of the key factors is to obtain a domain name that includes one or more of your keywords. This can be a real problem because YourKeywords.com is most likely already registered. You can start by going to a domain registrar such as Go Daddy and enter the domain you want on the homepage. If it’s not registered already you can register it. If someone else has already registered it you will receive a list of suggestions of available domain names or and go back and try another domain. Depending on the term you chose you may or may not find a domain you want by doing this.
The second method I’d recommend is a domain name suggestion tool such as Name Boy. This tool will let you enter your keywords and come up with a large number of suggestions for domains based on those keywords. It will also show you which of those domains are still available. I used this tool to register the sample site TropicalArt.org. I normally do not register .org sites, and if this was a site I was seriously looking putting the effort into making profitable instead of a simple example I would make every effort to obtain tropicalart.com. For this example it will do though.
Finally if you just can’t find an acceptable domain using the first two methods you can buy one that is already registered from someone else. This can be much more expensive than the first two options but in some cases it makes sense to do. The two main sites for doing this are Sedo and Afternic. These sites work as a trusted third party to coordinate the sale and transaction between the buyer and seller, and collect a percentage of the sale from the seller for performing this service (much like EBay). I used these services to obtain this domain name, ArtAffiliate.com.
Step 5 – Build Your Website
This is a very important step and unfortunately one I can’t explain in enough detail in this section. For those of you who are already experienced web developers, you have most likely already decided how you are going to develop your site and can move on to the next section. The rest of this section is for those who do not have any experience in this area. You’re going to need to make a choice at this point to do it yourself or hire someone else.
Do it Yourself
If you choose to do it yourself and have no previous web development experience then you’re best bet will be to develop a static site. This means you will manually be creating pages for each product you wish to sell and listing them on your site. It will also require maintenance to make sure you keep the prices up to date and add and remove products as needed. There are several tools available for doing this and you can just search Google to find them, but most likely you already have one on your computer, Microsoft FrontPage. It is included with Microsoft Office and is a great tool for beginners.
Hire Somebody Else
This may sound like it would be way to expensive for some people, but you’ll if you are reasonable about the requirements it’s really not that bad and will definitely save you a lot of time of having to manually add products. The biggest benefit is instead of manually creating a page for each product, all the products can be loaded into a database and the pages generated dynamically. Periodically a new datafeed can be downloaded from the affiliate program website and you’ll instantly have the updated prices and current list of products.
So how do you find someone? You may already know someone who does web development, that will be willing to create a site for you for free or cheap. If so great! But developing the average art affiliate website will take about 15-20 hours worth of work and you may not be so lucky to find a volunteer. On top of that software development is typically a fairly high paying job so hiring someone locally to do it can cost a pretty penny. The method I would suggest is going to a third party website that pairs developers with clients such as RentACoder.com.
RentACoder and sites like it allow clients to list the requirements for their project and developers to bid on the project. You will be able to get your project done for a much better rate here because it’s typically individuals doing the work instead of companies and there is competition from overseas developers keeping the prices down. It’s very important that you be thorough on what exactly your requirements are. You also need to keep the requirements reasonable in order to keep the price down. Everything you ask for will add hours and cost to the project so if you don’t really need it, don’t ask for it. To give you a rule of thumb on what you should expect to pay, a no frills site such as the example Tropical Art should cost you somewhere around $300.
Step 6 – Find a Host
You are going to need a place to host your website. Your ISP may provide some web hosting space but typically this is a very small amount, so you’re most likely going to need to find a web host.
The first factor to consider when finding a web host is if they support the technology your website uses. For example if your site was created using FrontPage, ASP or ASP.NET you will need a windows host. For static html, php or Java you can go with a Windows or Unix host. If you site requires a database such as MS SQL or MySql you’ll need to make sure the host supports that as well.
There are several other factors such as price, bandwidth, reliability, etc that you’ll need to consider as well. You can simply search Google for “web hosts” and compare the results to get an idea of what’s available. I’d personally recommend StartLogic or PowWeb.
Step 7 – Optimize for Search Engines
It’s important that search engines know what your site is about. You want to emphasis the keywords you selected earlier to make sure they know that is the primary subject of your site. To do this you need to make sure those keywords are included as part of the title on every page. Every page should have a different title though. Notice how on Tropical Art the title on each page is different but includes “tropical art” as part of the title. You should do something similar.
You also should provide alternate text for all of your images. This not only helps search engines know what the site is about but also helps people with software to assist with vision disabilities to navigate your site. You’re keywords should also be contained within parts of the body text on your site, at least on the home page and preferably on sub pages. Just be careful not to overdue it, your page is made for human readers and should be designed as such. Search engines will detect over stuffing of keywords and rank your site lower as a result. It is also very helpful to have static urls such as /1234/subject.htm instead of urls with query string parameters such as /subject.php?subjectId=1234 . You can use url-rewriting to accomplish this with a dynamic site. It’s also beneficial to place keywords in the url.
There are many other on-site optimizations you can perform. I recommend visiting High Rankings for more advice. Also keep in mind that your primary phrase isn’t the only term you should target. If you have a subpage about a more specific topic, optimize that page for that topic not your main one. For example the page about the artist Carl Aagaard is optimized for his name instead of the more generic term “Tropical Art”.