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Thread: Case study: building an authority site

  1. #1

    Case study: building an authority site


    With the Google updates targeting affiliate sites, and thin-content sites, it's time to create authority sites. These are big sites that have loads of user interaction, user-generated content, and link-able content.

    Easier said than done, but it has to be done, so let's get on with it ...

    The first step is to go for a high-traffic niche (totally opposite to narrow niches). For example: health, finance, dating

    The next step is to get a domain name that is brandable such as: or whatever. Short and easy to brand with a dot com TLD so you don't have to care about your audience having to get the TLD correct when manually entering it or telling friends about your site. Or maybe you can buy an expired domain with traffic that you can use?

    For initial promotion, you should be able to promote your site to your Face Book friends and make them premium founder members or whatever you call them without them all un-friending you.

    The next step is to create a logo for the site as a vector graphic (so that you can scale it to any dimensions). I use InkScape for this.

    The logo is part of your brand. And then come up with a favicon based on this to display in browser bars.

    Now you need to bang out a prototype home page that you can load in your browser to get you excited to get your site live. This is the main motivational tool for me, seeing the site in a browser filled with dummy content.

    Now you can start playing with the visual design and elements of the home page, imagining that you are site visitor.

    And make sure that your site looks great on a PC as well as a mobile phone. Maybe you will need a responsive web design?

    So that is the first step: get your niche, brand, and design sorted.
    Last edited by Andy101; 25 June, 2013 at 12:32 PM.

  2. #2
    That is for ambitious people who in 6 months or a year, will wonder where there traffic is.
    Look at how many forums open up daily, and close up daily.

    Best bet for most people is the simple route:

  3. #3
    Mobile Devices

    It was a new experience designing for a mobile device, but quite simple with the approach that I took.

    Basically, for the iPhone, the ideal width of the page is 320 pixels. For my design, I arranged the content in 320 pixel wide columns that flow to the left.

    So on a computer screen they line up side by side, and on the iPhone, they stack up vertically, and there is no need to pinch the screen to expand the content.

    Also, I made the header and footer 100% of the browser window width with a minimum width of 320 pixels. Any content in these divs will wrap around to expand the height of the div in the mobile device.

    Special meta-tags for use with the iPhone:

    <link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="/apple-touch-icon.png" />
    <meta name = "viewport" content = "width = device-width">
    The "apple-touch-icon" is needed for when someone wants to add an icon link to your site along with their app. icons. This icon is a .png image (114x114 pixels in size). But there are various sizes of app. icon needed to cover all the various devices.

    The viewport meta tag is useful to ensure that the website width is set to the maximum available on the device.

    To test the design on a mobile device, you can use a simulator of some kind, but I chose to do it on my actual phone.

    Over the wifi, I can connect to my localhost web server with, in my case, the ip address of the server and a path to the web site root.

    So now that I have the mechanics of the web template sorted, it's time to plan the content areas of the site more.

    One key area is the user profile. This needs to include things to keep the user interested to update their status, and view their own page. For example, it needs: their latest updates like a Twitter feed, friend requests, friend's activity notifications, their data displayed in a chart, an avatar, likes, star ratings, badges etc.

    And this data needs to be formatted for display to people browsing the site to generate a community buzz.

    So it's mostly a case of design and development at the moment.

    Reference links:
    Apple Touch icon for websites - Stack Overflow
    Add Web Site Bookmarks to Your iPhone's Homescreen
    Last edited by Andy101; 25 June, 2013 at 12:31 PM. Reason: Reference links added

  4. #4
    I suspect that the success of a blog is likely to be less likely than that of a forum for the enthusiastic person that loves to write content. But a forum is a magnet for spam, so it needs a big push to get it seeded with quality content and beta users early on. And blogs are a magnet for information seekers, not participants. So they can be lonely places.

    Personally, I dry up quickly posting to blogs, out of the lack of feedback or thanks. And it can be tough to generate any income from blogs/forums.

    My approach with the authority site is to develop an interactive site that people will either love using or it flops. Have to see. I don't want to create another articles site (blog). There are billions of them already. It's much more fun to leverage code for me.

    To test the site, I can invite friends to test it as initial members, I have some interested already. Then for the initial launch, simply buy traffic with an advertising campaign such as on FB.

    Best bet for most people is the simple route:
    I would say that that approach is the simpletons route since it is peddled by the MMO (make money online) bloggers that want you to keep reading their posts and buying tools via their affiliate ads rather than helping you to adopt a more creative approach to online business.
    Last edited by Andy101; 23 June, 2013 at 15:12 PM.

  5. #5
    On-page SEO optimization

    As people sign up for the site, we want to automatically build extra web pages for their profile such as

    And we want to think about any other web pages that we can build based off the user data that we gather, such as common interests like

    Our engine will automatically build these pages.

    And we want to leverage all of the social media sites by providing ways to share content and to re-copy the links/content to our site.

    Also, we want to automatically email members with notifications.

    And suggest ways for them to publicize their involvement on our site.

    We want to make the site go viral!
    Last edited by Andy101; 23 June, 2013 at 16:00 PM.

  6. #6

    "Without a plan, you are planning to fail" is a famous quote. So you need to plan your actions towards your goal.

    You know where you are now and you know where you want to be. So with a plan of steps to take to get to your goal, you will surely get there if you do the required actions.

    A spread sheet is a good way to plan out your idea. You can use Google Docs for this, and share it if you like. Actions vs a time-line. and have fun coloring in the background of data cells to make it look professional.

    And you may want to consider daily tasks that must be completed such as 3 tasks. These can be on a post-it note, a today.txt file etc.

    I haven't laid out a proper plan, so I need to do this ASAP.

    I was mostly interested in doing some up-front initial development and data-gathering, but a plan is needed.

    A fun thing that I did today was harvesting URLs of blogs in my niche. I did this by writing a script to harvest the URLs from a site that lists blogs in my niche. So I ended up with a few hundred sites to check out.

    Then I will build a database of these sites with their feed URLs. The idea is to follow their latest posts and post this data as snippets for my website visitors to check out with links to the blogs. So this will add up-to-date relevant content to my site, and the webmasters should be happy for the extra traffic and page rank flow that I send them.

    To update this feature will require a script to be running 24/7 to pull the feeds and update the site widget in a controlled manner so as not to bombard sites with http requests.

    Still the site is off-line since it's now in the development phase. One area of development is HTML5 graphical elements. This is where a canvas rectangle is used to display content that adapts according to the data of the user. For example 2D chart data.

    Reference links:

    Look forward to more updates ...
    Last edited by Andy101; 25 June, 2013 at 13:08 PM.

  7. #7
    Site Structure

    The first stage in designing an authority site is the design of the site structure i.e. a flow chart of how the site works.

    I like to use a defunct tool called "Visio" which rocks for this, but you will probably have to settle for some kind of Office Software, or maybe a vector graphic program such as InkScape.


    Your site flow-chart will consist of blocks of functionality that are connected with lines called connectors (surprise!). So You develop a diagram that plans out the flow of your site between the pages, where no stone is left un-turned.

    All the time here, I am speaking as a programmer, but as a marketer, You can design your site in this way and pass on the blue-prints to your programming team so that they will get what you have in mind.

    So you have web pages with buttons that may be clicked, and you have to plan what happens next, even after garbage was entered into the form fields.

    And every possible scenario needs to be handled.

    So it is best to plan it out with a flow diagram!

    With an authority site you may have 1000's of web pages, so it is vital to have a flow chart of how it all works.

  8. To build an authority site you have to have a marketing road map in place or you will never reach your traffic goals. Everyone knows someone who knows someone that just threw something up and it became successful but that is the exception and not the rule...plan, follow the plan, revisit the plan, adjust the plan, and follow it again.

  9. Building an authority site requires a lot of hard work and planning. You will have good site design and powerful SEO strategy

  10. #10
    I don't think that my site will have so many web pages after all. After scraping content sources and filtering out dead wood, I was left with 18% of URLs that may be of use for content curation.

    One idea to attract users is via linking out to related blogs. The intention is to arouse curiosity rather than producing referral spam.

    The initial user base will come from friends, then getting involved in related forums to siphon users. This is where a brand name can help, so you don't have to post a link.

    Then, to boost the membership after the site gets some user activity, advertise on FaceBook.

    After some critical mass is built, organic traffic may be enough to sustain growth where number of members joining > the number leaving / stagnating.

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