Niche Site Duel – Update #5: A Small Change That Will Make a BIG Difference
I’ll start off this post by saying, this update wasn’t planned – it was inspired by a flaw I uncovered in the foundation of my niche website. As you know, I’ve already made one mistake, but I feel like this one was more critical. How critical was it? Let’s just say, had I not uncovered this mistake, I would potentially be missing out on a 500% increase in traffic.
The source of the mistake: My original keyword research (and domain purchase). Allow me to explain…
I was analyzing my traffic the other night (in preparation for an earnings/rank/traffic update) when I realized that I had made it onto page one of Google for my primary target keyword: P90X review. As of right now, I’m in position #10, at the bottom of page one. Time to celebrate, right?
Because there is such a large difference between page 1 and page 2 on Google, I expected to at least see a slight bump in traffic. I gave it a day to make sure I was capturing an entire day of traffic while on page one of Google. Oddly, I found that traffic really didn’t change much. I was getting the same trickle traffic as before. Keep in mind, I was monitoring my rank via Market Samurai and my traffic via Google Analytics.
The Difference One Letter Makes
I decided to actually pull up Google.com and search for myself. As I began typing “P90X review,” I noticed that Google Instant automatically put an “s” on the end of the keyword (so it became “P90X reviews”). It was clear to me that if you had Google Instant enabled and you were searching for P90X reviews, you really wouldn’t search for “P90X review” even if you wanted to, because the suggested “P90X reviews” would be sufficient (it’s not even a suggestion – Google actually shows the results without you hitting the search button).
Shocked that I never noticed this before (in all fairness, I purchased my niche site domain before Google Instant was implemented), I went back to square one and took a look at my keyword research. I found something I didn’t notice originally: the “s” at the end of “P90X review” made a huge difference. See below:
How the hell did I not realize this before? A quick look at Market Samurai even confirmed that “P90X reviews” isn’t a whole lot more competitive than “P90X review.”
[Click to enlarge]
In essence, I am targeting only 1/5 of the traffic by choosing “P90X review” over “P90X reviews.” Despite my increased flexibility from doing yoga, I was unable to successfully kick myself.
After some initial panic, I thought about my potential options.
1) Change nothing, and proceed as originally planned. This is certainly a viable option, and the easiest option. It’s not ideal, but I think this site could exist with the lower traffic keywords that it’s targeting and still earn some income.
2) Register P90XReviews.me and rebuild the site from scratch, copying over all content, and eventually removing the original site so that I don’t run into duplicate content issues. This would eventually get me to where I want to be with my new keyword, but it would require a lot of work to set everything up again. More importantly, all of the backlinks I’ve created so far would be wasted.
3) Register P90XReviews.me, copy over content, and perform a 301 redirect from my old site to my new one. I was chatting with Murray from Murlu.com last night, and he opened my eyes to this idea. I knew about 301 redirects before, but completely forgot about them. Essentially, this would redirect people and Google to the new domain, and any backlinks/page rank “juice” that I’ve built up would be transferred as well.
As you might guess, I went with option #3 as my solution.
I thought it might be helpful if I took you through exactly what I did to solve this issue, in case you ever want to change the domain of a website you own. Keep in mind, I’m not an expert website programmer/designer, so there might be a better way to do what I did. I found some pretty useful functions (within WordPress and from my hosting provider) that made this transition fairly smooth. If you’re not interested in how this was done, feel free to skip to the last section of this post.
Note: These instructions are specific to those who use Hostgator for hosting, but I assume all major hosting providers have similar functions. Also, this process applies specifically to websites that use WordPress.
1. Register Your New Domain
Obviously, you’re not going to be able to fix any of this if you don’t have your desired domain, so you need to first make sure it’s available. My new domain, P90XReviews.me, was available, so I purchased it from GoDaddy (my preferred domain registrar). Following this, I configured the domain to work with my hosting provider (I’ll assume you know how to do this if you already have your original site set up).
2. Export Your Original Website/Blog’s Content
Because we’re going to need to transfer content, we need to make a backup of our original site’s content. To do this in WordPress, click “Export” from the “Tools” menu.
By default, the export filter should be set to export everything, which is what you want. Click “Download Export File” and remember where you saved it.
3. Install WordPress On Your New Domain
Once again, I won’t go into how this is done because I’m assuming you’ve had to do it at least once before.
4. Import the File You Previously Exported
Similar to how you originally exported your content, you’ll need to import the file to your new WordPress blog that you set up on your new domain.
5. Get Your Theme and Any Other Remaining Content
After you complete the import, you’ll notice that, although your posts, comments, categories, and other basic content have been imported to your new blog, you’re still missing your theme, plugins, and other miscellaneous content. I don’t know the perfect solution to this, but what I did was simply copy certain folders from my old blog’s directory to the new blog’s directory. This can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re looking for, so take my instructions with a large grain of salt.
From my Hostgator control panel (cPanel), I went to the file manager for my original site.
From here, I went into the wp-content folder.
Because I want to transfer over my theme, plugins, and anything I uploaded to my previous blog (images, etc.), I copied the relevant folders to my new domain’s wp-content folder (see images below for exact steps):
6. Configure Theme & Plugins
This part was kind of annoying. Even though we just copied over the theme and plugins in the last step, we still need to install/activate everything from within the WordPress dashboard. Maybe there’s a better way of doing this, but I found that I needed to do it manually.
7. Complete the 301 Redirect
By this step, your new site should look identical to your old one, aside from anything you were too lazy to configure. Now, we need to permanently redirect our old site to the new one. This will redirect people who try to visit the old domain, but more importantly, it will tell Google, “Hey, this is the actual site you should be looking at.” If done properly, I believe you’ll still maintain whatever backlinks you’ve built, as they will now point to the new site.
Important side note: My old backlinks were all built with the anchor text “P90X review,” so I will need to do additional backlink work with my new keyword. Even though this seems like prior backlinking work was a waste of time, those backlinks will still count for something (and will still help me rank for my original keyword).
There’s a technical way to do a 301 redirect, but fortunately for me, Hostgator has a handy redirect feature. In Hostgator’s cPanel, I went to the following location and completed the redirect:
[Click to enlarge]
8. Formally Tell Google About It
Once you’ve successfully completed all of the above steps, you should formally tell Google about it. Hopefully, you were already using Google’s Webmaster Tools (if not, no big deal, but you should check it out). Before we can tell Google about the redirect, make sure to add your new site and verify it.
Once your new site is added and verified, you need to complete a “change of address” for your original site (this is a lot like when you physically move houses in real life!).
From here, you’ll see basic steps similar to what I’ve explained in this post, but you’ll also be able to submit your new site by selecting it from a drop down box (not pictured below).
9. Success! (Hopefully)
Once you’ve successfully completed all of the above steps, you should see a message similar to the one below (Note: You won’t see this right away – it may take several hours).
Once again, I’m not an expert on this stuff, but I’m hopefully competent enough to successfully redirect my old site to my new one. I won’t be surprised if you know of a better way (and I’d be happy to hear about it).
If you take away anything from this niche site duel update, it should be this point: Niche and keyword research is important! Don’t rush this step of the process. I thought I had my bases covered, but sure enough, I missed a somewhat obvious keyword that was almost identical to the one I selected, but has significantly more traffic.
It’s probably going to be at least a few days or maybe weeks until I’m ranking for my new target keyword, and I’m going to need to start building more backlinks if I want to get back to page one of Google for the new keyword. You can be sure I’ll keep you updated here.
Remember, this whole thing is a learning process, and I’d be thrilled even if this post keeps only one person from making the same mistake I did. This niche site duel is all about transparency, and I wouldn’t be fully transparent if I didn’t share with you my stupid mistakes.
Stay tuned for future niche site duel updates, including how my traffic, search engine rank, and earnings are doing, as well as a detailed look at my backlinking strategy. Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed (if you haven’t already) so that you don’t miss future updates!
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