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Beyond Pure Mini-Sites

By Bob McElwain
Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2003

In its purest form, a mini-site consists only of a sales pitch and an order form. While many successful marketers believe this is the only way to go, there's a catch in this approach.

Without valuable content, directories and search engines will ignore you. This leaves the task of drawing targeted traffic entirely on the shoulders of advertising. Or possibly upon one aspect of it, the pay-per-click search engines.

For those who know the advertising game and/or the pay-per-clicks bit, this works fine. But for those who do not, it may be a bad idea. For many, the better plan is to ...

Build A Mini-Site With A Theme

You still need a slick sales presentation and an order form. But in addition, you need great content of interest to surfers. And all of it must be focused tightly on a single theme.

The search engines will now be interested because of the content. In fact some feel theme sites are the only way to go. That since search engines love them, they will rank the listings high. For me, the jury is still out on this point. But certainly you can expect to draw some targeted traffic from them.

In creating a theme site, you need about five pages of closely related valuable information all focused on the theme. Each page is optimized for one or more keyword phrases, all of which point to the theme of the site.

The idea is to create optimized pages that rank well individually. Then hope each one gets a boost for its role as a page on a site with a theme. To the extent a given search engine is looking for theme sites, this will happen. In any case, the optimized pages of themselves will draw.

A Negative To Theme Sites

The drawback in building a mini-site with a theme is the need to openly link from the sales presentation to the content pages. Many top marketers scoff at any interruption or distraction in the sales presentation. Visitors may click to content, lose interest in the whole bit, and leave the site.

For most, this is a risk worth taking. If each content page is crafted with care so that it both directly and indirectly points back to the sales presentation, then this risk is minimal.

The payoff, of course, is the targeted traffic from the search engines. It costs you nothing but your time. And sales bring the hard data that makes the pay-per-click search engines work for you. And possibly ezine advertising as well.

A Made-Up Example

Suppose you have a good deal of expertise in mountain climbing, and have written an ebook revealing great things. Now you want to sell it with a mini-site. The theme, of course, will be mountain climbing.

For openers, come up with a few phrases related to mountain climbing. Maybe ...

- climbing mountains
- (how to) climb mountains
- great climbs
- climbing expeditions
- climbing safety
- climbing accidents

Next, visit the keyword suggestion at http//


Enter your keyword phrases. Then make note of all related phrases suggested, and the count of searches made on each. Be sure, however, that each phrase added is focused on the theme: mountain climbing.

Reenter each new suggestion. It won't take long before you begin to find pretty much the same sets of phrases coming up on each entry. At this point, call it good.

Now turn to your favorite search engine and enter each phrase on the list you have collected. Make note of the number of listings that are presented. In a perfect world, you will choose to discard those keywords which bring up large lists (too much supply). And focus on those which bring up a smaller list (less supply).

But as in many things, formulas don't hold. You'll need to make a judgement regards which phrases to use. Those with high search counts (demand) and low list counts (supply) are best. But since the major factor is in building the theme, you may need to include phrases that do not look as promising. And exclude good phrases because they are off the mark.

The Sales Presentation

A straight sales pitch will not grab the attention of the search engines. So whatever traffic is available, must come from your content pages. (They in turn frequently point to your sales page.) There is an alternative to this approach. While not in general use, I like the feel of it.

Consider providing good solid information within your sales presentation. I know this comment will bring down the wrath of most copywriters. But it seems to be working for me. And I see it working for others.

Each chunk of good information you provide is followed with a comment to the effect that the book explains all, buy it now, or something of this sort.

Either way, your sales presentation needs to be pointed directly at the theme of the site, else you lose theme points with those search engines interested in theme sites.

The Content Pages

Give the content for each page a good deal of thought before beginning to write. In fact the think time may exceed the writing time. The key is to build content featuring one or two of the keyword phrases you have identified. And to write in such a way that the search engines will rank the page well on your keywords.

The catch is that first, you must write for your visitors. A great position on a search engine list is wasted if the page doesn't interest those who visit.

Hits Provide The Magic Numbers

Submit all pages to the search engines, then sit back and be patient. It does take time. Some are taking several months to get listings up. But chances are it won't take that long to begin getting some hits.

When traffic begins to generate sales, you will have the facts regards how many hits it takes to make a sale. This information easily translates into the value of a hit. For example, if 100 hits generates a sale with a net profit of $30, then the value of a hit to you is $0.30 ($30/100).

Using The Pay-Per-Click Search Engines

Given the value of a hit, you can bid on all search terms previously collected at all of the pay-per-click sites. (And on as many related phrases as you can find.) For a great list of these services, see <http//>

Of these sites, http// is the major player and will out draw the others combined. However the minimum bid is five cents. They may be a bit steep when experimenting.

But the catch is the $20/month minimum fee. Regardless of what you bid, if you get only 10 hits, each will cost you $2.00. Thus to make Overture pay, you must generate more hits in order to keep costs down. There's no way to get around the $50 sign up fee, so factor this in. Even so, if you find yourself paying more per hit than the bid you made, you may decide to scrap the program.

If Overture is a bit steep for your budget, try http// The sign up fee is $25, and there is no monthly fee. Further, the minimum bid is only a penny. However, they won't deliver the hits Overture does.

If the value of a hit to you can cover costs, consider ezine advertising. And of course, there are more expensive options that still pay well if the value per hit is sufficiently high.

Build Related Theme Sites

Build a collection of mini-sites, each with a clearly defined theme. Let them ultimately become satellites to a central site. Let a visit to this site be the backup offer on a failed sale. This is a structure very tough to beat.


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