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How to Create a Successful Mini-site: Discover Insider Tips From A Marketing Expert

By Nathan Lynch
Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Nathan Lynch of ( interviews Harvey Segal, owner of "The Ad Tracking Guide" (

One of the hottest ways to market on the net right now is to create what is called a mini site. Usually one or more pages focused on one theme. Harvey Segal of reveals some of his hard hitting secrets to affiliate success.

[Nathan] Harvey, I think the name gives it away but can you tell us about your mini site

[Harvey] Well Nathan, I think you've stumbled on tip number one. You need a domain name which is descriptive, so that people know immediately what the site is about, is memorable so they can recall it later, and contains keywords which will improve the rankings in the search engines.

The site describes how ad tracking programs work, how they differ, what to look for and provides product reviews.

[Nathan] What made you build this site?

[Harvey] A combination of two factors. When the first ad tracker appeared about two years ago I found it absolutely indispensable but later discovered by chance that better and cheaper versions were available. So I searched around to see if there was a guide to these products but could not find one.

At the same time the marketing experts were advising us that niche sites (i.e sites with a narrow focus) were the way forward and that search engines would favor sites with a common theme running throughout.

Suddenly it struck me: if I wanted a guide I'd have to write it myself. And so the site started up - around March 2001.

[Nathan] How does the site earn you profit? Is it through banner advertising, getting subscribers, or any other methods?

[Harvey] Nathan I've never clicked on a banner in my life, so there's no way I would use them. There's no advertising at the site and I don't even have links to the newsletter at my main marketing site. I don't want to distract the visitor from the goal of the site which is to purchase an ad tracker, whereby I receive affiliate commission.

[Nathan] Well I did think that was the plan but I could not see the usual affiliate links even when I placed the mouse on the links. Where are they?

[Harvey] I expected that the author of the Affiliate Success Blueprint would ask that! The links are there all right, but with a few simple HTML tags, onmouseover and onmouseout, you can conceal them. You can check out the source code to see how this is done. It's just that some people are put off by affiliate links or remove the agent code at the end which unfairly undoes the hard work of the affiliate in bringing them to the site.

[Nathan] I found the site very easy to navigate and uncluttered. I'm fascinated by the way you lead the reader through the site. Did you base this style on any other site?

[Harvey} I'm always on the lookout for good ideas and I file them away for future use. I continually modify the site to improve its readability which is so important. It's often a matter of balance whether to have a very long page or a few shorter pages. There's no right or wrong way.

As you can see I just have five pages, starting with a short introduction of why you need a tracker then moving on to a brief explanation of how it works.

I don't want to deter the reader with anything complex at this point. By now he may be interested so on the third page I can let rip with my "23 ways to use an ad tracker".

There's another reason for this page. I can use the Url in a signature or an ad, such as: Discover 23 unique ways to use an ad tracker.

By now I should have an enthusiastic prospect but before moving to the final product review page I have a page of advice on how to choose a tracker and here's that appropriate place where I can include a little technical information.

[Nathan] Let's talk about getting traffic to the site. How do you go about promoting it?

[Harvey] First I'll explain that there's two types of minisites. You have the one page mini site which is essentially a sales pitch culminating in an order. I'll talk about these later.

The other type is a site, like this, filled with useful information, resources and tips and which is not overtly a sales site. With such a site you can submit to the two main paid submission engines Yahoo and Looksmart also to the Open Directory which is free, and be sure that it will be approved. In contrast a one page is unlikely to get approval.

Also I use the pay per click search engines: again there is the advantage that other listings will show individual products whereby a title such as "The Complete Guide to Ad Tracking Programs" has more chance of apturing the reader's attention.

[Nathan] So do you find the search engines bringing you plenty traffic ?

[Harvey] They bring a steady flow but not excessive. The problem is that the keywords "ad tracking" or "ad trackers" are not highly searched terms: possibly because these tools are not yet widely known. However with the directory entries it helps to create a well constructed description using other terms. For example the Yahoo entry says

Ad Tracking Guide: reviews advertising tracker programs and their usage in campaign management affiliate marketing and classified advertising

So I also get hits from searches on "classified advertising" for example.

[Nathan] So what are your other sources of traffic?

[Harvey] Well here's the real surprise Nathan. I found that other sites are linking to mine even though I have not requested them !

[Nathan] What is the reason for this - and how did you find out?

[Harvey] They do this in order to give their own readers a useful resource. I find these out by examining my site logs, which tell me from where visitors have come, and by using the backward linking feature in the search engines.

Many of these links are from directory sites of resources.

But I have found links from personal sites listing it as one of their favorites, and even a site in another language.

Another example: Allan Gardyne writing in his famous Associate Programs Newsletter advised.

"If you decide to stick with Internet marketing, I strongly urge you to NARROW your focus. An example of a marketing site with a narrow niche is Harvey Segal's ( (Type "ad tracking" into Google and you'll see he has No.1 spot.)

And also of course, just to show how word gets around, you have kindly offered to interview me Nathan for your newsletter.

I'll also mention what is the quickest way to get word out about your product. By contributing to the online discussion forums and providing useful answers to other readers' problems and putting your Url in your signature. And when the questions are about any aspect of ad tracking it's easy for me to retain a neutral stance and simply point readers to the "Ad Tracking Guide" as opposed to a particular tracker with a blatant affiliate link.

[Nathan] Now with all this traffic coming I expect sales have been booming.

[Harvey] Well there's two parts to a successful web site. Getting targeted traffic and then converting this to sales. You need both. Lots of traffic does not necessarily mean lots of sales. And at the start sales were few.

[Nathan] Why was this ?

[Harvey] Well I built my site on the principle that it would be unbiased and without hype. And I think that has definitely been a positive factor in getting link popularity and good tributes.

But it was clear that I needed some form of incitement to get my visitor to the point of sale.

So I tested out little changes, spicing up my sales web copy, for example with an opening statement "You are about to discover one of the most powerful marketing tools to be found on the Net"

[Nathan] And did that do the trick ?

[Harvey] It made little difference, so next I decided to abandon neutrality and pick a particular product, the one I personally use, as a recommended purchase.

[Nathan] Well a recommendation from the man who created the Ad Tracking Guide must surely have turned the balance.

[Harvey] Wrong again !

[Nathan] That must have been very frustrating for you because I know from our conversations that you an ad tracker enthusiast, using them all over your sites, ebooks, forum postings and the like.

[Harvey] That's it Nathan. You've hit the nail on the head. I needed to explain exactly why I was so enthusiastic about that product and how and where I used it.

So I added "Click HERE to read a special review on why this is our number one choice" which led to a new page with a detailed explanation so that readers could see real proof of how it works for me.

And bingo. Sales soared from that day.

[Nathan] That's a great tip for all site owners. I find a personal recommendation more convincing than any other factor.

I see you have multiple sites with entirely different content and yet you link to them from this one. Why would you want to do that ?

[Harvey] These are the one page minisites I mentioned before. Actually they are not strictly one page. You need a few more pages to get a decent ranking so it's an idea to fill them with useful content but to ensure that there are no distractions (such as external links) to deflect from your primary goal of getting the sale.

The reason that I link to them is that Google - which is now the most important engine - won't index your site if it is not linked from another site. In fact I have all my sites pointing to each other to build up link popularity, an important factor in the Google ranking algorithm.

[Nathan] How successful are these other sites?

[Harvey] They vary. If I find one is not performing I'll "throw" it away and try another.

[Nathan] Throw it away ? After all that expense?

[Harvey] Minisites are unbelievably cheap these days. The main requirement I have is reliability (uptime) - I don't need all the extra trimmings. You can purchase such sites for $20 a year - that includes the domain name as well !

[Nathan] Can you tell us where to find such resources?

[Harvey] Yes, it's quite ironic. If I started again and most web site owners agree with this I would not have a big general Internet marketing site as I have with ( So I have converted the home page to a discussion about. . .

minisites !

[Nathan] Harvey it's been great hearing about your site and especially those tips you keep giving us.

About the Author
Nathan Lynch is an affiliate program specialist and author of a new ebook called "Affiliate Success Blueprint." This great new book offers insight and advice to the newbie and veteran alike on topics such as choosing profitable affiliate programs, setting up minisites and writing great classified ads. To find out more click here. (


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