Okay – so I know this post is going to ruffle a few feathers so I’ll start by saying that I’m sharing this information to help you – my readers – based on my own experiences. I will also start by saying that by no means am I saying that WordPress cannot be used to make great mini-sites – it absolutely can…but I will let you know when I think it’s appropriate to use WordPress and when it might do more harm than good.
I started buying exact-match domains and putting content sites on them back in 2007. It was only a few months before I started to see a serious return on investment – so much so that I made it the focus of my business. Since then I’ve built-out 130 web properties and about 90% of them exist on static HTML sites.
My goal with Domaining has always been to generate passive income – while I still sell domains it’s about as far from passive income as you can get since selling involves making phone calls, sending emails, etc. – it’s work! When I build-out a site I can let it sit and let the revenue come flowing in thanks to strong SEO and of course an exact-match domain.
Well about a year ago I started to evaluate the potential of moving some of my properties over to WordPress. I love WordPress as a blogging platform and thought it would be a great choice for my mini-sites…however I quickly learned that it’s not the perfect fit for all sites…and here’s why.
When Google sees a WordPress site – they categorize it as a blog which means they have the expectation that it will be updated regularly. The first time I heard this I thought it was a bunch of hooey – so I tested the theory for myself.
I took one of my high-performance domains that was on the first page of Google generating around $50/month and switched it over to WordPress. Same content, ads located in the same places, and even used the All In One SEO pack just to make sure I was doing the same excellent SEO I do with my static sites.
Guess what happened? The site moved from the first page of Google to the second and then was finally laid to rest on the third page of Google. The revenue dropped from $50/month down to $2-$3/month and that was proof enough for me.
See the edge I have is the exact-match domain, great SEO, and good unique content. There are plenty of people using WordPress with Auto-Blogging software but that’s duplicate content so doesn’t rank nearly as well.
It was at that moment that WordPress was not going to be the solution I was looking for. With 130 sites and over 200 by the end of the year it would cost me a fortune to constantly update the content on all of these sites and thus I would slowly lose my rankings and with it my revenue.
However this doesn’t mean that I gave-up on WordPress as a solution for mini-sites – I just learned that they aren’t the perfect solution.
What I decided to do was to pick ten sites that I would run as WordPress mini-sites and as such I would pay my content writers to update this content monthly. About two months into the project one of my WordPress sites was attacked by a spam link-injection worm. This meant that my site was now linking to known spam sites and before I knew it I had been de-listed from Google.
This was a frustrating experience and soon the worm had spread to every other WordPress site I had. Suddenly those ten sites in the test became garbage as far as Google was concerned. All the time and money put into paying the writers and building the sites had been flushed down the tubes.
With static HTML sites this can’t happen which means when I launch a mini-site I don’t have to worry about having the site ruined by hackers looking to exploit WordPress installs.
Now I’ve taken the time to do some more research and have found some great plugins that seem to keep my sites secure…for now. However we all know that hackers are always trying to break the system and WordPress is a giant target given the number of sites using the platform.
Now I’m launching a limited number of mini-sites (about 10% of my portfolio) as WordPress sites and am going to focus on updating them regularly and keeping them secure. A few examples of some of my recent properties are – PayOffDebt.me and 2010StimulusCheck.net.
There are a lot of things I like about WordPress so I’m hoping that with these 10% I can really make some headway – however I’m treating them differently than all my others sites – since Google thinks of them as blogs – I’m going to treat them as such and update them regularly. There is not way I could scale this to all of my domains but I’m keeping it manageable and am expecting to see some excellent results.
So like the title of this post says – WordPress definitely isn’t the perfect solutions for building mini-sites but if you can update the content regularly and are prepared to start from scratch if your site is hacked the solution has a lot of perks that makes running a mini-site much easier than living in the HTML trenches with geeks like me 🙂
Now it’s your turn! Share your experiences and let’s learn together!