Authority Site Catalyst WordPress

Using Catalyst Theme To Build An Authority Site

The original title of this site, when it was on blogger, was building an online income one website at a time.  I figured I’d need about 100 websites.  I’ve hung onto the niche website model for longer than most. I may well go back to it. But at the moment I feel like I’m swimming against the tide too much, and I’ve decided to build an authority site – just to see what happens – oh and to make lots and lots of money (of course)! 

I’ve already have one authority site – this one – but I built it my accident, I want to build this one deliberately.  As  Regev asked a question in my last Catalyst Theme Review  I thought it was time to add a bit to that earlier review – by describing how I used the theme’s flexibility allowed me to achieve what  I want to do now, and how I can evolve the site  to what I want in the future, without a complete re-design. 

The Two Main Types of Travel Readers 

In my view, there are basically two types of people who read travel articles, be they blog posts or magazines: 

  • armchair travellers, those reading about a places that they will probably never visit (or not in the next year or two).  In the blogging sphere these are people skivvying off work, trying to keep the dream alive, or just escaping; 
  • those that are actually actively fact gathering for travelling. They may still be at a high level planning stage (how much money does 6 months in Thailand cost?), or they are getting quite a lot closer to departure (budget hotel near airport. Bangkok). 

Most published guidebooks cater for both. In fact the DK Eye Witness Travel Guides (some of the most beautiful guidebooks IMHO) – are pretty much designed for armchair travellers, unless you are using a porter they are far too heavy to actually travel with! Most travel addicts have at least one guidebook to a county they never quite got to! 

Most blogs only cater for just one of these groups –  often un-intentionally.

First there are those who are either gifted writers or just excited about documenting their trip know little about SEO, end up writing blogs which are great reads, but not very practically focussed.  Unfortunately most of these probably never find an audience because the writers have no idea how to promote their work. Writing and they will come still isn’t a great strategy as far as I am concerned, but if you are not writing keyword focussed content your odds of succeeding are minuscule.  To get this to work you need to be doing a lot of social media promotion. 

On the other hand there is also a number of travel blogs which were setup as, or evolved to, being mainly about practical fact gathering, often very focussed on SEO.   Some are quite fun, but then they go on a sponsored trip to “insert country you have no interest in here”, and you lose interest because its all about XYZ for months on end. Some of these sites also rely heavily on social media, but some too use a lot of SEO. 

What A Travel Site Needs To Have IMHO 

No surprise where I’m going here – I wanted a site which allowed me to reach both the “armchair travellers” with a range of amusing stories, and photos, and maybe even videos, which would get them interested in visiting a country.  Plus I wanted to use my knowledge of SEO and some specific travel destinations to write practical, “how to” style articles. I could see no reason why I couldn’t do both.  But I did need to think about how to design a site so I could regularly update both a  “travel blog” plus specific focussed “how to content”. The how to content needed to be easily found, without being in the face of the casual reader.  

I wanted to be able to feature photos. To me a travel blog without photos, is missing out on, a lot. You just gotta have the photos in my opinion. If nothing else it gives some credibility to what you are talking about.  I also wanted maps. Maybe I’m just a map geek – but I like to look at maps and I use maps for travel planning. 

I wanted clear menus and categorisation, so that visitors could find things easily. 

I wanted flexiblity to focus some categories as a silo – offering specific advertising and offers which only relates to those particular pages. Why would an advertiser of Thailand Vacations want to advertise on an article about Canada? I wanted it easy to do this.  In fact the more I looked into it the more I could see that category and tag pages are greatly under-utilised resources in many blogs. 

Using Catalyst To Design A Hybrid Travel Site 

Catalyst Theme - WordPress Accelerated

Basic Design Choices

I decided to use posts for almost everything except for genuinely static pages (Privacy Policy, About, Contact and similar).  Basically that’s because I want almost all my content to go to my RSS feed. I’ve found that content that I’ve added which is neither linked to from the front page OR the main navigation, still gets indexed quickly. The only reason for that is because its in the RSS. 

First I designed the categories up front. I needed a specific category for “travel blog” because not all of my posts were going on the travel blog.  I grouped a lot of my destination content around fairly standard geographic divisions. Designing categories gave me the main navigation of the site. I do NOT “no index” any part of my site including category and tag pages. Tag pages often rank first, before my post, so I find them useful “bell weather” indicators. Categories I have big plans for – see below. 

My tags are not designed up front. I use tags on pages where I’m targetting specific search terms, plus as a way to cross reference photos to be including in the relevant destination searches. 

I wanted a clean nice looking site, which wasn’t too cluttered, but not too bare either. I don’t think minimalism works for travel.  On the other hand I am no designer so I wanted something that I could just use. 

Implementation: I picked the “Greenfields” skin for two reasons 1) I liked it 2) It’s free. The only thing I’ve really changed is that I thought the header was too deep and took up too much space above the fold so I reduced it a bit. I also didn’t implement the slider because I wanted to use more space on the front page featuring various parts of my site (blog, photos, key destinations etc). 

I wanted the site to look good on other devices rather than just computers e.g. tablets, smart phones. 

Implementation: Latest version of Catalyst allows responsive design (which is what this is called) with a click of the button – lucky as that’s all I know about it ! 

I wanted to use a static front page (rather than current posts), because I wanted to provide and overall view of a site that was bigger than just being a “travel blog”. 

Implementation: Used a static welcome page layout “wide left 2 3 3”. The header image is actually a top widget, so I can remove on certain parts of the site if I wish to, and similarly the bottom gray footer is also a widget area which can be dropped from parts of the site if required. 

Specific Page Types and Layouts 

Catalyst provides a  specific blog template. Create a blank page – give it that template, add a specific page layout – voila – a “blog page” 

Implementation: Under core options you can chose which categories of post show on your “blog page”.

Page layouts is where the power of Catalyst really shines. Basically any page or post can have any layout and any layout can have widgets and other content anywhere on the page. It gets confusing – so briefly here are some examples. The blog page above is using my standard layout with standard excerpts and a sidebar. 

Implementation:  Each layout is setup first with specific widgets on that page. You then populate those widgets with the code you require. I use a limited amount of CSS in order to float widgets within content e.g. to display Adsense with Catalyst. I also use CSS to suppress metadata on my evergreen content (Catalyst will let me turn it off or on for all posts – but I only wanted to show dates on some content). 

Other variations of page layouts  I’m using include: 

  • No advertising on irrelevant pages e.g. Contact 
  • Standard advertising using widgets on most pages – see any blog post. 
  • Full-width layout on some pages where I want to focus on the content: Packing List Book 
  • A different full-width layout for travel photos. 
  • Specific Thailand Category Page  – I’ll use a similar design for other destinations in the future. 

Specific Category Pages 

With Catalyst you can specify a particular page to display for each category. I’m using this feature to allow me to add value to my category pages, by mapping posts to a local geographic map at the top of the page, and then using excerpts below. In future I could replace the sidebar with relevant advertising for this region too. This is basically a development of the process of replacing the Post Page Associator plugin I’ve described previously. 

Catalyst Theme - WordPress Accelerated

This is a continuing series about developing an authority site. The next post will probably be about finding new keywords in your analytics – stay tuned. 

Back Links Case Study The Keyword Academy

Keyword Academy Case Study Update – 2 Weeks

This is my 5th post in my Keyword Academy Case Study series.  If you missed the earlier posts you might want to start at the beginning

This is too early to be doing an update – but I thought some of you would find this interesting. BTW I use the excellent rank checker of Market Samurai to check my rankings with a single touch of the button – saves me a lot of time:

Site launched 31 March 2010

Site indexed 1 April 2010

Cape Tribulation, Queensland

Rankings on 8 April 2010 (14 April 2020 in brackets)

15 pages  indexed in Google (13 pages)

1 backlink recognised in yahoo (and its the same directory which got me indexed) (0)

domain name exact match long-tail: 17  (17)

main keyword: 61 (34)

main keyword singular: 61 (31)

cousin keyword #1 ; 47 (63)

cousin keyword #2: > 100(43)

cousin keyword #3 > 100 (>100)

cousin keyword #4 > 100 (>100)

cousin keyword #5: 37 (49)

cousin keyword #6: 71 (60)

cousin keyword #7: 67 (60)

Backlinks Live

Number of postrunner posts live: 7

Number of postrunner posts indexed: 6 one of the most recent ones is not  indexed.

Note all those posts indexed organically i.e. it happened without any effort on my part. Whether the site owners built links to the posts I have no idea – but if you have been around Internet Marketing for more than 5 minutes you should realise that this is a truly awesome result!

So who else has got some results to report? Send me the link to your post and I’ll add here or updated us in the comments!

Loreecee has an update up: Post Runner Case Study

Alana has an update up: Make Money Blogging Keyword Academy Experiment Day 17

Back Links Case Study Lis Recommmends Paid Tools The Keyword Academy

Keyword Academy Case Study – Link Building Timeline

This is the fourth  part of the Keyword Academy Case Study series – if you are new here you may want to start with part 1, part 2 and part 3 (Postrunner tutorial)

So now we have the keywords chosen, the site installed – now what? Well first – particularly if this is a brand new domain – which mine is – you need to get the site indexed.  There is a sure fire way to do this – find a site which is being crawled by Google a lot – and get a link from it. I used Postrunner obviously – and many people there will tell you their site  has very fast indexing – most of them don’t lie either. Once I find a site that gets crawled a lot and gets sites indexed easily I carefully document and remember it (i.e. I scribble its name semi-legibly on a post it note and stick it on the white board).

How To Know If  A Site has Quick Indexing

Two types of sites seem to get quick indexing in my experience:

  • authority sites
  • sites whith lots and lots of updating content

This site is an authority site (google and you will see  a listing with more links in it than normal – that’s an authority site). I don’t post very often here – but when I do I am disappointed if it takes longer than 30 minutes for Google to index the post. BTW that works for posts which include duplicate content as well and posts with hardly any words in them at all.  Though it take several hours for Google to notice a new  Resources page I added.

So once Google loves a site it will love anything you put on it and – for our purposes today – this is the important bit – it will follow any links you add and if the site is not indexed it will get crawled.

To find a site with constantly updating content – just check the cache date in  the google index – is it recent, check when it last indexed new pages and compare that to what is showing new on the site.

Is there a link out there? Nope just the Tasman Sea!

Planning a Backlink Campaign

I used to randomly just get links for sites – this is better than not getting links at all, but these days I am a little more organised – mainly so I know what I need to do next on the site.  You see I may not be back for a month given the number of sites I have. On my spreadsheet I keep a record of the main keywords and the cousins. On another tab I  create a list –  date per a line for a fairly heavily link building time frame like this one. Normally I have  a column for source (Postrunner, ezineatricles, hubpages etc).  Then a note (written, ordered,scheduled), the keyword I’m anchoring on the PR of the site I have sent the article to and the url of the stie (replaced with the article’s url when I have it). With Postrunner is very easy because you can schedule posts to appear on a certain day.

For anchored text I mix it up between the title of the site, the site’s url and cousin keywords. I throw in the odd “click here” and “this site” too – just to keep it looking natural (that’s a Griz tip BTW).

For the sites I chose – I don’t go for just high PR – I used a PR3 to get the site initially indexed – but about 80% of my links are from PR0’s why? Because 80% of the Internet has PR0 sites (a statistic I just made up on the spot).

I decided to go with 25 posts to 25 different Postrunner directories in the first month. I scheduled 9 to be sent out in the first 15 days of the month and the rest to appear at the end of the month. So roughly I went from a post post every 3 days at the start to posts twice a day at the end.

Am I building links too fast – will I get sand boxed (ie thrown down the rankings to live several months in the 100’s) – no idea – I guess you will have to stay tuned to find out!

Oh and before anyone asks – no it doesn’t matter if you only have have the site’s titled used 24.8% of the time not 25% of the time, or you link from 82.3% of PR0 sites! It doesn’t matter if you schedule a post to show up at 4am or 7pm either! Its not that exact guys – ifyou need exact in your life this game with drive you insane.

Articles and Links

Each article I use for these backlinks is a minimum of 300 words, has the main or related keyword in the title and once in the content. I have a single link out to my site – usually in the first couple of the lines of the article. Why so early in the content – two reasons. First the higher  on the page your link is the (slightly) better it is for SEO. Second for many themes they will only publish part fo the post on the front page – if  my link is in that first paragraph then it will probably hit that front page – the one with the PR associated with it.

I only include one link per an article to my site – Postrunner allows two but as I am only promoting a single site with basically a single keyword (and some closely related cousins) I don’t want to dilute the links.

I keep a copy of every article I use for support – I try to keep them somewhere that I can find them again.

Articles and Useful Links

Question: when is a link in an article useless to you? When the article isn’t indexed. About a month after publishing I go back and check that the article (not the site the actual article’s url – that’s why I made a note of it above) is indexed. If its not its a waste of time. I may get it indexed by sending some links to it – usually from another network I’m a member of. If I can’t get it indexed at all – or if the site has disappeared – its happened to me (but not with Postrunner sites yet) – I take the article (you know the copy I kept) and resubmit it to another site – its not duplicate because its never been indexed.

Tracking Your Backlinks

I quite like seeing what Google is seeing so I use Google Alerts to know when pages on my site are indexed (} an when Google recognises a link ( – far less common than Yahoo recognising links.

That’s about it really – nothing too complex – I have scheduled the articles out for the rest of the month so I am off to focus on another site for a while.

Case Study

Case Study: Choosing Keywords – Installing a Niche Site

This is the second part  of my Keyword Academy  Case Study series  – if you missed the initial post you can check it out here.

Keywords are everything in this business – start with the wrong keywords you will fail – I can prove that – been there done that – either failed to rank the site at all – or got to #1 – only to discover no money in the keyword!

I have my own take on keywords – the Keyword Academy videos focus on looking for products – but personally I prefer services.

Wellington on an unusually still day!

Will I reveal the niche or the site. No – sorry not going to happen. The reasons why are quite simple:

  • if I reveal the site people will help by sending me links – invalidating the experiment;
  • if I actually start making bucket loads of cash from this site – I will suddenly have a whole lot more competition!

So no hard feelings – I will tell you this about the niche:

  • its a 3 word phrase describing a business need;
  • its a service that  businesses pay good money for;
  • its nothing at all to do with Internet Marketing or Making Money Online
  • its not something  I know a whole lot about – yet – but its something I have some interest in – I will become absolutely fascinated in it if starts making me a regular income!

According to the Keyword Academy tools:

  • it has 3600 exact searchs a month
  • an Adsense cost per click of $11.35
  • a “difficulty” of 200
  • potential income $204 (month) from Adsense – but more on that later…
  • and the top four sites are all PR3 – they consist of a double listing from a relevant directory, and 2 relevant businesse neither of which use my keyword phrase in their ranked urls.

According to Lissie’s approach to keyword approach

  • the top 4 sites are all old 10 years plus. In fact the only site on page 1 which is younger than 4 years old – – which is a few months old.
  • sites in position 3 and 4  may like to buy my site for a tidy sum if it starts to affect their own ratings – I could also offer advertising to them if I was  outranking them – cut out the middle man of Adsense (Google) and save them money and make me more.  With a CPC of $11.35 I  should be getting as an Adsense publisher about 1/3 of that – so there is quite a lot of potential upside to direct  sell to the advertiser.
  • there are a bunch of very,very low (definition ezinearticles or hubpages in the first 4 positions) low tails related to this keyword. Google claims there is not traffic but I don’t believe it – the phrases make sense – this site has a lot more potential for $204 “official” estimate.

Registering the Right Domain

My preferred domains are gone:

  • – is parked at
  • are parked at
  • is ranking #7 as noted above – with 14 Yahoo backlinks, no PR, 14 pages indexed.

Exact matches aren’t part of the TKA approach but in my experience they work wonderfully – unfortunately this not finding the exact match available is a common situation. The ranking of the dot org also however  tells me having some keywords in the domain is going to help a fair bit.

Because I am looking  in future at maybe either selling the site or selling advertising direct on the site I am avoiding all other domain TLDS (biz, info etc) – credibility is key here and com has it in spades. Because most of the money appears to be in the US for this business I am looking for a US domain name

I am not doing hyphens for the same reasons as above.

Looking at extra words to add I found I could register – where the prefix is also part of a long-tail – think if I was after green widgets and new green widgets was a related keyword I got the domain which is

Costs: $7.67 – domain registration (Godaddy using discount code emma30 )

Hosting: free as I already have a Hostgator reseller ($5-$7 for others)

For more on choosing the right domain name check out this video from the Market Samurai people

Next time I am going to talk about the details of getting links with Postrunner.