BANS: Best Practices for Setting Up New Niche Sites

Posted by jtpratt |30 May 08 | 13 comments

This is my Best Practices cribsheet for setting up new BANS Niche Sites to be profitable.

This is part 7 of the Watch Me Build a BANS Niche Site from Scratch, be sure to read the rest of the series!

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I remember when I first bought BANS or “Build a Niche Site” – it said “it may be addictive”. Sure, it may be. It’s no different than having 249 new ideas for making money online – and not enough time to do them all. I want to speak a little bit about the realistic effort(s) required to get a brand new BANS store off the ground and making money. I saw a twitter post last week where one guy said “I just setup a dozen new BANS sites” and I thought – “…are you insane?”. It got me thinking first about the fact that I myself had a half-dozen BANS sites I desperately needed to get setup and running, and then immediately after that I realized it could take an entire week of bleary-eyed late nights to get it all done. I tend to write a lot of in-depth posts and articles about how to do very specific things for BANS sites and WordPress. In fact I wrote Best Practices for Setting up a New WordPress Blog in 60 minutes or less last year as a cribsheet for myself setting up new blogs. I have determined that I now need the same thing for my BANS sites – and hopefully it helps you whether you are a niche site newbie or a pro.

This cribsheet is my personal work plan for 6 brand new BANS sites I just setup. I created it because without a plan – I’ll never do the required work to set them all up and get them running. I mean, if you’ve been reading this series at all you know how much I’ve been dragging my feet on the one test store already – at this rate I’ll never get the rest of my niche sites setup without a concrete written action plan.

Step 1: Initial Creation of Your BANS Stores

I think that if you’re going to setup a lot of BANS sites you should just set some time aside to get the initial setup done for all of them at once. I created 6 brand new BANS sites by taking 30 minutes one night while watching TV to upload the files to all the domains, and then the next day I took another 30 minutes to get them all connected and logged into for the first time. So – all in all it took 60 minutes for the initial setup of 6 brand new BANS sites. For the record I use Linux, and administer my sites with cPanel, all these sites were created on my Hostgator account. Hostgator has been very good for my BANS sites, and one of the easiest setups I’ve ever had on a web host.

This is what I did:

1. Uploaded the latest BANS build to 6 new domains.
2. Created 6 new databases
3. Created 6 new database users
4. Assigned the users to the databases
5. Run bans for first time on every site, adding in database info
6. Login to bans for first time after setup and immediately change username and password

Step one time required was: 60 minutes

Step 2: First time Setup of Your BANS Stores

The very initial setup of a BANS store (once it’s created) can be done in about 10 minutes or less if you’re prepared. That is, if you already know what you keywords are and enough information about your niche to fill out the initial metadata required. If you aren’t ready for this step, read my keyword research cheat sheet.

This is what I do:

In the “setup” tab of your BANS admin…

1. Enter your site name
2. Choose an eBay category
3. In “Site Wide Meta Tags”, remove “CATNAME” if the eBay category name isn’t descriptive enough
4. Delete “keywords”, and enter my own 8-10 descriptive keywords
5. Delete “description”, and enter my own keyword laden 30 word description
6. Choose a product layout (try not to make all your stores the same)
7. Enter your affiliate ID (or you won’t get paid)
8. Check the box to remove the “powered by” link
9. Enter some kind of keyword in “site wide search query” to narrow down products, like entering “ps3″ if the category is “video game systems” but your niche is “playstation 3″
10. Change the navigation. I like “open” (show all pages all the time) for smaller sites, and “closed” for larger sites

In the “template” tab of your BANS admin:

1. Choose a default template (I choose 2 column, one for navigation and one for ads)
2. Upload a custom header logo
3. Add google analytics code to the footer.php for tracking site stats

In the “ads” tab of your BANS admin:

1. Add “above” ads (I prefer 336×280 adsense blocks)
2. Add “below” ads (I prefer another 336×280 adsene block or an Amazon widget of some kind
3. Add “left” ads (I prefer a small link unit)
4. Add “right” ads (I prefer the 160×600 Adsense skyscraper and maybe an amazon search box or smaller box ad)

In the “content pages” tab of your BANS admin:

1. Edit the “home” page with meta info, title, description, and keyword
2. Edit the “page info” with a good main keyword category name and page url
3. Edit “page content” with at least one good 100+ word paragraph of original content
4. Edit “below products” with some kind of offer related to the content from amazon, commission junction, or other affiliates prefaced by a few word of original content
5. Edit “product info” with a search query if you need one…i.e., if you want to highlight specific things on the home page you may need to enter specific keywords here to filter down to what you want displayed

In the “store pages” tab of your BANS admin:

See what you have listed. If you only have one, then your chosen eBay category ID might not have any sub-categories to make pages out of. If that’s the case you’ll need to create your own additional pages and use the same category (or other categories) and use keywords in “search query” to get the specific products you want for each page. If you have a ton of pages listed, you may need to delete ones that don’t apply – or change keywords on them to remove things that aren’t relevant. You may also want to rename the page links and URL’s quickly to what you want (before the site gets spidered by search crawlers).

Believe it or not, I can do all these things in about 10 minutes, but I usually have my header logo already prepared. The only exception would be if the BANS store had tons of store pages (created from eBay categories) I had to edit. So for this section I had 6 sites to “setup” and it took a little over 60 minutes for me to do them all.

Step two time required was: 60 minutes

Step 3: Creating Original Content Pages for BANS

The thing about BANS sites is that you want to make sure your niche store has original content. Without it, google sees it as one big heap of garbage. It’s true, I’m making money on our test site created earlier in this series from only MSN traffic – but I think that the profits would be x4 if I had google traffic too. Probably one of initial reasons I put off setting up a BANS site is knowing how quickly I have to get original content into it (before the spiders come) if I want it to be successful. I personally think you should have at least 6 original content pages for a brand new BANS site, but in reality I’m usually lucky to crank out two.

The time required to create good original content pages for a BANS niche store depends on how long the research takes and how good a writer you are. For a good, quality, keyword-laden, well-research article it takes me usually one to two hours (*per article). You may think that’s a long time, but it’s really not once you factor in the research and reading time, keyword research, and then actually putting into BANS itself – adding in title, description, keywords, URL, link text, etc.!

What makes a good BANS Content Page?

1. A good sentence of two introduction “synopsis”
2. An introduction or setup paragraph with keywords
3. Sections separated by keyword-laden “headers”
4. “Ask a question” based on good keywords
5. Explain the product or concept
6. Describe specific models using names and numbers people search for
7. Close with a closing statement paraphraph summarizing your article

This may seem kind of vague at first, view an example on our test site for Bluetooth Headset Review. Any additional components you add to an original content page will only enhance it. Try adding images, relevant YouTube videos, flickr images, whatever you can find. It’s also a good practice to link other sites in original content pages because then all your external links aren’t all nofollowed and you look like more of a legitimate site to a search engine and less like a “store”. You may also want to re-read Creating BANS site content for Traffic.

Step three time required: 12 hours

That time required is just for 2 articles per site to get them going. 6 articles per BANS site would be 36 hours or more.

Step 4: Registering Your BANS site with Google, Yahoo!, and MSN

All Bans 3.0+ sites have an “XML Sitemap” automatically created. You can access yours by adding “sitemap.xml” to your BANS url. Here is our Test BANS site sitemap. To get your site and all pages properly indexed in the search engines you must register that sitemap with MSN, Yahoo, and Google. You need to make sure you get this done, but don’t do it a second before your original content pages are created in your BANS store. The entire purpose of doing this is to get those new pages listed in the major search engines.

Step four time required: 15 minutes

Step 5: Building Links for BANS sites

As soon as your site is registered you want to think about building some links for it. My advice is make sure you do this, but don’t go hog wild the first month – because that will increase the factor by which your BANS site could be “google sandboxed”. Read BANS Success: Building backlinks Part 1, and How to Build Better Backlinks in Forums. By leveraging blog comments and forums posts you can easily build links for your new BANS site. My advice is to spend at least 15 minutes per site per week creating 2 or 3 backlinks. For 6 sites that’s 90 minutes per week – and I would do this for about 4-6 weeks at least (if not more).

Step 5 time required: 90 minutes (per week)

Step 6: Promoting BANS sites

Steps 1-5 are all that are required to get a brand new BANS niche store off the ground and ready to start making money. If you wanted, you could at this point start some adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing campaigns to direct traffic to the site and start making money. Personally, I’m a fan of seeing how much money I can make without spending any money. To do that (organically) requires good old fashioned promotion. Some of the best ways to do this are by submitting articles, and by created community pages like Squidoo and HubPages. I’ve writte guides for both subjects – read my guide to Article Directory Promotion, and BANS: Building Targeted Links and Authority.

The time required to submit at least 2 articles and create one HubPage and one Squidoo page is about 4 hours total (from my personal experiences).

Step 6 time required: about 24 hours for 6 sites

There you have it – in my estimation, to properly setup 6 brand new BANS niche sites to start attracting organic traffic without spending any more would would about 70 hours over the course of a month. That’s about 2 1/2 hours per day, 7 days a week for a 30 days. I’m a firm believer in planning and honesty – and I’m not here to sell you “hope in a box” (as Jeremy says). I want you to understand that there’s money to be made online for sure, but you must invest the time and effort required. The next time you hear someone say they “setup a dozen BANS stores”…now you know that it takes about 2 months to do that right!

Don’t have “Build a Niche Store” yet? Click here:

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If you’re reading this page to try and figure out is Build a Niche Site for you or not – please consider buying BANS through my affiliate link. I make a small commission, which would help defray some of my time and expense for putting together this BANS tutorial (and future BANS success articles) for you! I purchased my copy through an affiliate link in gratitude to the blogger who talked of his success with this niche building site script.

Also – if BANS isn’t for you, please consider reading How to earn money using Affiliate eBay WordPress Plugin BAYRss. With BANS you build content basically around eBay auctions, but with BAYRss you place eBay auctions in your posts and pages. Check it out, I use (and make money) with both BANS and BayRSS!

13 Responses

  • tao/ 30 May 08 @ 11:53 PM

    excellent article!

    taos last blog post..Give us a clue

  • best money market rates/ 31 May 08 @ 8:05 AM


    That was one of the best BANS articles I have read so far. I am one of the ones who started out wanting to create 50+ BANS sites. However, this strategy has not worked. I think that your approach here is much more realistic. However, I think that even 6 sites at a time is too many. I will start with 2 a month.


  • Paul/ 02 Jun 08 @ 2:09 AM

    Thanks JT,

    Let me reinforce the time it takes to build and maintain a BANS network of sites. I have 21 BANS sites up and your time estimates are about the same as what it takes me per week.

    First, I look at the affiliate sales once a week for the sites and base my “time well spent” on the sales. 19 of the sites I just add 2-3 backlinks per week and one original content category paragraph.

    Site 20 is making great money so I am adding good original 200 word content to 6 categories on the site each week. (Initially I only created a sentence or two for the 30 categories before the search engines found it) This takes me about 4 hours a week. The site is only one month old so I ONLY add one or two relevant backlinks per week. Because of the relavant backlinks (I think) all the major search engines show up everyday and there are over 300 incoming links already. This site is generating enough revenue that I may try a $5.00 a day adwords campaign for the 6-10 most popular search/keyword phrases.

    Site 21 I am building into an authority site. I add original content to at least 6 categories each week. Besides the BANS I have a blog that I post to every 5-6 days. This site takes me 10 hours a week.

    I reword my blog posts and some of my original content and add them to Qassia each week. I have yet to build Squido and Hub pages for any of these sites.

    Last, I build one new site AFTER I get this all done.

  • Make Money Blogging/ 06 Jun 08 @ 5:06 AM

    Thanks Mr P.
    Very nice and thorough guide indeed. You have enticed me to a weekend of bleary eyed ness!

  • Angela Wyatt/ 12 Jun 08 @ 12:59 PM

    I did all this before with my first Bans site, but I have so many notes on what I did I can’t see straight. Thank you for being organized. I’m printing this out and posting it next to my computer. Bans here I come !

  • Manuel Merz/ 26 Jun 08 @ 1:40 AM

    Hi JT

    I am fairly new to BANS and just stumbled over your article =00 What I recently tried is this:

    - seting up one major store with basic content (privacy, disclaimer, contact) and products (category could be changed everytime you know)
    - adjusting all setup settings
    - working out a non BANS template (or at least tried to do)
    - fixing up most of the xhtml errors

    Once this is done I download my complete store and also all four sql tables as their own files (categories is the most big file in size). Now what I do is only creating new databases and let the user be the same for all of my shops (yeah not that secure but time- and mindsaver). This way I can upload my sample store, import my sql files into phpmyadmin, configuring the database name in the con.php file and go down drinking a coffee.
    This way I have after approaximaly 20 minute a clone of my sample store and can change colors, images and content easily…

    So far this works good and I don’t have to manage hundreds of database users and special BANS settings.

    Manuel Merzs last blog post..Sistrix postet lohnende Keywörter

  • theaffiliatepost/ 26 Jun 08 @ 5:01 AM

    Hey JT,

    That is absolutely the single best article I have read about BANS. I have been using bans for sometime now and continue to learn new things about it but this post is totally comprehensive. I appreciate that you have been honest with your readers as so many new people don’t understand that whilst you can make money using bans…it does take work.

    I went ahead and bout 20 or so expired domains and crashed head long into building the sites. They stareted making money right away but I have since stopped building them and gone back to make sure that they are all 100% up to scratch. Maximise your earning from all your sites and do things right from the off.

    Great post!!!

    theaffiliateposts last blog post..Keywrod Reserch

  • admin/ 27 Jun 08 @ 9:19 AM

    @theaffiliatepost – thanks! I think I tend to stress all the time (and not just on BANS) how much work making money online is, it just seems to be a recurring them around here… =)]

    my blog is just kind of an extension of crib sheets and reminder for myself what I need to do…luckily enough usually it ends up being good advice for most as well!

  • theaffiliatepost/ 28 Jun 08 @ 2:01 AM

    I know that feeling…I always feel like I have taken too much on at one time. I cannot stress enough to newbies how hard it is to actually get started making money online. Your site is awesome and its going in my reader.

    Cheers JT

  • Steve from Home Based Business/ 29 Aug 08 @ 7:50 AM

    Great post JT. I think your time estimates are pretty on the mark. It always seems to take much longer than I think it will to actually finish setting up a BANS site with content as you describe.

    The only thing I disagree with is adding other monetization to a BANS site. Having Adsense and Amazon ads is just confusing them in my opinion. I setup my BANS sites with the sole purpose of getting my visitors to click over to eBay. I build Adsense sites specifically for getting them to click an Adsense ad. I don’t put competing monetization on affiliate sites either unless it is a review site or something similar where products are compared.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on using one type of monetization vs having multiple.

    Steve from Home Based Businesss last blog post..Commission Blueprint Review Update No Scam Here

  • admin/ 29 Aug 08 @ 8:08 AM

    @Steve – I’ve heard bunches of people say the same thing, monetizing BANS sites is a bad idea because it detracts them from buying from an auction. BS…and here’s why.

    When person visits a page they make up their mind in 10 seconds or less whether to stay on the site and whether you had what they were looking for. This your “bounce rate”. When you monetize with adsense and / or amazon or other affiliate ways you are specifically advertising to your “bounce rate” – the amount of people that wouldn’t have purchased from one of your auctions anyway, because they are leaving your site. At least with adsense you get some money for the click if they follow an ad, and if you use amazon or other affiliate programs if they buy you get commission.

    From a BANS site with say 100 visitors per day with good content and setup right I can get an additional $1-2 per day with adsense usually. That’s an additional $30-60 per month. That’s not counting amazon or other affiliate programs.

    I think believing that the money you make that way “takes away” from eBay profits is wrong – they weren’t gonna buy from an auction anyway.

  • Chris at prepaid cell phones/ 30 Nov 08 @ 7:11 PM

    Nice post. The whole BANS thing is so intimidating to me. I don’t know why. I guess it’s because I’ve only used informational sites with a lot of content so far. It would be a change for me. But this article is helpful.

    Chris at prepaid cell phoness last blog post..Jump Mobile Prepaid Cell Phone Plans

  • Sam Nichols/ 17 Dec 08 @ 2:03 PM

    I never tried BANS sites before because I was afraid of the duplicate content stuff but after reading this article the idea doesn’t sound so bad =[]

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