Welcome back to our Authority Site Case Study!
The past week or so has been spent tying off loose ends while we waited for our topical map to be delivered.
Let’s jump right in.
When I started building niche websites over a decade ago, the accepted baseline for branding, design, and UX was low.
It is true that “ugly” affiliate websites can convert quite well. Don’t ask me why.
What I can say with confidence is that your branding is an opportunity to express expertise, authoritativeness, and trust with your target demographic.
If we want to become a dominant, value-focused brand in the niche, it makes sense to put our best foot forward on the branding and design front.
So, we got a little fancy.
We gave our branding needs to the WordAgents marketing team and let them work their magic.
We were not disappointed!
Whenever it’s time to create a logo for a new project, I ask my designer to provide me with the following assets:
- Wordmark - This is, typically, your brand or website name stylized in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
- Icon - These are badges, emblems, or symbols that (should) represent what the brand is all about.
- Wordmark & Icon Combo - A variation that includes both the wordmark and icon.
To illustrate what I mean, here are a few examples of our logo variations at WordAgents:
Our wordmark logo uses a simple lowercase font with our brand colors. It’s reminiscent of an old typewriter, which is an attempt to tie in our service offering.
The WordAgents icon logo creatively combines the letters “W” and “A” to make a clear connection to our brand name. The arrow in the negative space of the letter “A” is there to represent improved rankings on search engines.
The combo logo is simply a combination of our wordmark and icon.
For the new authority website, we had our designer create a similar logo set that integrates our brand color palette and values.
Since we want to avoid having to request different variations in the future, we asked him to provide all of the following logo assets:
- Icon Logo
- Wordmark Logo
- Combo Logo In-Line
- Combo Logo Stacked
Additionally, since our primary brand color won’t work for all use cases, we had the designer provide variations for every color in our brand palette.
We now have 12 different variations of our brand logo for the authority site; something for every use case!
We kept things simple with our font choices.
Our wordmark logo uses a font that lends itself to our niche. In fact, the font is named after a potential niche subtopic.
All other text on the website will use one or more variants of my favorite font; Montserrat.
We’ll be using an ExtraBold variant for titles and headings. A “regular” variant will be used for body content.
To develop our brand colors, we always start with the color wheel.
This helps to ensure we’re using somewhat of a structured, scientific approach to color selection. Without the color wheel, we would probably end up with a palette that we enjoy personally, which may not be ideal for our demographic.
Here are the colors we selected for our palette:
- Green: This will be our primary color for the brand
- Yellow: Used for CTA buttons
- Brown: Use for the footer exclusively
- Dark Grey: Used for accents and details
- Off-White: Used for navigation elements
- White: Used as our background color
This is the first time I’ll be building a “green “site. I typically lean towards blue websites (*cough* WordAgents *cough*), but this palette is perfect for our niche.
We took a few liberties with the color wheel, too. Green usually calls for red as an accent color according to the wheel, but I simply didn’t like the way those two colors contrasted against each other. Yellow seems to work much better for the niche, even though it doesn’t line up with color theory exactly.
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Most affiliate marketers know how difficult it can be to avoid jumping right into keyword research and content creation when launching a new site.
It makes sense. That’s the fun stuff!
We were fortunate to have a few weeks of downtime while we waited for our topical map. It allowed us to focus on the nitty-gritty tasks related to infrastructure setup.
We took this time to optimize our host, CDN, and WordPress install exactly how we wanted them so that we won’t have to mess around with them once we are producing content.
Host & CDN
I’ve used them on other sites in my portfolio without issue, so it’s a no-brainer. We’ll upgrade to a VPS or dedicated server once it’s needed.
We opted to go with Cloudflare as our CDN simply because it’s familiar and free for SiteGround customers.
All settings on both the host and CDN were suggested by AuthorityHacker. No need to reinvent the wheel there.
For a while, drag-and-drop visual builders, like Elementor, were the only option to create an aesthetically-pleasing design for slackers (like me) who never learned to code.
But, they were never really all that easy to use. They also dragged site performance down significantly.
With GeneratePress, you get all of the good and none of the bad. Most features promoted by drag-and-drop builders are native to the theme, and it’s lightning-fast right out of the box!
We’ve already started setting up custom GenerateBlocks to use as templates for the unique elements present within our informational and commercial content.
David had an extra license that he was willing to donate, so we did not have to spend any of our capital on our theme. Another win!
The thing with WordPress Plugins is that they can act as the proverbial double-edged sword.
Plugins offer simplicity but can cause site performance and security issues.
I like to keep the number of plugins that are used to a minimum. We’ll try to hard-code features into the site when it makes sense to do so. Plugins will be used for everything else.
Here’s the list of WordPress plugins we have installed at the moment:
- Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
- GP Premium
- Happyforms (free)
- Rank Math SEO
- SiteGround Optimizer
- SiteGround Security
- Yoast Duplicate Post
The SiteGround Plugins were auto-installed. We’re going to see if there’s any value for our use case there. If not, they’ll be removed.
I believe we can get GeneratePress to do everything that Yoast Duplicate Post does, so its days are numbered as well.
We’ll update you on any changes to our plugin list as we go.
We’ve been pretty lean when it comes to expenses, and I’m all about it.
Here’s another look at our total budget for 2023:
- Content Creation (200,000 words): $12,000
- Link Building: $10,000
- Tools & Services: $5,000
Here’s what we’ve spent so far:
- Domain Registration (.com, .net, .org): $27.98
- Topical Map Creation: $1,797.00
- Site Branding: $100
Our expenses have fallen under the “Tools and Services” budget category to date. It makes sense, as these are the things we need to get the site off the ground.
I don’t foresee us maxing out that budget, either. Once the site is live, the only added expense we’ll have on an ongoing basis is SurferSEO.
I’d like to reiterate that we’re leveraging expense line items from other projects to help keep costs down. Our WordPress theme, hosting, Ahrefs account, and Mailwizz account have been “donated” to this project by WordAgents, David, Tommy, and Vin.
Here is our remaining budget for 2023 as of 1/3/2023:
- Content Creation (200,000 words): $12,000
- Link Building: $10,000
- Tools & Services: $3,075.02
So far, so good.
So, this week's update was, perhaps, not the most exciting. That doesn’t mean that these steps weren’t essential.
We need to keep our long-term vision in mind, and ensuring our branding and site infrastructure are locked down is a part of that. We can now leverage these assets for years without having to mess around with them.
Next week, we’ll take a deep dive into topical authority, our new topical map, and how we plan on using the map to develop our editorial calendar!
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