Do Mini Sites Still Work After Google Panda Update?


A Work At Home Business With Mini Sites? Beware of Google’s Panda Algorithm Changes.


Soon after Google Panda release in May 2014, it became clear that the gigantic change in its search algorithm favors quality content over spammy junk content. Early statistics show that “look alike” mini sites, with almost identical content, took the hardest hit in the rankings (eBay stores lost approx. 30% of their FIRST PAGE ranks).

While the final verdict about the algorithm changes is still out, it is obvious that mini site operators need to change their approach to SEO. Before we explore the alternatives, let’s find out what mini sites are.


Mini Sites and their target market


mini sites with a twistMini sites target a rather small section within a niche market. For example, you may want to sell a particular model of a digital camera. You would create a small website, with three to five individual pages.

 The domain name you choose should include the product name (if possible) and the model name. You write one review of the product. Another page could be a collection of user reviews and comments about the product. In addition, you would offer information the producer and distributor of the product is not supplying (i.e. price comparison, warranty details, ect).

As you can see, it does not take a lot of time to put together a mini site. Many people simply bought pre-build sites, changed some images, price information, affiliate links and did not have to worry about keywords, content and SEO.

 That however has changed with the efforts by Google to provide the best possible information to their clients, the users of Google search. Hence the continuing changes to the ranking algorithm.


Are Mini Sites Really Dead?


Not by a long shot when done correctly! There is nothing wrong with the concept of monetizing mini sites. First off, let me warn you about some of the offers you come across the web when searching for information in regards of making money online. Products like “Minisite Riches” offer you pre-build sites and promise you page one ranking within three days.

Stay away and save your money. These sites are of pure quality, contain badly written PLR content and often times are very limited in making changes to it. These sites will not rank high in the search engines and will not make you any money.

As I said earlier, the idea of promoting and selling only ONE product is a great way to provide more accurate information than the merchant site or distributor site will. It also reduces the number of pages you need to put on your mini site.

In contrast, any Authority Website requires to add new content on a regular basis, often 3 or 4 times per week. Once your site is finished and attracts traffic, your chances of making sales are very good.

You are looking for people that already made the decision to purchase the product you are promoting. They are looking for re-assurance that their choice is the right one by searching the web for “product A review”, and your site is providing the last decision making factor they are looking for.

You need to understand that a mini site will not make you rich. I have a couple of sites that make me on average $340.00 per month each. My expense for one site is minimal; just about $10.00/year for the domain name and under $5.00 per month for web hosting at Namecheap.

If you would build 10 sites like these, you would be doing just fine, don’t you think? There is just one hurdle to jump to have success with a mini site:

“Your site must rank high to be found”

No matter what product you are trying to sell, you will encounter a lot of competition. Don’t be discouraged though. If you are able to set yourself apart and provide better information the buyer needs, you will get your share of the pie.


Steps to build successful mini sites    


1) Finding the right product:

The most searched for product niches are Dieting Supplements, Electronics (incl. Computers, Cameras etc), Kids Clothing and Home Appliances. If you plan selling a product in any of these niches, you will have to concentrate your efforts on just ONE brand or model.

For example, Canon Digital Camera is still too broad of a field. But “Canon EOS Rebel T3i EF-S” could be a good choice for one of your sites. I did a quick check and found that there are over 11,000 searches every single month. The competition, however, will be hard to beat.

“Why not think out of the box” when looking for products?

How about FISHING > BASS > LURES >  Curly Tail Grub Lures. Would you believe that there are over 1,100 monthly searches for this particular fishing lure? And this kind of market and product is what you should be looking for.


2) Keyword Research

Now you have to think SEO. Head over to the Google Keyword Tool. If you don’t have a Google Adword Account yet, create one. It’s free and easy. Go to the Keyword Tool and enter your product name.

Google will display the Global Monthly Searches for your “root keyword” and the level of competition “High – Medium – Low”. It also will show you a list of searched for keyword phrases based on your root keyword.

Save the list of keyword phrases and use another keyword research tool to find out exactly the competition for each of the phrases. I suggest you use Jaaxy which is the best available tool on the market.

You should be looking for phrases with more than 500 searches per month and a QSR of less than 300.

The next step is to create GOOGLE friendly content for your site. Here are some helpful tips.


3) Create Quality Content for your Mini Site

The first impression of your site is the most important thing to keep the visitor and make him read your information. To do that, you have to grab the visitors attention and let him know right away:

  • What is it
  • Who is it about
  • What do I get

Give the visitor what he wants with your headline and the first 2 sentences of your landing page. Make it stand out from what your competition is doing. Read my post “how to reduce the bounce rate” for more details. Be creative with your writing.

Then add a page with more information the visitor will not find on other sites. For a third page, you may compile customer reviews and comments about your product.

To the SEO aspect of your content. DO NOT overload your content with keywords and/or keyword phrases. By rule of thumb, use your keyword in the title of the page, a phrase in the Headline and then write your review naturally.

Tell the potential customer in “your own words” why he should buy this product right now. Don’t just copy & paste the manufacture technical specs within your review. You can place these into a “noindex, nofollow” page and link to it from your review (this way you avoid getting penalized by Google for “duplicate content”.

Apply Schema Markup to your reviews and give it a “star rating”. This will display your search result snippet showing the STARS (screenshot below – one of my page one posts)


Google page one with schema markup
Google Page ONE Snippet Display


Schema Markup will boost the ranking of your site, even if Google downplays the importance of it. If you are not familiar with it, read my post about it or check the Google Webmaster Tool for more information.

And last but not least: Add links to reputable authority sites.  This will help Google to trust your site and improve your rankings.


4) Choosing the best Affiliate Program

If you are an Amazon Affiliate you know that the commission rates are rather low. Search for other vendors that sell your product and offer higher commissions. Maybe you find favorable “extras” like better return policy, better service options or discounts for future purchases, that will be more appealing to your customer, than a one-time saving of a few bucks.

An by the way, it takes as much work to make a 4% commission as it takes to get rewarded with a 15% or 20% commission.


Are mini sites the right way for you to make money online?


Let me recap – Mini Sites are……………

  • easy to build
  • low maintenance
  • target a very small target of a market
  • not dead
  • making money


Why not give it a try? Low start up expenses and relative easy to build, mini sites could make you enough money to cover your monthly monetary needs. If you are new to the business and don’t know how to start, I recommend you take a look at the best online business learning center that helped me get started. It’s free to join and find out what’s going on at Wealthy Affiliate.


wealthy affiliate university


John Worthy Profile ImageMy name is John. I am helping newbies to start their own online business. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Just leave a comment below or send me an email.



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7 Responses

  1. Peter

    Another good informative post John. I have never tried mini sites before, I had read a bit about them, but was not sure if it was a good way of earning a little extra money or not. After reading this article I might give it a try. You have some great advice and good tips to improve your search engine rankings. Thanks. All the best, Peter

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