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Discount Code Website, Key Factors To Consider Before Jumping In

by James Hervey

discount code website

Before I start here’s a note; I run a discount code website that ranks on page 1 of Google (on good days) and I know how competitive the market is. But, I have to add, that the competition is definitely worth fighting as it’s a very lucrative form of marketing. I’ve learnt a lot in two and half years of internet marketing and I’m still learning but here’s some of my observations that you might want to consider if you’re planning to build a coupon code site.

Before you even begin to start building this type of site there are quite a few factors to consider. In just a minute, I’m going to give you a run down of what is, in my humble opinion, some of the key factors you need to consider when getting ready to tackle the discount market.

But first, the question all of you are no doubt asking…

How much money do discount websites make?

If they’re big, an awful lot. Take Groupon, recently courted by Google for figures of around $6 billion, who’s expected IPO when they launch on the stock market is expected to about $15 billion!!! The money is there, all you have to do it find a way to grab some.

Benefits Of A Coupon Site

The most obvious benefit is to the customer. They save money on their purchase so they’re happy. You, as a webmaster, benefit from those lovely commissions but is there something in it for the retailer? Yes. Consider this: manufacturers regularly update their products with some funky new additions. But the decks have to be cleared, ready for this new stock so two options exist: a sale or discount vouchers. Retailers are pretty savvy – most have excellent marketing teams behind them so don’t assume that those coupons you find on the web are just a case of the retailer playing Mr. Nice Guy and giving you a discount!

Keywords

They, like backlinks, are our lifeblood. Pick the wrong keyword for you site and, at worst, you’ll crash and burn. In the early days of Voucher Frenzy (my discount site) I chose the most competitive phrase I could find and went for it. That hurt as, at the time, I knew nothing about SEO! When I first build my site, I thought I’d scream to the top of the rankings an retire a year later!

The US, like the UK, is saturated with websites offering every form of discount and deal under the sun. So what should you do? Well, if you’re determined to build a mammoth website targeting tough phrases, like ‘coupon codes’, forget it. Well, at least for now. Go after the long tail phrases. Build up links to your sub-pages, rank for them then, once you have the funds, go for the big boys.

Tip: if you use GKWT to research your phrases try ordering your queries by volume i.e. lowest to highest. You’ll find some great long tails that have very little competition.

An alternative approach would be to build a site around a long tail search for coupons or discounts i.e. ‘<a href=”http://voucherfrenzy.co.uk/category/electrical-discount-codes/comet-electrical-discount-codes/”>discount codes for comet</a>’ or ‘sears coupon codes’. This approach will make your site much easier to rank and, if you work this way, you can also link to a related subpage of a ‘mother site’ (I don’t endorse this approach but I may well have done it :).

When you do your keyword research think, ‘locality’! You may find a highly searched keyword phrases or group of phrases specific to a region. If so, go for it. In fact, if you’re local to the region, consider speaking with the retailers and building a direct relationship.

Here’s a few examples of coupon related sites you could build:

Babies and Children goods

The population of the planet is growing, fast. Every year more and more children are born around the world which means there are a huge number of expectant parents out there. Whilst every prospective parent wants the best for their children they also want to save money and here’s your chance to grabs a piece of a very big pie.

Think small! Strollers, buggies, car seats…. they’re all expensive and the commissions are, generally, pretty good. But how many of these do you really expect a family to buy? Baby clothes are an entirely different matter. As a child grows they need bigger clothes, obviously. Now, unless you’re a parent yourself, you probably don’t realize how much people are paying to keep their little ones at the cutting edge of fashion. On average, I receive about £40 ($60) commission for sales of baby clothes and other goods (working on an average of 5% commission… I’ll let you work out the average basket price).

Home Entertainment

The market place is full of websites promoting the best prices on LCD TV’s and home cinemas. I’ve competed in these markets and the returns are excellent but the competition is fierce. Instead of promoting big ticket items like televisions try accessories instead. Which are you more likely to need; a new TV or an HDMI cable to connect your games console to your TV?

Groceries

Groceries isn’t an obvious market to promote but there is an awful lot of money to be made but not in they way you’d expect. In this case, think about the average person – busy lifestyle with a home to run. What do they want? FREE DELIVERY! It’s easy to find the cheapest goods using the search engines but what the customer really wants is to have their shopping dropped of without having to pay any extra.

3 simple ideas that can be extended to pretty much any sector you care to think of – you just need to be creative.

Setting Up A Discount Site

There are plenty of options are available including custom written CMS’s through to plugins for products such WordPress and Joomla. I’m going to focus on WordPress as there are some excellent plugins out there.

CouponPress is a plugin created by a developer in the UK and has an impressive array of features that make building your site easy. Top marks for integration with icodes and For Me To Coupon (two sites that aggregate deals, discounts and general offers) which means you can easily import the feeds directly into posts in CouponPress.

WP Coupon is a plugin from the US that has many comparable features but with one key difference: the theme currently only integrates with US affiliate networks.

There are a number of free plugins out there but, having tested a couple of others, I can honestly say they don’t stand up to the premium plugins from CouponPress and WP Coupon.

Both of these plugins are designed to give you all the functionality you need from your discount code site. You can do some additional tweaking with plugins such as ‘All In One SEO’, ‘no category base’, etc but there’s really no need to. Both of these themes work out of the box will minimal configuration.

Hosting

Linux or Windows? Dedicated server or shared hosting? Make sure you know which platform you need. Although Microsoft’s IIS server now supports PHP you’re probably best going for a Linux server.

Whether to use shared hosting vs dedicated server is another question you need to ask yourself. There is an ongoing argument over shared vs dedicated web hosting but, when you first start out, you’re not likely to be getting huge volumes of traffic so save your money and used shared hosting. Once your website starts to morph into RetailMeNot Mk2 you can start looking at dedicated servers.

There are plenty of hosting companies out there that are more than willing to take money off your hands in return for hosting your site. Take your time when choosing where to host your coupon site. Do a little research, hit the forums, ask questions. It will pay off.

Where To Get Your Discount Codes

The obvious places to go to are the affiliate networks. Commission Junction (US) and Affiliate Window (UK) are two of the biggest networks and they supply feeds with regularly updates coupons and discounts free of charge.

If you’re looking for lead based payments you might want to consider one run by coupons.com. This program is for US residents and, unfortunately, I haven’t seen a UK version yet although Affiliate Window does have a number of companies offering good return from CPA.

Whatever way you choose to promote your discounts, try to sign up to multiple networks even if you’re promoting same supplier across many networks. There a number of aspects to consider: think of collapse of one network or a retailer removing themselves from one network but maintaining a presence on another.

Affiliate links can be easily switched (especially if you’re using a CMS like WP). Other factors that might affect your usage of a particular network include simple changes to policies (like tax laws in the US), disagreements, etc..

Article by

My name is James Hervey and I run Voucher Frenzy a UK based discount code directory. My site has been running for just over two and a half years and, in that time, I've taken myself from being a complete novice to having a thorough understanding of SEO. It's been a fun, if sometimes painful, education.

James has written 1 articles at iBlogzone.com

1 Vlad Rascanu February 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Good Article James. I have to admit that you were pretty brave and in a way, foolish, for starting a coupon site and expecting to go to the top of the rankings in a short period of time. Personally, I would recommend beginner SEOs not to even attempt going in this industry at all because it will be incredibly hard for them to make it even using long tail keywords. If they want to set up a business online I would suggest they find another niche market where the SEO work will pay off quicker.

Nevertheless, kudos to you for making it:)

2

Murray Lunn

February 14, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Thanks a ton for sharing this – coupon sites have always been on my mind but I never really understood where people were getting them all from – guess I haven’t been paying much attention to the affiliate networks because I have accounts on the major ones but never really dug around.

Going local with your coupon sites could be wildly popular as well. There’s a couple around my area that are just for local businesses and the owner of the site charges about $40 a month to host coupons alone – I’ve got some thinking to do πŸ˜€

3

AlexPapa

February 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Hi James, Your post was a goldmine. I just started a coupon code blog almost 4 weeks ago and it is going very well so far. You can see my url in this comment. What way do you do your SEO? Is it through guest posting? Is it through keyword backlinking? I see from your guest post post here and in particular in your Bio, you have not targeted a specific page in your site. I have been focusing on targeting pages, instead of my home page. Am I wrong in this approach?

4 Jason February 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Hey James,

I have never even thought about building a coupon code site. But after reading this it does make more interested in checking it out. Groupon is definitely a great example of a successful coupon code site as I have used them more than once.

Like I said I haven’t thought about creating a coupon code site before but it’s great to see what exactly is needed to be done in order build my own if I decide to. Thanks for the tips and advice James, I really learned a lot.

5

Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales Marketing

February 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Where does one find the coupons except from other coupon sites, which would seem hardly fair?

6

James

February 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm

@Dennis – the coupons are supplied by the networks that you sign up to.

7

James

February 15, 2011 at 8:49 pm

@Murray, that’s a great idea. If you can negotiate with your local retailers for a commission instead of a flat rate hosting fee then implement tracking cookies you’ll probably capture the local market and do very nicely :).

8

James

February 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

@Vlad, I don’t agree with your comment about long tail phrases. I built a small site that deals solely with web hosting discounts. Each sale makes me an average of $25. I get a significant number of sales per day. Any beginner can do this – all you need to do is learn how to research keywords properly before leaping in.

9 Alex@Jocuri February 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Hey James, I was actually thinking in making something in the babies niches, I feel that this niche will have an endless supply of customers that might fuel my websites with endless visitors.

Now, I know that it’s a fierce competition over almost any markets, but I hope that my will target a small enough niche that won’t be impossible to rank but also big enough so I can get some visits. Of course, I also think to the future, and as I built my website and increase it’s authority, I might even go for the big boys. Now will just have to live in see how I’ll do :).

Thanks for taking your time to share your experience with us!

10

Michele Welch

February 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Hi James,

Love the idea of a coupon site! Have heard about this in the past but never looked into it. You make it seem doable, which is great.

Thanks for the info and for the fabulous tip on GKWT. πŸ˜‰

11

Dick

February 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

My parent company used Groupon and they were inundated with coupon business at their retail location. Best part was they had a 20% no show factor that was prepaid – sweet!

12

James

February 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm

@Alex – babies and children are a good niche to work in. Just think of all that repeat custom and they grow (and eat through your wallet πŸ˜‰ ).

13

nazimwarriach

February 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Hi James,
Your post is very helpful top any person who have setup or want to make a coupon code website.
I am part of a new coupon code website but didn’t understand its mechanism before reading your post as I am only responsible of SEO related jobs of that website. Now I have learned a lot about Coupons.
Thanks

14

Spencer from Faq Agent

February 17, 2011 at 2:06 am

Do the establishments or brands give Discount sites very BIG percent off? If the do this, why don’t they do it directly. Just an opinion I guess.

15

James

February 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm

@Spencer. Profits vary and depends on how well a product sells. Big sellers don’t typically get massively discounted until they’re coming close to end of line.

Regarding direct distribution of discounts: yes they do but… think of it in these terms: if you were a manufacturer making a ‘funky product’ would you:

a) supply through your own chain of stores only?; or

b) pass it around, getting more sales from a diverse range of outlets which, in turn, generates more customer awareness and greater profits?

16

steven papas

February 17, 2011 at 9:56 pm

hey james great tips, thanks. I am running a discount coupon blog. I had to go for very very small niches in order to start ranking in Google. You are right, the competition is crazy in general keywords and we have to pay extra attention in the beggining other wise we won’t see any penny coming in.

17

James

February 18, 2011 at 10:01 am

@steven, in the early days I didn’t even think about long tails which is why it took me so long to rank (coupled with a lack of knowledge around SEO in general).

Here’s an example for everyone else (the figures are arbitrary but are here to give you an idea of where you should be targeting your efforts in the early day):

1. you want to rank for ‘coupons codes’ you’re going to need 10,000 links to hit the front page of G. Let’s say this phrase gets around 30k searches per month (exact match)

2. You want to rank ‘sears coupon codes’ – you going to need 350 links to hit the front page of G. This phrase might get 9k searches per month.

I know which part of my site I’d be building links to…

(note: the figures/suggestions above are guesstimates as I really don’t want to go into the semantics around quality links, long tails, etc… but that might be a good starter for a new post on iblogzone πŸ˜‰ ).

18

John

February 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Now I’ve never tried to make a site dedicated exclusively to coupon codes and discounts, but I’ve had a fair amount of success with promo codes anyway. Instead of just focusing in on the discounts for every type of product, I’ve been creating sites around a particular niche, then including some posts that have links to discounts for related products.

‘Cuz not only are the coupon keywords highly competitive, it can be pretty tough to acquire links for a site that has nothing but coupons! So one example is my site about building websites, and it includes a bunch of hosting coupons that convert pretty well. While the coupon pages might account for 100% of the revenue, the informational posts attract more links and spread some of the PR around.

19 DiTesco February 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Hi John. Thanks for your input. I think that your approach is a pretty good alternative to someone who wants to be in the game but so not want to “compete” directly with the big guns. Clever I must say and I’m glad it is working well for you. Keep it up and thank you for stopping by.

20

Stuart

March 9, 2011 at 4:43 pm

@James… Hi, I have been thinking recently, but haven’t got down to having a thorough bit of research yet, if there are any benefits (looking from the other angle) for businesses to advertise on these discount code websites from an SEO / backlink point of view?

21

James

April 3, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Hi Stuart,
I would say there is an incentive for businesses to advertise on discount code sites because, like you said, they’re getting a niche backlink tailored to their market (as long as the link comes from the area of your site that is relevant to the retailer – unless your whole site is geared towards promoting one supplier).

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