My first site which actually made me some money was a download site. I have got a couple of these sites and few are over a year old and like always I didn't get it rite the first time. After a lot of tweaking and modding , I finally arrived at something that was giving me sustained pleasant results. The site was doing pretty good in terms of SEO and conversions. Today, We'll be talking in detail how to make download sites work for you. How to do them correctly and how to monetize them. The Post will be broken down into 4 major parts : * Site Structure * Site Appearance * Plugins * Monetization Site Structure The structure of your site can basically break or make your download site. There are basically two ways of going through this. The first one is my favorite and tested. The second one is pretty good in theory and allows you to get email addresses . So its up to you. Structure 1: This is a very simple and effective site structure. let me try showing it by a schematic [ Front Static Page ] â€”â€”-> [ Download List ] â€”-> [ Download page] PS: Too lazy to get a fancy graphic done for this one Lets get into it a little deeper..... * Front Static Page :- This is what is gonna be your homepage. You'll have a nice 200-300 word post here with just the rite blend of keywords. Make sure its a â€˜Page' and not a â€˜post' . You'll tell them all what you have for offer on your site and have a big ass <h1> tag , heading before the fold which says " click here to download $whatsoever Now ". The basic aim of your page is to get as much traffic as possible to the next page , download list. * Download List:- This is gonna be where you'll be adding all your $whatsoever. This will also be a page. I usually like to title this page as my main keyword . First thing, you would need to add a search box on the top of the post. You'll need to follow it with one paragraph so that google doesn't think its all links on the page. The paragraph could be like " This is our big list of $whatsoever and we work really hard to get you $whatsoever " and bla bla ( I bet you get the idea... ) . I usually also like to link back to my homepage from the first line of first paragraph with my main keywords. You'll categorize it all properly under different subheadings so your visitors find it easy to get your links. Then you'll add links. You'll first need to make â€˜post' with the download link and description and then use the title of $whatsoever as your anchor text on the â€˜Link page' and link to the $whatsoever on the downloads list page . So our schematic would be something like:- [Page title ] - Our Main keyword [ Search box ] [ Paragraph] [ Sub heading ] - $whatsoever Title- links to $whatsoever post -$whatsoever Title - links to $whatsoever post -$whatsoever Title- links to $whatsoever post [ Sub heading ] - $whatsoever Title- links to $whatsoever post -$whatsoever Title - links to $whatsoever post -$whatsoever Title- links to $whatsoever post I hope that gives you a better picture of what I just said. * Download Page:- I usually like to start it with a picture/screen shot of $whatsoever and then follow it with a description ( usually original ) and then the download links. ( As simple as that ). Structure 2:- I found this video back in ************** and was pretty good too. hxxp://youtube.c0m/watch?v=8d5_lRUx6qM Benefits * Allows you to get user Email Ids which can later be used for email marketing * lesser work Cons * Many of the visitors will give up during the signup itself. * Lesser Page views per visitors ( Can hinder , if you intend to use CPM , talked about later ) * Not as good inner link structure as previous site structure. The list would enable you to have a very pretty inbound link structure which helps ranking for long tail keywords. Confession :- I have never used this structure. So it would be wrong to comment on if it works well or not. This is a way of doing it and i thought it would be nice if you people knew about it. the rest is up to you. Site Appearance This is very important aspect of your download site. You have to look legit and dedicated.That extra buck spent in getting a premium theme or a custom banner made could make the whole difference in your conversion. * Customize :- Get your whole site around the niche idea you are working around. Get related banners made , get a nice relevant nice niche theme or customize one. A good looking sites reflects you are serious about what you do and gives a positive first impression in the mind of your visitors which is really important if you intend to monetize your site with gateways. ( we'll talk more about it later in the post ). * Widgets :- Most of the latest wordpress theme support widgets. I personally believe widgets was a genius idea and has made life of publishers like us a lot more easier. The widgets I like to use on my download sites are the following. * o Free $whatsoever of the month :- I usually like to have a text widget rite on the top of my side bar with the title , " free $whatsoever of the month" . Its usually includes the name of the $whatsoever along with a nice picture. This not only gives a personal touch to the site but also makes visitor feel a little more comfortable about the site. o Search Bar :- This usually comes second on the side bar . I usually give the title "Search from our big $whatsoever database ". This gives the users a feeling that the site is huge and also allows easy navigation for your visitors. o Recent Posts :- I love using this widget because it not only allows me to get all my latest post indexed but also imparts a feeling of activity to the site which visitors like. o Facebook Fan Widget :- Come on, why not have a facebook page for your site and integrate it with your site ? I usually add the facebok fan widget on the site. It shows " bla bla number of people like $whatsoever ". This makes the site look more active and trustable and also allows you to loosely interact with your visitors and them following you. You can share like news and stuff with them on facebook.You could post a status update saying you posted a new game and that might show up on their dashboard and they might visit your site again. ( which is indeed is a good thing ). Facebook widget indeed helps establishing a community feel around your site. o Seo Search Term Tagging 2:- This is actually a plugin which is used via widgets. It records the keywords your site gets hits for and then displays it in your side bar. There are three different widget option via this plugin. They are â€˜random â€˜ , â€˜popular' and â€˜recent' . I would suggest , you use all of them. This really helps in boosting your SEO and optimization for long tail keywords. Trust me , it works. ( Personal Experience ). o Polls :- Another widget i use is Polls via the WP-polls plugin ( Just google it... ) . It allows you to run polls via widget. Having polls on your site imparts a sense of interactivity which is good and helps. Plugins The list of plugins you might need is as follows. Some are basic , some are not so basic but all are free. * All in One Seo :- We all know about this plugin ( if you don't you are just a monkey... ) . You'll need this to optimize your meta and meta description and all other on page seo factors. ( I am not gonna be talking seo for now .... ) * Post footer :- This plugin allows you to add a piece of text at the end of each post/page. This comes in handy when you have a related clickbank product or cpa offer that goes along with the $whatsoever . You could add something like " You might wanna check this out , it makes your $whatsoever cooler " . Another cool thing about this plugin is that it has a inbuilt related post function. This displays a bunch of random post below any of your post. This not only allows easy navigation for your traffic but it also good for your on page link structure and seo. * Gd Report Post :- This plugin is literally a boon for download sites. It displays a text saying "click here if this post is broken" and every time a post is reported broken an email is sent to you saying which post is reported broken. But the problem is there are always some mofoz who report post for no reason. This plugin allows you to fix your dead links without going through all of them. * Social Media Plugin :- You could have any of the thousands of plugins that allow you to share the file on various social sites. Monetization Download sites are usually monetized in 6 ways PPC , CPM , CPL, infolinks , clickbank and Pay per download. PPC :- This usually does not do all that great with download sites but if your traffic is huge it does manage to pull in something decent with a shitty ctr. Most of the download sites are illegal and are hence against google's TOS. This leaves you with the second best PPC company which is adbrite which has very shitty ads. CPM:- You could do decent with this if you manage to find a good CPM company that accepts you. Our structure is optimized to get more page views ( impression ) from each coming visitors . So we can surely make a decent sum out of this. CPM and PPC should go hand in hand then you could make your self something presentable. Infolinks :- The name says it all. It allows you to add incontent advertises and pays per click. It could mean a few extra bucks but can severely screw up your visitors on site experience . I personally don't use infolinks on my download sites. Pay Per Download :- It is very simple yet very effective. You upload your downloads to sites such as hotfile etc and every time your file gets downloaded you get paid. The sum may not look great at first but once your site popularity increases the number of downloads would increase and you'll soon find that your download links are being shared on other sites. I would personally watermark all my $whatsoever with the site name. This can bring you a lot of direct visitors over a period of time. Slow but very effective technique. CPL :- Cost per lead , the most effective mode of monetizing download sites. We use gateways provided by networks like dollarade , ************** and leadbolt to lock our content. So who ever wants to download has to fill a survey before they can download the content. Works very well and can make you bank if you can pull in a couple of thousand Unique visitors a day. Implementing the gateway Our site structure allows us to easily to integrate any gateway network in no time. All you have to do is head over to your theme's single.php and add the gateway code. So the gateway will show up on all the â€˜posts' and not the â€˜pages'. The structure I suggested does amazing in terms of conversion. This is so much better then hitting your visitors with a gateway as soon as your homepage loads. Implement it and you'll notice the difference yourself. Note: You might not want to add the categories as your widget on the homepage because the whole post will be displayed without the gateway so please avoid adding categories as widgets on your homepage. Clickbank:- You can also be promoting related click bank, amazon or paydotcom products on your download sites. The conversion will suck but you'll still be able to make few sales a month if you are pulling in good amount of traffic. If you have observed all this monetization methods can implemented simultaneously. This would allow you to squeeze the maximum out off your download sites. You can make bank. It might take a little toll on your load time though. All what I have shared today has been learned via months of trial and errors. I have tried to cover all the aspects that go into making of a money making download site. Hope you like the post , If you got any questions don't hesitate to ask and please say thanks!