Every year around Christmas time, I get literally thousands of requests for Christmas bingo cards.  I decided to do something a little special this Christmas and throw up a website about them — so if you want your Christmas bingo game, you can go there now.  

If you aren’t a small businessman, there is likely nothing else of interest in this blog post.  I suggest clicking on the above link to get your bingo cards.

If you’re a microISV, keep reading: this is an experiment.  For the last several months I have been particpating on Aaron Wall’s SEObook community forums, and he preaches the gospel of Exact Match Domain names as a tool for ranking sites quickly in Google and the like, even allowing them to cut past other older sites that have scads of links.  I have actually seen one of my competitors dip his toes into doing this, too — after I talked here many times about a particular keyword he registered keyword.org and now ranks #3.  Spiffy for him.

I get scads of traffic for all seasonal related bingo cards — if you remember my graph of different categories on my website, Holidays accounts for almost a quarter of cards downloaded by visitors.  The top few holidays account for the lion’s share of that — Halloween, in particular, is the reason October is invariably the best month of the year for me.   

So I decided, hmm, why not try an experiment this year and see if I could drive rankings for just a few head terms instead of doing my usual rank-for-everything-under-the-sun strategy (Crustaceans bingo, ho!)  That could involve getting a few dozen links to my site, but it is fairly difficult (though by no means impossible) to get people to link directly to a commercial site.  Instead, I thought, I’d make a mostly non-commercial mini-site focused like a freaking laser on giving people exactly what they wanted, and making it as easy to link to as humanly possible.

Step #1: Identify my keywords.  I already know them, in this case — the next big holiday which gives me suitable time to get ready is Christmas.  The #1 keyword is Christmas bingo cards.  I can look at my website logs and find 15 variations of that to play with.

Step #2: Buy the exact match domain.  Somebody had actually registered [Christmas bingo cards] before.  Oh well.  He was amenable for selling at the quite reasonable price of $149 — then I paid another $8 to move it to Godaddy, my registrar of choice.  (Is this reasonable?  Well, consider that I spend 25 cents to drive one download of Bingo Card Creator, or roughly $15 per sale, when I’m paying on AdWords.  I’ll spend more on AdWords this week alone than the domain cost me, and as of next week its like that money was never spent… but the domain stays up for years.

Step #3: Install WordPress.  You really can’t beat WordPress for making attractive, small sites with a minimum of time investment.  They don’t even have to necessarily look like blogs, if you choose your template well.

Step #4: Find an attractive template.  This is honestly one of the most important steps.  You’re creating a site to be the One Canonical Source On The Internet for your little subniche — it should look the part.  An attractive site makes it very easy for it to collect links from your customers saying “Hey, Ethyl, I just saw the best site on the Internet for Christmas bingo cards.  You should check it out.”  You can either outsource this to your favorite designer or use an OSS template.  Happily Smashing Magazine (a blog devoted to, hmm, beautiful things?) covered an absolutely outstanding Christmas wordpress theme last year.  It took me maybe 5 minutes with Stylizer to smooth some rough edges.  (Needs another 5 minutes for the sidebar in IE.)

Step #5: Supplement with pretty graphics.  Stock photography and stock icons make everything better.

Step #6: Write the content.  I wrote several blog posts and pages about the subject, in my usual voice.  This took more time than everything else put together, and it isn’t done yet — I eventually hope to have perhaps 5 or 10 pages on the site when it is ready.  Tips: You probably want to use WordPress to replace the front page with a Page rather than a listing of your most recent posts.  You also probably want to remove much of the blog-specific cruft, as the site will probably not be receiving year round regular updates so why lead people to expect that?  

Exactly what the content says is up to you.  I didn’t try to sell very hard at all — many of the folks who find this site are going to be parents, and parents don’t typically buy Bingo Card Creator.  But parents are quite capable of leaving links.  (Teachers, on the other hand, may decide to actually purchase BCC.)  Plus, because the site looks like the #1 destination on the Internet for christmas bingo cards (look at the design!  look at the domain name!  look at the Zen-like purity of purpose!), it should probably pick them up from authoritative sites as well.

Step #7: Make it scale.  If it works… why stop at one mini-site?