Website Income

How I Setup an Authority Website With WordPress

Setting up an authority website has a lot of the same steps as setting up a micro-niche or any other WordPress site but my focus on user experience is different. I plan on using a theme and set up that improves the users experience and engagement but leaves money on the table when it comes to ad click through rate.

In this epic tutorial I will show you exactly how I create my authority website (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden). Typically I outsource this process using the instructions below but for this site since I will be investing so much of myself into this project I want to build it myself.

Before I Build Anything I Like To Have a Plan

Before I Build Anything I Like To Have a Plan

Photo from – dawniecakes

Step 1 – Register My Domain Name

You can read about how I selected my domain – here

When it comes time to register my domain I almost always use Namecheap(aff link) they are inexpensive, have an easy to use interface and have resolved any issue I had quickly. Over 95% of my 150 domains are hosted at Namecheap(aff link) and I have used them since 2008.

I Hate GoDaddy

I have had a couple bad experiences with GoDaddy in the past and I know many others that have as well. Most people online I know that register a lot of domains (like Hayden at register their domains with NameCheap.

NameCheap coupon – Every month NameCheap offers a coupon to save a couple dollars on domain registration. If you are interested search Google for “Namecheap Coupon month year” and you will get a couple dollars off the already inexpensive domain registration.



Step 2 Hosting for my Authority Website

I use several hosting companies but have found HostGator to be the best inexpensive host and will use them to get my authority website started.

Since I plan on having the traffic to this website to be more than a shared hosting account can handle I want to have a hosting growth plan in hand before I start. My plan for increasing hosting capacity with the growth of the site is…. Hostgator Baby(aff link) > Hostgator VPS(aff link) > WPEngine (aff link)

UPDATE – I now host my site on WP-Engine and it is much much faster!

Bluehost vs HostGator (aff links)

Starting out a lot of people recommend Bluehost Hosting and I agree it is great for Micro-Niche websites, I use them, however, the problem with Bluehost is they don’t have an in house option to scale to a more robust and faster hosting account. With Hostgator when you want to improve your websites speed at around 20,000 visitors per month (the right time to increase will vary) you can do so in house.

See HostGator Plans and Pricing Here (aff link)


Step 3 Prepare to Install

At this stage I like to work through a variation of a Google Document Template that me and my team has used for years. This simple Google Document Checklist helps ensure we have all the information needed before we start building the site. After recently reading a book The Checklist Manifesto(aff link) which discusses the success of simple checklists in aviation and medical practices I have re-worked my sheet so that it is broken down into smaller 5-7 step sections.

Below is a video of me walking through what is in my document.

Here is a Public Copy of the Google Document I Used to make my (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden) website – View It Here


Step 4 Install WordPress

Using HostGator’s Fantastico or QuickInstall tool it is very easy to install WordPress.

Here is a HostGator video walking you through the process…

 See HostGator Plans and Pricing Here (aff link)


Step 5 Install an SEO Friendly, Secure and Robust Theme

There are many many great free themes available, my favourite way of finding free themes is typing in the month or year and “year top 20 free wordpress themes” or some variation of that. Typically there are some good lists with some really good free themes available. However, with any free theme you can not be certain the coding is robust and SEO friendly. That is where premium theme frameworks come in.

Great Free WordPress Themes

My favourite sources for free WordPress Themes…





The links above are Free WordPress theme aggregators so a lot of them will have the same themes as the others.

Genesis vs Thesis Framework

A lot of the most popular WordPress websites run on a WordPress Framework with the two most popular frameworks being Genesis and Thesis. For my authority websites I like to use the Genesis framework from CopyBlogger because it has some great out of the box themes that are focused on the reader experience. Most of the Thesis skins seem to be more geared to high ad click through rates and result in what I think is a worse user experience. When using the Genesis Framework I am confident that my theme is search engine friendly, secure and robustly coded so I won’t be having to hire someone to fix little issues everytime I try to make a change.

View Available Genesis/StudioPress Themes Here(not an affiliate link)


Steps 6 to 32 – How I Optimize a WordPress Website

Optimized for…SEO / Speed / Security / User Experience and Monetization

Once I install and have adjusted the general settings there are a series of plugins I use to get the most out of my website. Some of these are for security, backup, seo or user interaction. Here is the checklist (which is also on the Google Document) that I install on most of my sites, this list is the ideal list but you can still have a successful site if all you did was install a quality theme and change the permalinks. For my micro-niche websites I use a much smaller list so that it doesn’t take my VA as long to install the sites.



  1. Change permalinks – /%postname%/
  2. Change General Settings
  3. Install Theme and Adjust Theme Settings
  4. WordPress SEO by Yoast – Use the details from the Google Document – Not required if using Genesis or Thesis theme framework
  5. Install Google XML Sitemaps Plugin – Not required if you installed WordPress SEO by Yoast
  6. Install WordPress Meta Robots – to be used on privacy policy page – Not required if using Genesis or Thesis theme framework
  7. Create Privacy Policy Page – I go to the website
  8. Install Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
  9. Install Broken Link Checker Plugin
  10. Install Redirection Plugin
  11. Install SEO Friendly Images Plugin
  12. Create Google Analytics Code – If not already done
  13. Install Google Analytics for WordPress Plugin – In depth setup instructions at



  1. Install Quick Adsense Plugin – I copy the code I placed in the Google Document here
    • My favourite ad blocks are 336-280 placed in the Top Left and 336-280 Text Only placed in the Bottom Left with the colors customized to blend into the page.
  2. Install Pretty Link Lite Plugin


User Experience

  1. Change Discussion Settings
  2. Intall Sharebar Plugin – I use twitter, Facebook like, Google +1 and email – I also sometimes use LinkedIN
    • For Google+1 I use this code in the Big Button box
    • <script type=””text/javascript”” src=””””></script>
      <g:plusone size=””tall””></g:plusone>
  3. Install 1-click Retweet/Share/Like Plugin or Shareaholic Plugin–  I use Facebook Like, Twitter, Google +1 – only select at the bottom
  4. Remove Old Content – “Hello World” and “Sample Page”
  5. Install All In One Favicon Plugin
  6. Install Contact Form 7 – Plugin (unless theme has a contact page) – set up Contact Me page
  7. Create Feedburner Feed –



  1. Activate Akismet Plugin – requires a free key from Akismet
  2. Install W3 Total Cache Plugin
  3. Install Revision Control Plugin
  4. Install WP Plugin



  1. Install Limit Logins Plugin
  2. Install WP DB Backup Plugin – I set it up to send weekly emails for all my sites to a GMail account I don’t use regularly. This way all the DB emails don’t clog up my inbox. I could do something with rules in GMail also.


Step 32 Capture Emails (optional)

When building an authority site I start thinking more about the lifetime value of a visitor and there is no better way to build a relationship and help your visitors than via an email.

So on my authority website I will be focusing heavily on building a strong email list.

Difference Between KPI for a Micro Niche Site and an Authority Website:

  • Micro Niche = Earnings Per Visitor
  • Authority = Lifetime Value of “Customer”

Here is a tutorial on how to install an AWeber form in wordpress from Paul Counts

I use AWeber(aff link) for my EMail list and autoresponder needs. It is a great service with a fairly reasonable cost structure. To integrate AWeber I use their Plugin.

Final Thoughts

So that is it, I now have an optimized wordpress website up for my Authority Website at (My Case Study Website URL is Now Hidden). The next steps I will be working on is to add the articles I outsourced to the site then build backlinks and promote it.

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

Sheyi | says September 10, 2012

Whao, I can’t agree more. Nice details you’ve got here.

I came to your site from Sunil’s site. Glad to see you’re into the authority niche site as well.

To our success.


    Jon says September 10, 2012

    Thanks for visiting. Yah, my details are pretty in depth – I hope they aren’t too overwhelming for people because you can have a successful website with far fewer plugins and tweaks!

    Like you said Sheyi…to our success.

Amy Moore says September 11, 2012

Thanks for the tips, I am looking to make my first wordpress site and will follow these instructions.

    Jon says September 11, 2012

    Good luck with your website Amy, if you have any questions with this post when you are setting up your site let me know and I can edit it to clear up any confusion.


Duncan says September 11, 2012

Jon, Great tips on making a well optimized WordPress site.

When we make websites for clients we use a lot of the exact same plugins but I think put a little more time into making the site look good. I used to use Thesis but have recently changed to using Genesis more and more.


    Jon says September 11, 2012

    Thanks Dunc, looks like you have a nice little web design business going there. I am also glad to hear you are providing your clients the benefits of WordPress. It seems like a lot of web development companies don’t offer WordPress to their clients out of pride and force the higher price point with a custom solution.



Mike@EarningForever says October 26, 2012

Hey Jon,
I LOVE the fact that you took this tutorial to a whole new level and made it extremely in depth!
I had some trouble setting up WordPress and all of the plugins when I first started building websites…I wish that I had this tutorial then!

I look forward to dueling with you!

Stalyn says November 3, 2012

Good post with a lot of information. Good luck on your project.

Emmett Ross says January 13, 2013

Thanks for the step by step list. I especially appreciate seeing all the plugins you use!

    Jon says January 13, 2013

    No problem Emmett, glad I could help!

Jai Catalano says May 22, 2013

My process is down to a science as well. I use heatmap as a theme though. Makes life easy.

Chadrack says June 19, 2013

A truly detailed guide. I build niche sites also and I can understand how much you have put into this post. Thanks for sharing.

The Guy says July 11, 2013

I love this Jon. I’m running my first website and hope to set up my second one soon.

It was a painful process learning to do it the first time. It should be a lot easier now with the information you are sharing and what I’ve learnt already.

Thank you ever so much.

Mr. Ryan Cote says August 14, 2013

Jon, I agree about Go Daddy. Very difficult to work with and unreliable hosting service. Like you, I register at Name Cheap. But I host at Host Gator.

Hazel says August 21, 2013

Thanks for such a detailed explanation which I will used to update the settings on my website. Valuable info!

    Jon says August 21, 2013

    Glad this post was useful! Nothing on here is a hard and fast rule. A little customization is always a great idea.

Sheyi | says September 3, 2013

Almost a year ago, I made the first comment here-on and today, I’m PROUD of myself because I have tried but failed. I’m proud because I earned (little) money by on the way, failed at lots of project (due to circumstances beyond my control) and today while trying to set up another authority site, here i am on this same article.

After the failed projects, I took what I learned and today, I’m making much more than I bargained for!

To Our Success!

    Jon says September 4, 2013

    Sheyi, that is awesome! I am/we are all proud of you! I definitely have had and continue to have a lot of failures. Making an online business (or any business) work is all about sticking to it, learning and working hard. Best of luck over the next year and I look forward to another comment in 1 year’s time!
    To our success – indeed!

Zbynek says January 7, 2014

Hey Jon, Im surprised how many plugins you use. This might be issue with security and speed. Maybe it will be long-term wiser to develop own template with built-in options to avoid at least couple of plugins. I understand that many plugins just save slave work but this could be avoided with smart theme design and proper features. Some plugins like “broken link checker” might be used only time to time and dont have to be running all the time. Database backup can be done by smart hosting, for example I have websites with currently about 5000 visits monthly for $1 hosting and they have daily backup for free. I have self-programmed authority site with nearly 30k visits monthly on the same hosting and no problem. The spam can be also solved with manual spam filter directly in WP, in last 2 years I have developed list of about 100 common spam phrases and it prevents 90 % od spam.

Btw. properly setup multihosting is way better then ordinary WPS. Multihosting usually runs on server with huge RAM and can dynamically use it while most VPS servers have only 256 MB RAM. With improper caching the VPS can easily crash with just 10-20 users online in the same time!

Bergen says January 7, 2014


Regarding the “Yet Another Related Posts” plugin you mentioned, most webhosts will not allow you to use it. Apparently that plugin uses a lot of resources. I even asked WpEngine if they allow it and they said NO.

Logan says February 11, 2014

Hey Jon. First off thanks for the great information. Its helping so much with my first website. Just had a quick question. In your excel doc under email it says “”. How is that setup? WordPress? Hostgator? Contact Form plugin?

Julian says April 26, 2014

I don’t understand this. Everyone is talking about this still. WordPress, authority sites, wordpress is the best. Why then is the EXACT OPPOSITE that case when you search for something online. No authority sites in my niche, financial, are on wordpress. Wikipedia – not. Investopedia – not. Nuwire – not. ING – not. Company pages – not. Almost every real authority site isn’t build on WordPress.

Why then this big disconnect between what is on page 1 and what is being taught by SEO’s? Why isn’t anyone talking about what is really happening out there?

Solomon raj says May 27, 2014

Nice article and it is help ful to newbies and for those who are starving to start a new blog in different way apart from blogger platform

    Jon says May 27, 2014

    Hi Solomon

    Thanks for the post.



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