BANS vs. Blogger

Update August 2009

Unfortunately, rule changes with EPN have made it so that you cannot direct affiliate traffic from a “3rd Party Site”, such as Blogger, to eBay as of August 1st 2009. I think this was a poor decision on their part but it is what it is. I’ve switched my previous Blogger blogs over to different monetization, most notably Chitika.

I wrote this article, Blogger Template for eBay Sniplets, a few days ago where I discussed placing eBay Sniplets on Blogger blogs. Unfortunately, I discovered that the Blogger spam ‘bot didn’t like having JavaScript inside the post where that script created a lot of links. Apparently this is a blackhat technique that will get a blog flagged as spam. While I got my Fender Duosonic blog back, I made some changes to the template and techniques I’m using for it. I also wanted to do a quick mention about BANS vs. Blogger and how they can complement each other.

The Updated Template

Here’s the updated template: Minima Template For eBay Affilliate Blogger Blogs. Let me know if you encounter any problems with it or have any questions about it.

And here’s a screen shot of my revised Duosonic blog.

Fender Duosonic Niche Blog

The main difference here is that the eBay Sniplet code has been moved from the main post area to the sidebar. The Blogger Spam ‘bot seems to be more OK with links appearing in the sidebar, perhaps because it writes these off as ads. Note that I’ve expanded the sidebar area to 570 pixels to accommodate the Sniplet and moved it from the right to the left side of the page. The content area gets the remaining portion of the 1024 pixel width minus a small bit of padding. Also note that I’m limiting the number of items to 10 rather than 25 as before. This should also be more ‘bot friendly.

One key trick with the Sniplet is the search criteria which, in my case, I’ve expanded to include a couple of other Fender short scale guitars. To get the OR functionality on a search so that the Sniplet will retrieve any listing with a keyword found in a keyword list, place the whole list inside of parenthesis and enter a comma separated list inside them like so: (duosonic,mustang,musicmaster). This way you’ll get back all of the items that match your keywords within the category you select.

BANS vs. Blogger

Rams Butting Heads

Some people have asked about this so I wanted to go over my thinking on it.

First of all, BANS, or Build A Niche Store, is an excellent program that is designed around building a store like website for eBay products. It does one thing and does it very well. It will produce a site that is more likely to induce a potential buyer to click through to eBay than a blog platform alternative. If buyers don’t click through, you won’t get paid and if there are fewer click throughs then less you will be paid.

The problem is that BANS does cost money, not only for the software, but for the hosting and domain as well. While a good hosting plan and bargain .INFO domains can make it more affordable, it still can cost about $300 to get started on the scale that Vic talked about. Using Blogger can be a cheaper alternative that allows you to build up a site portfolio at virtual no cost to you.

Blogger, of course, has it’s own problems, such as the overzealous spam bot I ran into, and other little annoyances. You don’t have as much control as you would in a self-hosted BANS site. Plus, it is a blogging platform, not an ecommerce platform, so this will impact your click-thru rate. Another factor is that you’re kind of shoehorning in something that may not always fit well. Setting it will cost you some time and may require some light HTML/CSS programming knowledge.

The way I think of it is that Blogger is like selling souvenirs outside a baseball park. You may do well but you’re more subject to the whims of regulations and your opportunities for buyers may be limited by your location. BANS is like having a brick and mortar souvenir store near the stadium. You can present more buying opportunities, more products and you’ll be less subject to regulation.

BANS and Blogger Together

Couple at the Eiffel Tower

Here’s the big plus I see though. Blogger is an excellent complement to your BANS efforts. As I mentioned in my previous post, Link Cluster Building Ideas, Blogger blogs are ideal as part of a link cluster to support your sites, including BANS sites. If you do this, why not make your supporting blog eBay affiliate friendly? It doesn’t matter to you where the visitor clicks through to eBay as long as you get credit for any purchases they make.

This also gives you the opportunity to go after long tail search terms related to your niche by writing long, keyword packed, rambles. For example, your BANS site might show up well for a search for “Acme Golf Shoes” but your rambling post about golf shoes might be first in results if the visitor searched on “what are the best golf shoes for wet or soft turf“. The good news is that either way, you get paid if the visitor buys something on eBay after they click through.

Also, using Blogger first can allow you to test out potential niches or to find micro-niches where a full investment of time and money in a BANS domain might not be warranted. Of course, this is also an option if you’re short on cash. If the niche looks good, you can move to BANS and use the Blogger blog to reinforce the BANS site. If it doesn’t pan out, you’re not out any money and you may get some trickle traffic and purchases.

Let me know what you think about the updated Blogger eBay Template and BANS vs. or with Blogger by leaving a comment.

UPDATE: A little off topic but by simply using the terms ‘eBay‘ and ‘golf shoes‘ in this post I picked up about 20 links from scrapper splogs. Interesting.


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Comment by Greg
2008-04-17 21:16:50

Wow! This is incredibly useful information and I think I can finally monetize a niche Blogger blog I have been struggling with until now. Before long I think people will be saying Griz, Vic, Court and Frank.

I would love a Wordpress them with the same dimensions. Any chance you could take one of Court’s SEO’d themes and edit it for us? Or tell us how to do it ourselves? I would happily display your link in the footer.

Thanks again,


Comment by jfc
2008-04-18 07:56:19

Hi Greg,

Your comment got snagged by Akismet. You may want to check with them to see if you can get your name cleared.

As for the WordPress theme, it’s a pretty easy edit of the stylesheet to do this to most two column themes. Good SEO themes like those that Court has have simple stylesheets and can be modified for width without a lot of trouble. Of course, I may be saying that since I’ve been editing CSS files from time to time for at least 10 years now as part of my work.

Comment by Dinheiro
2008-04-18 06:12:55

Again, another excellent post, frank.

I’ve one doubt, i setup some ebay editor kit, but it seems that the impressions are not being tracked. Are you seeing something like that?

Comment by Dinheiro
2008-04-18 06:28:04

Forget what i ask, my bad, i was puting the code in a text module, which was destroying the & character, duhh! :)

Comment by jfc
2008-04-18 07:58:24

I’m glad you got that problem solved Dinheiro.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Leo Dimilo
2008-04-19 00:28:31

I actually am going the wordpress route in regards to BANS. Set up a MU site and am loading it up with different BANS sites. I don’t know how subdomains will affect SEO (new territory for me) however, I do know how to make a wordpress blog look less blogg-ee, if you know what I mean.

Just curious about the blogger blogspot route. I tried the RSS in the sidebar but am not getting the images set in the sidebar. Do I need to install a widget or javascript instead?

Comment by jfc
2008-04-19 08:06:35

Hi Leo,

Vic warns about using a lot of subdomains since this is a common blackhat tactic that Google doesn’t like, unless you’re a well established site. I know that my niche blogs that I have running as subdomains off of OpTempo don’t get indexed as quickly as WordPress on individual domains or even Blogger blogs. I’d recommend proceeding with caution unless you have a well aged (3 years+), established domain you’re doing this with.

I haven’t tried the eBay RSS feed yet. I used their Sniplet widget since it’s quick and easy to configure and is attractive. On a Blogger blog running the Minima template that makes it the most attractive thing on the page.

Comment by Vinny Lingo
2008-04-19 21:41:26

I’m definitely going to go with the “BANS and Blogger together” option. I don’t like monetizing my link farm blogs with Adsense, but I can definitely see using EPN and grouping link farms by broad product categories. Thanks for the template. I’m definitely utilizing that!

Comment by jfc
2008-04-19 22:25:39

Hi Vinny,

Having the eBay Sniplet widget certainly seems to be worthwhile if you’re getting search traffic. In some niches, it might outperform Adsense.

A big plus on tech savvy niches is that fewer people ad block it since blocking it also seems to cause parts of eBay to fail as well. I see about 40% blockage on Adsense vs. only about 10% for eBay. While they may block Adsense or affiliates like Commission Junction, they aren’t as likely to cut themselves off from eBay.

Comment by Terry
2008-04-25 12:08:32

Hi Frank,

I’ve been doing this for about a month now and started all my blogs with 100 items in the display. Must’ve been by luck or accident I set the blogs up wioth the eBay window in the sidebar - just seemed the easiest way to do it so the display was always there no matter what the posts were about.

So far none of the blogs have been flagged, but I’ll wait for it to happen if you think Blogger are slapping blogs with too many links like the eBay widget generates. For now I’ll leave them as they are and see what happens. Could be interesting…

Comment by jfc
2008-04-25 13:20:38

Hi Terry,

I’m slowly upping the count on mine, first 10 then 20, etc. to see if it hits a threshold somewhere.

Comment by Houseboat Rentals
2008-05-04 19:20:48

Wow nice idea. Have you made any money doing it with Blogger? I did not know you could upload a template of your own on Blogger.


Comment by jfc
2008-05-04 19:47:45

Hi Denise,

My objective right now is to try to build some traffic toward the sites I’ve developed so far by getting links. The idea for now is to let them sit and gradually add additional posts and build links.

My goal is to build some of both, plus probably adding PHPBay into the mix as well. Each type has their advantages and disadvantages. I’ll have to go over these in a later post, particularly as I get a better feel for each types performance.

Comment by jak
2008-06-12 00:27:13

can someone explain how to use this in blogger? I have uploaded the template but don’t know where to go from here? where does my campaign number go? Blogger is new to me and I’m lost at the moment.

Comment by jak
2008-06-12 01:34:51

never mind, I figured it out :)

2008-06-12 02:19:52

[…] site, and if so I recommend yougo head on over to see Frank at Optempo who made a nice post with a blogger theme for Ebay. blogger tips transferRelated PostsBlogger Blogging TipsThe title of the post pretty much says it. […]

Comment by chicago web design
2008-06-14 20:50:44

wow how did you get ebay listings inside blogger?

Comment by jfc
2008-06-14 21:15:50

Hi Chicago,

I just use the eBay Partner Network sniplet widgets. I add the javascript to a HTML/Javascript Page Element and add it to the sidebar. I usually, but not always, show 10 items with the lowest price first in the widget.

2008-07-12 00:42:08

[…] you’re interested in another set up to promote the eBay affiliate, check out optemo’s review of BANS vs. Blogger, which compares using a Buld a Niche Store setup to using Blogger. Share and Enjoy: These icons […]

2008-08-08 01:32:19

This is a great idea and I can’t wait to try it out! I have some empty domains that will work well. Frank, thanks for sharing freely what you have created.

Comment by Mike
2008-09-09 19:59:47

I like what you’re doing with putting eBay on blogger. It’s an untapped market and loved by google.

Comment by Ric
2009-03-03 22:00:57

I’m totally new at online stores and considering setting up one to try. But the thing that bugs me is that why would people buy from these online stores when they can just buy directly from ebay and amazon?

And I imagine it would be impossible to outrank ebay and amazon if you’re talking rankings.

Am I missing something here?

Comment by jfc
2009-03-03 22:28:33

Hi Ric,

That’s a good question.

Perhaps the most important function that the sites provide is narrowing down the choices and finding targeted buyers. People do get overwhelmed by large sites like Amazon and eBay. A BANS site or a blog focused on a particular product or small group of products helps them make the selection easier.

Also people are always looking for good deals online but they can be hard to find. If you show them those deals they’ll click through to buy or at least investigate it further.

As for ranking, it’s a matter of targeted search engine optimization. Amazon and eBay don’t build links on particular product keyword terms in most cases. This allows you to outrank them in Google. For an example of this, look at some of the products I’ve reviewed here recently.

Comment by ric
2009-03-04 05:11:45

Thanks…that helps a lot. I’ll read up your reviews as recommended.

2009-09-19 17:38:51

Thanks for the tips. I’m actually trying to get approved to APN, do you have any tips how to get approved?

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