The Castello Brothers Top 10 Suggestions For Successful Site Development
My brother Michael and I have done well financially (is there any other way?) developing our sites. Nevertheless, we’re both on a lifelong learning curve and after 10+ years in this wonderful business we still feel like we’ve just begun. Here are ten suggestions we’d like to share with you so you can unpark your names and start making some real money.
1) Choose a domain name that reflects a topic you’re madly passionate about. Don’t do this and your site will become the worst thing it can be – work.
2) Stick with dotCom or the ccTLD of your country. If you don’t agree, please visit our portfolio, choose one of our names and develop the dotNet.dotOrg or dotInfo version into a huge site. You’ll quickly become our best friend and we’ll buy you a bottle of 1995 Dom as we toast the direct nav traffic you’ll be giving us.
3) Don’t build a site, build a brand. There’s a difference. Anyone can build a site.
4) Write at least a page of original content a day (in a year you’ll have 365 pages). What would motivate you to do this? See suggestion #1.
5) The content you write must turn your site into an authority or “reference site” about its topic. This is important for site credibility, SEO, return traffic and selling to advertisers. Remember, the last thing you want is someone having to go somewhere else for info about your site’s topic.
6) Do not put Adsense on your site. Why would you send valuable visitors away for pennies on the dollar? Who thought of this? Google (and that’s why they’re rich and you’re not). Furthermore, you need these people to tell you why they’re on your site so you can continue to build the user experience and discover their expectations (and you’ll also meet somebody else – potential advertisers). This will not happen when you keep sending them away. On a developed site, Adsense is the equivalent of opening a store on Madison Avenue and guiding customers from the front door straight out the back door as they hand you a quarter along the way.
7) Add a forum and blog that is monitored daily. Forums and blogs instantly turn an inorganic site into a living, breathing thing with a heartbeat. They add excitement, personality and lots of loyal, returning visitors. Also, add a Calendar of Events that is relevant to your topic.
8.) After you’ve developed the traffic and SEO rankings start selling static advertising to people who would profit from being on your site. Who are these people? By the time you’ve developed the site and achieved high SEO rankings they’ll be right in front of your face. For example, we’ve met many who were giving us listings to be on our Calendar of Events and didn’t know they could be on the front page for a fee.
9) Never, ever email a potential advertiser. This is Sales 101, but most people don’t know this. Get them on the phone or, if possible, meet them in person. If you won’t do this get someone who will and share the revenue with them. Don’t ever try to sell someone something you wouldn’t buy. You’ll come across as disingenuous and nothing will kill your reputation and credibility faster. On the other hand, if you believe in the power of your site that passion will be instantly communicated and selling is a cinch.
10) During this whole process, make the site an extension of your personality. It’s got to have your creative fingerprints all over it. Your site is your baby and never hand the reins over to someone else unless you’re selling it.
Late last year, Viacom, the parent company of MTV, filed a UDRP for the domain name Jackass.com, one of thousands of generic domain names owned by Future Media Architects. Since FMA doesn’t sell their domain assets, the UDRP would seem to be the only “cost effective” way to acquire the domain name. In a fairly lengthy decision dated January 30, 2009, the single panelist ruled in favor of Future Media Architects.
One of the most convincing factors that led to FMA’s prevailing in this decision was that they held a US trademark for “JACKASS” in relation to computer services. The trademark was registered by the USPTO in September 2005 after a full standard review of the trademark application. Although FMA planned to use Jackass.com for adult services, they changed their business model in favor of a search engine.
According to the sole panelist in this decision, the trademark tipped the scales in FMA’s favor:
“Thus, here the evidence suggests that the domain name was acquired by the Respondent because of its descriptive value, but has been used on a pay-per-click website in a way that is not clearly related to that descriptive value but also not clearly related to the Complainant’s trademark. In some circumstances, these facts may not be sufficient for the Respondent to show that use of the disputed domain name is bona fide. Here, the Respondent has an additional factor in its favour a United States trademark registration covering search engines. In these particular circumstances, the Respondent could be said to be providing, or at least to have taken some demonstrable steps towards providing, a search engine under the Jackass brand. That, in this Panel’s view, is enough to tip the finely balanced scales in the Respondent’s favour on the provided record in this particular case.”
It’s unfortunate that FMA needed to hold a trademark in order to keep their generic domain name, but a win is a win. If Thunayan Khalid AL-Ghanim chooses to forego the search engine route and needs some material for his site, I know where he can find it.