It seems counter-intuitive at first but telling everyone about your shiny new website might actually hurt you. Getting more traffic, rather more targeted traffic, is at the top of almost every webmaster’s wish list because it means more money in their pockets. Some of the potential rewards of letting everyone know about your site, like tons of free publicity and constructive criticism, might be the difference between success and failure. So why not tell the world “hey, look at me?” Well, a few of the positive features of the internet become negatives in the hands of a competitor.
Few Barriers – It is possible to put up a website from scratch in a few minutes for free. Or like $15 to get super fancy. That means it is possible for anyone to own a site and you can easily try almost every hare-brained idea under the sun. It does not take $400,000 to start an internet business unlike much of the brick-and-mortar world. That is awesome. Unless a mean person copies all of your hard work.
Transparency – Almost everything you might want to know about any website is available. Maybe not exact and maybe not free but it is not too difficult to find out the traffic stats, the types of promotion done, and, of course, the content. That is great if you want to buy a site or spread new ideas and techniques. On the other hand, a duplicate of many sites could be created in less than an hour and pretty much your entire PPC campaign can be copied.
Frontier Life – The internet is a lot like the wild west right now: lots of money to be made, not much law. An enormous amount of money changes hands online. The number of opportunities to create, shape, or dominate an industry is incredible because everything changes so fast. Legislation and standards bodies exist but do not come close to covering everything. People from all walks of life become successful internet entrepreneurs every day. A lot of people are willing and able to take what you build or, just as bad, get you booted from Google.
Now, I do not think we need to be completely paranoid, just a little more cautious. Most of the time it should not be much of a problem. People, in general, are not motivated to put up a site even if they say otherwise. I think I will just follow a few high-level guidelines to help protect myself.
Staying Within Verticals – I will promote the heck out of a site within the niche and in closely related niches. Outside of that no one will know it exists.
Skipping Details – As soon as you start talking specifics, you are headed for trouble. No mentioning how much a site makes or how many visitors you get. Unless, possibly, you talk in aggregates about all of your sites.
PPC Protection Program – Never, ever, ever show off your landing pages or landing sites for PPC campaigns. Consider that sucker gone if you do. It probably makes sense to host them on multiple shared severs when spending serious money.
Waiting For Incubation – Many sites almost have an incubation period. Once they pass that it becomes much harder for the copycats. A site with 1000 pages of original content and 250 regular readers has a much larger moat than one with 5 pages and 1 reader.
These are my current thoughts and plans. Time will tell how well this works.
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