On my trip through Nevada, which is full of mining history, and long stretches of road with not much to see, I was thinking about the concept of “staking a claim”.
In literal terms this phrase evolved from the idea of a settler or prospector driving stakes into the ground to mark the property boundaries where they planned to live or work. Today that phrase is generally used to mean that someone is the first to take ownership over an idea or market area or anything they want to claim their own.
Of course, if someone stakes a claim and then fails to develop and improve it, to work the land or mine the ore if you will, then there really wasn’t much point in staking the claim anyway — this can be true of a website also.
When a domain name is registered it is like staking a claim on the Internet. Just like a piece of real property, that claim can be sold, transferred, and even abandoned; or it can be improved and developed to become something of even greater worth and value to the owner.
So what does it take to “stake” your website’s claim and then make it more than just a claim?
To help remember let’s think in terms of S.T.A.K.E.
S – Supply Information (Not Sales): obviously I’m not saying don’t sell things online, e-commerce is a tremendous opportunity for brands and products. But there has to be something about your website that is informational and helpful to website visitors regardless of a purchase. A relevant, high content, high value website is more likely to be found by potential customers searching the web. Consumers will have questions and need tips. The more of those questions and tips you can provide for them to discover on your website, or social media, or opt-in emails, the more comfortable and likely they are to buy from you or subscribe to your services at some point in time. Staking the claim is easy, all the hard work starts afterwards.
T – Time: don’t expect to be an overnight online sensation. It takes time to develop the informational content and build a community of website users or shoppers. Your website strategy has to be consistent and deliberate over a period of time. In the age of information there is a lot of noise and it takes that time to build an online platform big enough and loud enough to be heard and get noticed. Give it time and don’t give up, the “mother load” of gold could be just a few more months away, keep digging!
A – Analyze: don’t just assume your website strategy is working. Use tools like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to see both the good and bad results from your online efforts. Website metrics, social media metrics, mailing list metrics — good website development tools and services offer an abundance of feedback on what’s going on with your website; the when, where, why and how of what’s working and what’s not. Don’t just randomly start digging, setup and use the tools available and use metrics to “tunnel” in the right location; it’s called data mining for a reason after all.
K – Know Your Audience: as you develop content and analyze metrics, over time you will begin to have a better understanding of who your audience is, what they want, and how to best serve and inform them. Often times it’s not the product or service you are selling that’s the problem, it’s just not being discovered and seen by the right audience. Other times it may mean listening to audience feedback to re-develop or improve your product into something they want and need more. Over time a good prospector learns where the gold is likely to be found by understanding the surface signs and recognizing areas with the most potential.
E – Evolve: none of the above will make much difference over time if the methods used to improve your website claim don’t continue to evolve and improve. Obviously if a website hasn’t been updated even once in the last 10 years there are going to be significant issues. A static, out of date, uninformed website is not going to produce very much results. Diminished returns will be the status quo for every website that fails to evolve with both new technology and audience expectations. After all, when was the last time you saw a miner pulling a donkey and swinging a pickaxe?
Eric Ramos is a life long artist, graphic designer, programmer, website developer and entrepreneur who enjoys working with businesses to create, maintain and improve their “home on the web” with an understanding that successful websites require a strategy of ongoing assessment, adjustment and refinement, not just a one time launch hoping for results. Passionate about technology, design and business development, Eric’s goal is to not just build better websites, but better businesses, growing and improving with them together, side-by-side.