Monday, May 16, 2005

Barry and the Beacon

A few random thoughts for the day...
First off I've been getting a decent amount of traffic to my Las Vegas pages, but very little input. I think the reason for this is fairly obvious and part of the problem with Lopico in its current state. Las Vegas is a tourist town, so for the most part people don't know what the best is, so when they come to Lopico most likely they just want to use the find function, they don't have anything to add. A problem, but I know if this is going to work it's not going to be a quick process.
Second, Good old Google, is finally catching up in its Lopico coverage, I mentioned in my last post (which you didn't read) that Google had listed one page for Lopico. Now I think it's up to about 21 or so. A far cry from MSN which has 1,157 pages listed, but I'm happier. I think the difference, strangely enough, is that I put an info.txt file into my site. I've never really seen this discussed anywhere, but I had one before and Google listed a few pages, I took it off for awhile and now that it's back up Google is listing my pages again. Not sure if this is at all relevant or if it's mere coincidence. The reason I previously had an info.txt file was for Alexa. If you're not familiar with Alexa, it is a service from that ranks websites popularity. However, it only ranks sites based on traffic of people who have the alexa toolbar. My rank has been as high as 27,304 but I really don't pay much attention to the rank, because I know that I've definitely had days that I have higher traffic but lower rank. It is fairly interesting though, to see where pages approximately rank.
Next I think I'll explain the Barry and the Beacon title of this blog. These relate to two sources that are very similar to Lopico that I have come across recently. First Barry refers to web Mogul and probably one of the best businessmen anywhere Barry Diller. Barry is the CEO of interactive Corp. (IAC) the parent of sites such as,, and Citysearch. Citysearch is better than Lopico, because it has more information and has millions of dollars behind. I would one day like Lopico to have as much information as citysearch, but I want my rankings to be unbiased. If you read how Citysearch ranks its businesses, you'll notice that user vote is not the most important by far. However, now there is a new side of the site (new to me anyway) called best of Citysearch, which looks very Lopicoish, in that each business now has a vote button next to it, and there's even a spot to nominate your favorite. Fine, but I like my completely user driven site better. But really comparing Lopico to Citysearch is like comparing watermelons to raisins. IAC has an incredible portfolio of brands, I just think they need to be more closely connected, if you were on one site you probably wouldn't know it had any relation to the others. I wouldn't bring all businesses them together into one (it also owns HSN) but I think several could be combined, but Barry Diller doesn't believe in synergy. This may be changing though, IAC recently bought ask jeeves, which could develop into a Yahoo style portal. The problem is citysearch and other services are available from other web portals such as MSN, to really take advantage of the offerings of IAC needs to keep its offerings to itself (offer only through its portal) yet somehow convince people to give up their current homepage (a tough task).
The beacon refers to the Akron Beacon Journal, the newspaper in Lopico's home area. This weekend the beacon put out its best of Akron lists. This was promising for Lopico for two reasons, first some of the lists looked like they could have been taken straight from the pages of Lopico, which means so far we're pretty accurate with our listings. Second, this type of list is an honor, and as the beacons insert proved, a great place to advertise.
Last but not least I changed the look of the Lopico home page, if you've been there before (which you haven't) you'll notice that the graphic on the top of the page is brand new and the "Where the Locals Pick" graphic is gone. I like it hopefully you do too.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Good Sign Maybe

Google is the only major search engine not listing lopico, however, today it seems that it is one small step closer to listing LOPICO. One page is listed - Personal Training in Kansas City, MO. Unfortunately this page still has the original design. Why only this page? I have no idea. But it's a start, and I think it's a good sign. Other major search engines such as Yahoo! and MSN have listings of usually around 1000 of my pages which enables people to find my site frrom a variety of searches. Unfortunately the most popular search engine has been ignoring me, but maybe not anymore.
My Mamma ads are still irrelevant, but I changed the type of ad and now the pop ups are gone, which I am happy about. I think I may actually end up keeping the mamma ads on, what I call, gatekeeper pages. These are the top level pages such as a State or City Page, on these pages I don't really want people clicking because that means that they never even get the opportunity to see my site. Once visitors are into the actual category pages my goal is to have them provide me with information and eventually to be able to provide them with information. For right now if they are just looking for information, and cannot find it on my site then I want them to find it elsewhere, which is why I should have the relevant Google text ads on these pages.
That's all for now, but don't be afraid to add your favorites to LOPICO.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Blog tops site

I find it very funny that this blog now is the top listing in a Google search for LOPICO. Where is the actual LOPICO? On page 3 without a description. It is because of this that I am actually thinking about joining a link exchange. If you've read my past posts (which you haven't) you know that I am very against link exchanges, but seeing as 1) Google is the wal-mart of search 2) I have very little money and 3) I'm tired of being in the basement, I've decided to give a link exchange a try. Google is not wal-mart in the sense that it's a parasite that is ruining the lives of many Americans (in fact from what I can tell it is seems to be a rather pleaseant company), but more in the sense that if you're dealing with them it's their way or no way, and you want to deal with them because everyone uses their site. My second point, I'm entirely self funded, so a free link exchange is worth a try. And finally I'm really trying to up the promotion of LOPICO, and given point 2, this seems to be a good way to do it. But like my experience with, my plan is to give it only a month and see how it fits. I'm pretty sure I'm going to cut mamma before the month is out, but we'll see. The good thing about mamma, is it uses cpm, which means people don't have to click on the ads for me to get paid, the bad thing is they're annoying irrelevant ads. And I'm not making more this way, I have a pretty high CTR (rate at which people click on my ads) so I make more money from people clicking than I do from the ads that don't need clicked.
The other day I checked out LOPICO on my cell phone, it looked pretty bad, I'm going to be designing a mobile web version pretty soon, but I have so much in front of me as is, that it may be a few weeks.
My Blog is now linked to on, which again strikes me as a reason not to join a link exchange (I hate irrelevant links), but this is actually somewhat relevant, because in one of my posts I do mention that click fraud is probably at its worst for mesothelioma sites. But overall I'm not relevant to mesothelioma, many people are sick from the cancer, and it is sad that people are taking advantage of that.
Also I think I may be able to reduce my click fraud problem if I lower my advertising bids, if my ad is not as prominently placed the frauders will suspect I haven't paid much and will probably leave my ads alone. Unfortunately this will mean less publicity, but the trade-off may be worth it, we'll see.
If you're interested you can check out what the redesign looks like in the shopping-clothing categories in Naperville, IL, it's just a quick peak and not finalized, but I wanted to try it out, so feel free to check it out. (It should be fairly obvious that it's not final from the different versions of the Google ad that I use on different pages)
Much more going, which is why I need to stop blogging. As always I appreciate any additions to the site, the more you add the better the site gets.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Advertising woes

I now have 50 pages with ads. I put them on each state page, so for the most part if you want to get into LOPICO you have to see one of the ads. But I will be changing that, I'm going to try mamma for one month and then I'm done with it. I am not happy at all with their ads. Primarily because they're not relevant and because they include pop-ups. I hate pop-ups, and you have to have pop-up blockers turned off for LOPICO to work best. Mamma does provide a strong revenue stream (sort of) because it has some cpm based pricing, but I can't see myself continuing with mamma, it does not represent the best interest of promoting LOPICO. I guess I never really realized how good Google was until I tried Mamma.
I did make two changes however, that allow users to go around the state pages. First I now list the top four most visited cities from the prior week with a direct link to each city page. (City pages are due for an update and will be getting it soon). I also added search powered by MSN to my page. I went with MSN because it has more of my pages listed than most sites. I was really starting to like MSN's new search, and was starting to use it more and more, until I found SNAP.
My only other change recently is that instead of adding a city directly on the state page I put a link to a new page that allows you to make a suggestion and shows other recently suggested cities. I did this primarily because I was getting a lot of city add suggestions for cities that were already up. I think that this was either a result of confusion, because people thought they needed to input their city to go to the city page or that people just wanted to put in their city to see how the form worked. Either way I think putting it on a different page helps because now people won't be confused and they can see cities that are already in contemplation, so they won't re-add these.
I'm planning on making an entire help section to LOPICO for what I think would be frequent points of confusion or places where help is needed. This will be included in the forthcoming redesign.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


I signed up for mamma's ad program for publishers, I really like some of the features of it, but we'll see what happens once I get the codes and put the ads into my site. I think I'll use mamma on 185 pages, actually I'll be giving these ads better visibility than my google ads, but my google ads will still cover the majority of my pages, I think I have google ads on approximately 11745 pages.
I was almost finished with the roll-out of my redesign when I decided to change the design again. Hopefully though I can focus on this and get it all done in a week or two. I'm also planning on adding another 50 or so cities and maybe another category. This site redesign is going to deal mainly with aesthetics, but there will also be enhanced functionality, and a navigational change. The navigational change is mainly going to be for my benefit, because it will make redesigns easier.
I'm also working on a new site to handle my advertising. I mentioned this before, but now I'm pretty certain that I'm going to keep it as a separate brand. I think that this will help set aside the free part of lopico from the pay part, and will allow me to keep my advertising all in one spot if I ever decide to develop another site. I'm also going to be introducing some different ways to advertise when I launch my ad site, but that's still a ways off. Not that time really matters, I've only had three advertising requests, and still am relying solely on outsourced ads.
I went through some of my old plans for Lopico that I came up with when I began developing the idea, I'm so focused on the online part of lopico that I often forget that this is real only phase 1a of my ultimate plan for LOPICO. But you've got to start somewhere.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

sub domain

I've decided to create a new site to handle all of my advertising. I'm in the process of creating it still so I'm not going to put up the url yet. I want to make it a sub domain, but I'm still having a little trouble with that. My other option is to run it a completely separate site which I might do. The problem with running it as a subdomain, is that the domain name then freezes and as long as you keep navigating through links it will remain. That is completely unclear. What I mean is if you were to go to and then from there go back to regular, the address bar would not change, it would still say Maybe not the biggest problem, but I want to figure it out before I do anything with it. I kind of like the idea of having a separate site for advertising entirely though. It seems to separate the free part of LOPICO, which is just the basic listing from the pay part. I might end up just doing this, especially since I'm pretty fond of the name I came up with for the ad site, and don't know if I just want to mask it. I'm not sure which is better from a marketers standpoint, probably the mask. I think having the separate site has its advantages, but as far as creating brand awareness for LOPICO, I think I need to go with the mask. I guess I still have some things to consider.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

More on

Today's been a fairly uneventful day in the life of a young internet entreprenuer. I've been looking into advertising with, and I'm really begining to think that it's a better way for me to go than adsense. I'm not saying that it's better than adsense, I'm not saying mamma is better than google, but for my purposes it seems to make sense. First and foremost they address the click fraud issue more than google does. This alone is enough for me, but they also offer a lower payout plateau (amount you have to reach before the checks come) and some other interesting features, that seem to make it a better choice for some websites. Truthfully I'm not sold completely because of the amount of traffic that mamma gets compared to the amount that google gets. But I need to explore outside of google, because I've not had the best experience with google.
Newest Post: Mobazz Barbershop

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Take The Sour with the Apple

Well another day of highs and lows. First my #1 computer, the one with most of our information, had a hardware problem. This is a real let-down, because it just got fixed about a week ago. But I've now got a pretty reliable back-up, this is the type of thing you hate to be experienced in, but I'm learning to deal with this issue. Unfortunately, this is probably going to push the redesign back a little, but it should be done by early June
On a more positive note I was contacted by today. Mamma is a meta search, if you don't know what that is, it's like a search of search engines. It will give you results not just from one search engine but from multiple. I've used it a fair amount of times, usually when I can't find something I go to mamma, but I don't ever really use it first. But maybe I will start to use it first. Anyway, Mamma (at least a sales rep from Mamma) contacted me about promoting my site through So essentially just advertising the same way I do now, only through mamma rather than google. I may do it for two reasons. First, if you've read any of my other posts (which you haven't) you know how I feel about google (although I hate to say it is usually my first choice for searching). Secondly, personal aside, I'm probably not doing as well on google as I would on mamma. Mamma probably has fewer advertisers, which means I'll probably be able to get a better ad position for less money. I also would benefit from mamma's size (not that it's that small) from the fact that there are probably less click scammers on mamma, I don't know for a fact, but it's worth a try. I know I'll get less viewers of my ads, but if I get more valid clicks (someone who adds something to lopico) then it's definitely worth it. I like the fact that the sponsored links come first, not off to the side like google, but I don't like the fact that it sponsored links don't have their URL displayed. In that respect an impression isn't really an impression at all. I'm still in the brand building stage (not that you're ever out of that stage) but, since I'm just getting going I'd like it if people could see my URL.
It's never too late to add your cities favorites

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Good the Bad and the Robots

Well good or bad my goal is to talk about the website creation process. Yesterday was an interesting day for a couple of reasons. First I learned about the creation of a robots.txt file, thanks mainly to the website It's a search but also is a promotional site. I used it for its free app that checks a page for robot webcrawler suitability. Helpful, because I didn't have a robots.txt file at all. But I created one and now curiously my site is no longer listed on google. Google used to have an actual description of my site, but then it was downgraded to just a link and now it's not even there when you search for lopico. So maybe I did my robots file wrong, but I don't think so.
I also began experimenting with sub domains yesterday, but I need to get another site hosted to really make it useful. I think that I'll probably use a sub domain for my advertising portion of my site. If you don't know what a sub domain is, it's a domain like, instead of
The bad, well if you read my last post (which you probably didn't) you know how I feel about people compromising the integrity of google by these link exchange networks. I got an e-mail today from a site that is willing to link only to pages with at least a 5 rank on google and if you're lower than 5 you can pay for them to link to you. What a bunch of crap. This just completely undermines the Google system and should be banned. I struggle with my sites promotion, but I'd rather, get attention through hard work, not through link exchange.
Finally, I continue to do well in Tucson, AZ. Despite a recent post that all I ever get is restaurants, someone posted a Veterinary Clinic in Tucson: Central Animal Hospital. This was a particularly interesting addition because the adder put in the address phone number and web address. I guess maybe I'm not communicating the message clearly that all you need to add is the name of the business, probably because it's buried on an about page. I think I'll put a note about adding only the name on my homepage, but I'm not too sure.