Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Quick Update

Lopico just got some great new additions in San Jose, check them out if you like.

San Jose - American
San Jose - Mediterranean
San Jose - Pizza
San Jose - Bookstore

I'm always happy when I get multiple new additions, it gives me hope.

The more you add the better we get.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Four Stars

These Lopico blogs are becoming fewer and farther between, that may not be a bad thing. I had a major breakthrough the other day, but unfortunately I don't have the knowledge to make it a reality. That more than anything has been the most frustrating thing about this whole process. Starting Lopico has been great and a wonderful learning experience, but not having the technological background that I really need for this, it's been frustrating to come up with ideas and not be able to bring them to reality. I've taught myself HTML pretty well, and I've learned some Java and even toyed with ASP, but the things I have envisioned can only be done by serious programmers with funding. My new idea would be yet another way that Lopico differentiates itself from its competitors, but there's nothing I can do about it, I did register the domain name of my idea but that doesn't really get me too far.
I have recently become very interested in one of my competitors, Insider Pages. Insider Pages is an IdeaLab company. If you've read my blog before (which you haven't) you know that I'm a fan of Snap.com, another great site from IdeaLabs. Insider Pages is probably the closest thing to Lopico, but also very different from Lopico. Insider Pages plays to the internet community idea, whereas Lopico is more focused on the ranking and directory aspect. Insider Pages is similar in that it focuses heavily on user input, but does so in a different way, I recommend trying it out. Obviously Insider Pages has better funding than Lopico (Lopico funding still at $0), but it also has technological advantages that currently make it a superior site(I'm willing to admit when sites are better than mine is currently, but I always think that Lopico could be better than all of them if my vision could become a reality). One thing that I do think is better about Lopico than any other local directory is my ranking system. Every other site that I've ever seen uses stars for ratings, honestly I think that's a waste. That doesn't really tell a user anything. It tells them that there are 10 restaurants that are all 5 stars, does that mean that they are all of equal quality? Of course not, that's why my voting system is better, it gives the user a clear picture of where the business actually stands in terms of quality. More importantly, it brings visitors back. It brings visitors back because they want their favorites to be the best. I recently had one site visitor who came to my site everyday to vote (Lopico users can only vote once per day per category. Additions, however, are unlimited) until his/her favorites made the number one spot. Obviously, the more visits, the more ad impressions, the more revenue. But it's not all about money (Is it? I hope not.) the visitor was also making quality additions to my site.
Lastly a note on search engines. Because I've been negative about Google in blogs past, I want to note that Google finally got on board and began listing a large number of my pages, however, the cache of the pages is outdated, and the are listed as supplemental results. MSN search continues to lead the way, for me, in unpaid search traffic, I receive traffic from MSN daily without paying a cent (although I am looking forward to the MSN AdCenter arrival). SNAP, I still really like, but I'm still not listed. I can't be too upset, however, the Snap blog did link to mine, and I received traffic that way. Also, a Snap customer service rep contacted me about advertising, which I intend to do, as soon as my never-ending site redesign is finished. Lastly, I haven't had any contact with mamma media solutions since I informed my customer service rep that I was a one man outfit. Mamma doesn't pay much, the only thing it had going for it was customer service. Needless to say I am seeking a replacement.

I'll end with a quote about Lopico from Digital Point Forums, take it with a grain of salt:
"Lopico is another great idea that could take over the world if only it gets enough momentum. If it were 1996 you could easily get interviews and mainstream press stories about this new internet thingy"

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Well, things are starting to get a little more interesting. I have to say that looking at my May numbers in a realistic perspective, Lopico is still very unknown. But, I am still happy with the numbers because my Monthly advertising budget is less than what most pay on a daily basis. Also I've been able to get some people to buy into the Lopico system. I'm starting to get votes and additions on a daily basis, which to me is very promising, because I'm still just starting out.
The redesign, I'm always talking about on here (not that you've read my posts) is really going to be great. I was told the other day that the best thing about Lopico is that it's very user friendly, partially because of the simplicity. I think the new version is going to be even more user friendly. It just has a great feel to it (not that I'm biased). But anyway.
A couple more updates, awhile ago (but I never mentioned it) Snap.com's blog linked to mine, it helped generate some traffic. Have to love the free publicity. But as much as I like Snap, it still hasn't listed my site, even though I've attempted to add it. Snap has really helped me decide which markets to focus my advertising on, I'll search on Snap for e.g. dining in Tucson and see the type of traffic such a search receives vs. Dining in New York City; I use this as a factor in determining which cities to advertise in, and what categories to advertise in, but there are of course other factors.
I mentioned before that Las Vegas was not a good city for Lopico, because it's too much of a tourist town, and no one really knows what's best because most only have limited experience with the city. But, somehow I've been getting a fairly steady stream of additions and votes in Las Vegas. Interestingly one of the additions, was I Love This Bar and Grille, a new bar opening with a theme tied to the song. The bar hasn't even opened yet, but someone added and I was able to track down the contact info so it's up. I'm hoping this may drive in some traffic to Lopico when this starts to get more publicity closer to the time it opens. Essentially you can find it from Lopico, but not sites like Google Local, Yahoo! Local, or Citysearch.
The more you add the better we get! Keep adding and voting, thanks.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

May Wrap

It's been awhile since my last blog, I've been focusing all my time on my redesign, I need to get it right, I want it to be the final redesign for at least a year. I'm making great progress, in my opinion, but I can't skimp on quality just to have a newer version online.
May was my best month so far in terms of page views as well as new business additions, and will now serve as my benchmark month. It was also an interesting month for Lopico, as I began to branch out from Google advertising. The two most significant changes were the addition of mamma.com ads and joining a link exchange. If you read my previous posts (which you didn't, and unfortunately a couple of my best were removed to prevent troubled relations with Google, so you can't read them) you know how I feel about link exchanges. In short I don't like them, I think they are a threat to the internet's power to give people relevant information without having to go through a bunch of crap. Unfortunately at this phase in the evolution of the internet they are neccesary, because the webs most powerful search engine (in terms of delivering traffic to your site) uses a link based algorithm to determine the importance of your site. So if you want to get ahead it's hard not to use a link exchange, at least when starting out.
The mamma.com ads that I've placed on my site were initially a disaster. I guess this was my own fault, but the sites campaign management resources are not very good. So initially I had some pop-ups which drove me crazy, but in a few days I got rid of them. Lopico is supposed to help people and businesses, not annoy them. If you follow the internet sector business news, you know that mamma.com is supposedly a mess of a company. I chose to use their ads however, because they did do one thing right, and that was customer service. First of all, mamma came to me asking if I'd like to use their ads. I've never heard from anyone at Google, I've received several e-mails from my rep at mamma. I still have a slight problem with one campaign that I receive from Mamma, and my rep hasn't responded to my latest e-mail. I think once she learned that Lopico is a one man show, she decided that I wasn't important enough for her time, but that could be a mistake. I'm increasing my number of mamma supplied ads on Lopico from 50 to 135, but if the customer service gets any worse, I'll gladly try out a different company.
I'm still trying to decide on snap.com, I may start advertising on snap, but I need to find out if snap's service can work for Lopico. Snap allows advertisers to pay only for ads that generate performance. For example, I would get paid only when some one added their favorite business on Lopico. From what I've read however, I'm not sure if the tech would workout with Lopico, since Lopico is built on the usage of thousands of forms. I've been meaning to look more into this, but Lopico is only my second job and as I previously mentioned design is taking all of my time right now.
I also created a new site this month. It is intended to serve only as a part of Lopico. The purpose of the site is to be the advertising arm of Lopico, so that I can separate the free part of Lopico (finding, adding, and voting) from the paid advertising. But demand is great enough at this point that I need to be in any rush.
I also was recently informed, in a post on digital points forum, about a site that is supposed to be like mine. The developer of this site said that he has trouble getting people to add businesses. Sometimes I think I have the same problem, but when I think of how small my audience is, I really think I've done alright. One of the things that I'm going to start tracking when the redesign is finally finished is the number of businesses that are listed on Lopico, and I will display this number on the home page. Not that anyone's reading this far down (which if you are I'm shocked, but thanks), but I think it will be a cool new feature of Lopico. I'm really inspired by the volume of information that Snap.com gives its visitors, it's interesting and keeps me coming back.

If you want, please add as many favorites as you want. The more you add, the better we get.

And finally my numbers for the month of May:
Page Views: 24,488
Visitors: 1321
Top Reffering Site: Google
Most Active City: Chicago
Ad Impressions: 5077
Adsense Ctr: 1.7%