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, 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"

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