Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Happy Birthday Lopico (and Google)

September 27th is the official birthday of Lopico, the site wasn't officially launched in content form until December 31, but this is the official day that Lopico was created. Between September 27 and December 31 Lopico just had a coming soon page available with a form to "make sure your business is included," you can check it out using the way back machine but most of the images have been taken out of my site directory so it's not a very strong representation. Coincidently, I noticed that Google's birthday is today according to the Google homepage (although I thought that it was the 7th and Alexa says the 15th) - so Happy Birthday Google! As much as I talk negatively about Google, I was actually going to mention that Google was the first to crawl my new homepage (every now and then it lives up its hype).

Google aside, a lot has happened in the past year. It's really been a huge learning experience for me. When I started Lopico I was only in 13 states, and the site looked very different to say the least. The concept has always been the same, but the finer points have evolved. I wasn't worried about things like site navigation or trying to figure out what my competitive advantages at this stage would be, I just wanted to have a website that I could use to build the Lopico brand into the business that I still would like to transform it into (my future plans are the one area I never really say in my blogs, and I'm still not going to). But the web is tough, especially when you live in not-exactly-tech-savvy Akron, Oh. Despite that I have made great progress.

Many things have changed in Lopico over the past year: I've added all states; I've increased the number of cities and categories on several occasions; I recently began making the site faster; I've been through a few ad networks (and have finally found one that I'm happy with for the most part); I've had multiple home page redesigns and 4 different versions of my interior pages; and most importantly I've had a lot of people add their favorite businesses. I've really become so much more knowledgeable about the web in the past year (but how could I not have), I don't think that I really even knew what a blog was last year, I'd heard of them, but had no interest in using one. I'd probabbly never even heard of SEO, FFA's or SERPs, and AJAX was just a household cleaner. Now I feel that I really am knowledgeable about the web as a business, which is really going to help me in the coming year.

I have some major changes planned in the coming year but I really cannot disclose any of them because they are proprietary information. But the first of the new changes should be coming soon.

What excites me about Lopico is that it gets better every day. Every day each new addition to the site makes it just a little better, until soon enough it's great.

Thanks to all who have added their favorites, and remember the more you add the better we get!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The power of del.icio.us

This will be the first time that I have spent an entire blog about something other than Lopico. But this is the most blogworthy site I've come across (other than lopico). Del.icio.us, is going to change the internet. People talk about del.icio.us as a way to track trends, but it's potential is far beyond that. It's a way to start trends and it's a whole new way (or hopefully will be soon) to search the web.

Search engines such as Google use incoming links to rate a sites value as a resource on certain subjects - while this has turned out to work well enough, it is not always the best way to find quality sites. One problem in particular is SEO (search engine optimization). I'm all for good SEO writing and believe that writing a site well is very important, but with some skill an SEO'er can write a site into rankings that it doesn't deserve. Del.icio.us has the potential to change that. When I use delicious I see an opportunity for the web to be ranked by web users not algorithms. I look forward to the day when I can search del.icio.us and find top ranked sites for my query as dictated by the number of bookmarks for that search.

There will be several challenges however. First, del.icio.us needs to prevent spamming & bookmark farming. Traditional search engine algorithms have led to the creation of link farms, I can envision the creation of a bookmark farm in which a web developer signs up to have 6,000 people bookmark his/her site to shoot it to the top of the popularity rankings and generate instant buzz. Second major challenge will be to draw a large enough audience, this I am not as worried about for delicious, one you start using it you won't want to stop. But, the key will be to draw in web developers to put their sites on delicious, and to file them under the proper tags. It has a lot of potential, but it also seems easy to take advantage of from a web developers standpoint. In fact, I am myself contemplating adding every city from Lopico to del.icio.us. I think that it will be valuable for a lopico page to show up any time someone is looking for a business in a Lopico city (both to the person and to Lopico). But at the same time, I am worried that if I dump a bunch of pages into del.icio.us all at once they will be ignored and my posts will be ignored.

Ultimately it is a revolution in the making and will change the way that you use the web. Whether it is del.icio.us or a copy from Google or MSN it will change the web. There's more to say but the best way to learn about it is to use it (and don't forget to bookmark Lopico).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


1. I had a comment posted in BusinessWeek this week, regarding my feelings on Google.

2. Friendlypop.com is gone. Strictly a business decision to terminate it, I still think that it is a great idea, it just wasn't right for me right now.

3. I launched a new site today (though it's still under construction) achrun.org, it's not for everyone it's going to be Akron focused.

4. I made a change to the top row of navigation buttons on Lopico, it was the one part of the site redesign that I wasn't happy with.

5. I recently started an account on del.icio.us and I'm hooked. I think that this is a great site and will ultimately change the way the we use the web.

6. It's still September so there are still more big things to come!

The more you add the better we get! [This is my mantra but really it could be for any web 2.0 sibbu (site built by user).]

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Big things to come in September

When the dust settled I was very happy with the new look of Lopico, however this does not mean that I am finished redesigning. I just updated my hope page from an SEO (search engine optimization) perspective, but would also like to update the way it looks - not much of a change but a change none the less. Some of the most important changes that I have recently made to my homepage include keyword saturation (number of times a word is repeated on a page), usage of header tags (doesn't really change the look, but some search engines place more importance on things that are in header tags), reduction in the number of meta tags that I have (simply put: keywords - search engines usually do not like to many keywords), and I've changed my title tag once again to reflect my increased focus on low cost advertising.

I would say that August really helped me define the niche of Lopico as a focus on only the best business and lowest cost advertising. The best business focus, has always been the focus of Lopico but I wasn't marketing that aspect of Lopico as much as I should have. The low cost advertising component is a new focus for Lopico, as I am trying to increase the amount of business done directly through Lopico rather than through Ad Networks.

Speaking of Ad Networks I have a new primary ad network in FastClick. I have placed FastClick on the majority of my pages, and hope to have it on all pages before long. There were a few reasons for the change in Ad network, but I will save that discussion for another day.

I look forward to big things happening for Lopico in the month of September, now that the redesign is finished I have really been able to focus on my advertising and have begun to advertise outside of AdWords. I have a lot planned for the month and really think that things should go very well.

I've also begun work on my third site (well technically my fourth I set up a site called TownyAds to be the advertising arm of Lopico, but I have since abandoned this site) which I plan to have news on later this month.

Lastly, as of late I've been trying to find interesting new web concepts, and I have found quite a few. I've decided to share this knowledge and link to other start-up sites starting with this blog. So for my first Start-up of interest I have chosen: Grokker, check it out if you like, I think it will be worth your time.

As always I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed to the site. The more you add the better we get.