Connection Speeds in the US

I've been working online now for over a decade and it's still striking to me how slow the internet connection speeds are in the United States compared to the rest of the world. Now, I know that we have a very large nation and rely on private companies to provide the funding and initiative to upgrade our technical infrastructure, but come on man, it's 2013! It's a sad day when Google has to take the initiative because their business is impacted by slow speeds. I wish they did their Google Fiber test in San Diego rather than Kansas, but what can you do? After moving to California and coming from a place where Comcast provided the internet speeds, it was a very jarring experience to go first from AT&T (which was terrible) with an average connection speed of <3MBPS and then move to a location services by Time Warner, where the average connection speed was better, albeit at an average of <7MBPS. The biggest problem with the move to Time Warner was that the connection would literally go down 3-4 times a day for 10-20 minutes at a time. After spending hours on the phone with technical support, only to be told that there was no issue and it had to be hardware related (funny that they are the ones who provided the hardware), I decided that I would take matters into my own hands. A few hours of research later I decided to try out a [Read more...]

On Yahoo’s ‘Work From Home’ Shift

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I first read about the shift in Yahoo's work-from-home policy in an opinion piece supporting the move on CNN. That piece can be found here. The original piece of news was posted here. I felt compelled to respond to this piece based on my own background, which has been spent mostly in management for various businesses ranging from under 50 employees to over 1,000. In all of that time, one of the things that I have come to despise more than anything else is the concept that a meeting holds any intrinsic value, that those C-levels and VP's, Directors and Managers who spend most of the time in meetings are productive. They are not productive. More often than not, meetings do not need to occur. More often than not, too many people are involved in meetings that are scheduled to run for too much time. More often than not these meetings do not have a tight agenda, do not start on time, do not stay on topic, and unfortunately run long. When you take into account all of these items, it means that the bloviating executives who are so quick to exclaim "I'm so busy!" produce less than their subordinates tasked with actual execution. Factoring in increased salaries and benefits only increases the gap between the productivity of a "worker" versus that of an "executive". I say all of this … [Read more...]

The Most Important Thing to Know About Paid Search

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There's a funny thing that happens when you become a business owner, even if your business is just you working out of your garage on the weekends: You're inundated with advertisements to help you grow your business. One of the most persistent types of offer I have seen are the online marketing professionals that will harangue you with phone calls, direct mail, and e-mail about their services.

If you know what I'm talking about then you have obviously also heard about two great things called Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Search Engine Marketing and Pay Per Click (SEM/PPC). We're going to talk a little bit about paid search today.

For starters the question you may have as a business owner is "How effective is paid search?"

That question is unfortunately too vague, but the short answer is that SEM can be very effective, but with many caveats. Just like a local TV ad or a radio ad can be effective, so too can a paid search campaign. Conversely, just as a local TV or radio ad can be a ruinous waste of money, so too can a paid search campaign.

The biggest problem we've seen when talking to small business owners about their paid search efforts are a basic lack of knowledge about how it works. Between Adwords and Adcenter it is incredibly easy to setup a search campaign. While you have to have a higher level of sophistication to setup a direct mail campaign or reserve a TV spot, paid search is a very democratic … [Read more...]

On Facebook’s New Search Feature

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There's news out today that Facebook is set to release a new "graph" search functionality to a few thousand discrete users, paving the way for the site to open the feature to a global audience. You can read about it over at Wired or the New York Times. Immediately the web was set with posts and Tweets all wondering, "Could this be the end of Google?" My short answer: Hardly. It doesn't take much more than a Google search for "Mark Zuckerberg Google killer" to pull up this blast from the past touting the new "Gmail killer from Facebook". There was also some coverage in the latter half of 2012 covering the steps Facebook was taking to wage war on Google. So why won't the new Facebook search be a serious threat to Google? Let me count the ways:

  1. It's still not competing directly with Google - It would be more appropriate to label Facebook's movements as possible Yelp or Angie's List killers. Those are both services where reviews and personal opinions from people you know carry a lot of weight. Even the news today about the search feature gives more examples of how Facebook will apparently be competing with Match.com than with Google (when's the last time you … [Read more...]

8 Great Sites to Advertise With

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If you're like most small business owners, you probably often wonder how to best promote your goods and services on a tight budget. While it would be great to have tens of thousands of dollars per month to handle branding and PR, social marketing and print ads, most business owners have to think in terms of less than a few hundred dollars to gain promotion. This makes for some tough choices and a lot of thinking about ways to make that budget stretch. While List Here is a great way to advertise your business (don't be surprised at what the number one site is), we're not the only option out there for businesses. Below are eight great sites that can help you increase your marketing reach:

  1. List Here: We told you not to be surprised! List Here is a free online classified site that also offers premium listings for a small fee. You can get started for absolutely free and the great thing is this is a good way to show off your actual products to the world, not just listing your address and leaving it at that. You can also request a FREE premium advertising credit to try out premium ads by clicking here.
  2. Facebook: This is a bit of a tricky one since most people don't go to Facebook with shopping in mind, but if you play your cards right it can be a fantastic way to reach people who need your products or services. The big upside is that personal … [Read more...]

Classified Advertising for Small Businesses

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One of the hard things about telling people I meet about List Here is stressing that it's "not just" a classified listing site. Sure, it shares a lot of features with players like eBay Classifieds or Oodle, but at the end of the day the goal of List Here is much different than those sites. You could find literally hundreds of online classifieds sites online, with the majority of them being run by regional newspapers or TV news sites, while the distribution of overall traffic goes to a few names at the top. That said, the goal of List Here isn't to be just another classified site. When we first came up with the idea of List Here it was in response to seeing business listings on other classified sites. There were two varieties at play:

  1. Ads put up by business owners in the free classified sections. These are things like local furniture or consignment shops who post some of their products in the general area of a classified site.
  2. Business owners who were trying their hand at banner advertising on the classified site.
The problem with the first type of listings was easy enough to see - business owners would post an ad, only to have it be pushed off the site by other activity, or to see it expire. There isn't a way for them to keep it going over the long term. The problem with the banner ad approach is that it just doesn't drive targeted traffic. Click through rates are generally well below 1%, and you get charged on a CPM basis, meaning … [Read more...]

Local Online Marketing

It's been a few years ago since the idea for List Here first came up in my head. I've spent my career in online marketing working for companies large and small and the reality of online offerings is very slim for the uninitiated. That's not to say that the internet is a joke and that you have to be a Fortune 500 to play online, but there are multiple types of businesses where the road to online success is limited. The thing that initially got me thinking about creating List Here was (no surprise) one of our competitors, Craigslist. People the world over use the Craigslist service, but when you look at it from a business perspective the service is incredibly limited. Automotive dealers and real estate agents use the service in overwhelming fashion, but with that service they have to deal with the constant turnover of new ads "pushing" theirs off page. Other service providers are in the same boat, and those companies who sell goods locally are all but locked out of the service (consignment shops, clothing stores, furniture stores). That's where the idea for List Here came from - creating a local online marketing solution that doesn't take any training to operate, is easy to use and support, and doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Different types of businesses are able to post to the service with very straight forward pricing, keeping in mind that they can still use non-premium, expiring ads if they … [Read more...]

Oh the New Year

I don't know if it's just me, but I'm not exactly pumped up about this 2013 thing. In fact, I feel like I'm still recovering from the collective combined partying brought on by Christmas and the New Year. As far as resolutions go, the only one I have on the map right now is to get back to eating normal food again. The past two weeks have been a non-stop eating out/eating crap fest and my body is not shy about letting me know how it feels about this. Hopefully your New Year's events have you and yours feeling better about the odd year of 2013. … [Read more...]

Small Business SEO Tips

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Back in the early 2000's it was easy enough to be a business owner - small or otherwise - and shrug off the importance of online marketing in the overall marketing and advertising mix. Those days are long gone, and now you'll be hard pressed to find even noobie business owner who doesn't understand that they need to have a good strategy for marketing their business on the internet. One of the biggest challenges many of these business owners face is that marketing on the web isn't as straight forward as with other mediums. If you want a billboard ad you need a designer, copywriter, and to call up a company that rents the space. Pretty straightforward. When it comes to something like SEO, though, they need a designer, copywriter, developer, SEO consultant, hosting, a domain name, etc. Most people won't have major problems working with designers or copywriters (there are exceptions, of course), but when it comes to something like SEO you really need to have a good knowledge base for what works and what doesn't. The unfortunate thing about SEO is that unlike any other type of marketing it's not a medium that allows you to quantify what price will get you what result. With SEM we know that you will pay $X per click, and with radio, TV, and print you know how many people you'll reach. Not so with SEO. You know that for $X you'll attempt to get a ranking, but even these rankings do not guarantee traffic(I'm looking at you, positions 11+). That's why we're … [Read more...]

The things people post…

It always makes you wonder when you see the types of things that people post online for sale or for free. Especially the free stuff. There are things in this world that should just be thrown away. Some of my favorite that have been purged from the site include:

  • Six pairs of used men's underwear, complete with skid marks and enough holes to make you think they were hit by a machine gun. Really, who would actually want to wear these things?
  • Doll heads. Like, a freakin' crate of doll heads. This wasn't someone who even said that they owned a doll shop or something, and the pictures looked like they were a crate of creepy ass doll heads out in a shed in the woods. *shudder*.
  • Dirt. This one may be useful to some people, but the idea to me is just too fantastic to comprehend. I'm not talking about nice dark black soil that's good for gardening, I'm talking about a picture of dry desert quality dirt complete with chunks of rocks and such. It seems to me like I could find dirt pretty easily if I was hard up.
To each their own, but still, some of you people need to get professional help. Happy Almost New Years! … [Read more...]