O.k. let me take you back to the year 2000 for a wee story. I had just bought a decent enough Pentium 3 desktop and I wanted to build my own website for my little one man tattoo studio. I figured it can’t be that hard can it? Famous last words…. So anyway I went out and bought a book, yes a book, old school thinking I hear you say? Anyone under 25 is probably thinking that buying a book about the internet is about as backward as backward gets. In my defence I was pretty green about the internet and how it works.
HTML for dummies, yes that is the book I bought. As it turns out I am way to impatient and maybe dumber than the said “Dummies”, to read a book about HTML. Essentially learning a whole new language which might as well be Klingon, for all the sense it made to me was a bridge too far. The one thing I learnt from HTML for Dummies was the term WYSIWYG. Yep, What You See Is What You Get. This was the game changer for me, so I started scouring the internet looking for ways to build my website with a WYSIWYG program, even better if I can do it for free. Did I mention I’m a cheap skate too?
I found a free hosting site which had a built-in site builder called Trellix. Wicked!!! I had found exactly what I was looking for, But??? I was on 56k dial up and waiting for an eternity for every change I made to load very nearly made my impatient brain explode. With a little more digging around the interweb I found I could download the software Trellix, Yeah ha!! So about two days later when the download was complete (56k remember) I got to work.
It took me about a week to get the first draft of my site built with galleries, contact stuff and a hit counter and guest book and all the cool Y2K stuff. I sat back and looked at it and it sucked. But that was ok, I now knew how the software worked. I scraped the site I had just laboured over and started again, this time it took me two days to get the site built, awesome!!
I got the site published on my free host and sat back waiting for visitors, Nothing. Oh? I missed the whole search engine submission bit. Back to scouring the interweb for info on how to get on the search engines to like my site. I set about manually submitting my URL to any search engine I could find and as you can imagine that was a pretty slow task, even back then. I found a free submission tool which would get me onto 100 or so search engines, which I thought was rather nice. While I was filling out the submission form it asked me for “Keywords”, What the bloody hell are Keywords now? Back the interweb, ahh keywords, now I get it. That’s part of this SEO stuff that I haven’t been reading. Time to start reading about it.
SEO back then was pretty simply really, name ya pages, have some keywords in the meta tags and content, name ya images, submit ya URL to as many sites as possible and ya’ll are done. For me that is pretty much how it worked. I had no local competitors in the Tattoo industry with a web site. I was the first in the Lower North Island of New Zealand. So a Google search with some generalized keywords would get me number one rankings completely organically too!!
SEO essentially hasn’t changed that much other than keywords not being quite so important. but this doesn’t mean a lot when you have dozens if not hundreds of paid listings and advertisers getting placed well ahead. Here is a question for what would happen if you 100 sites about the same subject, with the same great content and SEO, all paid for the same Google package at the same time, who would get the top bill? With the amount of sites on the web selling the same thing its got to happen eventually, right?
Of course as more and more studios in New Zealand and eventually the greater Wellington area began getting sites built and the web in general was growing at an unprecedented rate. I did regular tweaks and rebuilds to my site to keep my rankings in the first page at least. But… the game started to change, the search engines started wanting money to get good placings, WHAT!!! It is at this point the small businesses and sole traders fell of the search engine radar, unless of course they were willing and able to shell some dosh to keep their pages from sliding back to page ten or into oblivion. For some an advertising budget was something of myth and legend, and if it ever did exist the yellow pages soon gobbled it up faster than you can say “dying advertising platform”
I wasn’t too concerned with my rankings anymore as I was fairly busy with work, but I have to admit I liked the fact I had a top ranking site. But then I stared hearing of this new thing, MySpace social networks. Whats this MySpace I keep hearing about? Next minute… Whats this Facebook I keep hearing about?
By the time I had figured out what this myspace was all about everyone had left and gone to Facebook. Cool I can handle that, I set up a business page and set about getting some posts up and some likes, pretty easy really, ask some friends to share my stuff around and tuh dah!!! A really good easy way to market my business locally and overseas. I could post a picture and most of my page followers would get to see it, If I had a cancellation I could throw up a quick post in the morning and have the time slot filled in a matter of minutes, why? Because my followers were allowed to see my posts. Not anymore.
I’m no web genius or marketing wiz, I draw pictures and stuff. If I had the money I would pay someone to do all the marketing stuff and generating new business for me, but I don’t. I have to try to learn enough of three or four other specialised industries to be able to Get enough notice to get enough work to make it viable (still yet to happen).
Now as I’m setting up a new business I have discovered the game has changed again. Facebook seems to have changed their model just like the search engines did a few years back and are now basing the reach a post can get on how much dosh one wants to fork out. I have been doing a little more interwebbing on this subject in the last few days and I have discovered that facebook now only lets some of your viewers and friends actually see what you have posted, averaging about 25% but even as low as 7%. It turns out that if your post isn’t engaging enough (what ever that means) the algorithms devised by marketing and coding gurus at Facebook decide what is worth a look. If the post is engaging enough and the handful of viewers that do get to see you post then “like” or better yet share the post, the algorithms have another wee look and start letting a few more folk see it too, nice aye?
You can of course pay to boost your post (no matter how dull it is), and more folk will get to see it. My friends and customers want to see my dull posts and blurry photos, that’s what they signed up for. When you accept a friend request or like a page on Facebook you are saying “yes, I want to see your posts and hear what you have to say or sell” and if you decide that you don’t hear from that person or page anymore, you can unlike or delete. And for a while there you could do that. But now that is not really the case is it? No because our news feed half full of paid advertising for stuff you never liked in the first place, but can’t delete.
What is the next big thing after social media? Because really whats the point in building a following for your enterprise on social media if only 25% of said followers at any one time are going to be able to see what you are trying to show them? Surely something else will come along and take the world by storm. I mean Facebook was really just supposed to be a campus network thing wasn’t it? I’m starting to think maybe its time to pull back and go back to the local market, beat the feet, knock on doors, hand out a printed business card or brochure, carrying my portfolio in a big folder and say hello.
Anyway rant over, I am off to see whats happening on FB.