I don't suppose I can really complain. After two solid weeks of surprising productivity, day fourteen actually delivered a fair share of frustration to make up for the supposed ease with which things had launched. That said, I still managed to get quite a bit done and I was encouraged to see that the search marketing world had finally started to buzz about the project as well.
(If you're just catching up with this series of articles, be sure to swing into the ongoing discussion thread at the Small Business Ideas forum. You'll be able to link to each day's article and participate in the discussion going along with it.)
The Search Marketing World Gives a Boost to The Lactivist
I never really expected The Lactivist project to get a lot of buzz within the search marketing industry because search engine optimization and search engine advertising are really such a small part of the project. I'd estimate that I've spent less than 15% of my time so far on anything search related and I was still getting less than 8% of my traffic from search engines. Nonetheless, my article series was finally reaching the point where I had some relevant search issues to cover, so some great links showed up to deliver a nice round of traffic.
I found a link coming in from Loren Baker's excellent Search Engine Journal site. Loren pointed to the project for the blogger perspective that I've provided in the series. Danny Sullivan provided a nice link from Search Engine Watch with a full write-up of the project and an excellent mention of milk banking. He also covered it in his Daily Search cast with Darrin Babbin on Webmaster Radio. You can listen to the show and hear their entertaining discussion of the project about three quarters of the way through. I know for certain that the project had an impact because it's the first time I've ever heard of Darrin admitting he was speechless about anything.
Also found some nice links coming in from the Website Content Strategies blog, Little Fish Web Design, HelpMeBlog and another foreign blog in a language that I can't understand. The best link of the day though came from a Parenting forum where one of the forum members gave a nice link to both the blog and the store sending me a nice range of traffic.
It's important to note that the traffic that came from sites like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Watch really didn't do me much good in terms of sales, but they did produce some great things as far as networking. There's also the obvious chance that some of the links that were showing up in parenting forums were coming from people that originally spotted the site via one of those links. If nothing else, the post from Search Engine Watch probably introduced the idea of human milk banking to tons of people that would never have heard of it otherwise. That's why I'll say yet again that links have value for far more than just the potential search ranking boost.
I also discovered on day fourteen that the rest of the Pimp My Site team from the Search Engine Strategies conference decided to pitch in to help "pimp" The Lactivist site for the show. So, if you're reading this, and you're going to be in Chicago next week for the Search Engine Strategies show, be sure to stop by the Pimp My Site session to see some of the shirts in person (being modeled by Elisabeth Osmeloski, Heather Lloyd-Martin and yours truly) and to share any feedback that you have on the project. I'll be easy to spot as I'll be wearing the "milk jugs" shirt.
My Own Experience with Cafe Press
Because I was going to be wearing one of my shirts for the SES Chicago show, I'd placed an order for "milk jugs" and for "these breasts save lives" so that I could do some promoting of the shirts as I'm out and about town. My shipment arrived on day sixteen and I must admit that it was kind of cool to open up a package and finally be holding my own product. That excitement disappeared fairly quickly though when I realized that both the front and back of one of my shirts said "these breasts save lives." The back of the shirt was supposed to have the URL of the web site printed across the shoulders. I made a quick check of the site to make sure it wasn't my error (it wasn't) and placed a call to customer service.
After a minute or two on hold, I reached a friendly customer service agent. I explained the problem and he quickly apologized and promised to ship a new shirt out immediately. When I asked what I needed to do about returning the misprinted shirt, he asked that I simply donate it somewhere. All of this took about two minutes of my time and was generally one of the most positive experiences I've ever had with customer service. So, my misprinted shirt turned out to be a good thing, because it gave me a chance to see how customer service would work if any of my buyers ran into problems.
Jagger is Not My Friend, but MSN is
A few days ago, I wrote about the amazing Google rankings that started showing up for The Lactivist store during the flux of the Jagger update. By day fourteen, Jagger had settled into place and many of my rankings had shifted south. Many of my top ten rankings had dropped to top twenty rankings and a few had disappeared altogether. That's not surprising as the site is still quite new and I honestly hadn't expected to see any Google traffic for at least a few more weeks. Since a steady stream of Google traffic was still showing up for non-competitive phrases, I wasn't too concerned.
MSN on the other hand was still showing plenty of love when it came to ranking the CafePress store. On day fourteen I was showing up as the number one listing for "breast milk" which proved what most search marketers already know. MSN isn't the most accurate of engines when it comes to delivering the BEST site in the results. While I was happy to have the listing, even I know that my CafePress store didn't deserve to be the number one listing for a phrase as broad as "breast milk."
Someone at Yahoo! must have been feeling left out while reading the article series because an email showed up in my box on the fourteenth with a coupon for $100 credit in a new Yahoo! Search Marketing account. (Ok, ok, it was a coincidence...it was actually sent to me because I visited their booth at the eComXpo last month.) With that coupon safely tucked into a folder of my inbox, I made plans to start up a pay-per-click campaign with them later in the week.
CSS, Why Did You Have to Replace HTML
There was a time, back when I first got into online marketing that I could build anything I wanted in HTML. I knew all the code, all the tricks and I could put together a site in an hour. Then a decade went by and I got rusty. Now, trying to figure out which divs point to where and what style sheet reference needs to be tweaked to move this image a pixel or two to the left is enough to drive me insane.
Earlier in the project, my husband had been wonderful enough to put together a template for the front page of the site, but day fourteen saw me trying to edit that template to create an internal page template that could be used for more content. I wanted to create a layout that I could carry over to both Blogger and CafePress so that each of the three sites looked alike and linked to each other. But, before I could work on tieing the design in to the other sites, I had to get it to work on my own.
After an hour or two of fussing, I still had a template that had plenty of problems and that couldn't be spread to the rest of the site. I'd managed to get a two column layout setup so that I could fill it with products, but getting the left hand navigation column to work was killer. I knew that there was some simple little fix out there, but time ran out for the day before I had a chance to figure it all out.
I also logged another blog post for the day that talked about recent data that shows global breastfeeding rates up 15% and that talks about some of the issues contributing to low rates around the world. I used that blog to tie in to the milk banking concept, which in turn tied to the milk banking products.
Coming up on day fifteen, I expand my horizons and try to sell on eBay for the first time. I also find out that blogging for other people can work to your advantage and finally get my own blog feed to work properly on The Lactivist site.
Jump to Day fifteen.
(Want to read the entire 30 Day article series at once? Download the free 30 Day ebook!)
December 2, 2005
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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