So, for anyone with a small business website, the question comes up eventually: how to be visible? Even assuming the niche is right, the quality good, the pricing fair, and the layout attractive–big assumptions–you can have the world’s best site but if nobody sees it, what’s the use? When we started this venture some years ago, Search Engine Optimization was the big thing. Maybe it still is, but after seeing 100 ads all promising to get us onto the first ten Google listings, at a price, we understood right away that more than ten other companies selling postcards had the same idea and after all there can only be ten winners.
And did we mention how expensive this is? Or how it was to read a stream of articles supposedly explaining how external links do or don’t help, how key words do or don’t get captured, how too many key words are as bad as too few, and so on. Let’s be practical: we do what we can to draw attention to ourselves but aren’t going to spend more money to do it. Our one attempt at advertising in a postcard publication was a disaster when the magazine published wrong information and delayed the ad–without apology. So we decided just to have fun with it.
If you are browsing through the entries you might see something like this: “If you like tram postcards (our emphasis), you’ll love this postcard of an early New Orleans tram along the Bourbon Street route …” We are hoping, of course, that search engines will pick up that phrase. We are not going to bury key words in white letters on a white background inside the site’s structure, or anything of that nature. To test the theory, we did insert the name of a totally mythical folk hero into a few entries, and sure enough–if you search for that name, you’ll find it in Big G and other search engines, though (alas) not yet anywhere else. Someone is bound to pick that up sometime.
We do ask some customers how they found us, and it inevitably comes back to Google or similar sites. We’re not using eBay, and we probably don’t appear in any other consolidators, which is OK, though we wonder sometimes if we shouldn’t try that. Recently, one customer was pleased with their order and wrote back with a message similar to feedback eBay sellers get–maybe you’ve seen comments over there like “*****AAAAAA++++++ seller, great service, will buy again.” Well! We were flattered, but here’s a really obscure story for you. There was an American poet of long ago, named Emily Dickinson, who wrote a short little ditty called “I’m nobody! Who are you?” The final four lines read: “How dreary to be somebody! How public like a frog, To tell one’s name the livelong day, To an admiring bog!”