A Fresh Look at Old Ideas

Back in 2001, nearly a decade ago (!), I began my career in Internet Marketing with a little baby shoe manufacturer called Robeez. I was hired to ‘run the website and increase online sales’. When I took the job, with compensation that leaned heavily towards commission, my friends and family thought I was crazy. After all, who was going to buy baby shoes (or anything, for that matter) online?

According to US Census, retail e-commerce sales in the US accounted for roughly 1.0% of total retail sales in 2001. Themost recent report released by the Census Bureau pegs retail e-commerce sales in the US at 3.7% for 2009. [Wow, was it really only 3.7%?]

My fellow marketing grads were going for sexy jobs at ad agencies or profitable ones as Pharmaceutical Sales Reps. I, on the other hand, found the 1.5’x1.5’ desk at the end of the dark hall in a small manufacturing building irresistible. No pain, no gain, right? I didn’t know how I was going to increase online orders to pull a decent living out of my new gig, so I tried everything.

One of the first things I did was pick-up a book off the Chapters shelf with a promising title, “Increase Your Web Traffic in a Weekend” by William Stanek. Given my diet of Kraft Dinner and Mr. Noodles I would have preferred, “Increase Your Web Traffic in a Day,” but this would have to do. Plus, it came with a FREE CD-ROM!

As a newbie back in ’01, I had no idea that my quest to increase web traffic in a weekend would extend to nearly a decade of obsession.

For old time’s sake, I dusted off the book and took a look. The pages of Stanek’s book laid out my weekend in clear-cut segments; Friday Evening, Saturday Morning, Saturday Afternoon… You get the idea. With promising © 2000 content like “Getting Listed as the Cool Site of the Day”, “Wading through Log Files”, and “Registering with Many Search Engines and Directories Simultaneously” I knew I was in for a treat.

There were even scheduled breaks worked into the text.

“Now that you’ve raced through most of Saturday Afternoon, it is time to take a break. Crank up the radio. Grab an ice-cold drink and something to eat. If you feel like taking a virtual stroll, launch your browser and visit Internet Daily News (www.netdaily.com).”[I like how the author pointed out that I needed to ‘launch my browser’ first.]

Even though many of the tactics outlined by Stanek have become stale with age, many of the things that were true about Internet Marketing and SEO in 2001 still apply today.

Registering with the Top Search Engines on the Planet

“Now that you’ve optimized your Web pages for indexing, you are ready to submit your Web pages to search engines.” Wrote Stanek

When he said ‘registering’ he meant ‘submitting’ according to today’s terminology. I am reminded that the more things change the more they stay the same. Though it is no longer useful to submit to the likes of Google in the way Stanek intended, sitemap submission and the immergence of Google Webmaster Central in 2006 brought new meaning to the recommendation of “Registering with the Top Search Engines on the Planet”.

Is it enough to tell the search engines about our homepage by submitting a form? No. But a link or two from regularly indexed pages elsewhere on the web, registration with webmaster tools, and the submission of a site map are usually enough to get Google’s attention for an initial crawl and index.

Wandering Through the Log Files

Stanek wrote, “The access log was meant to be wandered through. After all, it is an ASCII text file. For a Web site that is just getting started, you might find it fun to wander through the entries looking at the domain names of visitors and the files they access.”

Thankfully a lot has changed in the analytics space since 2000! Though log files can still be analyzed for things with which modern javascript based software struggles, there is nothing like pulling up today’s visits and the related conversions from your iPhone with a Google Analytics app.

Getting Listed as the Cool Site of the Day

Back in the days of my year 2000 internet marketing book, getting listed as the cool site of the day was a literal endeavor. There used to be a ton of sites that gave out awards like this. At its core getting listed as the cool site of the day was really about link building. The more authoritative the cool list, the better the link. The same rules still apply, but I haven’t come across a cool site of the day list in years. Have you?

Nowadays, the cool kids use social media. To truly be the cool site of the day in today’s internet, look to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The book touched on email marketing, affiliate marketing, SEO, analytics, and usability. Not bad for a weekend read. The book also covered link exchanges, bulk directory and search engine submission tools, purchased email lists, and other long ago diminished value tactics.

I sometimes wish that the tactics we used back in the day still worked today. Then I am reminded that if oodles of web traffic could still be easily obtained in a weekend, I’d be out of a job. Here’s to an every changing web. Cheers.

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