Saturday, March 18, 2006

Yes I get by with a little help from my friends with a little help from my friends...

Bill Nye might be the Science Guy but Bill Slawski is the SEO Patent Guy! He's also one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet and a fellow member of the SMA-NA. He's stopped by and left us something "on the silly side of linking". Enjoy!

A morning walk, with hypertext

Funny where links are showing up these days offline, in the world. This morning, I decided to keep my eyes alert for hypertext on a stroll through the small town I live in.

Grabbing a cuppa joe at the big chain bread and coffee place near me, I notice that the receipt not only has a web address, but also instructions to provide feedback by web or toll-free phone number to be eligible to win a monthly $ 2,000. cash prize. Good to see calls to action with a link. That seems like a good idea.

I also pick up a copy of the local paper. Usually I read it online, but sometimes I like to relax with breakfast and the news, and it's hard to eat and type at the same time. Prominently under the paper's name is the online address. I wonder if subscriptions to the printing-press version has suffered, or if it appeals to a different demographic than the online edition.

The place where I pick up my paper is my local newstand, and I ask myself, as I look at the magazine covers, how many of them don't have websites. The newstand has been in business for years, and it's a local institution, serving folks a mix of books, magazines, papers, lottery tickets, snacks, and drinks. Lots of URLs all over the place, on almost everything they sell. Are newstands like this one an endangered species?

Walking through a parking lot, I feel an urge to click on cars, noticing that some Maryland and Pennsylvania license plates include URLs instead of state mottos. Kind of hard to mouse over vehicles while they are barreling down the highway, but it must help spread the word that these states have websites.

You never know when you might need a dumpster, but if you do, the garbage removers near me are savvy enough to include their URL on the big green trash receptacles I walk past this morning. I'm surprised at some of the places where I didn't see URLs, like the DHL pickup box, Verizon payphones, and a number of stores and restaurants that I know have web sites.

Some of the food places do have their URLs painted on their glass windows, or on signs. A couple have tent signs I have to walk around on the sidewalk, with their web addresses on them. One of those dining establishments holds special dinners celebrating different events, and I see they have a couple of signs touting a “Graduation Day Special Dinner.” (I like living in a college town.) The signs state that this is “reservation only,” and they let people know that they can make those reservations online, listing the address.

A few other places using the internet as part of their front facade marketing include the local post office, one of the town's florists (who also has the URL on the back of the delivery van parked in front of the building), and one of the real estate agents, with a sign in the otherwise empty window of a store that closed a couple of months ago.

I see a few nods to online guerilla marketing, with events listed on a community bulletin board with web sites noted, and a sticker for a clothing store placed graffiti-like on a oneway sign in an alley. Another sticker for a band, with URL, is seen a little further down the street. I don't know if this is a good idea, or a bad one, but I did write the band's name and address down.

Returning with a hot coffee and chocolate pastry (breakfast of champs), I see that the mailman has brought me some correspondence from around the world. The lowcost insurance company sending me mail displays their dot com in the return address instead of street, city, state and zipcode. I guess they figure no one will be sending their letter back to them if the intended recipient has moved.

Some of the bills that accompany my junk mail also prominently exhibit online addresses where I can send in my payments. I wonder how much time they save by having people pay online. I'm not sure how I feel about paying my bills online.

Along the journey, I stopped and picked up “A History of Violence” on DVD. Of course, on the package are URLs for both the film and the production company. I decide to watch the movie before looking at the web site for it. I've already seen the trailer, read a review, and bought the movie. I wonder what else they might have for me at the web site. Hopefully something that isn't trying to sell it to me, because I already own it.


Author Bill Slawski owns SeoByTheSea a company offering internet marketing services focused on organic search engine results and usability in web sites.

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