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May 21, 2008

Make Sure Your Business Is In Front Of Your Customers Faces When They Want You

Last week I found 2 copies of the Yellow Pages, yes 2 delivered on different days, on my doorstep . You remember Yellow Pages, right? Those huge, thick old style books printed on real paper from trees that you used to have to flip through endlessly trying to find a location or phone number. Antiques, I know. I threw them away, or rather recycled them of course, not knowing I may actually need one one day. I can't remember the last time I did need one. With a world of information at my fingertips anytime I need or want it why would I need this relic? After all, all I need to do is type a few words into Google and they'll do the searching for me and present me with the best, most relevant information. Right? Well, not if your business isn't optimized on the web.

So last night I was looking for dinner. My boyfriend unfortunately got to pick dinner for the night, which of course was fried chicken, my least favorite. Well, I thought we must find a chicken joint that serves macaroni and cheese. If I'm forced to eat fried chicken there better be some cheese involved because, being from Wisconsin I know that it's not really food if it doesn't have cheese on it. But I digress. My boyfriend and I both knew there was a fast food chicken joint up the road from us but we couldn't agree on which one it was.

So, my search began. My boyfriend thought it was a Popeye's Chicken. So, I Googled Popeye's Chicken. The URL for the first result looked promising enough, www.popeyeschicken.com, but in the search results the title only said "WELCOME TO POPEYES!" Woah! First of all quit screaming at me (using all caps can give that impression on your users) and second of all where's the "fried chicken"? I guess they don't want people to find them when searching for fried chicken. I clicked through to the site and found the entire site is in flash so the search engines have know idea what this site is about. I navigate my way through the flash and find the menu. No mac & cheese. Bummer.

Okay, on to Church's Chicken. Googling Churchs Chicken, the search results show www.churchs.com, good. The title is simply "Church's Chicken", at least we know they have chicken. Now, this site is all flash too. Except more annoying as it has all these fancy effects and sounds. I navigate to the menu and wait for the animations to load and find - no mac & cheese!

Okay, obviously I'm not going to get my cheese with dinner. So, while still on the Church's Chicken site I decide to check the locator to determine if it's a Church's up the street. I type in Dallas, TX and the website tells me there are no restaurants in Dallas, TX. Come on now, it's Texas! Of course there are Church's Chicken...and many at that.

Frustrated now, I search for Churchs Chicken Dallas. Google results display a map at the top of the page and 10 links for various Church's locations all linking to churchs.com where the locator did not work. I click though to the map and see there's no restaurant indicated in my area. Okay, maybe that was a Popeye's after all. I Google Popeyes Chicken Dallas and I get the map results where they are all linking to www.popeyes.com instead of popeyeschicken.com. I opt for avoiding yet another dead end site and click through to the Google map. But there's no Popeye's Chicken near me anywhere!

About ready to give up on this whole internet thing (yes, I know that would leave me jobless), I give popeyes.com a chance. What do you know, another flash site. Yippee! This site is different from the first so I check the previous site and finally notice that popeyeschicken.com is only for the Washington DC area, yet it ranks for Popeyes Chicken above the main Popeye's Chicken site which I didn't even notice in my search. Oy! Moving on, I find a link to a locator on popeyes.com in the flash menu. This prompts my browser's pop up blocker to bleep at me. Oh boy, here we go. I go back and this time opt to click on the text link in the footer (yay! at least they have this!). Finally, popeyes.com gets something right and I am taken to a locator that when Dallas, TX is entered it returns results. And there it was, a fried chicken joint up the street. I decided to check the menu on this Popeye's site and low and behold - mac & cheese. Glorious!!!

So, yeah about 30 minutes or more later I got what I was looking for, or so I thought. I think I might have found it faster in the old Yellow Pages. I'm obviously a very experienced internet user and searcher and I had all these problems. I'm sure I would've given up had I not been a curious SEO but a "normal" person.

What I learned from this is that no matter how big your business is, no matter whether you are local or international you absolutely need to use internet marketing services to position yourself to be in front of your customers faces when they are actively looking for you. If you have a business with multiple locations, make sure your business and all physical addresses are verified with Google Maps. If I was an average internet user looking for fried chicken and mac & cheese in Dallas I would've just gone to the nearest KFC and skipped all the hassle I went through.

Finally, it's also important to make sure your website accurately reflects your products and services. If you discontinue or no longer carry an item, take it off the website. Nobody likes to get excited about finding you have mac & cheese on your online menu only to go to your store and find no such thing.

Yes, I was eventually successful at locating a chicken joint with mac & cheese near me, but did I accomplish what I set out to do? Sadly, no. I was like a mouse racing for the cheese at the end of an obstacle course only to have it removed just as I arrived. My local Popeyes had no mac & cheese on the menu when we got there. So after all my searching I had clearly wasted my time and am not going to be interested in fried chicken again any time soon.

2 comments:

ken said...

Those books which you say you are “Antiques” actually got referenced over 13 billion times last year. And that’s just the print versions. 87% of all adults reference them at least once a year, 70% in a typical month, and 50+% on average month. How about on average 1.4X each week?

While the popular myth is that this industry is responsible for the neutering of forests, the reality is the Yellow Pages industry doesn’t knock down any trees for its paper!!! Let me repeat that – they don’t need to cut any trees for their paper supply. Currently, on average, most publishers are using about 40% recycled material (from the newspapers and magazines you are recycling curbside), and the other 60% comes from wood chips and waste products of the lumber industry. If you take a round tree and make square or rectangular lumber from it, you get plenty of chips and other waste. Those by-products make up the other 60% of the raw material needed. Note that these waste products created in lumber milling would normally end up in landfills. Not only that, as wood chips decompose, they emit methane, a greenhouse gas closely associated with global warming. Paper manufacturing thus puts these chips to good use. Many paper providers will also use 5% or less of recycled directories in their paper creation.

Kimber Cook said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting ken.

I realize that my views may be a bit lopsided since I live and work on the internet but I am shocked by the user statics you provided since I do not know one person who still keeps, let alone uses Yellow Pages.

I was pleased, however with the info you provided about Yellow Pages being "green". Great stuff. Keep getting the word out on that!