How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!
  • 2004/10/24 18:58

  • tedsmith

  • Home away from home

  • Posts: 1151

  • Since: 2004/6/2 1

A while ago, an Xooper gave me, what sounded like, a brilliant tip for getting better search engine rankings. The tip was to join other sites that had forums relating to (in my case) dogs, and placing in my web site in my signature.

In theory, it was great, but in practice I've hit brick walls - and big ones at that! I've tried to join several, and got tied up in some quite bitter and personnal attacks about my integrity.

Basically, it seems that even in the world of virtual non-commercial charity, people are still very selfish. All of the one's I've joined have had 'policies' where I'm not aloud to suggest my site, or even have my site in my signature profile. At best, I was aloud to have it in my profile so that if anyone wanted to read all about me they could see it, but other than that, a total no go.

Another policy I cam up against was that signatures where not aloud if the site for which the signature applied did itself have a forum. I mean come on! How are you supposed to cope with that?!!

My next idea was to register on some sites that had a 'Lost and Found Dog' section in their forums, and then just put something like 'Try using my site www.lost-doggies.com too', but that got poo poo'd as well and it all got striped out. The only site (and I mean the ONLY site) that has helped me at all is WAG who have even written a sentance recommending my site. But other than that, nothing.

I find it unbelievable that even people who want to help others by setting up Internet sites also get faced with competition bitterness. Basically, in my case, I'm trying to drive traffic to my site and get dog lovers to post stuff on my forum. When they do that, the site will do better in the search engines, and word of mouth will spread. But if others sites that have monopolised the market in the last 18 months (whihc is the time it took me to remake the site after closing down the original) won't even give me the opportunity to 'advertise' then how the hell am I supposed to do that? Can you imagine the XOOPS community if peoples sites could never be listed in the forums! Because they are, its no surprise that XOOPS itself often comes up near the top of google!

I just thought I'd get that off my chest . I know I sound a bit pathetic, but how have others beaten their competition? I ask with particular reference to the commercial world which is a lot more severe and cut-throat than charity. Feel free to comment!

Re:How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!
  • 2004/10/24 19:07

  • davidl2

  • XOOPS is my life!

  • Posts: 4843

  • Since: 2003/5/26

Newsgroups would be one way - a simple sig cant cause offence - althoug just keeping it to a couple of lines will stop moaners.

Other than that, you're at the mercy of the individual sites rules.... and they do seem rather unfair to me :(

Re:How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!
  • 2004/10/24 21:37

  • rocket98

  • Just popping in

  • Posts: 95

  • Since: 2004/6/2 2

Hi tedsmith,

If you go to gooooooooogle.com and search for lost doggies your site is the first to appear. Plus a few other links back home to XOOPS and the questions you've asked, etc. On the other hand doing a search for 'lost dogs' gives no results back to your site. The thing most noticeable about this is the adwords in right hand column in google. Only a couple of instances of advertisers 1 for K911.com, 2 for amazon and the other about opinion surveys on dogs.

On google.co.uk "lost dogs" keywords are taken up by 2 advertisers I'd say were relevant the other spots are taken up by the big companies like amazon and ebay.

So what do you do to increase awareness of your site in .com, co.uk, or maybe the world?

Budget $100 for advertising (might be tax deductible). Get an adword account on Google and place your keywords in the google engine. Suggestions are simple enough: lost dogs, stray dogs, pet pictures, etc, etc. It only takes a few combinations to get listed at top but you'll probably pay 5 cents a click, or more, for the luxury but it will get your site noticed until the next one comes along.

If you are looking for membership you probably have lot's of avenues for local advertising seeing as how your site is geographically fixed. Tea/coffee houses, small stores, small shops might have a small billboard where ads can be placed for free. Even a local pet supply shop. What or how do you advertise? Do it on a small 3 x 5 postcard listing a few benefits of your website in point form plus the discussion groups etc, etc. It should not matter as long as the message gets across that lost doggies is the best place locally to discuss dogs, post pictures of lost dogs, get info on dogs, adopt dogs, in general best place in UK for dog info, etc, etc. You built it now advertise a bit and people will come onboard.

Google does not necessarily get you the results you want as it only targets the few who have a computer and might have lost a dog, unless, of course, it's one of those Internet Dogs the ones that stand up bark and wag their tails every time the site records a hit. I think most people have probably already figured out that putting a picture of their pet on a telephone or power pole in the neighborhood is a much better way to find their lost doggie. It's a community effort.

Overall looking to the community you live in will give a much better turn out than most anything on the web. And once you have the community really working in your favor those other sites you were trying to link with will take notice of your presence. Now, and here's the kicker, charge them money to link don't do it for free after all non-profits can't survive with no profit.

It's not so much about beating the competition. I think the game you're playing is relevant to a specific demographic which is limited geographically etc, etc. Ted you can beat the competition with some old fashioned ideas, but if you depend on technology to beat your competitors the established ones will always win.

idea. recruit school kids, advertise your web site with the school associations, get kids on board to drive it, after all kids love their pets, parents just clean up after them :) ? What does BBCnews have to do with lost dogs?



Re:How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!
  • 2004/10/24 22:43

  • tedsmith

  • Home away from home

  • Posts: 1151

  • Since: 2004/6/2 1

Rocket - thank you so much for taking the time to write such a comprehensive reply - I really appreciate you sharing your experience and donating your time.

I think you are indeed correct - I've concentrated too much on the virtual world - that of other websites and Google. When I originally launched the old static HTML .co.uk site back in 2002 I did go round the vets and local pet stores putting some A4 adverts up. I didn't think I got many users from that, perhaps I did via word of mouth and didn't realise it.

I could also try the local Radio Station. But I agree that perhaps the local schools would be the best to target at first, and then from there perhaps word will spread nationally.

The BBC News was put there in the hope that it added a little more of a professional look - but it slowed my site down awfully, and I had been considering getting rid. I just needed someone like yourself to say 'Why is that there'. Good point - its history!

That has really given me some food for thought. Hopefully one day I can turn round to certain unnamed sites and, like you say, ask them 'You want a link on my site - show me the dollar!'



Re:How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!

First question is who are the lost doggie competitors?

Some more locations to advert: libraries and internet caf├ęs. People without computers will go there.

Crazy idea department : sorry if you already do this; what if you offered a service beyond online lost and found? You take the information and do the leg work for the user? You print up flyers and post them around their area, call the pound and everything else the user should bloody do themselves. Charge a fee for that service. Get some free publicity by letting people know that you also remove all the posters and do any followup needed. People pay other people to walk their dogs, why not find them too.

You would have to define boundries for the manual labour services but you can build a network of helpers to extend the territory. There, I just gave away a business idea. Sounds silly but I'm sure some people would pay to find their lost dog. At least in North America they would... sad as that sounds...

edit-> All this could be done inside a dog lover community gratis but there are a lot of people that will just come and go only as their dog wanders off. Those people would pay.

Re:How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!
  • 2004/10/25 4:56

  • JMorris

  • XOOPS is my life!

  • Posts: 2722

  • Since: 2004/4/11

There have been some really good suggestions here. I don't know if my 2 cents will help much, but here it is anyways...

I can't speak much for local efforts since I've been fortunate enough to never have lost a pet. However, I've been messing around with websites for some time now and I've learned a few tricks to get traffic.

Google Adsense [yeah, I know.. Google] - Earn a little bit of cash while increasing the frequency that Google crawls your site.

Participate in a reputable Link Exchange program where you can specify the type of links you want listed. Starlinker has a free program that is pretty good. All you'll need to do is to create a static page called links.php and insert their code into it. You'll always be notified when someone wants to exchange links and you can either approve or deny them.

Don't limit yourself to only related sites. Do you have another interest or hobby? Join sites related to it! Put a plain text link in your sig on those sites.

MANUALLY submit your site to every search engine you can!

Use freely available tools to analyze your keyword saturation and META tags. Believe it or not, a lot of search engines still read META tags.

Don't be affraid to write webmasters and request a banner/link exchange. Every webmaster wants more links comming into their site.

Be patient. It takes time to get noticed. Just get as many sites linking to yours as possible and take full advantage of the great suggestions mentioned earlier.

Best of luck to you!!!

Re:How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!
  • 2004/10/25 7:36

  • Alan-A

  • Not too shy to talk

  • Posts: 191

  • Since: 2004/2/17

I've only had time to skim over these postings but I've two ideas:

- keyword "Blue Peter" (a British TV program for kids) - go to the media - to avoid your mails landing in the "info" folder / waste bin, you need to have a way of getting in contact with the editors - I've often heard that the best way to do this is by telephone - which costs money - but one shouldn't forget that they are always needing to find new ideas - and you have one! Do you have a couple of good photos of success stories for your mails?

- start up your own web ring - what about "britdogs"?

Good luck,


p.s. let us know of your successes - I'm beginning to think we could base a case study for other xoopers on your experiences.

Re:How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!
  • 2004/10/25 8:18

  • zcreem

  • Friend of XOOPS

  • Posts: 34

  • Since: 2004/9/2 8

Hi Ted,
I would caution against to much faith in web rings, the guys behind gooooogle aren't slow sometimes these are seen as click farms and are actually detrimental to your cause, a key is to get links out that contain a description of the site not just the address. The more text in the link the better and the higher the site's PR (Pidgeon Rating) it is displayed on the better, a link from the BBC would knock you ratings through the roof, so an article on newsround would be a great idea.

We have a community based magazine site here in Roquetas de Mar The Roquetas Orange Pages and it has a link sections that includes a lot of local regional and national public service links, I have taken the liberty to add a UK Links section and placed your organisation in there, I hope it helps, there is also a link to the local dogs home which does great work finding homes for lost spanish dogs in UK and Germany.

My best tip is treat the Web as a web and link and link and ... the more interesting your site is and the more links you have the better your chances, you need back links of course and now you have at least one more, and of course in the spirit of the web please feel free to reciprocate.

Re:How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!
  • 2004/10/25 12:21

  • tvepsorg

  • Quite a regular

  • Posts: 276

  • Since: 2004/5/18

I would go and talk to local animal shelters, work something out with them. They could directly upload a pic and description of a lost or abandonded dog or cat and they can refer people to your site so that people can get a list of what animals are at what location, then you could branch out to different locations from there. This way if someone is looking to get a pet they can go to your site, browse to the city that they live in, find the nearest location and look to see if someone has taken their lost dog to the shelter or perhaps get a dog if they are interested. This is what I would do.

Re:How can I beat my competitors? I've tried cunning, and that hasn't worked!
  • 2004/10/25 19:09

  • tedsmith

  • Home away from home

  • Posts: 1151

  • Since: 2004/6/2 1

Blimey - so many people have replied to this - some even by PM! Thanks to everyone. A great help as always. There have been many suggestions made, all brilliant.

I will start to make headway on all of them over time. For example, contacting schools, our local animal shelters (asking them to use the site themselves is a corker of an idea). The idea about poster distribution by the community is great in principal, but unfortunately, I don't know if I'd have the time, with work and all. The other problem is that another site (that was developed about 6 months after I originally launched my .co.uk site) does exactly that, and are really who I am in direct 'competition' with becuase most UK people go to them if they have lost or found their dogs. I don't see it as competition myself, but I think they do more so because they've given up their day jobs to run it and I think (and presume) they make a living from it, where as I run mine in addition to my job.

But thanks - all ideas are great.

Rocket98 - thanks for the PM. Much obliged

ZCreem - I have added a link to your site too. Fantatsic site by the way - great theme, and I love your links images. How do you create them? Do you do screen captures and then use Graphics Software to to create the Thumnails, or is there a way to do it with Xoops?

BTW - would you Adam & Eve it....someone has today reported a 'found dog' on my site - a genuine user! I couldn't believe it. The thumbnail looks a bit dodgy though (like its 16 bits or something) where as when you click on it, it look great. Weired?

I rekon I'll have to keep coming back to gather all these ideas and do 'em one by one!




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