FlagCityOnline.com was originally founded in 2002 as an online directory of businesses in the Findlay, Ohio area. It was the creation of the entrepreneur, Karla Lewis of Arcadia, Ohio. This was in the days long before Google and other search engines added geographical location as a criteria for results.
One of the first things America really could find/buy online was books. New books, used books – it didn’t matter where they came from. As long as the condition, edition and price were right, they could be shipped. As a society, we got used to this convenience quickly, and soon we wanted to shop for everything online. That all works out well for books and toasters – even automobiles could be sold online.
Then why not dry cleaners, carpenters and locksmiths? Because, with the service industry, it DOES matter where you are located. And in 2002 and for quite a few years longer a query for “carpet cleaner” in middle America would yield results from New York, Canada, California and beyond. Results were whichever websites caught the fancy of the search engine being used. There were a lot of less-than-ethical tricks being employed by web developers at that time to cause the search engines to fetch them. So, unless you had money to develop shady sites like that, your online presence was pretty easily overlooked by the search engines.
Flag City Online was built as a local directory for the Findlay area. A local consumer would actually type http:/www.flagcityonline.com into their browser, land on the homepage and do a localized site search to find a LOCAL merchant or service provider. Businesses and organizations could join Flag City Online as members for a nominal fee and create a full listing. A full page listing could include contact name, phone, fax, email, web address (that would link to their site – that was a big deal back then), a downloadable brochure (like a menu or sales flyer) and even video. It was essentially a mini website for a small, monthly membership fee.
Now, fast forward to 2013. All of the major search engines have added a lot of dimensions to the algorithm that comports the best results for any online search. The impetus for getting people to physically visit the Flag City Online site is dwindling. Karla is in transition in her career and is shifting to sales coaching. She has been discussing the change of career path in a MasterMind Group with David Trisel, owner and lead creative of graf-x-cape (that’s me, so I’m going to switch to writing in first person now).
When Karla told me she was thinking about letting go the reigns of Flag City Online, I told her I didn’t want it to go away! (This part is a long story that involves Victoria Secret’s sales tactics, and will likely show up as a blogpost at some point)
At the time I had an inkling of an idea about search engine optimization, or SEO. Since that time I have learned a great deal more. And I am so glad that I made the decision to purchase the website. It was a great tool for my my clients when I first adopted it and nicknamed it my “duct-tape-dinosaur.” It will grow to be an even better marketing vehicle as I expand this latest version with my partners at Watchtower Consulting IT Services. Without this team, none of this would be possible!
I am excited to see what the future of SEO has to hold and the possibilities of online marketing for my clients. Join the FCO SEO Team to better your odds in the marketing gamble!
– David Trisel