Back in 1995, I started RightNow Communications as a marketing and design firm for small businesses. I was perfectly happy creating logos, brochures, menus, business cards and marketing plans. But along came the internet and before long one of my clients asked me to build them a website. About the only software at the time was something nasty called “Front Page.” We lost a fair amount of money figuring out that web page design might not have been our strong suit given that we didn’t know the first thing about code! After that, I wondered aloud at what other services might be needed that fit what we could do with this new internet thing. Of course, dialup speeds to see anything more than text was excruciatingly slow. But sure enough, a light bulb went on when I realized people were going to want to have some system for finding things they were interested in on the web. I wasn’t the only one. A handful of people also realized this and thus were born places like Yahoo!, HotBot, Lycos and AltaVista. A site called AOL (America On Line) was the leader. They had been at it for a couple more years than everybody else with their own precursor to the internet. It was a closed, membership oriented site that was full of graphics and color while the rest of the world was very much black and white.
Many of the people who also jumped into what would become, Search Engine optimization (SEO), at that time, went on to become keynote speakers and owners of large internet organizations. In the 80’s though, I had started and sold an employee heavy marketing company. That company, Central Resort Reservations, interestingly, interfaced with the airline computers, which if you think about it, was probably one of the headwaters for todays’ online technology! So, I was in no mood for creating a “large” company with employees. Instead, I wanted RightNow Communications to be a small, family business that could provide a good income and be independent from employment. I decided to provide a much-needed service to small business at prices they could afford. This decision has served us very well for the past 18 years and shows no signs of a letup. It’s tougher than ever for small businesses to be found on the internet today.
In 2000, Google fully arrived on the scene. It wasn’t a moment too soon as the search engine industry was awash in mediocrity. A company named GoTo had come along and was cleaning up with a text advertising business that many of the top search engines were displaying to help them earn a buck. We set up one of the first consultancies to sell businesses on the concept. It worked like gangbusters and soon we had a few dozen clients paying us a commission on their PFV (pay for visitor) management. The acronym PPC (pay per click) had not even come into existence yet. But soon, Google opened up Adwords because they didn’t want to show the GoTo ads on their site. I think they knew there was an $800 a share goldmine waiting for them there!
As Google soon took the lead, it was consolidation and collapse time for many of the webs biggest players. If you want to see what the internet looked like back then you can still go to Excite today 🙂 We’ve always offered those pay-per-click services to our clients since back in 1999. But our core service has been and remains helping small businesses be found in the “organic” or natural results of the search engines. It’s a process oriented business which has allowed us to create long-lasting business relationships with our clients. As this process moved from art and alchemy to more of a science, I brought my brother, David, onboard in 2006. He too, was trying to find a way to earn an income on the slippery slopes of the internet and he saw that providing honest services with a high degree of integrity might not make one a millionaire but it could provide a nice independent lifestyle. David’s technical knowledge and willingness to explore has made him one of the top “plumbers” in the industry. A “plumber” being someone willing to follow a technology path until a solution is arrived at. I can’t tell you how many times he has uncovered strange and/or improper code that prevents a site from having a presence when nobody else could!
We have never “branched out” to include other services such as web design, email marketing or display advertising. We have associates we refer that business to. But in 2008, we could tell social media would be a winner. After all, it’s predecessor was BBS when you think about it. Today, we manage social accounts on Twitter, Facebook and GooglePlus for many of our clients. It’s hard for most small business to carve out the time to work the social sites properly.
Around 2009 we began to realize that unique and original content would become the driving force of the internet that it is today. But someone has to create that original content and small businesses are caught again with a lack of time or skills or both. Our effort began back then by encouraging our clients to start a blog on their site as a way to increase the amount of original content found there. We hire writers when the client cannot fulfill the need for fresh stories all the time. Blogging is a huge part of the SEO strategy now. But, of course, content is not restricted to the written word. Photographs and video are every bit as important as stories are today.
Fortunately my hobby and pastime when I’m not working has been shooting video and photos for over 30 years. So, this becomes the next evolution of our business. More specifically, we see an opportunity to create time-lapse video for our clients because the visual is so compelling. I saw my first time-lapse a few years ago and fell head over heels with the process. However, it has been a steep learning curve over the past two years. Now, we can produce affordable time-lapse or traditional video content as well as still photography for our clients!
This site has been created to tell people about what we do with time-lapse, photography and video because it is quite different from our everyday “SEO.” We expect we will see new clients from this outgrowth who want the content creation but perhaps not the SEO work or in addition to it. With that said, we are excited to add this new service to our stable of offerings because it lets us show our creative side too!