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A new tool for your search marketing toolbox?

As a change up from my usual Frank Friday thoughts I had the chance to review a new SEO tool that has been developed to help the DIY (do-it-yourself) search engine optimization crowd. Primarily this crowd would consist of small business types with very low level SEO needs (you’ll see why in a minute). This product, called Lotus Jump, has been developed by the folks at Vizad in Utah. Being a consultant to the SMB market for internet marketing myself as well as the owner of SEMCheck, which helps site owners and agencies alike to learn about 25 different aspects of their site’s search engine readiness, I was more than interested in taking this for a spin. Here’s what I came away with.

I spoke with Tom McConnon, Project Manager, from Lotus Jump and he was more than willing to take me on a guided tour of the product. Simply put, it’s a Web-based system that auto generates SEO “To-do” lists for a site owner based on up to three keywords per domain. At present, there are no options to add more keywords without opening another account. I can understand Tom’s point, however, that most SMBs don’t have the time or the resources to be doing SEO tasks for huge keyword lists so this is a good starting point for most do-it-yourselfers.
The tool prepares tasks for the site owner in one of five categories: content building, directory submission, buzz, competitive linking, and Q & A. The user is given specific directions to do these tasks in a list form where they have the ability to prioritize tasks as well as monitor their progress in taking action for better SEO opportunity. I would recommend that you go to the demo and take a look to fully understand the general concept, and I suspect the Lotus Jump team would be more than happy to talk to you about the service.LotusJumpScreen Shot.png
While I found some conflicting information elsewhere in my own research, the site says that the service is $49 per month per domain. There is a future Pro version that is being worked on but no pricing details were made available.
Here’s my summary observations based on a 30 minute demo and interview.
The Good:

  • I think the idea of providing this type of task generator for overly busy SMB owners and marketers is a great idea. I talk to these folks all the time and while they would love to take a Do-It-Yourself approach to SEO (when they finally understand what it is ;-)) they realize that they don’t know the first thing about how to do it. Lotus Jump gives them some direction.
  • Many of the tasks are oriented toward link building activities and that can be of great benefit to any website. Some industry experts I know say that they can run circles in the SERP’s (search engine results pages) around sites with far superior content just by attracting very strong link partners. If content is truly king then linking is second to the throne with an eye on the crown.
  • Appears to be very easy to navigate and one of those “anyone can use it” apps. For most DIYers out there, the simpler the better. In fact, each task has a screen that walks you through the steps to accomplish the task. Pretty nifty.

The Not So Good:

  • I think the keyword limitation is somewhat constricting. My impression from talking with Tom is that the resources needed to expand the keyword focus to a bigger group (say 20 keywords per domain) are not there yet. I get that but I think that even the most uninformed small business marketer will want to concentrate on more than just 3 key phrases once they start to get into the activity.
  • No on page optimization guidance. At this point in the product’s development (which has been out of beta for a month or two and professes 300 paying users at this stage) there is no examination of the on page factors (title tags, meta descriptions, content assessment). I was assured that this is on the drawing board but for right now it is not available. For many small very local types just improving a title tag can do wonders for their rankings based on the competitive environment they face. Even if the small business person wouldn’t know how to change their title tag they need to be aware of this element of SEO and then find a way to get it done like entrepreneurs do.
  • Like my SEMCheck product, the analysis and recommendations are only as good as the hard coded parameters in the tool. Having said that there will be nuances and subtleties that will be missed and the DIY guy or gal will never know it. This model begs for an hourly consultation opportunity to help find these gaps.

Overall, I find the concept and this first generation version of Lotus Jump intriguing. For the right type of business owner, it could be a cheap way to be doing something rather than nothing. Despite the shortcomings, this might be a good way for a small business to make Internet marketing inroads. Check out John Jantsch’s take on the product over at Duct Tape Marketing, also. Don’t be confused by the pricing in John’s report, though, since those terms appear to no longer apply.
Thanks to Tom and the folks at Lotus Jump for their time and effort and I wish them the best of luck.

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