4 02, 2011

Caught with the Hand in the Cookie Jar?

By | 2016-11-18T14:46:54+00:00 February 4th, 2011|Categories: SEO|Tags: , , , |

There’s in interesting war of words going on between Microsoft and Google regarding search. An article at Search Engine Land alleging that Microsoft was copying search results from Google was the first salvo in the war. Microsoft followed up by accusing Google of click fraud.

The gist of Google’s claim, seems to be that Microsoft’s uses the data collected from the suggested sites/Bing toolbar feature to populate Bing’s search engine results even if the search results come from Google’s website.

Microsoft’s defense appears to be that they do incorporate the results into Bing, but it is one of many parameters when ranking a link. That the scenario Google executed was not legitimate since Google created false links to nonsensical search terms and then had there employees click on those links.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Well both are right and both are wrong. Google’s honeypot essentially peeled away Microsoft’s aggregating of the parameters used to rank sites. By using uncommon search terms, Google was able to populate a false relationship between the search term and the site. If a popular term had been entered, the other parameters would have minimized the ranking. Microsoft however is using the search results from a competitor as part of it’s ranking algorithm. They are just letting their end user’s be the means of populating the data. Google’s honeypot just showed that when the other parameters are not relevant, then Google’s results will appear.

20 01, 2011

Mobile Display Ads Will Take You Further Than You Think

By | 2016-11-23T11:20:48+00:00 January 20th, 2011|Categories: PPC|Tags: , , , |

Is your company currently engaging in paid display ads throughout a content network in Google or MSN?  For most of you, the answer should be yes if you are trying to increase revenue and your brand awareness.

How many of you are currently running display ads on mobile devices?  My assumptions is that not many of you are- but you all should be.  Did you know that 93% of the 307 million people within the US have mobile devices, and that 40% of these people have smart-phones, mobile internet devices or mobile-web-enabled feature phones? Mobile users range in age, gender, and income level as can be seen below.

Below are some reasons why you should begin to think about the option to display pieces of rich media or banner ads on mobile devices through Google’s Admob Network.

  1. Campaigns are set up similar to other display content campaigns and Google is the king of simplicity within their user interfaces
  2. Working with Admob you gain the experience they have as they help you manage the complexities that might scare you concerning the wide world of mobile, making it easy for you to target and serve ads to the complete mobile audience
  3. You have the ability to target as broadly as possible given your campaign goals. You can even target by OS and have an ad serves specifically to Android users.

Click on the link below to see all the cool stuff you can do within Google’s Admob Team.


23 12, 2010

Google AdWords – Plural versus Singular Keywords

By | 2017-02-21T10:10:12+00:00 December 23rd, 2010|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , |

You’re setting up your Google AdWords campaign and adding your keywords.  At some point you may ask yourself, “Does the singular form or plural form of the keyword matter?”.

So you go to the Google AdWords traffic estimator and check to see which form gets the most traffic.

Let’s check out the keywords “attorney” and  “attorneys”.

In the table above, “attorney” gets more click traffic (1,920 – 2,404) and it has a cheaper cpc ($5.92 – $8.51).  “Attorney”  looks like the better choice between the two to add to your ad campaign.

But wait…

Doesn’t a higher cpc (cost per click) mean that the keyword “attorneys” commands a higher bid price which is a reflection of higher demand?

“Attorneys” has a higher cpc because advertisers know that the plural is a lot more likely to be typed in by people who are looking to hire an attorney.  Therefore , the bids are driven up because of the higher  demand and you pay a higher cpc to use the plural form.

But why???

The reason is that the singular form is generic and it is likely  that someone who types in “attorney” wants to know something in general about what an attorney is and what the job entails .  A singular search doesn’t always have a similar intent that a search for “attorneys” does.

Typing a search for “attorneys” is more likely to be a search looking to hire an attorney.

Now,  setting your keyword to broad match will cover both singular and plural matches. You’ve covered the potential click traffic, but you have to wonder,  how many of those keyword searches using the singular form in a broad match are costing you money?

9 12, 2010

BP buying Ads on Google?

By | 2017-05-08T13:35:06+00:00 December 9th, 2010|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , |

You would have to be living under a rock not to know the oil spill in the gulf is close to entering its third month of existence.  I cannot say much more about the spill and BP’s role in it that has not already been stated on CNN, Fox News, and even Comedy Central hundreds of times by now.

But I would like to address the aspect of web marketing that has been pushed into the mainstream for this.  BP is buying ads for the search term “oil spill” (among others) from Google.

Reuters discusses this in more detail.  Essentially, what it boils down to is another aspect of BP’s public relations’ campaign to try to recover from this disaster that they have inflicted upon the gulf coast and even the world.

This, in and of itself, has draw ire.  Jacqueline Leo of the Huffington Post has taken BP to task for  “manipulating and [controlling] the news.”  Here, I have to disagree and point out some flaws in the argument of Leo and other writers/bloggers who are showing their SEO/PPC ignorance.

  • Most users understand that the shaded region at the top of the screen is a sponsored link – at least in part because the section is labeled as…”SPONSORED LINKS.”
  • Because this represents the sponsored section, BP is not fighting it out with legitimate news stories for this space.
  • Google limits the sponsored links at the top of the page, so there is no concern that legitimate stories will be pushed out of the user’s view.
  • The top organic results are news links and labeled as such.  One of the reasons that Google became the dominant search engine was its ability to organize the page into easily recognizable sections.  Users do NOT go to Google because they struggle to find what they are seeking.
  • Finally, does anybody else really want their company appearing near the top of the page for terms like “oil spill”?  For anybody who types in that term and the first word underneath is “BP”, doesn’t that only serve to further link the company with this disaster.

Anyhow, since these are pay-per-click ads, there is an easy way to make BP pay for what it has done.  Click on the ad and promptly leave the site.


8 12, 2010

Web Marketing Is As Easy As Riding A Bike

By | 2020-02-04T10:20:36+00:00 December 8th, 2010|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , |

Allow me to explain…  I am a very data driven person and happen to be an avid cyclist over the past several months.   I bought a road bike towards the end of the summer and since my very first ride I have been keeping statistics such as length of ride, time of ride, average speed, whether it was a group ride or solo, and even the temperature and style of ride.  This has given me a wealth of data that I can analyze. The following is a chart that is an aggregate view all all my rides including forecasting trend lines with average speed on the left axis and miles on the right.

So how is this similar to web marketing? First there is a lot of data and it can be difficult to understand trends without knowing how to properly segment and read the data. This is like looking at an all traffic channel report in Google Analytics. It looks interesting and catches your eye but you really need to filter down to relevant information and understand the trends that emerge withing individual segments. Segmenting the cycling data by the type of ride I can better understand a trend-line and the performance of a source/segment of data. In the example below, I have segmented the data to show only solo rides in combination with a “speed” style versus a distance, interval, or fit rides.

Now that I can view and analyze a specific segmentation, I can better understand the performance metrics and better yet create a relatively accurate forecast trend line so I can set expectations as to where I should be within a given amount of time. Things appear to be improving. This is very similar to web marketing data analysis in that you take the same type of approach. You start with a bunch of data that can be somewhat meaningless by itself but by digging deeper and creating segments of data you can better understand how specific channels are performing.

So the next time you open Google Analytics and see a top level trend that appears to not make a ton of sense, dig deeper and start analyzing individual channels. Determine strengths and weaknesses and where you need to either increase your efforts in training for cycling or investment for web marketing. BTW… For anyone wondering about the last two data points on the first chart, those are actually the winning data from two stages in the 2010 tour de france.  I use those for motivation!

2 12, 2010

Analyzing the Mayday YouTube post

By | 2020-01-29T13:19:05+00:00 December 2nd, 2010|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , |

Mayday!  Mayday! We are sinking!

Matt Cutts did a Google Webmaster Central  YouTube video post on the recent Google algorithm Mayday update.

In his reply to the update on rankings for long-tail searches, Matt stressed the impact on the improved “quality” of search queries.  He also stressed that the “change” was “algorithmic” and not temporary.  The change is separate from the upcoming caffeine update, and that the caffeine update is  still on track.

What exactly is the main thrust of the Mayday algorithmic change? We do know that long tail rankings went down which may have something to do with a dampening of PageRank for internal on-page site maps. Doing a survey across websites with PageRanks of 4 or less, I’ve noticed a pattern of site map links in the footer not passing PageRank. Although the pages are indexed, there is not the expected ranking boost associated with having a site map link off the home page.  It may be very likely that additional stop words have been added to the algorithm to not allow anchor text to pass PageRank for a site that has a low score for trust.

I’m sure the algorithm change is not that straight forward but  I do believe that site trust plays a major factor.  A new combination of factors are now in play that affect long-tail search queries.

22 09, 2010

Top Ad Positioning with Google Instant and Close Matches

By | 2016-11-23T11:20:49+00:00 September 22nd, 2010|Categories: PPC|Tags: , , , |

Is that the search query you were looking for?

Google Instant allows you to get to the right content faster because you don’t have to finish typing  in your full search term.  You get instant feedback during your search. Would that cause some search visitors to hit enter and conclude a query before there is a more exact match to the keyword they are looking for?

In our analytics, we noticed that during the course of a query some hits were being picked up as only partial keyword searches. Apparently, some search visitors are believing they have concluded a search query when they have actually not.

For example, let’s say I want to search for Christmas toys.

I start my query and get to the point below where I have typed in “christmas to” and not finished typing completely to “christmas toys”.


On the screenshot above, you notice that there are not any sponsored results.

But if I complete typing, this is what happens…

Now above, sponsored ads fill up the top and right sections of the screen.

What this means is that a window of opportunity exists (albeit perhaps a small one!)  during the course of a search query for top ad positioning by bidding on a exact match for [christmas to] . Suppose that after bidding on the close match, the real possibility exists for searchers catching sight of my ad, stopping the query before completion,  and clicking on the ad. The brief moment of top ad position is  likely far cheaper than bidding on “christmas toys” and might be worth the effort for the traffic you receive.

People say that giving is better than receiving, but that is certainly not the case with AdWords.

I wonder how modifed broad matches variants behave?

17 09, 2010

Wow – WAW! Exciting stuff ahead for Cascade Server and Google Analytics.

By | 2017-08-15T16:03:45+00:00 September 17th, 2010|Categories: Google Analytics|Tags: , , , |

I’m trying to be clever and match my daughter’s use of acronyms.  Yeah, I made it up.  But the first thing that came to my mind was “Wow!  What a Week!” as I sit here on the plane retracing my steps back from San Fran to Atlanta to Greensboro.

FIRST STOP:  Cascade Server Conference (Atlanta)

Four of us (John Scaramuzzo, Justin Klingman, Brad Henry and myself) jumped in a car on Sunday to head to the first stop, Hannon Hill’s Annual Cascade Server Conference in Atlanta.  Those guys really know how to do it.  They put us up w/ great accommodations, provided great information about their current products and got everyone excited about some cool features they have planned for the coming year.  Since many of our clients use Cascade Server, we had the opportunity to chat with some of them that attended the conference (like Silverpop, Los Alamos Labs, Rollins College, University of Hartford).  The Cascade Server CMS product remains strong and well supported as David Cummings, their CEO/President reminded us that Cascade Server has now been out for 7 years and has over 200 clients  (primarily in the Higher Ed vertical).  Pretty amazing for a small company!  It’s interesting to note that Beacon is one of the few Partners that have attended every annual user conference.

Brad Henry and I presented right after lunch – Web Marketing Tactics w/ Cascade Server. (I will provide a link to the video once it’s available).  Brad was certainly the headliner after I gave a quick overview of Beacon.  As always, Brad shared valuable SEO tactics with the audience – tactics that they could take back, apply and make an immediate impact.  However, the highlight was the results of two SEO Audits that Brad provided live for current Cascade Server customers that were in attendance – Auburn University and Health Network System.  He provided very specific advice on areas that can be improved along with confirming areas that were setup well for SEO.  Of course this sparked a nice Q&A session during the last 10 minutes of the presentation.

I also had the pleasure of having lunch with David Klanac, Hannon Hill’s COO, which gave us time to discuss growing our partnership over the coming year to further improve their products and continue providing services to Cascade Server customers.

NEXT STOP:  Google Analytics Certified Partners Conference (Mt. View, CA)

Our presentation ended around 2:30 and Brad & I were off to the airport to catch a flight to San Fran for the Google Analytics Certified Partner (GACP) Conference in Mountain View.  This is Beacon’s FOURTH year of attending this conference and as always, it started off with a bang as Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist, delivered another captivating keynote address pointing out that GA is a critical tool in supporting the business decision process, but not the only one.  The real key…the real way for consultants to make money w/ GA is NOT to “puke” data back to clients, but to truly partner with clients.  Roll your sleeves up.  Show ROI.  Develop strategies to grow online conversions and identify the right key performance indicators to clearly show VALUE!  I encourage you to check out Avinash on YouTube or at www.kaushik.net.

We heard from many of Google’s engineers, product managers and marketing staff.  Even more importantly, with ~260 attendees and over 190 GACPs worldwide now, the folks at Google LISTENED to us – about issues we were having with the product, clients, marketing, etc. During one session, we actually lined up and presented desired features and/or changes and the entire group voted on whether each should be a high, medium or low priority.  There are several new development projects underway that will change the landscape further.  Our NDA with Google prevents me from providing any details.  However, I will say the Google Team seems more enthusiastic than ever and they certainly have embraced the GACPs.  The first conference had ~15 attendees; the second, ~30 (which I attended) and now, to see nearly 200 partners is truly amazing.  Momentum is growing.  2011 will see more major advances in GA.

On the personal side, I had to take in a Giants-Dodgers game.  AT&T Park is awesome.  Nothing like sitting in a ballpark next to the bay with a hot dog and a cold one.  It was a blast hearing the packed house chant “Beat LA!  Beat LA!” as the Giants won 2-1.

Giants game after Google GACP conference

LAST STOP:  Home…which there is no place like!

26 12, 2008

Google AI – Artificial Intelligence is the future of Google Search

By | 2020-01-29T13:18:59+00:00 December 26th, 2008|Categories: Web Development|Tags: , , , , , |

Over a year ago at the Annual American Association for the advancement of Science, Google co-founder Larry Page stated, “The ultimate search engine will understand everything in the world.” Google will carry out this plan using computer science algorithms and their vast database of human knowledge.  As reported in the Edge.org, a Google employee let it slip that, “We are not scanning all those books to be read by people. We are scanning them to be read by an AI (artificial intelligence).”The ultimate goal of search is to recognize human speech and formulate an intelligent answer. Instead of typing in a search, perhaps you will talk into your mobile phone to get directions or information from the Google AI.  Science fiction will soon be science non-fiction and you can check out the real-life video here from Google Tech Talk.

The speech was given by Ben Goertzel – Director of Research at The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence and head of Novamente. Novamente receives financial support from Google. Ben Goertzel will be speaking along with Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google, November 15-16, 2008 at Convergence08. Heady stuff.

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