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Apogee Weblog

Blog for Apogee Web Consulting LLC. Topics covered include search engine marketing and pay per click advertising strategies.

Last Build Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2010 21:45:22 +0000


Last Post

Fri, 30 Apr 2010 20:33:00 +0000

(image) Google is dropping FTP publishing for blogs. So, this is my last post using Blogger. At some point, I'll figure out a new platform to use for Apogee Weblog. In the meantime, I'll be writing in these places:
Thanks for reading.

Sat, 20 Mar 2010 16:01:00 +0000

As a Top Contributor in the AdWords Help forum, I'm concerned about recent questions concerning traffic. For instance, in the "how do I block 'adsense for mobile apps' in my adwords account?" thread, an advertisers writes:
what is this "adsense for mobile apps" anyway. It strikes me as a scam of some sort.
I answered:
Unfortunately, I can understand this sentiment. It's not a scam, but Google has not implemented this in a transparent manner for advertisers. It should be opt-in, not opt-out and most advertisers aren't even aware of AdSense for Mobile Apps until they see a spike in traffic.
The problem, here, is that any advertiser who hasn't altered the default campaign settings will be opted into this kind of traffic. Contextual advertising on mobile applications should not be turned on, by default. This is a tangent to the core concept of AdWords - search engine advertising. These default settings need to be changed:


For a more detailed explanation, here's an answer I posted in the "I see a sudden increase in clicks on Is this actual clicks or is there a problem?" thread:
I think what's important is to educate advertisers that this new kind of contextual advertising is in place. I've seen quite a few posts on blogs like Inside AdWords talking about mobile, but not specifically about the intersection of mobile and content ads. For example, this post:

has some very good advice:

Now is the perfect time to optimize how you target consumers on-the-go. Here are a few best practices we think you'll find helpful:
  • Create separate campaigns and ad groups for your ads that appear on mobile devices. This makes it easier to customize ads, keywords and bids to optimize performance.
  • Put your call to action in a spot on your landing page that's easy to find. Keep in mind that it's a bit more difficult to navigate websites on a mobile device, so consider shortening your checkout process.
  • Most mobile phones don't support flash, so make sure your landing page is written in HTML and contains little or no Flash.
I think the advice to create "separate campaigns and ad groups for your ads that appear on mobile devices" is very important. Since the default settings for advertisers are content network on + mobile devices on, there could be quite a few advertisers experiencing unusual spikes in traffic.
If you use AdWords, make sure you understand traffic.

Google AdWords Ignorance Tax Hike

Wed, 16 Dec 2009 21:48:00 +0000

The Google AdWords new interface appears to have resulted in an ignorance tax hike. This is the culprit:


I've written a post over at AdWords Help Experts to explain. Read it and then avoid the tax hike.

Google's Future

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 19:56:00 +0000

Google's future is Microsoft's past.


Tags: , , Yahoo! Scam

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 00:06:00 +0000

Notice to all Yahoo! Search Marketing customers: Don't fund the PPC arbitrage scam. Add to your blocked domains list. Check your ad delivery reports for peculiar click data:


Shame on you, Yahoo!, for putting ahead of your customers. It's time to end Yahoo! syndication fraud once and for all.

Is Yahoo! Tier II?

Sat, 17 Oct 2009 19:20:00 +0000

Is Yahoo! Search Marketing a second tier PPC search engine, packaged as first tier? With the new ad delivery report, you can judge for yourself:
You probably know that your ads can appear not only on Yahoo, but on partners throughout our distribution network, and that you can block them if they’re not performing for you. But until now, if you didn’t have a pretty good head for web measurement stuff, you probably didn’t know which traffic sources were working for you. Now our Ad Delivery Report will let you see how your ads are performing on various partners, and use that information to block the partners who don’t give you what you need.
Here's an example ad delivery report, sorted by impressions:


I've outlined in red a couple of striking statistics. First, note the ad distribution to 4635 domains. The blocked domains feature has a limit of 500! Second, note that did not generate the most impressions. In fact, less than 7% of ad impressions originated from Yahoo! Search. That's what's making me wonder if Yahoo! is packaging second tier searches and selling them at first tier prices.

What do you see in your Yahoo! ad delivery reports?

My Own Page!

Tue, 06 Oct 2009 19:32:00 +0000

Having answered many questions in the old AdWords Help forum and now the new one, it's nice to have a reward, my very own page:

Thanks Google - especially Sarah!


See all the AdWords Help Top Contributors.

Meta Keywords Tag - 4 Years Later

Thu, 24 Sep 2009 01:54:00 +0000

In September 2005, I wrote a guest piece for Pandia about the meta keywords tag, arguing:
Do not use the meta keywords tag. Many people still think of this as a quick fix for SEO. It's not. Google no longer uses it.
In September 2009, Google finally posted an official statement, saying:
Google has ignored the keywords meta tag for years and currently we see no need to change that policy.
Thank you, Google. It's about time. ;-)

I continue to advise my clients to avoid using the meta keywords tag. Why provide your competitors with a nicely formatted list of your important keywords? Why not just email them a list of your best keyword ideas? On the flip side, since so many sites do still use the meta keywords tag, why not take a look and get some ideas for your own PPC or SEO projects? Plug a domain or URL into this free keyword research tool. Example output:


Some search marketing professionals still suggest using the meta keywords tag. In most cases, this will be a sign to avoid working with them. In some cases, though, theirs will be an opinion worth considering. So, examine a few different strategies and determine your own strategy for meta keywords tags.

AdsBot-Google: Tracking AdWords Landing Page Quality Score Bot

Sat, 05 Sep 2009 18:43:00 +0000

Many questions come up in the AdWords help forum about landing page quality score. Not many people seem to realize this is a largely automated scoring process. The Google AdWords landing page quality score bot, AdsBot-Google, crawls destination URLs. A quality score change isn't likely to occur until after the bot visits landing pages, so it's worth tracking AdsBot-Google:


On the organic search side, Google provides Googlebot crawl stats to webmasters. On the paid search side, the AdWords interface doesn't provide AdsBot-Google crawl stats, so it's up to advertisers to keep track on their own. Seeing so many questions about landing page quality score, I've put together a free, open source script to do so. For each hit from AdsBot-Google, it displays:
  • Time (timestamp of the bot visit)
  • IP Address (remote ip address of the bot)
  • Status (http error code)
  • Page Crawled (url of the page visited)
If your site is not experiencing any landing page quality score issues, you won't need to track AdsBot-Google. If you are having problems, it's worth checking for the most recent visit from the bot, so you'll get a better idea as to when you might see a quality score change. If you don't see any visits from AdsBot-Google, then you'll know you need to simply wait. The frequency of visits is not predictable. If the bot does visit and you see HTTP status codes that indicate errors, then you'll know you have issues on your site to correct.

For a site that has low landing page quality scores, make sure the landing pages are improved following these guidelines. Once the improved pages are up on your server, then check for AdsBot-Google visits. Don't expect to see quality score changes until some time after the bot visits the improved pages. The time lag can be hours or even days.

If you do use the AdsBot-Google tracking script and have any problems with it or have any questions about it, post a comment below.

Google Certified Partner

Wed, 26 Aug 2009 21:18:00 +0000

Google is migrating Google Advertising Professionals (GAPs) to a new site ( On the new site, I'm noticing a new term: Google Certified Partner. Screenshot:


I suspect this is a typo. I doubt Google wants GAPs to go around claiming they are certified partners. Perhaps this is an indication of a more robust certification process which will supersede the existing program? Anyone else aware of the term Google Certified Partner?

Overture 2.0 - RIP Yahoo! Search Marketing

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 21:32:00 +0000

In 2007, when many thought Yahoo! would be acquired, I argued that Yahoo! should not be for sale:
Nobody should buy Yahoo!, though. A merger makes no sense when being nimble is what's necessary to compete with Google. However, I think a joint venture with Microsoft might work. (BTW, these are the 2 things I think Yahoo! should do right now, before considering mergers or partnerships.) In order to keep up with Google, it might even make sense for Yahoo! and Microsoft to spin off their search advertising properties and merge those entities into a new firm. Following the web 2.0 naming conventions (tongue-in-cheek), they should create this new search company:


Yeah, that's Overture sans vowels. ;-)
I wasn't too far off the mark, reading about the Microsoft - Yahoo! search deal today. I can't help but think, though, that this is the beginning of the end for Yahoo. It's certainly RIP Yahoo! Search Marketing. That'll simplify life for those of us that manage PPC accounts. Having started PPC advertising using Overture, the news of the end of its successor is actually a bit sad.

Google AgencyLand

Thu, 09 Jul 2009 23:57:00 +0000

Since April, I've been beta testing Google AgencyLand. Now, I can talk about it.


One of the most useful features is the weekly update. Here's an example from the week of June 17, 2009:
Must Know Product Updates

Search Query Performance Report Update

If you’ve recently run a Search Query Performance Report (SQR) you may have noticed 'Broad (Session-Based)' in the 'Search Query Match Type' column. As you may be aware, when determining which ads to show on, the system evaluates some of the user's previous queries during his search session as well as the current search query. If the system detects a relationship, it will show ads related to these other queries. Such matches were previously reported as 'Broad match' and are now marked as 'Broad (Session-Based)' in SQRs.

We hope this update offers more granular insight into how your keywords are performing. If you find that a particular query is performing well, consider adding the keyword to your ad group. Conversely, such data can help identify potential terms to add as negative keywords. Visit the Help Center for a more detailed description of Search Query Match Type as well as an explanation of session-based broad matches.
Wouldn't it be useful to know about these kinds of changes, before or as they're rolled out? I'm not even sure if this change has been announced on any of the official Google blogs.

If you work for an agency, make sure you're signed up for the Google AgencyLand trial. And, read the weekly updates!

Tags: ,

Other Unique Queries Found

Thu, 28 May 2009 19:34:00 +0000

I guess I'm going to have to update my Google profile:
It looks like the other unique queries can now be found:
If you've used the Search Query Performance report before, you may have noticed that some of your traffic was grouped under a line item called "other unique queries." This line encompassed queries with very low volume, often occurring triggering your ad only one or two times. However, some advertisers found that a significant portion of their spend was grouped under this heading, which made it difficult to manage keyword variations.
Note, too, that the other unique queries can be found in the new interface. There's something odd, though, about which queries will still not be found. So, maybe I don't need to change my Google profile, after all. ;-)

Tags: ,

AdWords for Small Business Opportunity

Fri, 08 May 2009 17:24:00 +0000

Insightful quote about AdWords and small business by Sergey Brin in Google's 2008 Founders' Letter:
Despite the progress in our advertising systems and the growth of our base of advertisers, I believe there are significant improvements still to be made. While our ad system has powerful features, it is also complex, and can confuse many small and local advertisers whose products and services could be very useful to our users.
Google's solution of hiding the complexity of AdWords behind a simple user interface (Starter Edition) is not the answer. Some even wonder if Starter Edition violates Google's "Don't be evil" motto. I think there's an opportunity, here, either for Google or advertising professionals to bridge the gap. How can Google's complicated AdWords system be made simple for small business?

One option is to *be* the interface. One of my fellow AdWords Help Top Contributors has put together a new service: AdWords PI. For a modest fee, she will investigate problems with AdWords accounts. I suspect that many small business owners have waded into AdWords and found themselves overwhelmed. This kind of a service might be a good way to bridge the gap. I wish Kim Clink (aka MrsC) well with this new service and am sure she will help many advertisers. Read more about AdWords PI.

I think Google's solution will be to drop AdWords Starter Edition and push the Google AdWords Authorized Reseller Program. I think Google wants to cater to small business but doesn't want to deal with customer support issues. IOW, they want to have their cake and eat it, too. ;-)

(image) Notes to self: Create a service like the SEM Starter Kit but tailored specifically for small business owners and AdWords. Develop the domain. Keep asking: How can Google's complicated AdWords system be made simple for small business?

Tags: ,

What is Corpse Traffic?

Fri, 24 Apr 2009 16:46:00 +0000

Fascinating to see a domainer refer to untargeted traffic from parked domains as corpse traffic. Read this post:
Here's a brief excerpt:
No wonder some opt out of the domain channel. It isn't about the domain traffic, it is about the corpse traffic that makes targeted traffic have much less value. It is just one small diamond mixed in with a ton of sand.
Most domainers don't want to hear that some (not all) of them are sending complete garbage via the Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing ad distribution networks. Google and Yahoo don't want to hear it. I started blogging about corpse traffic in early 2007 (calling it search engine spam or distribution fraud). The term "corpse traffic" is a bit strident, but it does get the point across rather effectively.

Until Yahoo and Google clean up their ad distribution networks (or build separate domain networks with better domain exclusion or inclusion options), it's up to advertisers to block this traffic on their own. Here's what to do:



Twitter Game

Tue, 07 Apr 2009 02:01:00 +0000

I'm still pondering the "Why Twitter?" question. I often find it's easier to learn if I make a game of learning. So, I wrote a Twitter game. It's a hangman game where the answers are tags. You guess one letter (or number) at a time. Play a game:


Tags: ,

AdSense for Domains on the AdWords Search Network

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 15:24:00 +0000

I recently wrote a post about the intersection of parked domains and search advertising (on AdWords Help Experts). I argue that the way Google has implemented the AdSense for Domains program blends contextual advertising with search advertising. This, not the potential quality of parked domain traffic, is why I choose to block AdSense for Domains traffic for any AdWords search advertising campaigns. Apparently, someone at Google understands this and included some honest text in the Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center Glossary entry for AdSense for Domains:


That section I've outlined in red needs to be understood by all AdWords advertisers (emphasis mine):
Note that certain domain park sites may include a search box to help users refine their search. Alternatively, the domain park may include certain highlighted words that act as search queries once users click on the highlighted word. At times, this may result in a sudden surge in clicks for keywords that do not generally accrue any clicks.
When you are attempting to buy pure search advertising, not blended with contextual advertising, you don't want your ads to be displayed for sites that mimic search queries. You want genuine search queries, where the potential customer is actively typing keywords searches, not clicking on links. That's contextual advertising.

So, to the person at Google who wrote that honest documentation, thank you! Likewise, thank you to Shuman and whoever else at Google was involved in implementing the AdSense for Domains opt out feature. Use it when you are not running contextual ad campaigns.

Tags: , , , ,

Yahoo Advertising Meatball Sundae

Thu, 19 Mar 2009 16:39:00 +0000

(image) The Yahoo PPC advertising product is now a meatball sundae (full of sausage). Instead of changing the core ingredients (like better control over ad syndication), they've added these toppings:
Starting now, you’ll be able to target the audiences you want, when and where you want them, with a lot more control. We are rolling out demographic targeting, ad scheduling (which you might know as dayparting), and enhanced ZIP-level geo-targeting at the ad group and campaign level.
I don't get it. Bells and whistles aren't going to help if the underlying product is flawed. They have to solve the click fraud problem, first.

Tags: , , ,

Why Twitter?

Wed, 11 Mar 2009 20:43:00 +0000

(image) Why Twitter? To be honest, I'm not quite sure. I'm noticing, though, that many of the bloggers I read are shifting to Twitter. I figure the best way, then, to answer the "Why Twitter?" question is to try it. So, follow me on Twitter, if you like.

I'm curious as to whether or not Apogee Weblog subscribers are on Twitter. If you are and want to share, leave your Twitter link in the comments. Also, if you can explain to me why you Twitter, I bet I could learn quite a bit. Thanks.

Tags: ,

Google AdWords vs Yahoo! Search Marketing

Fri, 27 Feb 2009 20:39:00 +0000

At the new AdWords Help forum, there's an interesting discussion about Google AdWords vs Yahoo! Search Marketing. Here's the original question:Any ideas why my google traffic ( search only ) is not converting into sales as well as Yahoo? I run the same campaigns on both. Yahoo converts much better? I thought google would be higher in conversions?This was my response:A variety of factors could be at play here. Some possibilities:1) Google's expanded broad matching is showing your ads for less relevant keywords2) There is less advertiser competition on Yahoo3) Your product/service is more suitable for the Yahoo demographicKeep in mind that, to some degree, you are comparing apples and oranges. The keyword matching algorithms are different for Google and Yahoo. Your ad distribution choices are different. The syndicated partner networks differ. These days, the competition is more fierce on Google due to its larger market share. You will find that some ads perform better on Yahoo. In other cases, some ads will perform better on Google. Accordingly, you might need different bids across the 2 PPC systems.Regarding keyword matching. On Google, you have: exact, phrase, broad (expanded), negative, embedded. On Yahoo, you have: standard, advanced, negative. These are quite different. Make sure you understand the actual keywords that result in your ads being triggered. On Google, use the search query performance report. On Yahoo, be sure to enable the tracking URLs. That will give you the data you need. I like to watch that data carefully: few words of caution about Yahoo:1) Be sure to set an account daily spending limit. This is off by default which puts you at risk for unlimited click charges. See: Make sure you watch your account on a daily basis. Yahoo reserves the right to edit your account. See the comments on this post: Many of the Yahoo search partners are low quality. You cannot opt out. Watch your traffic and block poorly performing domains. You can block up to 500. have much better control on Google. For instance, you can block parked domain traffic for your search campaigns. You can also opt out of all search distribution partners, if you want. You don't have those options on Yahoo. If you have the budget, I'd keep the search network on, but consider blocking parked domains. You can use the site and category exclusion tool to see your conversion stats and then block via that tool, if the results are poor: a look at the other responses. If you use both Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing, join in the discussion...Tags: google, adwords, yahoo, search, marketing[...]

Need AdWords Help?

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 19:36:00 +0000

(image) Some fellow Top Contributors from the AdWords Help Forum recently launched a new site, I've decided to join their AdWords blog.

This should be interesting. I've learned quite a bit from these guys - and gal. I'll continue to post here at Apogee Weblog about a variety of subjects. Obviously, the posts on AdWords Help Experts will be about Google AdWords. ;-)

Subscribe to AdWords Help Experts!

If you want to know more about the AWHE bloggers, here are their profiles from the AdWords Help forum:


Wed, 04 Feb 2009 16:17:00 +0000

Somebody had to call FAIL on YSM (Yahoo! Search Marketing):The problem is in the OPTIMIZATION section of the YSM Terms and Conditions, and in their explanation in response to complaints. See if you can spot the problem (emphasis mine):OPTIMIZATION. In the U.S. only, for those advertisers not bound by an Insertion Order, we may help you optimize your account(s). Accordingly, you expressly agree that we may also: (i) create ads, (ii) add and/or remove keywords, and/or (iii) optimize your account(s). We will notify you via email of such changes made to your account(s), and can also include a spreadsheet of such changes upon your written request. If you would like any of such changes reversed, please reply to such email within 14 days of the change(s), and we will make commercially reasonable efforts to reverse the change(s) you specifically identify. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you remain responsible for all changes made to your account(s), including all click charges incurred prior to any reversions being made. It is your responsibility to monitor your account(s) and to ensure that your account settings are consistent with your business objectives.Read that again. Does that make you want to shift ad spend from the search advertising market leader Google AdWords over to YSM? Aaron Wall sums up this Yahoo! Search Marketing FAIL rather well (via Bronte Media):Imagine selling web traffic as a commodity in a blind auction, while touting its value based on the traffic being targeted, relevant, precise, and trackable. Then imagine taking away the default keyword tool on the internet that has been written about in thousands of marketing books, ebooks, and web pages - and replacing it with nothing. Then imagine signing up some seedy publishing partners that run clickbots against your highest value keywords, and giving them the lion's share of the click "value" on those keywords. Then imagine not making it easy for advertisers to opt out of that "traffic." Then imagine editing your advertisers accounts without their permission to alter ad text and keywords, and only informing some of them about the changes sometime after they take place...with 1 in 5 rejecting the changes!It really is unbelievable how many poor strategic decisions Yahoo! has made with its search advertising product. They've virtually forfeited the game to Google.IMPORTANT TIP: If you still have a YSM account, be certain you have set an account daily spending limit! It is NOT set by default:The account daily spending limit is the maximum amount that you want to spend each day. By default, your account daily spending limit is off, enabling you to receive the maximum number of clicks.If some yahoo might go in and make changes to your account, you don't want to risk unlimited clicks. Yikes!Tags: ysm, fail, yahoo, search marketing[...]

Nominated for a PPC SEMMY Award

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 21:29:00 +0000

(image) Wow. I've been nominated for a SEMMY Award in the PPC category for this post: 4 Steps to Avoid the Google AdWords Ignorance Tax. I'm pleased that post will garner more exposure as it should help advertisers structure AdWords accounts to save money. In the current economic climate, these kinds of strategies will be important.

Take a look at the posts from the other PPC nominees. You'll probably find a new blog or two to add to your feed. ;-)

Tags: ,

Obama's Inauguration Speech Lull in Searches

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 16:07:00 +0000

During Obama's inauguration speech yesterday, Google reported: other interesting search pattern that we saw: the overall query volume of Google searches dropped in the U.S. from the time President Obama took the oath of office until the end of his inaugural speech, demonstrating that all eyes were on today's festivities.
I noticed my youngest was transfixed:


Tags: , ,

PPC Campaign Management for Local Advertising

Fri, 16 Jan 2009 21:48:00 +0000

PPC campaign management works best when ad campaigns are structured properly from the outset. This is particularly true for local advertising campaigns. In 2006, I wrote:
There are two ways to configure a campaign on Google AdWords to engage in local advertising. Read the full article, Local Search Advertising with Google AdWords for details.
A few days ago, the Yahoo! Search Marketing blog covered this topic. Their advice:
Over the years, what has proven to work best is to set up separate campaigns with the same group of keywords—one that uses geo-targeting from the user interface, and a second that adds geo-modifiers to the keywords but does not use geo-targeting. This will ensure that an advertiser receives the maximum amount of traffic.
Nice to see Yahoo! in 2009 confirm my 2006 advice. ;-)

Be careful, though, when adopting this PPC campaign strategy on Google AdWords. There's a flaw in Google's expanded implementation of broad matching which I've called contracted matching. This causes the geo-modifiers to be ignored. As you can imagine, for an ad campaign with national geo-targeting, the results can be disastrously expensive. So, either stick with a single, local advertising campaign or combat contracted matching in the national campaign via either of these solutions:
  1. Embedded matches in conjunction with broad matches
  2. Exact and phrase matches instead of broad matches
For more details, including responses from Google about this matter, read:
Tags: , , , ,