Microsoft Advertising Takes Aim at AdWords – Adds adCenter Training Hub

Microsoft AdCenter Accredited Professional

Microsoft has taken another step to try to compete with Google Adwords. They’ve added a free training hub where paid search professionals can hone their skills and learn about the latest updates to the Microsoft Search Alliance adCenter. One cool thing about it is if you register and sign in with your Windows Live ID it tracks you progress. So, you can start training videos right where you left off. Then once you are comfortable with the material you can take the Accredited Professional exam. Unlike Google Adwords Certification there is no minimum to how much budget level you need to maintain to take the exam. You just have to be an active adCenter user and pass the exam. Plus, the exam costs just $15.

Once you pass the exam you become an Accredited Professional which lasts for a year. You must then retake the exam each year. There is no longer a company accreditation so individuals can use theirs certification to promote their company as well. Plus, you have the option to be added to Microsoft’s member directory as well as their “Find a Pro” directory.

So what are you waiting for? Get cracking on your accreditation!

adCenter Training Hub

The New Google. Does “Don’t be Evil” Still Apply? – Part 1

In the last few months since Larry Page has taken the helm as CEO at Google he has been making a lot of changes to their services. They’ve been changing the look and feel of their various properties, even changing the functionality of their search pages. Larry has even said the company would

put more wood behind fewer arrows.”

This is the first in a series of post that will discuss some of the changes we feel are import for you to know about.

New Google Search Ad Placement

The first update you may have noticed as you were using Google Search is a redesign of ad placement. Ads that previously appeared on the right side of search results will in some cases be moved to below search results.

Below is an example of how the new search results may look.

New Google Search Ad Placement


here’s what Google has to say about the new format:

 In many cases, we have found that displaying ads below search results is better aligned with the way users scan the page from top to bottom. On average, this placement performed better than side ads in terms of click-through rate in our tests.”

If you want to know if your ads are performing better in the top positions as apposed to all other positions, you’re in luck. Google will soon be launching a custom “Top vs. Other” segment. All placements on the side, at the bottom are labeled and other experimental placements will be labeled as “other”.

What troubles me is they lump them together, so you can’t really tell which ads are getting more traffic. I think the real motivation is to gain more real estate in the right column for other things. This is something I’ll talk about later though.


Google Adwords and Trademarks – 5 Things You Didn’t Know

Google adwords trademarkI recently had the experience of dealing with Google Adword’s trademark team for a Pharmacy Industry client. It turns out that after a long time of running the same ads using the client’s trademarked name, something set off the alarms for Google and the ads were disapproved. This was the strangest part for me. Why, even though the ads were not new, did they suddenly get disapproved? It turns out it was a bit of a painstaking process to find out why and get them re-approved.

Here is some of the what I learned in the process:

  1. If a trademark owner makes a complaint against anyone running their trademarks, Google shuts off everyone who is running these trademarks.
  2. This can even trigger issues in previously approved Adwords advertisers.
  3. To be authorized to run trademarked names in your Google Adwords you need to have the trademark owner fill out this form.
  4. Only the trademark owner can make the request to get you approved. The form clearly states: “We only accept authorization requests directly from the trademark owner or from the contact person listed on the trademark complaint.” Don’t let anyone tell you different. Even people at Google!
  5. If you are using a MCC (My Client Center) account use this to get approval. That way any account under this master account will also be approved. This makes life easier if you have multiple accounts for the client.

So if you do run across an issue where your ads have be disapproved for trademark issues, save yourself some trouble and grab the form mentioned above, go start to your client and get them to send it to Google. After I finally was able to track down the person in charge of trademarks for the client and had them fill out the form. It barely took any time at all to get the ads approved.


89% of Paid Search Traffic is Not Replaced by Organic Search

A Google Study Says: 89% of Traffic Generated by Search Ads is Not Replaced by Organic Search:

Um isn’t that obvious??

I just read a post by Avinash Kaushik over on Google+ (Yep I’m on Google+ as well: Bryan Coe), about the use of PPC versus Organic Search. He was specifically talking about a study by Google where they found Studies Show Search Ads Drive 89% Incremental Traffic. Basically what the study is saying is that if you are running PPC ads and you stop them, you will see an 89% drop in traffic. By “overall” they mean the combination of clicks due to organic search results and PPC ads.

ppc management one piece of the puzzleIn my opinion this is a trivial study? Because if you are already ranking very well for keywords organically (ie #1 or maybe #2), would you target them with PPC? My guess is no. Google and others have done studies to show how quickly the percentage of clicks drops as you go further down the list.

So, by using PPC with keywords for which you are unable to grab the top spots, you can augment your traffic. And let’s face it, for most sites the list of keywords where you rank #1 is much smaller than the list you would like to target.

Therefore, it seems to me quite obvious that your over all clicks would be greatly reduced when ads are paused.

Avinash pointed out that the study was structured to show the empirical data behind my assumption that advertisers are not targeting keywords for which they are ranking well organically.

But really the study does not address this. It only makes an assumption about the “Incremental Ad Clicks” or IAC being low when advertisers use keywords in their PPC list where they are also ranking highly organically.

“A low value for IAC may occur when the paid and organic results are both similar and in close proximity to each other on the search results page. This increases the likelihood of a user clicking on an organic result as opposed to a paid result.”

The study would be more accurate if it looked only at these keywords. Comparing PPC keywords that you pay to be in the top positions to all keywords regardless of where they rank organically skews the data towards a dramatic conclusion. I think the idea that removing your PPC ads is going to give an 89% drop in clicks is a shock factor.

To put it simply, if you are going to use the PPC you need to evaluate the cost of buying a click vs. the profit it gains. If you are pay too high a price for your clicks then it is not a profitable model. Plus, if you are ranking well for certain keywords, you probably don’t want to target them with PPC.

Now, what goes into that evaluation? You can use this study to evaluate keywords that you are ranking highly for organically compared to the same keywords that you are paying to get a high ranking via PPC. For keywords that are not doing as well organically or maybe that are not on the radar at all on the organic side, then you need to look more directly at the cost per click as apposed to the value of the click.

The main point is that using PPC Advertising can do a great job to augment your organic search, but you have to evaluate if it is the best value for your company.

A Story About the Catalyst Code

I read this book sometime ago, but was reminded of it recently when talking with a client. I was reminded of it again today when the same client told me he had taken my advice and read it! He pointed to his desk and said “can’t you see all my notes?” On his desk were stacks of notes, diagrams, printouts and calculations and he I could see his renewed belief in online advertising and interactive marketing.

My client, we’ll call him Steve (not his real name), is part owner of a staffing firm. They have a relatively simple business model. They have a range of companies as clients and they provide qualified people for these companies to hire. This could be for temporary positions, temp to hire or recruiting for permanent positions. Steve has been one of my clients for some time now, we help them with optimizing their website, some PayPerClick advertising, social media, website as well as other things.

His company has been around for about 20 years and has had the same challenges as many companies in staffing of that age. Speaking of age Steve is in his forties and although very progressive didn’t grow up with the internet like many younger generations. So, even though Steve and I have a pretty good relationship and he respects my opinion and ability, for a long time he didn’t have the buy in to really move forward and make online marketing a priority.

We have been monitoring and evaluating the analytics on Steve’s company website and slowly Steve saw the website producing job orders (Job order = companies requesting candidates they need to staff positions). Even without putting much effort into to the website.

You’re probably now wondering what this has to do with the book the Catalyst Code. Well, there were a few events working together here, but let me start by explaining a bit about the book. The main theme of the book is creating a business model that is two sided. On one side you have a group that has something of value and on the other side you have a group that wants the product, service or thing of value. The idea is to position your company in the middle as the vessel or catalyst that brings the two groups together.

There are some great examples of this in the web companies Amazon, eBay and Google. These examples are maybe some of the easiest to understand the concept and possibly the best example is eBay. Most people understand eBay’s model. On one side you have people who want to sell stuff and make a bit of money and on the other side are people who want to buy stuff at a good price. Put eBay in the middle to make it happen and you have a two sided business with eBay as the catalyst.

“How does this apply to Steve and the staffing firm?” You ask. If your not an internet company creating a software platform how do you create a two sided business? Like I said there were a few things working here. Steve saw a sales person that they were paying X amount of dollars that was being outsold by a web presence that was costing a fraction of the cost of the sales person. Now, enter Catalyst Code.

The book gives some good examples of companies much older than the internet itself: Diners Club, Visa/Mastercard. For example, Diners Club allowed customers to eat out now and pay for it later. Restaurants who accepted Diners Club knew they would attract those with Diners Club cards and have a guaranteed payment. I think this helps none tech companies understand they can use this model too.

Apply the idea of two business to staffing companies. They have companies that need quality people and they don’t have the time or resources to sift through all resumes they received from posting on a job board like Monster (another catalyst by the way) on one side. Then on the other side quality applicants getting lost in the piles of resumes going to these companies. Suddenly clicks. A staffing agency is a two way business! Is your business two-sided?

What’s the fastest and most efficient way to get to and interact with people. The internet! And in Steve’s case this was shown when comparing the sales person to the web presence. So, how do you take advantage of this? SEO, PayPerClick, Social Media Marketing

Want to read the book? Buy it from Amazon:

SEO Tip: Always Use Unique Titles for Each Page on Your Website

So often I come across websites that use the same page title for all their pages. This is usually either the fault of a lazy designer or someone that just doesn’t understand the importance of unique page titles.

Without unique titles the search engine spiders that crawl your website will have less of a chance of understanding what the page is about as well as how to distinguish it from the rest of your site. Therefor your listing in search engine results pages (SERPS) will suffer.

In fact it’s more than just an SEO tip. When using sharing a link on many social media platforms the show the title of the page that the link goes to. If the title has nothing to do with what’s on the page, people will not know what the page is about and will be less likely to click on your link. Another example is for pay per click advertising. If you use Google Adwords Google may penalize you because it thinks your page doesn’t match the keywords you’ve selected and as a result your bids will be artificially increased.

So, Always use unique titles for each page on your website. It’s not just an SEO tip it’s a basic usability tip.

Late Holiday Shoppers Help Break Record For Online Spending

It seems that this year people are waiting until the last minute to do their Christmas shopping and guess what… they’re doing it online. According to comScore; Tuesday, December 15 was the first day on record to break $900 million in a single day of online spending. A 21% increase over 20008.

Online shopping is becoming more and more popular, especially with many companies offering free shipping. This year’s holiday season is coming to an end and the 17th was last date that most companies guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas. Did your company take advantage of this trend? It will also be interesting to see the stats from this past weekend, with the snow storms in the North East. Did people shop online to avoid the bad weather?

Eric Schmidt From Google Responds to Rupert Murdoch and the Print Industry

Over on The Wall Street Journal they ran a piece that was Eric Schmidt’s response (How Google Can Help Newspapers) to the accusations from Rupert Murdoch and the print industry. The print industry claims Google is pirating their content to make a profit and giving little in return. Here’s some of the best parts:

“With dwindling revenue and diminished resources, frustrated newspaper executives are looking for someone to blame. Much of their anger is currently directed at Google, whom many executives view as getting all the benefit from the business relationship without giving much in return. The facts, I believe, suggest otherwise.”

It’s always interesting how companies as well as people who fail to adapt look for someone to blame for their own inabilities.

“It’s understandable to look to find someone else to blame. But as Rupert Murdoch has said, it is complacency caused by past monopolies, not technology, that has been the real threat to the news industry.”

And the argument that Google is not giving anything back is just not true.

“Google is a great source of promotion. We send online news publishers a billion clicks a month from Google News and more than three billion extra visits from our other services, such as Web Search and iGoogle. That is 100,000 opportunities a minute to win loyal readers and generate revenue—for free. In terms of copyright, another bone of contention, we only show a headline and a couple of lines from each story. If readers want to read on they have to click through to the newspaper’s Web site. (The exception are stories we host through a licensing agreement with news services.) And if they wish, publishers can remove their content from our search index, or from Google News.”

Schmidt’s article strengthens the simple fact that if newspapers and magazines don’t learn to adapt and embrace today’s technology they will fail. Only by incorporating technology will they survive.

“Nor is there a choice, as some newspapers seem to think, between charging for access to their online content or keeping links to their articles in Google News and Google Search. They can do both.”

Combininng SEO and Localization Best Practices

Just read a great post Translating Keywords Should Never EVER Happen – Search Engine Watch (SEW) It explains the difference between “translation” and “localization” without even knowing it. Sure you can “translate” your keywords into foreign languages, but there is no guarantee that the will perform even remotely similar to the original. You need to Localize them!

Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local “look-and-feel.”

So Andy is spot on about SEO/SEM Localization when he says, “The only solution is to use a native-speaker to conduct research and use those keywords to craft your page titles, description, and keyword tags, as well as your PPC keywords and accompanying sponsored links.”

Translating Keywords Should Never EVER Happen – Search Engine Watch (SEW)

Retailers must work to improve their natural keyword performance

Although retailers are improving their efforts to grab better placement in natural search (as apposed to PayPerClick/paid search advertising), they still have work ahead of them.

Most retailers rely on holiday sales to boost their annual sales, and by doing a better job optimizing for better natural search results, retailers can boost traffic and increase sales for the holiday season.

Don’t wait! The holidays will be here before you know it. Now it the time to get your natural search optimization campaign underway!

Retailers must work to improve their natural keyword performance | – Daily News