Importing Google & Yahoo PPC Campaigns Into adCenter

Importing Existing PPC Campaigns into MSN adCenter

Update: You may find this more recent post on importing Yahoo and Google Campaign into adCenter beneficial as there have been quite a few updates to the adCenter interface since this was written way back in 2007:)

MSN has been making some headway in bringing their paid advertising platform up to snuff with Google and Yahoo in recent months. Arguably, one of the better updates is the ability to import existing PPC campaigns into the MSN interface without first having to copy and paste your exported data into an adCenter template, as previously required.

Now, you don't need to make any formatting adjustments to the file you've exported from another search advertising program – just make sure the key adCenter columns are included (extra columns or data are ignored).

Below is a step by step guide to aid in the import process:

To import a campaign:

  1. Click the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click Import campaigns.

  3. If you are using the template, click Excel or CSV, type or copy data into the template, and save the file.
    If you are exporting campaign information from another online advertising program, save the exported file as a CSV file.
  4. In the Select a language and market drop-down list box, select the language your ads are written in and the market you want them distributed through.
  5. In the Time zone drop-down list box, select the time zone you want to use for this campaign. (Please note that you won't be able to change this selection at a later time.)
  6. Click Import file.

  7. In the Choose file dialog box, select the file, and then click Open.

Your imported campaigns are added to the table.

  1. For your ads to go live, you must submit your imported ad groups.
    1. Select an imported campaign.
    2. If you have not set a budget for your campaign, at the top of the Select an ad group page, click [Edit], type a campaign budget, and then click Save.
    3. Select the check boxes next to the ad groups you want to submit, click Actions, and then click Submit ad group.

Here are two additional articles you may find of interest:

1. Writing Compelling Retail Ad Copy
2. Increasing MSN Quality Score

Top 10 Most Influential Blog Posts - 2007

Top 10 Most Influential Blog Posts for '07

As 2007 quickly comes to a close we have seen a lot of changes, shake-ups, mergers, mix-ups - whatever you want to call it - in the Internet marketing industry. I stumbled upon a great blog post that combines a few of the better stories and articles of the year in review.

There is a lot of good information here, so please take the time read any that you may have not see before now.

You will not be disappointed! Enjoy:)

  1. Andy Hagans’ Ultimate Guide to Linkbaiting and SMM
    I don’t remember if social media sites were as widely popular in the beginning of 2007 as they are now, but this guide provides almost all of the details you need to start creating link bait for promotional efforts in high traffic’d social media websites. Need more assistance? Here are some more specific link bait and viral marketing examples to get you on your way.

  2. But is it SPAM?
    I could probably include a dozen posts from SEOBook that I find of value, but the specific examples herein provide a thought provoking discussion on what you should or should not be doing for your own search engine marketing strategy.

  3. Google Local Search Glossary
    The promise of local search has a bit more luster on Cape Cod than in other places, and this collection of local search terms and definitions is one of the first places to reference when considering how to implement local SEO strategies.

  4. The First Question You Should Ask Your SEO Consultant
    Brian Provost caused a real stir when he wrote this post about the field of SEO consulting, but it made me think a lot more about why I am an SEO consultant and where I want to be, 1, 5 and 10 (plus) years out down the road.

  5. Google’s Power - The Only Thing to Fear, Is Fear Itself
    Maybe I am missing the point, but this post provides inspiration and motivation on ways to create self-sustaining business models and depend less on the stability of other entities (or sole entities) for revenue generation. A must read if you are out there forging your way with an online business model.

  6. Blogging Is About Writing
    Guest authored by Lorelle VanFossen, this post basically sums up about 100 other “how-to-blog” posts out there today, detailing 30 blog writing tips, suggestions and best practices. Of course there is material more detailed out there, but start here to figure out which areas of blog writing you need to improve first.

  7. The SEO Playbook - Welcome to the Rabbit Hole Alice
    This post on SEO strategy is a must read for those getting into the search engine marketing space or even the fairly experienced looking to touch up their skills and background. Easy to digest concepts with an incredible amount of third party links and reference points to follow.

  8. The First Principle of Social Web Apps and its Implications
    What interested me most about “First Principles” is the sheer simplicity of the concept. “For each ‘complete’ user interaction”, the user must receive more value than the energy expended, to complete a given task. Basically, this idea needs to be applied to every online marketing strategy recommended and implemented.

  9. Newsflash: You’re Damn Right It’s a Popularity Contest
    When people started complaining about social media sites like Sphinn, popularity and popular people, Rae Hoffman’s “straight up” way of communicating what really is a key component of search engine marketing was simply a breath of fresh air amidst a lot noise pollution.

  10. “There Are No Secrets” and other SEO Myths
    Are there SEO secrets? I really don’t know because I don’t know if you know what I know about search engines and search engine rankings. It all sounds so easy in blog format; then you roll up your sleeves and need to determine just how easy, and how many secrets there really are.

Search Engine Land Launches New Column

Last week, Search Engine Land launched a new column called: Back To Basics.

Back To Basics focuses on the core elements of search engine marketing, from keyword research to analytics, basic search advertising techniques, and more.

There first article on building landing pages that work was an excellent read and provided information that everyone can benefit from!

I would encourage everyone to subscribe to the feed!

Google Analytics Updates

Google Adds Updates to Google Analytics

Here is the official word from Google:

"All Google Analytics accounts worldwide now have access to a beta feature that graphs two different metrics against each other and see how they correlate. This new graphing ability enhances the insights available to Google Analytics users about visitor trends on their websites: for example, does a higher number of visitors correspond to a higher bounce rate? Do visitors who come to a website through AdWords spend more or less time on the site than visitors overall?

In addition, Google Analytics now supports ga.js, a new page tag that enables site owners to use the most up-to-date tracking functionality as it is added to Google Analytics. For instance, the ga.js page tag allows the site owner to streamline e-commerce tracking.

To better serve users worldwide, Google Analytics is also available in six additional languages, bringing the total number of supported languages to 25. The new languages are Thai, Filipino, Indonesian, Czech, Hungarian, and Portuguese (Portugal). Users all 25 languages can access the Google Analytics Help Center and receive online support in their supported language of choice."

Here are a few screen shots courtesy of Marketing Pilgrim:

Read the top 10 tips for getting the most out of Google Analytics

Google Updates Keyword Tool

Adwords Keyword Tool Update

Google seems to have updated the look of the AdWords Keyword Tool.

Here is a before shot:
Old Google Keyword Tool

And here are after shots:
New Google Keyword Tool

They have updated their keyword tool a "website content" option as well:
New Google Keyword Tool

Optimizing Press Releases - 10 Best Practices

Top 10 List of Press Release Optimization

One of my favorite new bloggers, Shimon Sandler, posted a great top 10 list of optimization techniques for press releases as well as a number of good press release websites to improve your PR marketing efforts. Enjoy:)

Here is a Top 10 List of Bestpractices.

1. Keyword Selection. Keyword selection is a crucial part of press release optimization. Be very careful while deciding on a keyword phrase that is relevant to the release. Optimize the Press Release for only 1 or 2 keyword phrases. Do this based on your business objectives for each campaign.

2. Keyword placement. Be sure to place keyword phrase into the Headline AND the Title of the press release. Try to repeat it nearly 3-5 times for every 100 words within the content of the release. Put two hyperlinks that contain the chosen keyword within the content.

3. Generally speaking, don’t use abbreviations. Write out full keyword text.

4. Use an occasional bold-type for the keyword phrase.

5. Replace pronouns with keyword phrase. Instead of using “their”, or “it’s”, use the keyword phrase.

6. Select the right PR distribution networks. Below is a list of press release distribution services that are search engine friendly and can offer an excellent channel for link building as well as getting your news distributed.

7. Make the effort for substantial media coverage. Eg: Make list of publications, send emails and correspondence emails to journalists for the release. Make sure you don’t send the complete release into the email. Write a concise but short intro, and include the URL to the entire press release with the email.

8. Make it easy for journalists to read. Everyday thousands of press releases are emailed to the journalists. So make the press release presentable and well written to be noticed by them. Journalists usually ignore poorly written releases.

9. Offer RSS feeds. Help journalists by offering RSS feeds specifically for your Press Releases. Many journalists specialize in a specific topic, and categorize their feed reader by subjects. So, make it easy for journalists to find your Press Release. “KISS” (Keep It Sweet and Simple).

10. Publish releases frequently. It’ll benefit your entire domain to have frequent, additional, and unique content crawled by the Search Engines.

Yahoo Explains "Insert Keyword" Feature

Using Yahoo's "Insert Keyword" To Increase Quality Score.

Our friends over at the Yahoo Search Marketing Blog are providing some additional detail on increasing Quality score through the use of the 'insert keyword' feature when you create a new ad or edit an existing one.


The Insert Keyword feature, available when you create a new ad or edit an existing one, is useful for speeding the ad creation and editing process. But did you know it can also help increase your ads’ quality?

Here’s how. You’ll notice that when you create or edit an ad, you are shown the prompt “+ Insert Keyword Automatically” when you click into either the Title or Description(s) dialogue boxes:

Click “+ Insert Keyword Automatically” and you get a prompt like this:

In the dialogue box, enter your “default text.” Your default text should be something that can serve as an overall description for all of your keywords in case the actual search term exceeds character limits. For example, if you’re in the wine business, your default text might be, simply, “Wine.”

“{KEYWORD:Wine}” would then appear in the dialogue box.

You then wrap the rest of your title copy around “{KEYWORD:Wine}.” For instance, you might write, “Buy Premium{KEYWORD:Wine}.”

But here’s the snazzy part: Your ad’s title won’t necessarily appear as “Buy Premium Wine.” Rather, once a searcher has entered one of your keywords—”Chardonnay,” for example—the turbines of our mighty engines kick-in and, in an instant, your ad title appears as “Buy Premium Chardonnay.”

That’s probably a lot more clickable to someone shopping for Chardonnay than the generic “Wine,” right? Again, the default text will appear only if our engines determine that using the search term would exceed our character limits.

The same goes for your short and long descriptions, though we’ve noticed that placing the keyword in the title is even better than placing it in the description.

Take advantage of the Insert Keyword feature, as well as other features like ad testing and geo-targeting, to help make your ads as relevant as they can be.

You can read more about Yahoo's changes to ad copy or ideas on Quality Score.

Increasing MSN AdCenter's Ad Effectiveness

Good-looking, relevant ads can make a big difference to the success of your search campaign. If your ad appears professional and your text matches your keywords and what you offer, searchers will be more likely to click through and visit your site. MSN offers a number of quick tips below for increasing CTR, conversions and ultimately revenue. Enjoy:)
Quick Advice
    • Match the tone of your ad to your product’s price point and positioning, and include the top benefits your customers are looking for.
    • Direct your ad to unique landing URLs, so that searchers can easily find your offer.
    • If you’re targeting a certain geographic area, be sure to include that location in your ad.
    • Make sure titles are between six and 25 characters, descriptions are between six and 70 characters, and the display URL is no more than 35 characters.
    • Microsoft adCenter allows you to create up to 20 ads per order and automatically shows the better performing ads more often. Use this to your advantage and test multiple ads at once.
    • Consider using dynamic text in your ad to make the ad more relevant to the searcher's query.

Improving Quality Score in Yahoo!

So, I know this post is probably out of date considering Yahoo released it a week or so ago but the information is excellent and Yahoo! is starting to ad the type of usability to their advertising platform that many of us have been demanding since the release of Panama! Enjoy!

When all five sections of the bar are colored in blue, your quality index score is high. When three sections are filled in, your score is OK. When only one is filled in…well, you get the idea.

But what is this quality index thing, why does it matter, and how can you make it better?

It’s All Relative (and Relevant)
In a nutshell, an ad’s quality index is a relative measure of how relevant it is to users. In determining your quality index, our system takes into account your ad’s click-through rate compared to its average position in search results, as well as to that of other ads displayed at the same time, other keywords in your ad group, and other relevance factors.

Why Should I Care?
You should care because ads with a higher quality index can receive higher ranking in Sponsored Search results. Our system calculates an ad’s ranking based on your bid, your ad’s quality and other relevance factors. A high-quality ad may be ranked higher than a poor-quality ad, even if the poor-quality ad’s bid is higher.

Please note the graphic above is provided for illustrative purposes only

OK, so how do I Improve My Quality Index?
Your ad’s quality index reflects its ability to meet the needs and desires of users—that is, how well it helps them find what they want, quickly and accurately. If your ads don’t meet the needs of users, users are less likely to click them. Fewer clicks means fewer customers and conversions.

When this happens, nobody wins: not you, not us and not the user. High-quality ads, by contrast, can help create winners out of all of us. The quality index was set up to encourage advertisers to better meet the needs of users—who are, after all, the reason we are both here.

Here are a number of tactics you can use to improve the quality of your ads, and thus, your quality index:

Use relevant keywords—Make sure the keywords in your ad group are highly relevant to the ads in the same ad group.

Include your keyword in your creative—Using the keyword itself in titles and descriptions of your ad. You can use the Insert Keyword feature to help you do this automatically.

Take advantage of excluded keywords—Use this feature to block certain searches that you think may not be relevant. This can help keep your budget focused on more likely prospects. For example, if you sell portable radios but not ham radio equipment, you can block searches that include the word “ham.”

Use ad testing—You may have noticed that when you create an ad in an Ad Group, you are prompted to create another one. You should do this in all of your ad groups, because when you create more than one ad, our system will test the ads automatically. Ads that perform better then begin to appear more frequently in search results, and you can edit or delete ads that perform poorly. Try different copy, different offers or different display URLs to help determine what works best.

Gather intelligence—Almost all’s fair in love and advertising, so you shouldn’t feel shy about spying on your competitors. And by spying, we mean searching for their products or services so you can look at their ads—not breaking into their offices, tapping their phones or any of that illicit Watergate stuff, OK? Take a look at your competitors’ ads to determine if your offers are as strong as theirs.

Offer specials—Consider including special offers in your ad copy. Take a look at a calendar: It’s chock-full of holidays that you should consider taking advantage of. Limited-time offers, free shipping, two-for-ones, free gifts, contests and so forth can be very effective. Remember, it’s not just about your ad, it’s also about the value that users think you can deliver.

Pay Per Click Account Quick Fixes - Part 1

I know I have focused on these topics previously (as well as low quality score, low conversions and more) but I will be passing along a 3 part series on pay per click account quick fixes: low click-through rate (Part 1), low traffic (Part 2), low ad position (Part 3). Enjoy!

Low Click-through Rate

First things first - you need folks to click on your ads. The realty on SERPs is getting more crowded each quarter, and drawing a user’s attention to your ad, and enticing them click on your pay per click ad, is one of the core challenges of pay-per-click management. If your CTR is not performing the way it should, here are some quick fixes:

  1. Write new ad texts! Now, this may seem obvious, but it needs to be said. Take your best performing ad text, pause the rest, and use this remaining ad as your control ad. Ask yourself a few questions: what made your best ad successful; why did the the other ads fail? Do not forget to review your competition! Determine how you can differentiate your message, and call-to-action. Determine which phrases, benefits and headlines work best, then write those new ad texts.
  2. Once you’ve inserted your new ad texts - get to testing! For successful split testing you need to set your ad serving option within AdWords to Rotate (show ads more evenly). Within Yahoo you need to set your match to ‘Advance’ rather than ‘Standard.’ If you do not choose these setting, AdWords and Yahoo will determine and display your best performing ad texts - which would result in an inaccurate test.

Matt Cutts Talks about Optimizing Images

The Google Webmaster Central blog has a new video from Matt Cutts on how to properly label your images so that Google Image search can properly rank them for relevant searches.


10 SEO Tips - Getting Back To the Basics

Friendly Disclamer:) Before I go too much further, I should point-out that there are 200+ factors to be considered when doing a full optimisation campaign. Every industry and website is different, so one technique that might work well for one business may not have the same results for another.

On top of that, it’s also important to understand that whilst applying the steps in this article will help make the search engines crawl and index your site more effectively, you’ll still need to incorporate off-site techniques like link building and utilizing social media and other forms of online and off-line marketing etc. to achieve the best possible results.

1. Content, Content, Content and Content!

The most important part of any website is it’s content. Without interesting and compelling content you won’t be able to gain inbound links and more importantly you won’t be able to make many sales.

The more content you have the more authoritative you’ll appear to your clients and the more information the search engines will have to index.

It may seem daunting trying to come-up with new things to write about and add to your site on a regular basis, but it can be easier than you think. Try starting a blog or a regular newsletter. If you’re really struggling, you can always delegate the task to a staff member or hire a professional copy writer. It will be well worth it in the end.

2. Navigation Structure

Keep your navigation structure as simple and text-based as possible. While shiny, animated navigation buttons might look nice, they can make it hard for the search engines to effectively crawl your site. What’s the point in having a flashy looking website if it never gets indexed and no one can find it. More importantly, why spend the money on a site that cannot be found by search engines and, as a result, humans?

If it’s important in your industry to have a site that has all the ‘bells and whistles’ then at least use a text-based navigation menu in the footer of your pages, try and use bread-crumbs throughout the site and be sure to have a sitemap.

It’s also a great idea (if possible without making it look spammy) to incorporate some of your keywords into the anchor text in your footer navigation menu. For instance, if your site is about blue widgets, instead of making the link back to your index page say ‘home’ you could change it to say ‘blue widgets homepage’.

One final side-note on navigation - when linking back to your index page make it link back to the full URL of your site instead of index.htm as this can help prevent canonicalization.

3. Don’t Flash

As mentioned above, having a Flash website might look very impressive - but what’s the point if no one will ever find it when they do a search.

I try to avoid flash at all possible costs, but if you have to use it, make sure you read - How to get Google’s attention if you’re a Flasher

4. Title Tags

Title tags are one of the most important on-site SEO tools a webmaster has at their disposal.

Here are some Do’s and Dont’s for structuring your title tags:

  • Don’t use the same tags on every page
  • Don’t put your company name (unless you’re main purpose is branding) at the start of your title tag
  • Do put one or two keywords in your title tag, but don’t overdo it otherwise your site will look spammy to both humans and search spyders - just make sure the tag is both readable and relevant to your site

Aaron Wall has a great video on Google & SEO Friendly Page Titles

5. Meta Description Tag

Strictly speaking, this tag has no SEO benefit - but it is still important. Why? Because a good description can be the difference between someone clicking on your site instead of your competitors that may appear above or below you in the SERPs.

Be sure to include a call to action! I often tell search marketers to think of their meta-description as an Adwords ad with additional character space.

6. Heading Tags

Well optimized heading (H1, H2, H3, etc) tags not only help the search engines determine what a page is about, but it can also help make your page more readable by breaking-up the topics into appropriately titled sections.

Try and mix mix things up so that you don’t have the same keywords mentioned in your Title Tag and Heading Tags.

7. Keyword Density

There have been many statistics thrown around over the years about what is ideal number of times to mention your keywords throughout the body of your text. I personally don’t aim for a certain percentage and instead encourage my clients to come-up with great content that focuses on their business’ core products and services. By doing this, you’ll naturally incorporate your keywords throughout the text without it looking overdone.

If you want to go one step further, you can also highlight your keywords by making them bold or in italics, but once again, it’s important not to overdo this as it can make great content start to look spammy.

8. Image Tags

Use the ALT attribute to apply meaningful descriptors to your images. This can help your site rank for image searches and makes the site more usable if people are viewing your page via a mobile browser and have images disabled.

9. Keywords in Domain and URL

Having your keywords mention in your domain name or in the names of your pages can be a great way to ensure people use your keyword in the anchor text when they link to you, plus they will appear in bold in the SERPs when someone searches for those terms.

With saying that, it’s far more important having a memorable, concise domain than a name consisting of 20 keywords held together with hyphens with a .net at the end (eg.

10. Be sensible about everything

All the points above can help, but you can also easily go overboard by using the same keywords over and over again in your page names, titles, headers, meta tags, in bold throughout your content etc. etc.

Just use your common sense - try and read through your page objectively (or as a customer) and if it flows well and looks good you really shouldn’t have anything to worry about. If you have trouble being objective about your own site, get a friend or family member to have a read and give you feedback.

Google Adwords Launches Local Plus Box

Google announced the launch of the AdWords Local Plus box. When you conduct some local searches, the sponsored listings may contain a plus sign, which you can click and expand into a map. There have been reports of this 'coming soon' but it is nowofficially live. Here are a couple screen captures:

Here is a picture of the AdWords plus sign closed:
Google AdWords Local Plus Box

Here is a picture of the AdWords plus sign open:
Google AdWords Local Plus Box

Advertisers will not be charged for clicking on the plus sign, they will only be charged for clicks on the link that takes the searcher to the advertiser's destination.

How do you get your ads to show up like this? If you are already a local business advertiser with Google, then you won't have to do anything. The only requirement is that the ad be in the top yellow ad position, ads on the right side of the page, will not contain the plus sign.

Internet Marketing Acronyms

Being that we work in an industry defined by acronyms (SEO, PPC) and have trouble sometimes determining the difference between SEO and SEM, SEM and PPC, or PPC and CPC; over at DP, KP started a thread listing SEO acronyms which I feel are quite useful (espcially for newbies or prepping before a meeting) and worth sharing. I took the liberty of adding a few of my own as well.

  1. BL = Backlink
  2. CPC = Cost Per Click
  3. CSE = Comparison Shopping Engine or Custom Search Engine (Google)
  4. CSS = Cascading Style Sheet
  5. DC = Data Center
  6. DMOZ = Directory - Mozilla
  7. HTML = HyperText Markup Language
  8. IBL = Inbound Link
  9. IPB9 = Internet Business Promoter
  10. LSA = Latent semantic analysis
  11. LSI = Latent Semantic Indexing
  12. OBL = Outbound Link
  13. ODP = Open Direcrory Project, See DMOZ
  14. OWBL = One way back link
  15. PPA = Pay Per Action
  16. PPC = Pay Per Click
  17. PR = PageRank
  18. RI = Regular index
  19. RSS = RDF Site Summary, Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication
  20. SE = Search Engine
  21. SEM = Search Engine Marketing
  22. SEO = Search Engine Optimization (Optimisation)
  23. SERP = Search Engine Results Page
  24. SI = Supplemental Index
  25. SSE = Yahoo! Search Submit Express
  26. SSP = Yahoo! Search Submit Pro
  27. SWL = SiteWide Link
  28. TBPR = Toolbar PageRank
  29. TR = Trust Rank
  30. VIPS = Visual-block Page Segmentation
  31. WP/WP4 = Web Position/Web Position 4
  32. XML = Extensible Markup Language
  33. TLA = Text Link Ads
  34. GWO = Google Website Optimizer
  35. PFL (Paid For Listings)
  36. P4P (Paid For Placement)
  37. CTR (Click Through Rate)
  38. CPM (Cost Per thousand)
  39. CPA (Cost Per Action)
  40. SMM - Social Media Marketing
  41. SMO - Social Media Optimization
  42. GAP = Google Advertising Professional
  43. LPO: Landing Page Optimization
  44. GWT: Google Webmaster Tools
  45. CMS: Content Management System

Have I missed anything? Be sure to share your favorite SEO acronyms in the coments below:)

Strategy Documents for PPC & SEO

If you are in the Internet Marketing industry, at some point, you will need to write up a strategy proposal for either SEO or PPC.

Over at Shimon Sandler's Blog he provides terrific examples of each.

The two links below provide a wonderful example of both SEO and PPC strategy templates that will hopefully help you form your own strategy template:

SEO Strategy Document

PPC Strategy Document

Google Website Optimizer - 7 Important Tests

This week, the Google Website Optimizer team hosted a two-part webinar series on how to use their powerful testing software. The best part? It's FREE!! In addition to the popular A/B and multivariate tests, Google walked attendees through basic testing methods, then went on to some more advanced techniques.

Here's the "Condensed" version, in case you didn't have a chance to attend:

A/B Test — Allows you to test different versions of the same page. Let's say you want to test the homepage. To indicate which version of the homepage is performing better, a Goal Page is selected, e.g., an order confirmation "thank you" page. So, once a visitor comes to the test page — in this case, the homepage — they're presented with one version ('A') that you created to test against another version ('B') of your homepage. Google Website Optimizer will then record the visit as a success or failure by crediting either version 'A' or version 'B' — whichever one ultimately led them to the Goal Page. Once sufficient data is collected, a winning page variation will be selected.

Multivariate Test — Very similar to the A/B test in that it allows you test different variations of the same page. The main difference is that in an A/B test, you're creating and uploading different files and they're presented as different URLs (";"), so Google Website Optimizer splits the traffic to different version and tracks the performance of each. Mulitvariate tests allow you to select different sections on your page and create different versions for each section or content element. So, if you want to test different headlines while testing different "add to cart" buttons, a multivariate test can save time when coding. Google Website Optimizer will create different versions of the page, using every possible combination and variation for each page and content element you're testing.

If we're testing three headlines and two "add to cart" buttons, GWO will create six unique pages by combing every possible variation. The winning variation is then selected.

Split-Path Test — This test will split your traffic among different linear paths containing multiple pages for each path. This is different in that you're testing the performance of grouped pages against other grouped pages. For example, you could test a checkout process by splitting it into two variations; one with four steps (or pages), and another with only three steps. Each variation of grouped pages will have the same Goal Page (e.g., order confirmation page). Once the data is collected, the winning checkout process will be the one that converted a higher percentage of visitors.

Multi-Path Multivariate Test — This will test different sections on multiple pages at the same time, all within one experiment. This test is best used after a winning combination from a split-path test is selected. For example, you could test images, testimonials, and contact information on the pages throughout a checkout to find out which combination of the elements across the group of pages is working the best.

"Do Anything" Test — This is a useful testing functionality that allows a test to have multiple Goal Pages, as opposed to only having one Goal Page. For example, let's say you're testing the headline and name of a category page. Now, to determine whether the headline is a success, simply test how many click-throughs you're getting from the category page to any of product pages that it links out to.

Clock — This will register an experiment as a success after the visitor has spent a specific amount of time on the page. For example, let's say you wanted to test variations on the title of a blog post. You can consider a visit from someone who stays on the page, reading the post for at least 30 seconds, a success. So, if you're still reading this, hopefully that means we're successful Google Website Optimizer will collect data on which headline is engaging the most readers to stay on the page for at least 30 seconds and show us a winning title.

Click — This functionality allows you to set the goal for an experiment as not just a page on a site, but a specific event, or click, on a page. An example would be to test which copy is getting the most people to click on your link to an external checkout source, like Google Checkout or PayPal. Since a click on any link brings the visitor to an outside page, you cannot send them to a Goal Page, but you can measure success by defining a specific click.

If you missed the webinar, don't worry. There's a wealth of information on the GWO Help, Forum, Case Study, and Demo pages. Google also said they will soon be posting abbreviated versions of the webinars. And if you decide you'd like expert guidance with your tests, we can help.

Yahoo Announces changes to ad copy

I received emails from Yahoo this morning stating Yahoo will be cutting off ads at 75 characters. They had started this shortened descriptions some time ago but still allowed for the 'long description' and would simply truncate the ad at 75 characters.

Seems now you will not have the option - all ads will use the 75 character limit.

Per Yahoo: "Beginning in late November 2007, if you have created short descriptions for your ads, those short descriptions will automatically be displayed on Yahoo! Search results (currently the short description will not always be displayed) but if you have not created a short description for a particular ad, the long description will be automatically cut off to fit within a 75 character limit," the emails stated.

Why is Yahoo making the change?
"We are implementing these changes to streamline the search results displayed on Yahoo!, making it easier for users to read and absorb your ad messages. Our research has shown that by improving the search experience in this way, advertisers may see an increase in clicks, while maintaining their conversion rates" the announcement explained.

Top SEO Mistakes

There are surely hundreds of different ways that people can mess up their sites. Based on our experience from working with a number of clients, here are the 10 most common problems that we find:

  1. Broken information architecture - These are sites that fail to map the nature of the information they are providing into an understandable hierarchy making their site navigation bad for users and search engines.
  2. Poor site usability - Results in poor conversion rates, poor lifetime value per visitor, and a less attraactive site for linking to.
  3. Mismanaged internal link juice - Some sites allocate their link juice poorly, resulting in not enough of it going to their most important pages.
  4. Content getting buried over time - A surprising number of sites that create huge amounts of content use publishing systems that buries stuff over time. Such a lost opportunity-don't hide it!
  5. Bad redirects - Why is it that almost every engineer who does not have a background in SEO defaults to using a 302 redirect?
  6. Poor titles and headers - Keyword tools are wonderful weapons. These are valuable for far more than SEO. Keyword tools tell you what language people use when referring to your products and services. Even in a world without web sites, this is something you would want to know. Then you need to make sure you have pages and content that addresses the major topic areas that relate to your business - using that language.
  7. Insufficient content - No content (or tools) means no links which, in turn, means no traffic. It's that simple. What unique value are you offering a visitor to your web site? Why would someone link to your site? The easiest way to build links is to offer a widget tool unique to your industry - perhaps a Firefox ad on or something to that effect.
  8. Duplicate content - It's unbelievable how much duplicate content that some sites create. It's a common killer, and it's a very big factor in poor page rank management.
  9. All flash site - Very, very pretty, but not a great experience for a crawler. This does not mean you can't have an (almost) all Flash site. Just make sure you offer text link navigation options and use a technique like Scalable Inman Flash Replacement (sIFR) to tell the crawler what is in the movie.
  10. Same meta description (and keywords) on every page - These elements are included in duplicate content filter checks by the search engines. And, of course, the meta description is important because it often gets used as the description that the search engine uses for your web page, so make sure it describes the unique info to be found on that page.

Writing Compelling Retail Ad Copy

With MSN's new vibrancy for search and their lofty goals of achieving the No. 2 position in search marketing their adCenter Blog is beginning to show a much improved tendency for providing QUALITY information.

Their most recent post regarding ad copy surrounding holiday provided some useful tips and clever uses of dynamic insertion.

1. The number one influential element is to mention the product name in the ad title or ad copy. Dynamic Text Insertion can be a great way to ensure ads looks targeted & relevant.

2. Like on the high street pricing, promotions & special offers attract. People just love a good deal! Ads including an offer for a limited amount of time or next day/free delivery generally perform better than using, for example, pricing on its own.

3. Is your business a well-known, well-loved household name or brand? Use it! It can say more than you can express in a few lines and you may gain instant trust from the consumer.

4. Use call to actions (CTAs) to invite consumers to your site and to let them know what they’ll find on your there. Successful CTAs for retail campaigns in the UK are:
‘buy’, ’compare’, ‘save’, ‘order’ and ‘find’. For the US ‘save time and money’, ‘buy’ ‘save’, ‘order’ and ‘find’ work well.

5. Shoppers might complain about Christmas decorations in the high street in late September or Easter eggs in January. However online seasonality trends show that a big event such as Christmas impacts sales as early as September. The below table shows the main retail revenue drivers and when you should be thinking of getting your ad copy ready

Understanding Yahoo Search Marketing's Quality Score

Following in Google's foosteps, as Yahoo often does, with the release of Panama Yahoo began utlilizing a quality score system for ad placement, cost per click, etc. Why is this quality score number important? Because ads with a higher quality index can receive higher ranking in sponsored search results for a lesser cost. Advertisers can see what their ad's quality index is, on a scale of one to five, within their account interface. But knowing how to improve that index is another matter.

Yahoo offers some tips to understand and improve your quality index in the Yahoo Search Marketing blog.

Your ad’s quality index reflects its ability to meet the needs and desires of users – that is, how well it helps them find what they want, quickly and accurately. If your ads don’t meet the needs of users, users are less likely to click them. Fewer clicks means fewer customers and conversions.

When this happens, nobody wins: not you, not us and not the user. High-quality ads, by contrast, can help create winners out of all of us. The quality index was set up to encourage advertisers to better meet the needs of users – who are, after all, the reason we are both here.

Tactics to improve quality index include: detailed, relevant keyword grouping within an ad group, including keywords in ad copy creative, utilizing excluded keywords, and using ad testing (another new feature recently added to Yahoo's search marketing interface.) Yahoo also suggests gathering intelligence about competitors' ads, and including special offers in your ad copy.

Posting Lag.....

I'm sorry I have not been actively keeping up with my posting .. I have been busy with a blog re-design, as well as designing my own search marketing consulting website (which you can see here: Pay Per Click Services. Feel free to leave a comment about what you think of the site, where I can improve, etc.

Here's to more frequent postings:) !

Blog Directory

Google's Testing Pay Per Action (PPA) Model

So, I have heard arguments going both ways regarding using Google's conversion code and URL tracking. After all, why would you want to the let the company 'determining' how much a click is worth know which keywords are converting and boosting your bottom line? I happen to like being able to log into my accounts, quickly determine which ads are converting, which keywords are converting and how the overall Campaign is functioning - and it is a free tool!

I am hoping Google's new cost model will provide a further way to keep ROI in check!

Google has been working on a pay-per-action (PPA) model by which, instead of paying per impression or per click on served ads, advertisers only make payment when users complete a predefined action. Such activities can include making a purchase or registering for a newsletter, reports MediaPost.

Today Google expands its PPA beta to a number of advertisers on AdWords.

Beginning today, advertisers with conversion tracking and over 500 conversions from CPC- or CPM-based campaigns in the past month will be added to the PPA beta on a rolling basis. Options to build campaigns and set the parameters for conversions will appear in their AdWords accounts.

Some marketers perceive PPA as a new attempt by Google to reignite business from advertisers who may feel burned by ever-escalating PPC costs and a paltry ROI.

The global beta, released in March, launched in 24 languages.

MySpace in exchange for Yahoo! shares?

News Corp, the empire presided-upon by Rupert Murdoch, has proposed a curious exchange: MySpace in exchange for 25 percent of Yahoo, according to The Times.

Murdoch purchased MySpace for $580 million in 2005.

Ongoing talks were interrupted recently by the departure of former CEO Terry Semel of Yahoo.

With Yahoo's recent advertising agreement with E-bay this partnership could provide a serious boost to the advertising bottom line!

eBay Pulls AdWords Advertising Dollars!

Well, it isn't often that Google gets a slap in the face ... hardly ever actually ... sure, there are teh impending lawsuits here and there but usually whoever has the most expensive lawyer wins that battle ... and we all know how deep Google's pockets are!

So, now eBay has signed an exclusive advertiser deal with Yahoo! Could Yahoo be making a move to take back some market share?

Read below:

Report: eBay Pulls AdWords; Google Protest Crumbles

eBay has discontinued its advertising through Google's AdWords platform in the U.S., reports InfoWorld.

The move comes as the latest in the equivalent of a corporate chess match between Google and eBay. The two have been circling each other for a while, largely over eBay's decision to disallow use of Google's Checkout system for auctions on the site.

eBay owns PayPal, one of the biggest online payment services, and a direct competitor to Google Checkout. The camel's back may have been broken over Google throwing a protest party on the same night eBay held a merchant's conference dubbed eBay Live.

Officials within eBay deny the decision to divorce AdWords is tied to the party plans but the company also admitted it isn't thrilled that Google was making such a move.

Yahoo signed a deal with eBay making it the sole provider of search and display ads on the auction site, something that also might be playing into making this decision. The move affects only US AdWords campaigns and was labeled by eBay as simply an experiment in ad dollar relocation.

UPDATE: Google apparently canceled the party, reports TechCrunch. You can read Google's statement on the cancellation here.

48% of Users Polled Plan To Increased Spend with Yahoo!

So, for those who I interact with on a regular basis throughout the week, you already know my feelings toward Yahoo's Search Marketing Platform - before and after the 'Panama Project'.

That being said, the survey below completely shocked me because most folks that I speak with usually have the same feelings ... low ROI, not very user friendly, awkward Dashboard, horrendous editorial review, the list goes on and on.

I'm curious to speak with someone who would agree with the survey. Is there something they know about Panama that I don't? Is it the products they are selling / promoting?

If you have had success with Panama and plan on increasing your advertising spend as a result, please take time to share with me.

Enjoy the read!

Resolution Media reveals that not only did surveyed marketers rate Panama highly, 48 percent of them plan to increase spending with Yahoo! because of it.

Since the release of Panama, the announcements of its less-than-stellar Q1 profits and Google's acquisition of DoubleClick have many analysts giving Yahoo! a skeptical outlook. In light of Google's ever-growing empire and Yahoo's disappointing Q1 earnings, can Yahoo still succeed? The results of a recent survey conducted by Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA) in conjunction with William Blair & Company may make you wonder.

The verdict of CIMA's research
Overall, the state of our interactive marketing industry is strong with 2007 growth predictions near 19 percent and our industry's health rated a virile 4.13 out of five by CIMA members. So what does this mean for the Goliaths that propel our industry's search dollars?

In 2004, Google accounted for 51 percent of searches through its own site and AOL, whereas Yahoo accounted for 43 percent of searches on its own property and MSN. This gap widened drastically in the following years with Google now controlling 64 percent of all search activity. In this year's CIMA study, only 16 percent of respondents characterized Yahoo as the best-positioned portal or search engine, versus 30 percent last year. Google was considered best-positioned by 56 percent of respondents. However, with its release of Panama, Yahoo is shaping up to give Google a run for its ad dollars.

The CIMA survey revealed that 71 percent of participants rate Panama's new user interface as "similar or better than Google's." Why? When asked, "What new feature in the Panama system will have the most positive impact on your business?" the more than 100 CIMA members who participated in the survey responded with: Campaign Grouping, Fast Activation, Keyword Insertion in ad units, and Graphical Forecasting and Bidding Tools. As a result, the CIMA study also revealed that 48 percent of surveyed members indicated they would increase their spending with Yahoo.

Panama and the triangle of benefit
Another reason for the positive peer review of Panama could be Yahoo's realization that in order to move ahead of other search engines, it needs to serve more than just its marketing/agency clients. Truly effective media models create unique advantages for each of the three core media constituencies: marketers, publishers and consumers. Yahoo seems to have recognized this by outfitting Panama with new features that integrate each media constituency while appealing to each individually.

Panama offers marketers the ability to test multiple ad versions to determine which message generates increased CTR and impressions. In addition to the features highlighted in the CIMA research, Panama provides an interface that enables marketers to clone Google campaigns and seamlessly import and apply learnings.

For publishers, Panama's ability to provide increased relevance means higher clickthrough rates. Thus, it will yield more revenue. Publishers are already starting to realize the revenue potential, as evident by the recent exclusive agreement between Viacom and Yahoo for sponsored search and contextual ads.

And lastly, consumers experience faster, more relevant search results due to marketers being better able to manage their creative messaging. Additionally, some of Panama's geo-targeting search capabilities will provide for a better user experience.

The right move
With the purchase of Right Media Exchange, Yahoo provides further opportunity for advertisers, publishers and advertising networks to generate more value from the online marketplace. Right Media will allow Yahoo advertisers greater inventory and audience options as well as increased transparency into the buying process. Publishers will have the ability to immediately capitalize on increased marketplace demand and enable optimal returns on each ad placed by marrying their ad inventory with the exchange's and Yahoo's. Advertising networks will enjoy the same advantages as advertisers and publishers while also giving them a chance to compete with top players due to decreased friction and increased transparency.

What does this all mean for our industry? For starters, it means that -- despite the fact that Googling has become a recognized verb synonymous with web searching -- Google's stronghold on search advertising hasn't taken the fight out of its key competitors. With Panama, marketers can now meaningfully test their message efficacy on Yahoo and shape their online spots toward their consumers' preferences. Publishers will generate more revenue from each page view. Consumers can find what they are looking for with greater speed and accuracy, and with results that are more targeted to their queries.

Yahoo has given the marketplace and consumers a worthy complement to Google. Today, I'm betting that Panama will help Yahoo close the gap with Google in the coming months; and not only because 71 percent of CIMA participants rated the Panama user interface as similar or better than Google's. Yahoo will overtake other smaller competitors that have been grabbing share by appealing to one or all of the three key constituencies. At the end of the day, Panama creates competition, and that's good news for the entire industry.

Matt Spiegel is the managing director and founder of Resolution Media. Read full bio.

Ads across Multiple Sites Yield Higher Conversions

Advertising overlap on multiple sites has a significant impact on consumer conversions, according to "How Overlap Impacts Reach, Frequency and Conversions," a study by aQuantive's Atlas Institute, writes MarketingCharts.

The study finds that consumers are more likely to convert after viewing ads on multiple websites; therefore, it would be more accurate for marketers to attribute conversions to a full set of impressions and/or clicks rather than the current industry standard of attributing all online conversions to the last impression (or last "click"), according to Atlas.

Some key findings from the study:

  • Consumers reached across multiple publishers were twice as likely to convert as those reached solely through a single publisher.
  • 90 percent of the consumers that converted were reached by placements other than the last ad seen.
  • Two out of three consumers who eventually took a responsive action were reached by ads across multiple portal sites before converting.


A previous Atlas Institute study, "The Combined Impact of Search and Display Advertising," found that sponsored search and display advertising together provide a 22 percent higher conversion rate over search alone.

Anyone have thoughts on this article? I'm curious to here someone else's take.

Increasing Quality Score to Boost Adwords Campaign Results

I grabbed this article from ClickZ and thought it provided some excellent tips for those folks who are looking to decrease their CPC and, as a result, boost their ROI.

As we all know, Google weighs heavily on providing relevant landing pages and content for their PPC ads and rewards the advertiser accordingly with a decreased CPC based on their quality score. With Yahoo's release of Panama, they have followed suit providing a quality score index for each ad laced with relevant keywords.

(Side rant: I went to a Yahoo! sponsored seminar when Panama first came out and quickly learned the quality score had nothing to do with the landing page, however. Simply a computation based on CTR and how many times you could use the 'insert keyword' feature....but, that is a whole seperate conversation.)

Regardless, this article was written by Eric Enge. If you would like to learn more about him, you can find his bio here.


Increasing Quality Score to Boost Campaign Results

Customized landing pages can have a huge impact on a PPC campaign. This week’s By The Numbers column provides a case study that quantifies the result for one insurance Web site.

Dutch based Univé Verzekeringen had implemented a PPC campaign, but it was sending all of its PPC traffic to the Web site home page. Campaign costs were higher than anticipated, and the conversion rate was not great as well.

Put the Quality Score to Work for You

Google and Yahoo! both have systems in place that calculate a quality score. This quality score includes a measurement of the match between the keyword that you bid on, and the lading page that a user gets sent to after clicking on the ad. The quality score is a major factor in determining whether or not your ad will even be shown for a particular keyword, as well at the placement of your ad, and its cost.

One great tool that you can use to improve landing page quality is Google's Site Related Keywords tool (note the default mode for this page is the Keyword Variations tool; make sure you click on the Site Related Keywords tab). Here, you can simply enter the URL for a given page on your site, noting the terms Google suggests are related. (Side rant - one of the best keyword research tools I've found is Market Samurai. They have a free trial so you can test it out for yourself!)

This report gives you great options, like seeing Estimated Keyword Volume, Cost and Ad Position Estimates, and Search Volume Trends. Most importantly, the keywords suggested by the tool will be the ones where your landing page relevance is deemed to be quite high.

Tips to Improve Your Quality Score

Listed below are some tips you can implement to improve your quality score:
  1. Put your keywords into logical groupings. This allows you to more closely match up your ad copy with the keywords.
  2. Write creative that uses the keywords in the Ad Group, and that is relevant to the landing page.
  3. Keep in mind that click-through rate is also a factor; therefore, use relevant creative that encourages users to click through.
  4. Work on your ad copy, and test, test, and then test again. You should always be experimenting with different ad copy.
  5. Implement a separate landing page for each Ad Group.
  6. Get inbound links to your landing pages. Yes, inbound links matter in the PPC world, too.
  7. Implement related keywords in your keywords meta tag.
  8. Implement the related keywords in your landing page text.
  9. Test, test, and retest different version of your landing page. Ideally, do this in an A/B test mode to minimize the chance of other external factors being a concern when looking at your test results.
  10. Track conversion rates. If your campaign is larger, make use of a bid management tool to take care of the long tail terms.

The Univé Case Study

Univé sought out the help of Dutch SEO firm, Checkit. Checkit personnel recognized the problem and got to work on implementing custom landing pages for each of the Ad Groups in the campaign. Here are some of the steps they took:
  1. Landing Page titles included keywords from the ad title.
  2. Important keywords were integrated into the text of the landing page.
  3. A clear call to action was added.
  4. An attractive image was added to the page to make it more visually appealing to the user.
  5. The related navigation was improved, making it easier for the user to find what s/he was looking for.

The result of this effort was notable:

  1. The number of clicks per conversion was cut in half.
  2. The cost per sold insurance policies was lowered by 53 percent.
  3. The conversion rate went up by 261 percent.

Needless to say, Univé was quite happy with this improvement. With increased conversion rates, you can raise your bids on terms and compete more effectively in the market.

The new Quality Score world does not have to be frightening. In fact, it represents a real opportunity. Understanding where those opportunities lie and how to take advantage of them can provide great results. Excellence in execution in this new world can make a dramatic impact, providing you with a competitive advantage.

Suggested other Quality Score reading:

10 Tips To Get The Most Out of Google Analytics

With all of the analytics packages out there sometimes it is hard to choose which one to implement! Some are more user friendly but provide less data while others are hard to manipulate but provide a mountainous amount of data. The worst part? Most of these programs have a large price tag associated with the use of the program.

For those of you who would rather swim through analytics data without a large price tag attached for similar programs, here are 10 tips to get the most from Google Analytics.

  1. Documentation. Read the major links on the Google Analytics support site ( This will give you a good overall understanding of the implementation.
  2. Page Tags. Tag all your pages with the GA Tracking Code that Google gives you when you sign up. Most GA users put the tracking code into an "include" file that gets included on all your pages, like a footer. When you think you are all tagged, spend $9 to $29 for a SiteScan at Epikone ( to verify your work.
  3. Secure Pages. If you have any secure pages on your site, you need to use the secure code for them. The easiest way to do this is to use secure code on all your pages (even the insecure pages). When you sign up for GA, give your URL as, not http, and it will generate the secure code (and don’t worry: the analytics will still work just fine.)
  4. Test Profile. Create a test profile in addition to your "real" profile. That way, you can test new features. When you are sure they work, move them over into your real profile. (Under "Analytics Settings" choose "Add a Website Profile." Then choose to add a profile for an existing site. You can have up to 50 profiles in an account.)
  5. Funnels. Use sales funnels (tools that allow you to observe the online sales process) for defined movement in the site -- like through a shopping cart, or from a sign-up page to the "Thank you" page. Don’t try to make your funnels teach you about undefined motion, like pathing through the whole site -- you'll just be frustrated. And don’t forget to create those funnels; they are one of GA’s greatest strengths.
  6. Special Profiles. Create special profiles for important campaigns (like paid search or organic search). That way, you can apply all of the GA tools focusing a specific campaign. This is one of the best ways to segment in GA, but you have to think of it before you need it.
  7. E-commerce Tracking. If you have an e-commerce site, remember to set up the special e-commerce tracking code and tell GA that each profile does e-commerce.
  8. Autotag Google AdWords. If you use Google AdWords, make sure that your AdWords talk to your Analytics. Then be sure that your AdWords are autotagged (it's in the "My Account" tab of your AdWords.) Finally, go to your Google Analytics from your AdWords (you have to do it this way), choose your profile, edit the profile, edit the main website information, and choose "Apply Cost Data." Now your AdWords and your Analytics are in sync.
  9. Tag Other Campaigns. Be sure to tag all your other campaigns, too – like your Yahoo and MSN paid search, your banner ads, your email marketing. Use the Google Analytics link tagging tool, being sure to include at least a campaign name, a source and a medium.
  10. Analyze your data. Use all that hard work to figure out where you are getting your best traffic from, to learn where individuals are leaving your shopping cart, and to learn which keywords are working for you. After all, the whole point of having great analytics is to make more money.
I grabbed these tips from one of my favorite e-mail newsletters Web Marketing Today and the tips are courtesy of Robbin Steif. She is CEO of LunaMetrics, a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant with clients both large and small. She serves on the board of directors for the Web Analytics Association.