Monthly Archives: May 2007

Yahoo Sponsored Search Is Going To 69 You

One of my colleagues today found out that if you edit a short description in Yahoo Sponsored Search, you have to include a period at the end. Usually you’re allowed 70 characters for the short description, but with the ending period, we’re all being cheated out of one character. If your ads are already 70 characters then don’t worry, they will continue to be active, but next time you edit them, they will be required to have an ending period.

One character doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re trying to get creative as well put across the right message and appeal to the right audience, every character counts. I have no idea why they decided to implement this, there’s a ton of other stuff that I would prefer them to do, like make the campaign import feature available for advertisers who are not at the Gold or Platinum spending levels.

Search Engine Rankings Not Quite Dead Yet

Lee Odden wrote a post about how he thought search engine rankings are turning into a myth and that there’s much more involved than just monitoring search engine rankings. He also mentions monitoring visibility in blog, video and audio searches and that his firm stopped using Web Position Gold in 2003.

I posted a comment, but I guess it got caught up in his spam filters or something, so I thought I’d post here and hopefully get my opinion heard via a trackback.

Lee’s point is that with personalization, search engine rankings are turning into a myth because results are going to vary for each person performing the search. While this is true my tests show that the results do not change significantly enough for this to be called a myth.

Ranking reports are still beneficial because they give you a sense of whether your optimization techniques are working. Since personalization is now an issue, I use ranking reports as a guide and tell clients likewise. So many people are hung up on the rankings of a few key terms that they sometimes miss the big picture.

As far as blog, video and audio search and other “visibility” factors are concerned, for the SME clients I deal with, there’s so little content and such little demand in those spaces right now that it’s not worth it for them to invest their time in writing a blog, or creating other content. As a marketing consultant that keeps business through showing proven sales results, I have to think about my clients’ best interests as far as resource allocation, so advising them to blindly follow the latest trend isn’t always in their best interests.

As far as calling search engine rankings a myth, I think that’s taking it a little too far, they aren’t (yet) on par with the myth of search engine submissions.

Google Analytics Developers, Please Update urchin.js

I was looking through an overall keyword conversion report in Analytics and noticed some strange search phrases appearing. They looked like long strings of random numbers and characters. It turns out that AOL must be testing some new URL structure in the search results and changed the variable that identifies the search query. I took a look at the urchin.js and noticed that the new query variable (userQuery) is not included.

The urchin.js file currently has these variables to define AOL:

_uOsr[3]="aol"; _uOkw[3]="query";
_uOsr[4]="aol"; _uOkw[4]="encquery";

To track the new AOL search queries just place these 2 lines before the urchinTracker() function in your Google Analytics tracking code:

_uOsr.push("aol");
_uOkw.push("userQuery");

Update: I replaced the manual insertion of elements into the _uOsr and _uOkw arrays with the push() function which is a much better solution.

Top 5 Ways To Lose Rankings

I really enjoyed this post by donna, so I thought I’d put together my own favorite five, based on what I’ve seen over the years:

1) Renaming pages or moving them to a different directory location without putting in 301 redirects (this is by far the most common and worst of all mistakes)

2) URL spamming (by choice or by accident)

3) Redesigned website/homepage with a flash intro page – but it looks so cool!

4) Relying too heavily on one type of inbound link (playing the cat and mouse game with Google)

5) Moved to a new webhost and forgot to also move the robots.txt and/or .htaccess files.

Many of these items could easily be avoided if the website owner retained the services of an online marketing consultant.

Google PPA For Ecommerce Sites

One of my clients was recently accepted into the Google Pay Per Action beta program, so I started to set up the actions, conversion tracking and ad campaigns.

One of the biggest problems with PPA is that it’s really not really geared towards a typical ecommerce site. Most ecommerce sites have one template for the receipt page, which is where you usually place conversion tracking codes.

Now consider a store that sells a number of products from $30 to $50,000 per item. I may be willing to pay $1000/action for the $50,000 item, what if someone then buys the $30 item? Continue reading

New Version of Google Analytics Coming

Yes, a new version is soon coming.

I haven’t yet seen it, but I’m hoping that it has a report which shows the full URL including all the parameters by default and/or doesn’t mess with the Google Analytics hack I put in place. I guess I’ll find out when one of my accounts get converted in the coming weeks. I’ll keep an eye out and post any observations/modifications to the javascript code as soon as I have it figured out.

It’s Official – Google Has Technical Fiddly Bits

Google Local Business Center is down for maintenance and is displaying this humorous error message.

Google Has Technical Fiddly Bits

Here’s the transcript for those not able to view the image:

The Google Local Business Center is unavailable for the next hour

We appreciate your patience as we perform some routine system maintenance.

More specifically, we’re updating ‘the backend’ (to employ that catchy, catchall moniker coined and lent to us by engineering folks who work on all of the technical fiddly bits behind the scenes but know we communications folks can’t very well say ‘We’re updating all of the technical fiddly bits behind the scenes’ and expect you, an enlightened Google user, to take us seriously or at least not wonder aloud ‘ Wait, what sort of bits were those again?’).

So please check back in sixty minutes. Maybe less, considering the time you’ve invested in deciphering this message.

Google AdWords Ad Creation Tool – Write and Preview Ads

I like the way Yahoo Sponsored Search displays the character count as you create ads, but unfortunately we don’t get that little luxury with Google AdWords, so I created this little tool to count the characters as well as preview the ad and have the ability to copy it into a local document. It also gives you the ability to add in some Google Analytics tracking variables to the destination URL.

I use this tool at work almost every day and it’s saved me a lot of time, I hope you find it as useful.