Category Archives: Work

Microsoft adExcellence Membership

Reuben Yau - Pittsburgh Internet Consulting - Microsoft AdExcellence Member
David Naylor recently reported that the new Microsoft AdCenter accreditation program will be named Microsoft adExcellence. Searchengineland reported that it’s going to be available later this year, however, I was able to join the pilot program running from June 29th to July 20th. The testing is done online by, just like the Google AdWords Professional qualification. You’re tested on your knowledge of pay per click marketing and specifically Microsoft AdCenter features, functionality and policies. The test contains 50 questions and is scheduled to last an hour, although I completed mine in about 30 minutes.

I believe I am one of the first people to have completed and passed the test, so I’m able to proudly display this new badge.

Website Optimizer Is Search Engine Friendly

Website Optimizer by Google AdWords is a multivariate testing tool, that is to say, it takes A/B testing one step further. Instead of testing 2 versions of a page, you can test multiple page elements and the various combinations.

When you create an experiment you can specify page elements that you want to test, for example, a page heading, intro copy or a lead image. It uses javascript on the landing page to swap out the test element with the other variations that you specify within Website Optimizer.

I participated in the beta test of this and my initial concern was that it may not be search engine friendly due to the changing page elements, however, after a short call with the Website Optimizer Product Manager, he confirmed that it would not have any impact on organic rankings.

If you are still concerned about it, then you can always set up a specific landing page that is not linked to from your main navigation and use either the robots.txt or meta noindex tags to prevent search engines from crawling those pages.

Once your AdWords account is fairly well optimized, I would highly recommend trying out this tool. You will learn new things about your website, its traffic and motivators. Just make sure you carefully plan the test elements and don’t test too many elements at once to ensure that you can run through enough iterations with conversions to gain meaningful data.

Google Analytics Authorized Consultant (GAAC) Requirements

I looked into this a while back and wrote to Google Analytics support. They responded with this set of requirements for becoming a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant:

  • In business for 1 year
  • At least one dedicated person for Google Analytics support
  • Must provide full service i.e. setup, support, training, and consultation for Google Analytics
  • Must have an online ticketing system that Google can access
  • Must provide support for both Google Analytics and Urchin software
  • Must have a web site of sufficient Google Analytics/Urchin content and quality
  • Proven background in Analytics and Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Must have at least one Google Adwords Certified employee
  • Must attend training sessions at a Google office – usually once per year

While I have most of these items covered, I just need to find another 6 hours in a day and I may be able to get the rest done.

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.

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.

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.

Bummed About SES NY

I really wanted to attend so I could listen first hand to some of the presentations and get the chance to put a few faces to names (and voices). And perhaps along the way I could have reminisced about my apartment on 79th and 1st.

Unfortunately work duties have me tied up a lot these days, so attending conferences has been pushed down the list of priorities.

Fortunately the SEO community does a pretty good job of blogging about the latest trends and techniques in the online marketing world. So thanks to all you attendees and eager bloggers.

What did we do before blogs and RSS feeds existed?

I definitely plan on attending SEW in Columbus, Ohio on May 9th.

Google Analytics Tracking Code – HTTPS and Full External Referrer Only

Part 1 – Detecting http and https Mode Using Javascript
A while back I came across a scenario where a website (typically an ecommerce site) can serve part of their website in both http and https mode. These sites typically use the same template or footer include file for both browser modes. This causes a security alert popup in the browser because the remote javascript file is called using a http request. While this isn’t a security threat, it could cause some less technically savvy users to be concerned about the site security and perhaps not want to complete the transaction.

Google does offer the webmaster the ability to request the urchin.js file using a https call, which works well, except what we really need, is a way to detect which mode we’re in, then make the appropriate request on the javascript file.

With help from some members on SEORefugee we figured out how it can be done.

Part 2 – Only Obtaining External Referrers
Sunday night I was looking through my Top Content report and realized that after my hack to obtain the full referrer, it’s fairly indiscriminate and will obtain all referrers, both internal and external. While I already knew about this, I guess that night I was tired and grumpy and it just bugged me enough to want to fix it.

The whole point of my hack was to obtain the external referrer, so I came up with some more javascript to detect whether the referrer is internal or external and write out the urchinTracker function accordingly, so it will only record the external referrers.

The Grand Finale
So putting all this together we get this:

Just replace the XXX’s with your Analytics account number and “” with your website.

Pay Per Click Reporting Gripe

Working for an online marketing agency, we, and I’m assuming most other agencies and corporations, develop internal databases to track and report on pay per click traffic and costs. The various pay per click platforms provide us with the ability to download reports in various formats, which we can import into our own databases easily. We write scripts, macros and various tools to automate the process of generating monthly reports for our clients as much as possible.

So it pains me to no end when I find out that yet again, one of the platforms changes their CSV formatting.


Do you not realize that changing just one character in a field name means that pretty much the entire SEM agency industry, as well as medium to large corporations now need to edit their internal reporting mechanisms?