Google AdWords Relevancy Change, SEW Forums Live Conference

May 4th

Google AdWords Relevancy Changes:

The difference is that now, the CTR of the ad copy itself is factored in, instead of it being solely the CTR of the keyword. Which only makes sense, IMO, given that it is the quality of the keyword and the particular ad it brings up that defines relevance, for a given search. source

Thomson:
sells Google AdWords ads

SearchEngineWatch Forums Live:
mini conference to hit Atlanta Tuesday, June 28th, 8:00am - 1:00pm.

I always like smaller conferences because when they get too big you (as in me) feel lost in the shuffle. It only costs $100 to attend this one. Smart move by JupiterMedia, as this will surely prevent others from having an easy entry into this market space.

Urchin Discount:
Google discounts Urchin price

The $199 per month Urchin On Demand also now includes report profiles for up to fifty individual websites (Urchin's previous offering included reporting for only one site). The price includes up to 100,000 pageviews per month. Users can add one million more pageviews for only $99 more per month.

In addition to the reduced price and increased number of profiles, Urchin On Demand is now able to import -pay--per-click costs directly from Google AdWords accounts.

Many smart search marketers probably are not willing to be paid to give Google all their data. As time passes you can be sure that Google will drop their costs further as they try to kill off the business models of everthing between them and ad dollars.

Stocks:
Look, Fwht, & Mama are dropping like it's not hot. InfoSpace (which does search & mobile technology) recently lost about 30% of their market value as well

Google Sandbox & the Problems with Link Analysis Software

May 3rd

When I was new to SEO I did a bunch of on the page analysis to try to figure out exactly what other people are doing. The problem is that it gets you focused on things that do not matter. A site may end up ranking high at the sacrifice of conversion.

As search algorithms advance basic link analysis tools, at least for Google, are starting to become what keyword density tools are: a waste of time.

Link analysis software was cool, especially when Google used to show all of the PageRank 4 and above links, back when their search relevancy algorithm was a bit more dependant on raw PageRank.

Now Google only shows a limited random set of backlinks, and the other search engines also limit the search depth to 1,000 results, which makes it hard to do useful analysis with the various link analysis tools on the market.

If it were quick and easy to query a database deeply (deeper than 1,000) then the link analysis tools would be much more useful. None of them currently on the market really make that a quick and easy process.

The other problem mentioned above, of harder relevancy algorithms, is not one that is going to go away. WMW supporters forum has a thread about the Google "Sandbox". A friend of mine just got through reading the whole thing, stating that most of it was of little value, but he found a couple posts enlightening. The second post here by Ron Burk has some good tidbits

To keep improving the results, you find more variables for the algorithm-creating machine to use, and you add to your store of human-ranked pages for it to "learn" from. What you don't do is bother understanding the actual algorithm -- it was constructed by a machine and is way too complex for anyone to keep in their head.
...
Psychologists have shown repeatedly that when you give people a system to optimize, all you have to do is secretly introduce a delay between their actions and the results of their actions, and they will go bonkers. In fact, in a very simple (single variable!) model in which people are trying to control the temperature in a virtual refridgerator, you can get some of the same irrational responses you see in these forums

and the first post here by Captain CaveMan (which incidentally is the name of an awesome cartoon character) does as well:

Without giving away the store, I don't know how else to say it. There is no sandbox. People speak of it as though it were some simple 'thing' that stops new sites from being seen. That has simply never been true. What was true was that in its early days, some of the algo elements and related filters were so tight that only a very few new sites got past them (some accidentally; some methodically). Over time that changed; more sites started getting out, presumably as G worked to surface more new, higher quality sites.

There is no sandbox. There is only a serious of rotating algo's and related filters, that make it far harder for sites launched after spring of '04 to be widely seen in the SERP's. Not impossible. Harder. And certainly not as hard now as was true seven months ago. This has been hashed and rehashed so many times that it's hard to understand why it's still confusing.

If you can only see a few of the variables and overexert effort to satisfy those variables you may end up tripping filters and not satisfying other criteria.

Defense of SEO, Ask Jeeves Profits Increase, Yahoo! Think Big Contest

Needed:
Danny Sullivan writes Worthless Shady Criminals: A Defense Of SEO

Decry a particular SEO tactic, if you want -- but don't decry the entire SEM industry as being rotten. If you want to do that, then here are some other stereotypes you'd also better buy into:

  • All car salesmen are crooks

  • All lawyers are crooks
  • Teachers teach because they can't do
  • Bloggers don't check facts

  • [Insert Race/Culture/Nationality Here] is [Insert Derogatory Comment/Stereotype Here]

Ask Jeeves:
Profits increase 35%

Yahoo!:
Think Big contest gives away 10,000,000 Yahoo! ad impressions. I think Jeremy Z should win with the Viagra Rolex Watches.

Yahoo! also thinks small. Cutting up ads on stored My Yahoo! web pages. Webmasters are already complaining about how My Yahoo! stores web pages.

Charity:
Google foundation may invest in for-profit firms. Am going to apply for a grant soon. Will let you know how it goes :)

AdWords in RSS, Various other Links...

Easy to Compare:
Wal Mart & Google, except that Google has a strong brand.

Blogs:
more than a spit fight

Death of Newspapers:
The future of journalism

AdWords Spying:
GoogSpy looks scrapes hundreds of thousands of searches from Google to determine who is bidding on what terms. The idea is killer, but the implementation is a bit lacking. Link found from ThreadWatch.

Google AdSense in RSS:
alpha testing

RSS Spamming:
RSS Injector

Niche Tips:
an old WMW thread

Book:
Steven Berlin Johnson, one of my favorite authors, announced the release of Everything Bad Is Good for You

Boston:
Search Engine Meeting, reviewed

Gmail Contextual Ads...Need a Bit of Work?

So I have been getting some of the Gmail feeds and ads recently. Hopefully I answered this question correctly or you the reader will call me dumb...

Bad Call #1:

Here is an example thread
title:

Question from Search Marketing Info

question:

Which internet search engine was co-founded by a math major who chose the name to imply a vast reach ?

Thanks in advance,
Chryss

answer:

Google was a mispelling for Googol, which means a 1 with a million
zeros behind it.

Larry Page founded it and Sergey Brin was his co founder.

and here was Google's contextually targeted Gmail ad:

Head Gasket Blown? - www.rxauto.com - Repair It Yourself Guaranteed ThermaGasket The Mechanics Choice

That is data stored on Google's servers and that is the best that they can target it? When you couple that in with all the AdSense spam sites and click fraud it really makes you wonder why Google assumes anybody would want that traffic.

Bad Call #2:

One of the default feeds was Engaget. Presumably because they run AdSense? Don't get me wrong here, its cool to help smaller publishers, but if you put Engaget in there you should put Gizmodo there also unless you want people to quetion you motives.

Placing random off target off topic crap I don't want in my email is being evil. At least the old Hotmail dating ads would occassionally show pictures of cute girls ;)

I know that I can unsubscribe from feeds, but I shouldn't have to opt out. Maybe off the start you could just promote Google News, Froogle, and your other portal pieces up there?

Bad Call #3:

Google actually places feeds in your spam folder. How stupid is it to place contextually relevant feeds near stuff that was deemed as being unwanted useless junk? What better way is there to turn users off?

Another thing that is really weird is most (maybe all) of the spam feeds were for spam recipies:

  • Spam Vegetable Strudel - Bake 20 minutes or until golden, serve with soy sauce

  • Savory Spam Crescents - Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown
  • French Fry Spam Casserole - Bake 30-40 minutes

They may place the spam ads in there to try to push the cute and innocent corporate culture, but I don't buy it.

After bogusly adding the Google Toolbar Autolink feature which directed B&N customers to Amazon many people started to become increasingly suspicious of potential hidden business partnerships. Is Google partnered with Hormel Foods now too?

Various Google Links

Apr 22nd

Toolbar PageRank Update:
occuring now.

Google UK:
maps local (partnered with Yell for local)

Charity:
Google.org

Googleness of Being:
further qualified - SEO tips. Generally I don't agree with much of the stuff Michael Martinez says, but apparently his article was allegedly decent. ;)

Google Distributes Local Search, Ads:
Google has inked AccuWeather as the first beta distribution partner for local search results combined with locally targeted AdWords search ads.

Google execs:
a few Q&A's from their webcast.

I feared this post was reading as though I got it from Google's PR firm, so I felt I should include this...
Google Blowout Quarter Update:

There's a blurb in the Wall Street Journal today that explains how Google's reported bottom line is being gamed by their own options program. It seems since they backloaded the options expense onto last year's earnings statement, this quarter's results will be ARTIFICIALLY BOOSTED almost 100%, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with their actual profitability as a business. Keep that in mind when they announce earnings tomorrow.

Google a Bully?
Google sues Froogles

Google: Blow Out Q1 2005 Results

Apr 22nd

In after hours Google shares are trading at over $220.

Google's first-quarter net income rose to $369.2 million, or $1.29 a share, from $64.0 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier. Profit from the most recent quarter included a $49 million charge for stock-based compensation.

Gross revenue nearly doubled to $1.26 billion from $651.6 million.

The results easily topped Wall Street's average net profit target of 78 cents a share. Analysts had seen profit excluding some items at 92 cents and revenue at $1.16 billion, according to Reuters Estimates. source

Google Advertising Professional Update

Google offers free link AdWords coupons:

  • Qualified Google Advertising Professionals receive sets of five credits worth $100 each.

  • Non-Qualified Google Advertising Professionals receive sets of three credits worth $50 each.

It also looks like there is a yearly quota of 60 credits. As you sign up more accounts I believe you earn more credits.

You also can link to your qualified profile page, although many SEOs do not see the program as being worthwhile with Google poaching clients from some qualified professionals.

I also find it amusing that the links on the profile page asking these questions

  • How can I tell if a professional is really Qualified?

  • Who has access to AdWords and client manager account information?

are broken links. hehehe. Shows they must have threw this idea together in a hurry or they must not think much of the program.

Google sure is trying to create a lot of buzz before reporting their quarterly results.

Google, Search, & the Web of Trust

Apr 20th

This post is a few bulleted points which point at the web of trust Google is trying to build.

  • Google has expressed intent in using user feedback to help define relevancy.

  • They may follow click streams to understand who your sponsors are. (also mentioned in the above patent)
  • Google may be doing a decent amount of temporal link analysis, especially for sites below a certain authority level. (also mentioned in the above patent)
  • Google created a system which stores search history over time. Google may shift how much they trust these profiles based on
    • search volume

    • how well a profile related to other search profiles
    • location based on IP addresses (they could discount the effect of profiles which were primarily created through open proxies or in poor areas).
  • Installing their toolbar means they probably know what sites you own (since site owners tend to visit their sites more often than anyone else).
  • Google has access to registrar data. This can likely be used to help determine if and how sites are related.
  • Google runs the world's single largest distributed ad network. If you use that network they know what sites you are marketing. They know what markets you are in.
  • Google has been filtering or banning sites which have unnatural linkage profiles.

PageRank was broken from the start. The concept they were going after may still well exist though if they can get enough users of their search history tool. While other search engines still seem relatively easy to spam Google may be trying to measure web wide trust scores using much more than just raw linkage data.

Google need not stomp SEO techniques out, they only need to:

Some people will be untouchable. They will know enough about social engineering and database programming to where they will still spam Google all day long. I am sure Google realizes that, but they want to continually increase costs to where that is an exceptionally small pool.

As SEO gets harder Google makes more money from ads. As they make more money from ads they can spend more into making SEO harder.

Now if only they could share more data with advertisers to help make click fraud easier to detect. Google bought Urchin. Why not buy, create, or offer something like Who's Clicking Who. Surely Google has the market data and it will not increase costs much to give advertisers more options and more data.

A search company which makes tons of profit organizing data should recognize that by making advertising transparent and making more ad information available they will create a more efficient market which creates more profits. The advertising community would likely police themselves if you gave them enough data and responded to feedback.

Google Personalized (Gamma)

Google Inc. (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday debuted a test service called My Search History that analysts said is a move closer to personalized search, which is widely considered the Holy Grail for the Web search leader and its rivals. source

to use My Search History you must register at Google Accounts and maintain an active account. Ask Jeeves have had a search history tool for a while now and Yahoo! has My Yahoo! for various personalization effects, although Yahoo! seems more focused on providing news and blog feeds and the like. I think Yahoo! is betting on the abundance of information making subscribing to channels much more appealing than searching the web. I believe Yahoo! also allows you to subscribe to Yahoo! News feeds by keyword phrase.

Personalized search allows engines to better understand users to improve search quality and ad targeting. Whoever is branded as the best market solution on that front is going to make a bucket of cash, because keeping your search history and learning the user raises the barrier to switching search providers.

It makes it hard for another search service to be as relevant if you have tons of personal information already locked in a competing service. This data will be hard to export to other systems as well, as importing huge hunks of data will also allow marketers to import large volumes of spam.

I just briefly tested Google's service. It is fairly slick. You can quickly sign in or out and it adds minimal clutter to the Google home page.

From the link in the upper right corner you are brought to a new page. It shows a calender which color codes your search volume on the right side. The left side shows your searches for that day and the results you clicked on. The my history results that you click on also show up in the Google one box area when you search for similar terms using the regular search results.

Some privacy advocates would likely go nuts with this offering. It is all opt in though. I encourage everyone to sign in, search for seo, scroll past the Japanese stuff, and click on my listing.

Presumably some searchers may be able to build up a search history.
As they build it up it could build Google's trust in that user, which in turn could potentially allow Google to use that user feedback to verify search result relevancy.

If Google decides to use this data - which I think they may - the cost of spamming might increase significantly with how they have been going after automated search tools.

I would not doubt this to do a bit more of globalizing SEO. Paying people in third world countries to randomly click certain sites. I am already building a search history today as a prospective SEO tool.

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