Google AdWords Tax Calculator

Many experienced advertisers realize that there are many gotchas in the AdWords system...optimization tools and default setting which optimize to boost Google's yield at the expense of unsuspecting advertisers, who don't yet know what match types are or that their ads are syndicated to content sites by default.

To help new advertisers get past many of the gotchas we created the Google AdWords tax calculator - a free utility which highlights many stumbling blocks that catch new AdWords advertisers.

AdWords tax calculator.

Given that each keyword market is unique it would be impossible to make a tool that was 100% accurate in every situation, but the goal of this tool was to simply highlight common issues, and help new advertisers address them. Individual efficiency gains may be greater or smaller than the rough initial estimates the tool provides.

Please let us know what you think, as we will gladly iterate this calculator to make it better if you have some great ideas you think we should include in it. Like all of Google's products, our calculator is starting out in beta :D

Staying Motivated Running a Virtual Business

I've been self employed most of my life and once in a while, I hit the motivational pit. Lack of motivation was easier to combat when I ran a business with customers. Being accountable for my actions drove me to get up early in the morning and commit my end of the bargain.

However, running websites and publishing premium content is an entirely different animal. I've been doing it full time for almost 4 years now and while we're making a decent living out of it, my motivational juice has dried up. It has nothing to do with lack of passion. I truly love what I do and would not trade it with any other job. It is tougher to maintain a routine when you have no customers because sometimes they can be hell to deal with and that is enough to keep you alert. I also think contentment plays a role in ones waning motivation in business. I've been happier in the last 8-9 months and not only did that bleed my motivation, it also packed a few pounds around my waist and thighs.

I wrote this post to share what I did in the last couple months to reverse the trend and revive some of my motivation back.

1. Create a to do list DAILY and be accountable for every item. Aaron does a good job with this and it rubbed off on me.

2. Have variety with work duties - Lately, I've been doing a lot of offline marketing and it's absolutely awesome because I'm not as tied in front of the computer.

3. Associate with like minded people - It's better if they're more successful than you :) A few months back, Aaron and I met up with Andrew Frame of the Ooma fame. His entrepreneurial energy was contagious and his product, disruptive. I guess I'm extra fascinated with his company because they now carry Ooma at Costco's a tangible product. Andrew is a forum member and it made me proud to see a lot of high caliber minds at our forum.

4. Reward yourself - Only after you've completed the tasks in the to-do list. You will also realize that completing the tasks is already a reward in itself. Fulfillment can be addicting and soon, you will back on track with your motivation.

The State of PPC Marketing, PPC Summit & Microsoft by Giovanna

I attended two days of PPC Summit in SF this week and extracted more knowledge than I can handle. The instructors really knew their stuff and it was only a $900 investment if you signed up early.

Learn as Much as You Can

I feel that Internet marketers should learn SEO and PPC best practices and then be exceptional at one. When I made my e-commerce site live in 2005, I tried PPC for a few weeks and decided to focus on SEO instead. The idea of getting free traffic was too irresistible. Now that I'm familiar with white hat SEO, it was time to rekindle my short lived affair with PPC. I don't like using these black/white hat labels but if you want a sustainable, organic gotta go green :p

How to Battle Expensive Key Words

I noticed that bid prices are ridiculously high compared to 2005. If you want to compete, you MUST know your goals/objectives when launching a campaign. Will it be for increasing company revenue, profit, brand recognition and so forth. Then you need to recognize what the final conversion will be - a sale or lead (registration, white paper download, phone call).

Assuming you know how to get keywords and organize them into groups, the next step is to optimize your site for conversion. There isn't a cookie cutter way to do this because we all have different objectives and market products/services from different verticals. However, it's been proven that being relevant will give you an edge, independent of industry. Relevancy for PPC means putting keywords in tight ad groups, writing ads that are keyword specific and creating a landing page with a mixture of relevant keywords. Not only will this keep your target customer focused and lead them closer to a conversion, it will also increase your Google Quality Score. I am running a small test campaign and all my keywords are rated "Great". This means I am paying less for a better position because my keywords and content are well aligned.

Better Google Tools and the Content Network

Another significant change from 2005 is the improved Google content network. It's possible to make it work as long as you really know your customers, their behavior and your sales cycle. For my test campaign, I am paying $0.9-0.20 for quality keywords on search so I didn't rush to market on the content network. There are many tools and analytics software available to help you test and optimize. One of my favorites is the free Google Adwords Editor. Adwords also allows you to run custom reports down to the keyword performance level.

Consider Microsoft

What really knocked me off my chair is the over-the-top benefits Microsoft is offering Internet marketers. Their Excel 2007 Adcenter plug-in is by far the best free desktop application. Jorie Wateman, Lead Program Manager of Advertising announced that a plug-in will be available for Excel 2003 soon. Check out their free web based adCenter Labs program. There are many useful tools there including Detecting Online Commercial Intention, Product Classification, Keyword Group Detection and much more.

Did you know that their keyword research tool spiders LIVE DATA as opposed to cached data from Google and Yahoo? She also said that the tools they offer advertisers are the same tools they use in-house. This means total transparency for advertisers and no more "partial" data.

When a company has a lion's share of the market (search) and other players like Microsoft are going the extra mile to attract advertisers, then I strongly suggest that you give them a try. If competition is healthy, it will be for the best interests of advertisers while improving the overall Internet user experience.

Brief Caution

Google is a wonderful company because they know how to please their investors and stockholders. They also own Youtube which allows us to watch our favorite music videos from the 80's and 90's without paying for it. At first I thought Google was only bitter to spammers (sometimes deserved like the ones that promise top 10 results and the ones that promote useless garbage) but after reading blogs, forums and hearing out a few advertisers, I guess they can get disciplinary to paying customers too. So my advice is to closely monitor your campaigns and play by their rules. They change the rules constantly and it may be a major inconvenience but we have to be nimble and abide by the new ones.

Elite Retreat 2008 and Final Thoughts

There's always "take home" value that you can immediately apply after attending Elite Retreat. I, Giovanna have signed an NDA so I can't go into deep details. Last year, I learned the various monetization models from Jeremy Shoemaker's presentation and Lee Dodd introduced the idea of buying and selling website "real estate." This year, Andy Liu's presentation was very interesting because it had a different approach and it focused on team building, applying business formulas, metrics and attracting investors. A memorable quote by Andy about his way of investing was "Buy Based on Current Revenue and Sell for Strategic Value." Although I have no intention to sell any of my sites, I now know what investors look for and the path to take for increased profitability. Had a short yet highly productive chat with Brian Clark about copywriting and conversion. There will be more posts on conversion because it's my new homework and there really is no secret forumula ---> Just hard work.

I was bummed out for missing Shoemoney's presentation this year because you always learn something new and cool from that guy...especially in exclusive and highly private groups like Elite Retreat. It was my loss. Aaron sat next to Matt Mullenweg of Wordpress during the lunch and I guess they had fun exchanging SEO stories. I actually use his platform on at least three of my sites. Aaron is so addicted to the web that his knowledge goes beyond SEO. He's now tying SEO and marketing to the social networking theory. That's not white hat, it's more like clear hat.

The Elite Retreat attendees are all pretty darn razor SHARP. Just being around incredibly smart people was worth the investment but being able to "pick" the brains of the industry's top thought leaders is priceless. Ugh, that last sentence sounded too Mastercard-ish but it's true. People who have attended in the past come for the 2nd or 3rd time.

BOTTOM LINE: Knowledge is can be expensive but truly life changing once it's IMPLEMENTED. If you really want to make it, you need to go out there and take immediate action. If the results are not what you expected, LEARN. If they are positive, RE-APPLY! :)

How to Hone Your Persuading Skills by Reading Biased Splogs

I was amused and a bit irked by this irrelevant and disturbing spam post from a fluff website promoting Wealthy Affiliate. I enjoy reading material plagued with disconnects and false information like this post. You can really learn a lot from both your mistakes and others'.

They attempted to compare The Rich Jerk, SEO Book and Wealthy Affiliate. Of course, since they are an affiliate of Wealthy Affiliate, guess who the BEST company was? The point here is that they did a poor job persuading me that the three subjects are relevant and from the same category.

Here are the disconnects:

1a. Rich Jerk Up-sells
1b. changed its business model and market one product. This was a good move because it eliminated folks who weren't serious about learning and keeping up with the ever changing world of SEO.
1c. Wealthy Affiliate??? I honestly don't see how this company is different from hundreds of sites like it.

2a. Rich Jerk offends people as a gimmick.
2b. is praised by Fortune 500 clients, best selling marketing authors, an Ivy League business professor, and countless webmasters. It's not our job to make everyone in the world happy but we try and work our ass to give supreme value to our members.
2c. I can't find the USP of Wealthy Affiliate

3a. Rich Jerk is a marketing gimmick that worked.
3b. is a very active member of the SEO/Webmaster community and writes for other Technorati Top 100 Blogs, including this one.
3c. The pop-up that attacked my screen disabled me to click further on Wealthy Affiliate

4a. The attack on the Rich Jerk was 3 long paragraphs.
4b. The dismissal on Seobook was a short paragraph including a positive statement about the quality of the product.
4c. Wealthy Affiliate is God's gift to mankind.

I don't know where they got the information that Seobook was free. They need to stop visiting sites that steal copyrighted content. ALSO - they admitted that they heard Seobook was good stuff.

Persuading the Reader to Take Action

When you hard-sell a reader, especially how terrible other products are, never mention anything positive about the subject you are lambasting and destroying. IN FACT.... When you want to persuade a person to TAKE ACTION, you need to speak in their own terms. How will this post convince a buyer? Will or can they be trusted? How will it help their buyer's needs? What are the benefits and potential gains?

As a newbie Internet marketer, they failed in so many levels:

  • made absolutely false statements
  • comparison of three different products further dimmed their sub-standard ability to determine relevancy, which is really what selling online is about.

eBay Ditched CJ and ValueClick

I received the announcement today that eBay will promote their affiliate program independently. This will start on April 1st and run with CJ for another month. With a company as big as eBay, I often wondered why they used a 3rd party platform in the first place. I played around with their developer's kit and this announcement will make their promotion more robust through new banners and API's.

All the great tools and benefits of working with the eBay program will remain the same – access to the Editor Kit and affiliate API, the flexible destination tool, the great payout structure. In addition, the eBay partner network will provide several new features:

  • Easy global registration to multiple countries simultaneously
  • New, targeted banners and rich media creatives
  • New landing page optimization and geo-targeting capabilities
  • More detailed reporting capabilities for eBay’s programs

Will CJ and other networks be relevant a few years down the road? Maybe for smaller players but what's preventing them from going direct to the publishers?

Passion is a Prerequisite to Profitability

Aaron likes to give his spiel about passion and that you need to be gunuinely interested in the topics you are promoting. I took that advice for granted and its importance finally hit me. One of the sites I'm promoting is very clean and I have very high respect for its merit. However, I was given the challenge to promote a seasonal yet very important topic for a specific audience. In addition, I was the one to write the content. That was a bit unfair due to my lack of experience in that field. It's convenient to dodge work so I outsourced the content. Besides, promotion is the real challenge. Ok, I was wrong. The final version of the outsourced material needed heavy changes and it didn't satisfy the person who originated the idea.

It Ain't 2005 Anymore

You see, with more webmasters using no-follow and the overall "stinginess" of people linking out, you really need to avoid promoting mediocre content. The stuff REALLY needs to be useful. It helps to put yourself in the shoes of the target audience. Another advantage of producing real content is passing a search engineer's hand edit. To sum it up, everyone wins when you promote good content. Content isn't enough if you have very little traffic. The PROMOTION of good content is where it's at, ladies and gentlemen with newer sites.

Ok, Back to Passion

I've been working on this project for almost a week and after a few minutes of working, my mind goes blank and wanders off. I love the site and I love the future promotional ideas in store because I TRULY BELIEVE that they are genuinely useful and will give a tremendous benefit to the site's visitors. But this current topic is something I just don't give a damn about. Promotion will be fun but writing the actual content, especially if it's about something you care less for can be EXCRUCIATING.

My case is a bit special because I didn't think of this promotional idea and it was almost forced to me.

Tips You Can Use That Worked Well for Me:

  1. You need to have an AUTHENTIC interest and be a genuine believer in what you are promoting. Ok, hypothetically you own a website about traveling to Spain and you are about to promote "The Top 10 Spanish Professors in the U.S." Be honest with yourself. Are you personally interested or care about who the best Spanish professors are? Also, think about the visitors. Will they care or apply the material in real life? In contrast, Aaron and I wrote the Bloggers Guide to SEO. Are we genuinely interested in blogging and SEO? He works 7 days a week and well, it's 3 am in Calfornia and guess what I'm doing? Yes I like blogging but I'll do anything to avoid working on that project that was assigned to me :)
  2. It is important that you manage and go over every word of the content.
  3. When promoting ideas, quality succeeds quantity. You get more success promoting 2-3 well written, high-touch material than 10 mediocre ones.  

What do you guys think? Feel free to add your thoughts and ideas.

Join Aaron and I this Evening to Learn the Trends in Blogging for 2008

It's a bit of a short notice but I manage a meetup group for Bay Area bloggers and Aaron would like to invite his local fans to join us. Details can be found at The Bloggers Group

Let us know in advanced if you can make it. The event is full but I would like to make room for local SEO Book fans. The event is free and will be held at a local pizzeria.

I post interesting things about marketing, business and all that inspire me at my personal blog, Hey Gio. I practice sincere blogging, just like Aaron ;)

By Far, The Worst Gmail Ad I've Ever Seen

Post by Giovanna Wall

I really like Google's Gmail program. It's truly my favorite email service. They also do a great job scanning through my emails for relevant keywords and phrases that they match with their advertisers. However, recently they have fouled and have gone out of bounds. In my recent emails to friends and family, I've used the terms "wife", "husband" and "happily married" a lot referring to my recent marriage.

This was Google's response:

google promtes infidelity

Perhaps I'm a little sensitive or maybe it's because I was raised as a conservative Catholic. But regardless of anyone's background, why would Google, with their "Do No Evil" policy promote cheating and infidelity? It's also ironic that the Google founders recently got married (I think one will wed next month).

It is an issue of money vs. morality when exposing disturbing ads to married people for ad revenue.

When Will Wikipedia Rank for Everything?

The Wikipedia ranks for a lot of competitive keywords because they are cited everywhere while acquiring the back links to be envious of. They also keep most of their link juice by linking to their internal pages and placing no-follows on external links.

I found out recently that they rank for competitive key phrases on Google such as:

  • Loan - #1 and 2
  • Mortgage - #3
  • Insurance - #4 and #5

The chart below is from the RankPulse list of top websites ranking in the top ten results for their 1,000 keywords sample database.

But when I added high traffic classifiers to the phrases above, Wikipedia’s rankings dropped significantly.

  • Insurance Quotes – Not found in top 1000 Google results
  • Mortgage Rates – Not found in top 1000 Google results
  • Loan Consolidation - #36
My explanations for the results are:
  1. Although Wikipedia ranks well for competitive phrases, they don’t belong to the associated topical communities. They rank primarily on site authority.
  2. While they have enough content to rank for said terms, they don't have pages targeting those terms. In many cases the relevant content for the phrase is compressed as part of a broader related page.
  3. Their title tags target core keywords and lacks modifiers needed to rank well for popular terms that Wikipedia did not dedicate unique pages to.

By fixing the above issues, they may very well rank for the remaining 11 keywords.