1, 2 or 3 & SEM

Search engine marketing is much more of a science while search engine optimization is more of an art. I was asked today by a client why their Google Adword ads were generally showing up in the number 2 and 3 position in Google search results and on occasion even in the 4th position.

I had to explain to the client that simply being in the number 1 position is no guarantee of anything and that by balancing a limited budget with the cost per click I was able to maximize the number of clicks per day to the daily budget cap in Adwords.

What it boiled down to is to be in number 1 cost more, leaving less budget room and to make things worse the click-through rate was lower. Since Google introduced their ad quality score, it has become even more important to ensure high click-throughs on ads to help keep the cost of ads down. The irony of this is, that Google will start to automatically move ads higher in the ranking if they have a good quality score. Yet in many cases the ideal position for maximum click-throughs may be position 2, 3 or 4.

Fortunately, Google does offer you the ability to set a position preference. Something that more of us should perhaps should consider using to maximize click-through rates. I wonder what will happen when everyone wants position 3 and no-one wants position 1?

Any one else experience similar results, where being number 1 wasn't the best position for maximum ROI?


The Power of One Good Word

The world-wide web never ceases to amaze me. I mentioned that last week that PC World had referenced my site and specifically the e-mail encoder to help stop spam. Since that single reference, I've discovered several more site creating links to the same page on a virtually identical reference.

What is amazing isn't that this page was released several years ago, has been fully search engine optimized so it routinely ranks in the top 5 if not the to 10 in all major search engines for a variety of keyword phrases, but rather that until now I was only aware of 2 other links to it, despite it being access many time during a typical day. Since that article came out, I've picked-up at least 6 links that I know of, so what were these people waiting for? For someone else to link to it first or perhaps they were just waiting for someone to validate the utility? Either way, it proves that providing valuable content combined with good Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you'll drive traffic to your site and build quality links organically. The unfortunate part is, as I tell all my clients, it rarely happens over night.


The Press Release - The Day After

Well initial results from my site stats looked amazing, traffic up 4 to 5 times, but then I started to dig.

First, I looked at the referrer report; I noticed a lot of traffic from PC World and very little from the various press release distribution sites. This was not enough of an increase to explain the overall increase in visits. Total referred traffic up approx. 25%. The majority of the increase was from direct traffic.

So, I investigated the referring page from PC World. It turns out; they had put a link (blogs.pcworld.com/tipsandtweaks) to the free e-mail encoder on my site along with a favorable review. Yet that link only delivered a handful of the visitors. So I kept digging and checked my most popular pages.

My most popular page of the day was a page that doesn't exist on my site and was generating a 404 error (page not found). Had I made a mistake in my press release and pointed to a non-existent page. No, that was not it. Remember, there were no referrers to this page, all the traffic was direct traffic. So where was it coming from? Perhaps a new bot/spider that I'm not scrubbing from my log files. Yes that was it.

My site was and still is getting pounded by the AvantGo spider. AvantGo is a proxy utility for the Palm and Windows CE that helps sync users handhelds with the latest news etc. So my guess, AvantGo had picked up the press release from one of the many distribution points and was following all the links. Now since, AvantGo only supports HTML 3.1 (at least from my investigations) and no java script, and my site is built in XHTML, the poor little spider is having problems and getting confused by my web analytics java script tracking utility.

So it's back to monitoring it, and trying how to get AvantGo to stop calling a page that doesn't exist. I'm well aware that the benefits of press release are not just traffic to a web site, but it is an indicator of people's interest in the subject matter etc. At a minimum, the inbound links from the press release across all the sites it appears on should give me a boast in link popularity and that should help increase my overall ranking in the SERPs.


K'necht to Address CICA National IT Conference

Well my press release went out this morning. So far it has had no impact on web site traffic, zero e-mails etc.

Here's a link to press release (http://biz.yahoo.com/iw/060525/0131019.html)) - let me know your thoughts.

Are You Going Claim Your Share from Google?

If you haven't been following the story, several months back, Google settled out of court a class action regarding click fraud. The basics of the settlement are as follows:

1. Google to pay $90 Million US
2. Lawyers to take $30 Million
3. Public to share remaining $60 Million
4. Payout on a prorated basis of your share of Google’s total revenue during that period.

To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:
"The settlement will provide advertising credits to class members who certify that they were the victims of "click fraud" or other invalid or improper clicks on online advertisements purchased from Google on or after 1 January, 2002."

So my questions are: a) How can you prove that you were a victim of Click-Fraud? and b) How are they going to check?

In the end all you are going to get are advertising credits (better then nothing), but think about it. Even if you spent $20,000 during the identified period on Adwords and 2% of the traffic was click fraud. That equates to $400 of click-fraud. Now what proportion of you're $20,000 spend is that of Google's total Adword revenue during that same period. My guess is maybe 1/10,000 if not less. So that means you'll be able reclaim an advertising credit of $6.

Hardly seems worth it. Remember you only have between June 19 and August 4, 2006 to make your claim.

For more detailed information on the is topic go http://www.clicksettlement.com/


The Shoemaker's Children

First off, yesterday I managed to get several high priority tasks taken care of. As the old adage goes "the shoemaker's children go barefoot", I've take upon myself to address this short coming in my business. After years of encouraging clients to issue optimized press releases to not only help promote their busineses, but to also build valuable links to their sites as part of a search engine optimization strategy, I finally signed-off on my company's first press release in several years.

While I frequently help clients optimize their press releases, I out sourced this service for myslef. Why? Simply if I had to put it on my plate, it would have waited until paying clients got the attention they needed and then it would be too late to issue it.

Of course a press release for just the sake of a press release is a worthless thing. I'm finally promoting my speaking engagements. This time it's my address to CICA (Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants) at their annual National IT conference this coming June.

Once some stats are in, I'll post the effect of the press release on web site traffic, and any other direct benefits.

A Call At Last

Well Yahoo/Overture called me back about the problems I was having over the weekend. The call came at almost 7:00 pm local time. Good thing, I have a home office. If I worked normal hours in an office; I'd have missed the call. Perhaps they should look up my address and check the time zone before calling?

On a positive note, they did leave me with their toll-free number incase I run into problems in the future. Perhaps good customer service isn't dead it just works a little slow.


Back to Business & Customer Service

Well the Victoria long weekend here in Canada is now over and it is officially back to work. The joy's of my business is there is never truly a real day off. Yesterday I got a call from WebTrends to follow-up on a minor bug in Version 8a, which I had reported earlier last week and for which they sent me a fix. The call was to make sure the fix had worked. This call was unexpected and a welcomed surprise, as they had already sent me an e-mail notification that the case was closed. I'm not used to such good customer service from a software company. The weekend had some other surprises, I ran into to some login problems with my Overture account, managed to get that resolved on my own (good luck trying to find a contact e-mail address to resolve problems with on the Overture web site), and after several months of issues with my Google Analytics account (could not login), they finally fixed it. Of course did they send me an e-mail to notify me that they had fixed the problem? Nooooo, I did my weekly test and bang I could actually login.

That's my weekend experience with Customer Service groups, some good and some bad. Let me know about your experiences with different customer service groups.


WebTrends 8 Update

Last week, WebTrends quietly released the first patch for their new WebTrends Analytics 8 (8a). I've been very impressed with version 8 and the patch fixes a couple of minor bugs. These bugs mostly affected people who had upgraded from the previous version 7.5

I've been an avid user of WebTrends since version 1.0 and love the easy of use for the users and the quality of the graphics. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't all that much more in version 8 then in version 7 for the users. I must admit, from an administrator's point of view, getting e-mail notification when things don't work as they should or a Geotrends database update is available is simply wonderful and a truly must have feature.

I'll be posting more thoughts on WebTrends 8 over the next few weeks.


After being encouraged to start a blog for many years by colleagues and contemporaries, I've finally broken down and started my first blog.

One of the reasons I've resisted was that I couldn't come up with a consistent theme for this blog. Well I've been giving it thought for more then a year as my regular newsletter went by the waste site as I never could put together enough time to write and publish it while still keeping it current and relevant.

So now I will attempt to use this blog to highlight events, latest news and product reviews of things that I think are important. I will concentrate on search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and web analytics. Despite this desire to target these areas if I come across something that I find interesting, you can be sure I'll post it here.

Now, only time will tell if I'll be able to keep it up and if I can develop a loyal following.