Friday, July 29, 2005

MediaPost Publications - Ask Jeeves Reportedly Gearing Up Paid Search Platform - 07/27/2005

I know this is old news to some, but we're happy to see Ask Jeeves coming into the paid search field. In my opinion, the more top-tier players we have in the search field, the better off we are. More choices means better coverage for the advertiser. There is some danger of the cannibalization of the audience, but I'd much rather be able to reach the people we need to reach through five outlets than have them all in one. That way, if one outlet is too expensive (or the rep turns out to be a jerk and screws me) I have other options.

Choice is king and the competition is good. So good luck to the butler and his crew!

MediaPost Publications - Ask Jeeves Reportedly Gearing Up Paid Search Platform - 07/27/2005

Microsoft Virtual Earth

Microsoft Virtual Earth launched this week...very similar application to Google Earth but with a few added features...

Pretty cool application...a lot of the same basic features as Google Earth...what and where search fields, ability to scroll on the map, lables with address/landmark information, aerial images or road map images...all very useful stuff!

The only minor issue that I have with Virtual Earth (and Google Earth for that matter) is the aerial images are outdated. I searched my home address and the aerial image only shows my sub-division which tells me that the image is over 5 years old.

Still...both are very cool tools and it just shows how far technology has come with mapping software.

It looks like we will be seeing a lot more of Virtual Earth in the future...Microsoft is going to open the source code to developers in order to integrate the application into Web site / Web pages.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Google-Whumped Again?

With the announcement of upcoming changes to Google’s Smart KeyWord Tool, I was looking forward to writing a brief but positive post about how I thought this would impact advertisers, which I could then follow up shortly after the change is instituted. 'Cause I mostly like Google. No, really I do.

But then I encountered another issue. When one of my clients was unhappy because he wasn’t seeing his ads, I called Google (again, I had to talk to several people before I got one who would help… and my rep never did return my call or e-mails. I wonder if he’s even still working there.) One of the explanations offered was that the campaign may have been effected by regional variations in ad service. (I thought, "What's this? Dang, has Google snuck up and whumped me again when I wasn’t looking?")

About a month ago, Google made some changes to their algorithm which make the position of ads vary depending on the local click-through rate. So if the click-through rate on a term is low in Seattle, the ad may be served up in position #10 to searchers in that area, whereas if it’s strong in Dallas, it may be #1. This localization may (or may not, you know - can't actually tell you) be as specific as a single IP.

The rep suggested that my client may not be seeing his as because he had searched on the same term too many times, unintentionally spamming himself. While this sounded good for a moment, it doesn’t explain why his ads would be effected more than his competitors. Clearly I didn’t understand how it worked… so I decided to do a little research.

What I found was not any clearer explanation. What I found was many advertisers who are having problems which seem to be attributable to this algo change, and a great deal of confusion.

The first and biggest problem: There was no announcement of the change. A year prior, there had been a vague announcement of "series of ad quality improvements designed to provide the most relevant, targeted ads possible," but more recently, not so much as a “we’re instituting some changes this week, and you may see fluctuations.”

In fact, this is still not something that I can find in the AdWords FAQs. Since it has not been announced or explained to all advertisers – most will never figure out why on AdWords they see an average position of 1.8 and then consistently see their ad at #12, or not at all, when they check. It will be hard for the poor employee who is not a specialist but is responsible for PPC to explain to their boss why he or she is seeing rankings that don't match the data.

Even more savvy advertisers were confused when they found that although the stats on Google showed an average rank of, say, 2 – they were not showing up at all when they searched. Many of them raised their bids as a result – artificially inflating CPCs and raising the cost per acquisition.

This change lessens the control an advertiser has over how his ad runs and how efficiently it runs. We cannot accurately monitor rank in comparison to competitors. We do not know which regions the ads are actually even showing in, or at what actual rank I those regions. We see only an average. That average may be skewed higher, because the regions where the ad is running in the top spots will get more impressions and clicks… so you may be #1 in one region and #10 in half a dozen. Hard to tell.

Ads are being served up based on statistics we can neither see nor effectively impact. Advertisers do not have access to the regional stats, nor can they adjust bids or copy regionally.

Since the algo is based on CTR, not conversions, some advertisers are finding their conversion rate dropping and/or their cost per conversion going up. Keywords may be showing in the #1 position in areas, and getting a high number of impulse clicks. Many of us would prefer not to be in the number one spot, and base out bidding strategy on aiming or a lower spot. As it stands, we have no way to prevent being put in top spots and getting more junk clicks. (Allowing advertisers to set a max position might help with this.)

Finally – there is the mystery of why an advertiser searching on their own terms would negatively impact their rank relative to their competitors. Assuming all the ads are served up, and not clicked on, why would they not all be effected equally, and thus remain in the same relation to one another? Yet this has been offered by Google as an explanation, and seems to be experienced by many advertisers.

The clearest explanation we’ve gotten is that there are any number of filters which may or may not be applied to any user’s search such as IP, search history, geographic names in the search term, and many others. (Hey, if any of you can explain it more clearly, or has suggestions on how to monitor it - help a girl out and let me know!)

As it turned out, regional differences were not the problem my client was having at all… (yes, the Google rep who suggested it was incorrect) but it seems that many others are. I would be interested to see if I can find any fluctuations in the recent history of other clients, whose cost-per-conversion went up around the end of June, which may have been attributable to this change. Were we Google-whumped when they changed the rules without telling us? With no announcement that the product we are paying for was now functioning differently – how would we have known?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Zunch to Sponsor Search Engine Optimization Show in San Jose

E-Commerce Solution, Other Wares to Be Shown in San Jose

20040801_seoxpodayone_063 Zunch Communications, Inc. is once again a premier sponsor of JupiterMedia's Search Engine Strategies conference being held in San Jose, California August 8-11. Zunch has sponsored similar JupiterMedia events in New York City and Chicago. According to JupiterMedia, “Search Engine Strategies is the premier conference series that keeps you informed about search engine marketing and optimization issues. Because this industry keeps reinventing itself at an amazing pace, we assure you that the content will be cutting-edge.”

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) July 19, 2005 -- Zunch Communications, Inc. is once again a premier sponsor of JupiterMedia's Search Engine Strategies conference being held in San Jose, California August 8-11. Zunch has sponsored similar JupiterMedia events in New York City and Chicago. According to JupiterMedia, “Search Engine Strategies is the premier conference series that keeps you informed about search engine marketing and optimization issues. Because this industry keeps reinventing itself at an amazing pace, we assure you that the content will be cutting-edge.”

John Sanchez, Chairman and CEO of Zunch and also the Vice-President of the Search Engine 20040803_googledance_007 Marketers Professional Organization (SEMPO), says that the Search Engine Strategies conferences have been excellent showcases for the growing line of Zunch services and products. “We've got some incredible new tools that we like to demo at these shows, and the value to us as premier sponsors is immeasurable,” said Sanchez, “The opportunities to meet with others in the industry, while always enjoyable and informative, is second to meeting with companies that have real interactive issues that we hope to help them solve.”

The conference features workshops, lectures and roundtable discussions aimed at educating the business community as a whole and the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) community in particular. Conference attendees visit exhibitor booths before and after sessions and during breaks. Manning the Zunch booth (#501) and demonstrating Zunch products will be Giovanni Gallucci, Zunch's President and COO.

20040801_seoxpodayone_024 “Gio is a real trooper,” offers Sanchez, “He's usually the first guy on the floor and the last one to leave. He's really the best one to demo our search engine friendly e-commerce solution, zWebCommurce. Since he helped design and build it, he’s very effective at communicating its unique features. At the risk of wearing him out, I'm inviting everyone to stop by booth #501 in San Jose to ask Gio to show you how zWebCommurce works.”

Gallucci says it is the constant problem-solving and unique challenges that make this industry exciting, “As JupiterMedia says, the industry is indeed changing and reinventing itself, and we believe that Zunch is right at the edge of those reinventions, helping pave the way. I really do get a kick out of helping our clients tackle their unique interactive problems and ultimately, grow their businesses,” said Gallucci.

Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Zunch Communications, Inc. (http://www.zunch.com) is a search engine optimization, website design and Microsoft Certified application development company dedicated to achieving measurable results for its clients. Top-ranked worldwide in search engine optimization; Zunch Communications is a member of DFWIMA, SEO Consultants, seopros, DFWSEM, topseos and a Circle Member of SEMPO. Zunch also maintains offices in New York City, Orlando and Mumbai.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Oooo...a fight!

Microsoft is suing Google over the defection of well-known search developer Kai-Fu Lee --

I knew that it was just a matter of time before two of the "biggest" boys on the search enigne block went toe-to-toe! Pay-per-view? I shelled out $40.00 to see my beloved Texas Longhorns stampede the University of North Texas in football last year so I would consider paying to see Larry or Sergei go 10 rounds with Mr. Gates.

Microsoft Goes on Legal Attack

SEO & PPC - A symbiotic relationship

I was reminded of the benefits of both types of marketing earlier this month while composing a monthly summary report for a client. My jaw dropped as I viewed the analytics report that showed a significant decrease in organic traffic from Google, AOL and Ask Jeeves. This was after 6 straight months of solid increases, with no hints of looking back. I then suspected, and after talking with Laura, confirmed that this client had begun a PPC campaign (managed with expertise by Zunch, of course).

Based on our recommendations, the PPC campaign included very specific, branding keywords which were ranking #1 in the organic listings already (ex. "company name store"). As expected, some visitors clicked on the paid result who would have otherwise clicked on the natual result. So now we have a huge, inter-departmental feud because the PPC team stole traffic from the SEO team, right? Not quite. You see, overall traffic for those keywords were up across the board. And the low cost made it a no-brainer to bid on, even if some visitors would find the site organically anyways. The extra sales far outweigh the pennies it took to acquire them.

In the end, this client ends up on top because of their willingness to use as much real estate as possible in the SERPs.

Google Moon = CHEESE!

To compliment Google Maps and "Google Earth" ...Google launches "Google Moon"

In honor of the first manned Moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969, we’ve added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps interface to help you pay your own visit to our celestial neighbor. Happy lunar surfing. More about Google Moon

* Zoom in to find the lunar secret!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Google Simplifies & Loosens Requirements for AdWords

Well, I'm not sure, but I think we can take some of the credit for this change where Adwords ads can now be brought out of inactive status by increased bidding. This is a good move by Google that will help advertisers who are trying to show that they can "do it better than the other guy" And we think we can!

I have a meeting with our Google rep today, and he told me he had some news that would make me very happy. I'm thinking this is it (unless of course, he tells me that Google is going toward an agency discount model, which would make me so happy I might pee in my pants). But I'll take this. One step at a time!

Anyway, Congratulations Laura on your Blog entry being so well received and thanks to Kevin and others who moved the story along. Great job guys! We definitely can and have made a difference!

Google Simplifies & Loosens Requirements for AdWords

Google Sitemaps Revisited

So it's been a little over a month now since Google launched "Google Sitemaps" - the program that allows webmasters, site owners, and SEO professionals to submit an XML feed of their Web pages to Google in order to expedite the crawl-and-index process.

From talking with Tyson and Dan as well as reading SEO blogs and other SEO related newsletters, there isn't a whole lot to be said about the program. In fact, Tyson mentioned that he submitted a feed for his blog three weeks ago and Google is still showing some of the pages in their 'supplemental' results.

Do I believe that Google Sitemaps has inherent value? My answer is yes...IF you have a large dynamic site with hard to reach pages AND updates often. i.e. Target.com, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart.com, etc. If you are faced with this dilemma...give Google Sitemaps a shot...it's free...for now : )

Now, if you have submitted a feed to Google and are looking for this program to boost your rankings...forget about it! This program simply helps Google index pages of your site more efficiently. Improving your rankings in Google and the other search engines takes a lot more than an XML feed. If that's what you are looking for...let Zunch help you with search engine optimization.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

More news about Clickfraud Lawsuits

Well, it looks like the Lane's Gift Class Action suit against the major search engines will be moved back to Arkansas. This is good news for the plaintiffs and bad news for the search engines. I've spoken with Steve Malouf, one of the plaintiff's lawyers for this case several times, and he said that he thought they had a good chance to win if they got back into the Arkansas court. Looks like Steve got his wish.

Basically, Steve told me that they would prefer to see a "click fraud" clearinghouse created, where a third party would monitor all clicks for fraud. This way, the Engines wouldn't have such a vested interest and the advertisers would get what they paid for, not fraud. I can't say I'm completely against this idea, but it needs to be fleshed out some more. I'll be following the case with much interest. You can read more about the decision here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Zunch Communications, Inc. Acquires SalemGlobal Assets and Announces New Office Opening in New York City; Leading Search Engine Optimization Company C

If you haven't heard, it's official. Zunch now has offices in New York! We're all very excited about this and can't wait to show the Big Apple what we can do!

Zunch Communications, Inc. Acquires SalemGlobal Assets and Announces New Office Opening in New York City; Leading Search Engine Optimization Company Continues Expansion

Friday, July 08, 2005

Power Play: Google invests in Broadband over powerline

Google, Goldman Sachs and Hearst are investing in a company that provides the technology to provide broadband internet service over power lines. This could be really cool, as it would make any device that consumes elecricity have the ability to have broadband. Imagine a toaster that spews offers for penis enlargement and cialis and viagra...oh wait, I don't want that. Well, regardless I think this is a cool idea and will be a great move for all of the investors. If I had any money, I might invest as well. Read more in the link below.

MediaPost Publications Home of MediaDailyNews, MEDIA and OMMA Magazines

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Google Toolbar for Firefox

Tyson blogged about it early this week - but it's out. I've downloaded it, and it's just like the one for IE, except the pagerank doesn't have the cool green bar we've become so fond of. Thankfully, I have a third party tool to get my green bar fix. I know Tyson doesn't want this tool, but I think I like it. It was one of the things I really missed when I left IE for Firefox...but I guess time will tell how well I really like it.

Google Toolbar for Firefox

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Keeping Incentives in front of the Customer

I see it all the time… especially with retail sites. Landing pages that may be optimized for the keyword, but are not thought through as entry pages to the site. That is, the product is there, with an engaging, keyword-rich description. The price is there, and a button to click to buy the product. But the page is missing the incentives that are advertised on the index page.

Incentives – whether free shipping, or a sale, or a free gift with purchase – often make the difference between a conversion and a bounce. When I was at Yahoo!, they presented us a study that showed free shipping as the number one reason why a customer would choose one online retailer over another. But it’s not enough to put the offer in the PPC copy.

Some sites bury their incentives, mentioning free shipping only on the shipping info page. Or mentioning a sale only on a category page. But most of our clients do better than that… even if it’s only at our recommendation… and make special offers a bold presence on their index page. This does no good, however, when the potential customer is entering on a product page.

If you have an incentive – make sure it’s visible on every page of the site. Look at every possible landing page as the entryway to your site, and remember most people will not go any further than that page. Keep those incentives in front of your visitors, no matter where they go on your site. Catch ‘em, convert ‘em and keep ‘em – even if they walk in through a side door.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ian Turner Found

We blogged about SEO expert Ian Turner being lost after the Webmaster World Conference. Well, he has been found safe and well. The story is below. Thanks to all who looked for him.

David Naylor � DaveN � Ian Turner Last Update

Is Google using Toolbar data for the SERPs?

According to InsideGoogle, Google is set to release its Toolbar for the Firefox browser. While I know this will warm the heart of a few of my Toolbar-lovin' colleagues, I really question the motives of this move for the following reasons:

First, aren't toolbars a thing of the past already? Firefox already has an integrated search bar and popup blocking. IE7 is bound to have the same. The Google Toolbar wouldn't bring an enhanced browser experience to Firefox.

Oh yeah...that little green bar. But do people really care about PageRank as much now as they used to (please say no)? Besides, there are several extensions available for Firefox that display PageRank already. Was there a huge outcry for Google to deliver a Toolbar for Firefox?

We all know that Firefox is a growing phenomenon. Latest statistics show the browser almost to the 10% mark in saturation, and increasing every month. Could it be that Google wants the click-thru data from FireFox users just as it is "possibly" using Toolbar data now from IE users?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Welcome SEO/SEM Writers to ZEN-SEM

OK...we want to believe that several SEO writers are visiting ZEN-SEM as a source of inspiration / information. Reason for our belief - there have been several articles written in the past month on "How to Not Work With an SEO/SEM Firm", "Why You Don't Rank on Search Engines", and "More Ways to Not Work With an SEO/SEM Firm" - all of these were written after I blogged on, "What Makes a Good SEO Client?".

Are we complaining? Absolutely not! Zunch welcomes all of our SEO/SEM brothers and sisters and encourage you to visit ZEN-SEM anytime you like. Hey...if any of you are ever in Dallas...feel free to stop by Zunch corporate headquarters for a game of foozball, darts, or XBox.

Y'all come back now...ya' here! : )

Where is Ian Turner? | Threadwatch.org

If you have any information on where Ian Turner might be, please see the Threadwatch thread below. We're all keeping him in our prayers.

Where is Ian Turner? | Threadwatch.org