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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Traffic Increase from Million Dollar Homepage Pixel Ads

The past couple of days there's been a traffic spike from our Million Dollar Homepage ad. I'm seeing a similar spike in traffic from the pixel ads we've bought from other sites where this pixel advertising information page is the landing page. There appears to be a renewed interest in pixel ads. Looks like that's because Alex Tew (who created the Million Dollar Home Page) is close to reaching the million dollar mark. There's another wave of press covering the story. Example: Unique Site Nets College Student $1 Million. That's one nice feature of pixel advertising versus search engine advertising - you pay a fixed amount yet if the press continually picks up on the story, you get waves of traffic but don't have to pay per click fees for the increased traffic. I still don't think pixel ads are as effective as search engine ads, but I do see the appeal, particularly for sites targeting a broad audience.

Technorati tags: ,,,,,,

Note: I'm trying more Technorati tags in this post. Don't want to include too many. Have been using 5 as a max. What's good tagging etiquette? More tags? Less tags?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

2006 Resolutions v0.9

I stumbled upon the blog of Technorati's founder, David Sifry, after reading this Marketing on a Blog post. Being very new to blogging, I was struck by the fact that the conversation developing in blog comments was more interesting than the original blog post. Guess that's part of what this whole user-generated content craze is about. In keeping with that revelation, here are some resolutions for 2006 (I'm limiting these resolutions to business):

1. Blog early. Blog often.
2. Write some more open source software.
3. Build a free search engine marketing tool based on a web services API.
4. Grow client base so business becomes self-sustaining.
5. Continue to serve and anticipate the needs of existing clients.

Regarding #2, it's been rewarding to hear about people using the open source web analytics software I've cobbled together. The track search engine spiders cgi script seems to be the most popular. I guess people like to be able to see how their sites are being crawled. A few months back someone called me up, thanking me for the time and money they'd save after installing the Google content ad tracking code. That's cool. I like to write software that people find useful. That's why I enjoyed working at AOL when it was still quite small.

Regarding #3, I've found it interesting that the free keyword research tool I wrote while dabbling with PHP is by far the most visited page on my firm's site. It should have been obvious to me that more people would find a tool like that more useful than having to download a cgi script and install it themselves on their own server. Still, I anticipate writing both downloadable, open source software for others to extend as well as making good use of my bandwith by offering free web tools. To that end, I'm determined to catch up with what's been happening on the web by writing code on top of a web services API. Maybe one of Google's Web APIs. Perhaps one of Alexa's APIs? We'll see.

My, 2006 is going to be a busy year! That's cool.

Technorati tag:

Wired: Google vs Click Fraud

One thing I enjoy about the holidays is having some time to catch up on reading. I just skimmed the January 2006 issue of Wired which has "Google vs Click Fraud" on the front cover. The article is really about more than Google but Google is the hot buzzword these days. In the table of contents, they list the article as "The Click Fraud Cold War" and on page 138 it's called "How Click Fraud Could Swallow the Internet." Ok, enough hyperbole. Click fraud is a problem. True. However, even with a handful of fraudulent clicks, I'd argue that PPC (pay per click) advertising is still more effective than many traditional forms of advertising.

Having said that, I am disappointed that the major search engines, Google and Yahoo, are not more proactive in dealing with PPC click fraud. In fact, I believe they perpetrate click fraud themselves. Think about search ads running on parked domains. These clearly aren't search ads. No one actively typed in the keywords to find something. Sure, they typed in a domain name directly. That's not the same as typing keywords into a search box. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Read the Search Engine Watch blog entry Google AdSense For Domains Program Overdue For Reform for more information on this issue. I think this is click fraud, perpetrated by Google itself. If Google AdWords advertisers could opt out of ads being displayed on parked domains, then this would not be fraudulent.

I had a case earlier this year for one of my clients where they received a spike in traffic from their Yahoo Search Marketing ads. Examining their web server logs, I was expecting to find some click fraud. Instead, what I found was a pile of traffic from Yahoo's buzz index. Essentially, Yahoo's staff writes about the top searches. For my money, clicks from the Yahoo buzz index should be content clicks, not search clicks. None of the people clicking from there had actively typed in my client's keywords. By creating editorial content about search, Yahoo was artificially inflating traffic to certain keywords. Unless the ads being displayed were content ads, my view is that this was click fraud, perpetrated by Yahoo. The behavior of the visitors to my client's site certainly looked like click fraud. This particular search keyword phrase was one of my client's best converting. They spent a month's worth of advertising in one day with no conversions. If that's not click fraud, I don't know what is.

Technorati tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Open Source Web Analytics

I wouldn't recommend Google Analytics to any of our clients. Doesn't it seem like a pretty major conflict of interest to have your pay per click advertising company track your results and monitor your click fraud? I certainly wouldn't want them to know which keywords were working well for my firm. They could turn around and give those keywords to a competing company considering signing up for the Google AdWords program. No way would I want Google to own that sort of crucial business intelligence for my firm. If your web server is Apache on a Unix platform, try our free, open source web analytics software. It's not nearly as sophisticated as Google Analytics or many of the other web analytics packages. However, it's open source software so you can extend it to do whatever you want.

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Technoratibot Visit

The manual tagging did work. Took a little over an hour. Here's the sequence:

9:00 Blog updated
9:09 Googlebot visits
9:12 BlogsNowBot visits
10:11 Technoratibot visits

A few minutes after the Technoratibot visited, I saw my blog post listed on their Blogging tag page. The entry was the second one down and looked like this:

Blogging Tags and Meta Keywords
By Richard Ball in Apogee Weblog 1 hour ago
As I'm learning about blogs and blogging, I'm intrigued by this notion of tags. However, it seems like it could be easy to abuse. Reminds me of the...

So, good to know the manual tagging works. I'll try an experiment later to see if the ping/update cycle time of 1 hour is typical.

Tracking Blog Bots

Quick followup to my tags experiment. Since writing the last post, Blogging Tags and Meta Keywords, I haven't seen the Technoratibot visit the blog section of the site by looking at the web server logs. However, I have seen other blog bots visit. Here they are (IP address + User Agent): Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; + BlogsNowBot, V 2.01 (+ Java/1.5.0_02

This BlogsNow site looks interesting so I've added it to my Blog Resources section in the Blogger template. Looks like the Java/1.5.0_02 User Agent is the Blogger software itself hitting my blog since resolves to I'll see how long it takes for Technoratibot to visit. I have turned on the public listing feature of Blogger so I didn't anticipate needing to ping manually. I did so, anyway, just to be sure.

Blogging Tags and Meta Keywords

As I'm learning about blogs and blogging, I'm intrigued by this notion of tags. However, it seems like it could be easy to abuse. Reminds me of the meta keywords tag and how that was abused in the early days of search engines. Perhaps tags will disappear as blog indexing software becomes as sophisticated as the search engines. I'm going to experiment with Technorati tags in this blog post. I'm manually tagging this post for . Hmm, I wonder if case matters, i.e. "blogging" vs "Blogging" in the tags. Also, read my Search Engine Guide article discussing advice.

Monday, December 26, 2005


I've been resisting setting up a blog for my company. Haven't really seen the need as I post articles on my site directly. Must admit, I still don't "get" this whole blogging craze. I figure the best way to "get" it is to simply do it. So, this blog will help me understand blogging and I hope it will also provide useful information to anyone who happens to read it. I'm curious to find out how blogs are incorporated in the web at large. I will be tracking my web logs, not to be confusing with weblogs (blogs), to see where traffic comes from.

To kick things off, let me explain that I plan to post about search engine marketing, the industry my company serves, as well as web analytics, small business growth, internet sector investing and any other topics that seem relevant to my business. I'm expecting to make my blog posts brief while I continue to write longer, more detailed articles. As an introduction to my company and the industry it operates within, read this article I wrote for a Business Week advertising section: Search Engine Advertising is Essential for Modern Marketing (pdf).

Initial post

Hello world.