Maine Munchies Ad

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Google AdWords Content Ads Tip

Even though Google AdWords now supports separate bidding for its content network, it's often worth the extra hassle to create separate campaigns for search and content ads. I wrote an article detailing this strategy before it was possible to set separate bids. Here are the main points which still hold true:
  1. The target audiences could be different
  2. Content ads don't perform as well (in most cases)
  3. Track separately to see which type works for your situation
  4. Add clarity to search stats
  5. Google has a "negative site feature" for contextual ad campaigns
Read the full article, Mastering Google AdWords Marketing: Contextual Advertising.

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AdSense, Tagvertising or Pixel Ads?

It's interesting to see new advertising platforms being developed to replace or supplement Google AdSense ads. Pixel advertising began with the Million Dollar Homepage as an entire page full of pixels. Now, sites are using smaller pixel blocks as ad space on a page with actual content. See Fosfor Gadgets and Brad Fallon's site as examples. With all the interest around web 2.0 tags, companies are trying to commercialize tag clouds. See the TechCrunch post ZoomTags and Commercial Tag Clouds for the latest examples.

I don't think commercial tag clouds will work. I'm not even sure that pixel ads will survive in the long run. In the short run, however, they're working for 2 reasons: they're visually interesting (or distracting but they draw your attention) and their cost is small and fixed. A PPC (pay per click) tag cloud won't fly. Advertisers don't even trust Google and Yahoo! to solve the clickfraud problem. A startup trying to commercialize tags isn't going to engender confidence. If tag clouds were sold on a fixed cost basis, that might work. If I were marketing ZoomTags, I'd start out with a trivial fee to attract advertisers and would increase fees based on demand. For example, maybe I'd charge $10/month during a beta period. Those fees could grow once a large pool of advertisers and publishers had signed up. I suspect advertisers looking for new ways to advertise online might test such a program. Not a new PPC platform though. Besides, Yahoo! already offers tagvertising, albeit not explicitly.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Web 2.0 Tags

Yesterday, I blogged about the importance of tagging your blog(s). I decided to take some of my own advice and started browsing the tags of various web 2.0 sites. Then, I logged into my Technorati account and looked at my profile to see the tag cloud from my previous posts. Right away, I realized the blog tags I had initially configured for my blog didn't match what I'd been blogging about. I thought I'd be blogging about SEO, search engine marketing, PPC strategies for Google AdWords and other SEM-related topics similar to the articles I've written for sites like Search Engine Guide. Instead, I've found myself blogging about Technorati, tags, web 2.0 and related topics. I suspect at some point I'll get back to SEM posts but because of working on projects like TagMan, I've been intrigued by this whole notion of web 2.0.

Granted, I think the term "web 2.0" is a bit silly. What really defines web 2.0? Is something web 1.9 or web 1.9.0.1? Are some projects really web 2.0.1 or even web 2.5? Still, labels do help to distinguish what's happening as far as progress with web applications. And, clearly, this label has stuck. To that end, I agree with Steve Rubel, that we should "focus on the corral, not the signpost." Just look at the TechCrunch Index and you'll see a fair amount of startups and established firms innovating in this web 2.0 space. Whether you call this web 2.0 or not, it's innovation. Reminds me of the excitement of working at AOL in '95.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Tag Blogs for Technorati Explore

With the launch of Technorati Explore, it's crucial to tag both blogs and blog posts. Technorati Explore appears to be a combination of their Tags and Blog Finder section. Whereas the Tags section lists recent posts by post tags and Blog Finder lists blogs ordered by authority based on blog tags, the Explore section lists recent posts by blog tags. Confused? Here's a simple way to look at it: Tags = posts, Blog Finder = blogs, Explore = posts based on blog tags. Complicating it again: Tags = recent posts, Blog Finder = authoritative or recent or alphabetical blogs, Explore = authoritative or recent posts based on blog tags.

Authority is measured by links, so Blog Finder shows blogs ordered by number of incoming links to the blog itself, while Explore shows blog posts ordered by number of incoming links to the specific post. This is important for smaller bloggers. Since Explore has replaced Popular in the main navigation of the Technorati site, it is possible for smaller bloggers to have increased exposure on Technorati. It looks like inclusion will be possible with only a couple of incoming links to a given blog post. That should be manageable. Also, in the Explore section, users can toggle between Recent Authority and Most Recent. So, if your blog is tagged for a given tag and you have posted recently, theoretically your blog post should be listed in the Explore section for that given tag.

Take the time, then, to claim your blog and configure it to include up to 20 blog tags. Think carefully about those blog tags. The tags you use when posting don't have to be the same as your blog tags. Which tags should you use for your blog? Naturally, that depends on the content of your blog. Start by looking at the categories Technorati has preset for the Explore section. These are currently listed on right hand side starting with Advertising and ending with Wine. If your blog matches some of those tags/categories, configure your blog to include them. Try some smaller, niche category tags as well. For more ideas about what tags to use, peruse the tags from elsewhere on Technorati and on other web 2.0 sites. For example, look at the popular tags pages on Technorati, del.icio.us and Squidoo. (If you want a fun way to explore these tags, play a game of TagMan. Each time you play a game, a new tag is randomly pulled from those pages).

Whatever tags you choose for your blog, track your hits from Technorati using web analytics tools and then adjust the blog tags as needed. Eventually, you'll settle on a core 20 tags for your blog. Hopefully, with your blog tags configured, you'll enjoy an increase in traffic from Technorati's new Explore section.

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Technorati Explore Update to Technorati Tracker

The Technorati Tracker tool now includes the Technorati Explore section. The tool tracks hits to your blog from Technorati and counts hits from the various sections: Search, Tags, Blog Finder, Explore, Popular. See the demo.

Even if you're using a web statistics package like Webalizer or web analytics software like Google Analytics, sometimes it's useful to have a custom report to focus on an important aspect of your web traffic. The Technorati Tracker tool isolates hits from technorati.com, visits from Technoratibot and displays a bar chart identifying which Technorati sections are bringing the most hits. It also displays the keywords used on Technorati so you can see which of your blog tags and blog post tags are effective. Also, since the tool is open source, you can extend it to suit your own needs. Perhaps you need to look at archived traffic or want to analyze hits from other blogging sites. You can extend the code (unix shell cgi script) to do so.

Take a look at the Technorati Tracker information page where you can view the demo and download the code. I hope it's a useful tool for Technorati users.

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Technorati Update

Wow. I just posted a couple of days ago about a free Technorati tool I'd developed and made open source. It's already going to need an update. The tool tracks hits from the various Technorati sections (Search, Tags, Blog Finder, Popular). Now, I see that they've replaced Popular with Explore in the navigation bar across the top of the site. I wonder if the Popular pages were becoming a bit too stale. Note that the Popular section is in the footer of the site. Maybe the Explore section will bring some exposure to smaller blogs, like mine! Despite some complaints I've seen around the blogosphere, I've been quite impressed with the pace of innovation at Technorati.

While you're exploring the new Technorati Explore feature, you can also explore their tags by playing a game of Technorati TagMan.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Free Technorati Tool

Technorati Tracker is an open source software tool which will examine the traffic your blog is receiving from Technorati. It also tracks visits by Technoratibot. This feature was included so you can see if your Technorati pings are working. The tool displays a bar chart comparing the number of hits from each section (Tags, Search, Blog Finder, Popular) on Technorati. See the technorati_tracker.cgi demo. Download this free web analytics software (.tar or .zip).

Post any questions, bug reports, suggestions as comments to this blog entry. Thanks.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Technorati Tracker Widget

I like Technorati. I find myself checking server logs for Technorati hits. I keep thinking it'd be useful to isolate Technorati hits and track them separately, so I wrote a widget to do so. See the demo version of a Technorati Tracker widget (a CGI script). It checks for hits from Technorati.com as well as visits by the Technoratibot. The widget also breaks down the hits by section (Tags, Search, Blog Finder) and displays the keywords typed in the box (or clicked) on Technorati.

Would other people find this widget useful? Do other people want to know when the Technoratibot has visited so they know whether or not to ping manually? Do other people want to know if they're getting more Technorati hits from the Tags, Search or Blog Finder section? Do other people want to know the keywords used on Technorati? I'd make this widget open source web analytics software. Would anybody use it?

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Busy Day for Flickr TagMan

Lots of people have been playing Flickr TagMan today. That's cool. I like to see people enjoying my software, whether it's a fun game like TagMan or more serious stuff like open source web analytics software. People found the Flickr version of the game today due to mentions in two prominent blogs: CrunchNotes and fosfor gadgets.

CrunchNotes is a companion blog to TechCrunch which tracks what's happening in the web 2.0 space. I recently found TechCrunch via Technorati and have been enjoying the blog. I particularly like their new TechCrunch Index, a list of the various web2.0 companies they've covered.

I bought pixel ads on fosfor gadgets a few months ago for my client Eco-Strip. I decided today to buy pixels for my firm's site and mentioned to the site owner the new Flickr TagMan game. He liked it and posted an entry with a screenshot of the game plus a link to the TagMan page on Squidoo.

I'm grateful to these bloggers for blogging about TagMan. I hope people are enjoying the game.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thursday Thirteen + Technorati

Technorati didn't seem to pick up my Thursday Thirteen list, so I'm trying a smaller post with fewer manual tags to see if that works. Read For Thursday 13, 11 Google AdWords Tips.

Speaking of Technorati, they emailed me yesterday and said I could use their logo in the Technorati TagMan game. They also had a suggestion to link to their Blog Finder as well as Tags section on a winning tag. So, play a game and explore Technorati.

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For Thursday 13, 11 Google AdWords Tips

13 11 Tips for Google AdWords Success
  1. Use keywords in ad text
    Show the searcher that your ad is relevant. Google will display the search keywords in bold in your ad if they're present. This helps your ad stand out from the crowd.

  2. Keep ad group keyword list short
    Instead of having a single ad group with a large list of keywords, create many ad groups, each with a short list. This will help you achieve tip #1.

  3. Bid high initially
    Google's ad system determines placement by both bid and CTR (click through rate). To earn a high CTR, you first need to generate some clicks. Bid high initially so your ad is seen early in the search results. Once you have a high CTR, lower your bids.

  4. Set daily budget higher than Google recommends
    If you set your daily budget too low, your ad will be displayed intermittently. This is not what you want. You always want your ad to be shown when someone searches for your keywords. Control your ad spend through other means such as employing negative keywords, using exact matches, targeting by region and adjusting keyword bids.

  5. Avoid bidding wars
    Don't waste money getting into bidding wars for a handful of high volume keywords. Instead, expand your keyword list to include more specific keywords that have a lower search volume. Collectively, these keywords will reach the search volume of more expensive keywords. Your average CPC (cost per click) will fall dramatically using this tactic.

  6. Set higher bids on exact matches
    Include both broad and exact matches for a keyword phrase. Set the bid higher for the exact match. This allows you to control the position of the ad for the exact search. For example, if your ad group bid is set to 10 cents, you might set a 25 cents bid for the exact match:
    [keyword phrase] ** 0.25
    keyword phrase

  7. Use negative keywords
    Your ad will not be displayed if the search includes a negative keyword. Add more negative keywords at regular intervals. As your negative keyword list grows, your ad group's CTR will increase, saving you money and/or improving your ad's position. For example, if you sell products or services at a premium, include negative keywords like:
    -free
    -cheap
    -discount

  8. Use a relevant landing page
    For most searches, don't point the ad to your home page. Choose a landing page on your site that includes the keywords from the search. In some cases, it's worth creating a custom page that's not in the normal navigation of your site.

  9. Separate search and content campaigns
    Many people lose money using AdWords when their site is swamped with hits from content ads. Most people don't realize that displaying ads on Google's content network is turned on by default. Either turn off the content network or create separate campaigns for search and content ads.

  10. Test multiple versions of ad
    Take advantage of Google's feature allowing multiple ads to be created and rotated within a single ad group. Test different ad text and see which version works best, both from an ROI and CTR perspective. A better ad will lead to a higher CTR and lower bids for the same ad position.

  11. Track your results
    Don't rely on Google's reporting tools. They're good, but you need more detail, particularly to see which actual keyword phrases your broad matches are triggering. You'll need this to help build your list of negative keywords for each ad group. Plus, click fraud is a problem and needs to be addressed.
Read the full article >>

Okay, let's make it a full Thursday Thirteen:
  1. Take a break and play a game of Flickr TagMan.

  2. Play a game of Technorati TagMan and perhaps Thursday Thirteen will be the answer.
Links to Other Thursday Thirteens:
1. Norma
2. Randy
3. Killired
4. WendyWings
5. Bug
6. (Leave comment and I'll link to your blog)

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Pixel Advertising Case Study

I've been buying pixel ads for my firm's site, both to drive traffic to our site but also to see which pixel ad sites are worthwhile. When I find a good site, I buy pixels on behalf of my search engine marketing clients. I've purchased from over 25 pixel sites while conducting this research. Here are the top 10 for this month so far (Jan 1 - Jan 16) and I'm only counting unique visitors from each pixel advertising site:

432 Million Dollar Homepage
380 Smash My Viper
330 Rent Pixel Ads*
168 Million Dollar State*
123 The Six Million Dollar Cube
85 CommercialTown
72 Pixel Ads 4 All
64 The Pixel Wars
56 Million Dollar Tattoo
44 Brad Fallon

*Be careful buying from these 2 sites right now. Both site owners are actively trying to sell their domains. There's no guarantee that the new site owners will continue to promote the sites.

Note that on the pixel advertising info page on my firm's site, I highlight Smash My Viper and The Six Million Dollar Cube as the best pixel sites to buy from at this point in time. The above traffic data bears that out. Also, as of right now, you can get pixels on The Cube for only $10 vs the standard $100 on most pixel sites. If you're looking to buy pixels now that Alex Tew's Million Dollar Homepage has sold out, those are the top 2 sites I'd recommend.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Flickr TagMan

Ok, no more TagMan versions. I've created a Flickr TagMan game. I think I like this version the best (well I still like the fact that Squidoo was cool enough to send me a logo for their version). When you win a game of Flickr TagMan, you'll see a few photos from that tag. You can then jump to Flickr and see more photos or play another game. Each game randomly grabs a tag from Flickr's popular tags page.

I think Technorati TagMan, Squidoo TagMan, del.icio.us TagMan and now Flickr TagMan covers the major web 2.0 sites that are using tags. I started writing TagMan (original version for Technorati tags) as a way to catch up with what's been happening with web 2.0. I signed up to be a developer and was tinkering with their API. Unfortunately, it wouldn't do what I wanted it to do and they didn't respond to my email queries, so I reverted to old school scraping. Oh well, I'll get back to reading the O'Reilly book "Programming Web Services with Perl" at a later date. In the meantime, let me know which TagMan version you like the best! I gotta get back to work...

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Monday, January 16, 2006

a del.icio.us hack + tagvertising

I did create a del.icio.us version of TagMan. What's a search engine marketing firm doing creating games related to tags? Well, tags are related to search engine marketing. First, tags are a near real-time indicator of what topics are hot. Current tags could be used for further keyword research. Most keyword research data is a bit stale. Granted, tags tell us how people are categorizing items (blog posts, pictures, urls, etc) not what keywords they are using while searching. Still, it can't hurt to be aware of the tagging trends. Also, have you noticed that Technorati displays sponsored links on their site? If you know which tags are popular and you translate those tags to keyword buys, your ads could be displayed on their site.

BTW, using my firm's free web analytics software, I've noticed that Technorati has switched from carrying Google AdWords ads to Yahoo! Search Marketing ads. Maybe they really are looking to get acquired by Yahoo! Also, these are search ads as opposed to content ads. Perhaps tagvertising is quite present in 2006.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Thursday Thirteen v0.9

Came across this Thursday Thirteen Meme today. It's Friday now but as it is the thirteenth, I'll give it a go:

Thirteen Things about Richard's Clients
(This is a corporate blog, after all)
  1. Maine Munchies: My kids devour their dark organic chocolate snack mixes. Ok, yeah, I like 'em too!
  2. Plantrex: See the plantrex.com on my shirt? Gotta love a client that sponsors my soccer team!
  3. Analytical Investing: Most mutual funds don't beat their benchmarks. Nice to see my client's beating the market.
  4. Your Memory Lane: Just took over their Google AdWords account this week. Am pleased to have them as a client as their Memory Lane prints look like a very unique gift.
  5. Eco-Strip: It's good to see a links page that's a list of useful links relevant to my client's industry instead of reciprocal link garbage.
  6. The New School: Each year they hold a Rudolph's Red Nose Run. I like the t-shirts.
  7. Hedwin Corporation: Do you need any blow molded products? C'mon now, you must! Seriously, though, this is a great, employee-owned company.
  8. Century 21 Mann & Sons: It hasn't been too cold of a winter so far, but beach property sure does sound nice right about now.
  9. Oxford Solar: I start work on their site next week. It's cool to have another eco-friendly client. They sell Solar Electric Systems.
  10. WizardsSpell: My web designer started this company. It has a compelling story.
  11. Speaking of web designers, I've had the pleasure of working with some fine ones as I've been handling clients' search engine marketing.
  12. Hmm, not enough clients to fill this list. You'd think I'd have thought of that before starting this list. Nevermind, play my Technorati TagMan game.
  13. What?! You shouldn't have gotten this far. Why aren't you playing TagMan? Ok, fine, try the Squidoo Tagman version. Phew! No more list items. >8-)

Links to other Thursday Thirteens
1. Courtney
2. (yes, per the original meme, I'll post links for comments left)

Leave me a comment, too, if you know how many tags are considered good netiquette...
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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Squidoo vs Technorati

Squidoo emailed me today. Haven't heard back from Technorati. Sent them two emails (with a large interval) to two different email addresses. Figured they'd want to know I was scraping their site for my TagMan game. Plus, I wanted to make sure they were happy with my attribution to Technorati. So, I've made a Squidoo TagMan game. They've even sent me a nice logo to use for the game. Cool. Play the game and explore Squidoo.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Web Analytics + Serendipity

It's amazing what you find when you sift through your web server logs. I was looking at my firm's server logs today to track down some possible clickfraud. Instead, I discovered a new site, ryze.com which led me to another new site, squidoo.com. I've created a Ryze Profile and two lenses on Squidoo, Search Engine Advertising Tips and Pixel Ads. Along the way, I found this interesting linkage between the two sites: Ryzers on Squidoo. I'm looking forward to exploring both sites over the next few days and will be curious to see which of the two brings more traffic to my firm's site. Let me know if you've found either (or both) of these sites particularly useful.

Note: Trying a few more tags...
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Friday, January 06, 2006

Need Feedback for Technorati Tags Hangman Game

Please play TagMan, a hangman game that uses Technorati tags for the words to guess, and then post comments to this blog entry with feedback concerning the game. There are a few specific questions I need help with:
  1. Is it a useful feature to be able to replay the same tag after losing a game?
  2. Are there enough incorrect guesses allowed?
  3. Are there too many incorrect guesses allowed?
  4. Is the retro, ASCII art UI cool or should the game have better graphics?
  5. Is the game a fun way to browse the Technorati tags?
Comments don't have to address those questions alone. I'm looking for any feedback to help improve the game. Thanks for your help.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Site Outage Today - LunarPages DDoS Attack

My apologies to people trying to access our free keyword research tool or alpha test the new TagMan game. LunarPages, our host, was under some sort of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack today and our site has been very slow for much of today and was then completely down for a couple of hours. Looks like the site is back up now. I'm particularly annoyed as I had sent an email yesterday to Technorati to let them know about the TagMan prototype and to make sure they approved. I'll blog more about the game later. Here's the FAQ. Basically, it's a hangman game that uses Technorati tags as the words to guess. I sure hope Technorati didn't try to visit during the outage. Anyway, read the FAQ, try the game and post a comment about the game. Assuming our site is still up. >8-)

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