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As a staple toy for just about every child, Lego has turned 50 today, and Google is celebrating with a Google Lego Logo.

On Jan 28, 1958 in Copenhagen Denmark, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen submitted a patent for his invention which would eventually be called the Toy of the Century. Since then, more than 400 million children and adults play with their Lego totaling an estimated 5 billion hours each year.

I for one grew up with a large bucket of Lego and still on occasion bring it out and play once in a while, hoping that my upcoming child will want to do the same – I’m sure he/she will.

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Friday, January 25th, 2008

Google Shares Down more than 20%

On Dec 26, 2007 Google shares closed at $710.84. Today one short month later, Jan 25, 2008, Google closed at $566.40. That is huge drop, more than 20% over a one month period, and I am sure some investors are feeling the pinch on this one. Back in November Google peaked at around $741 – I feel sorry for anyone who bought on that day.

I am no financial expert – in fact far from it, but I am pretty sure this is bad. That said, they will recover and break back into the $700+ range – right? I would be surprised if they didn’t, although I have been surprised before.

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Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Google Answers Question on First Try!

Today something exciting happened to me. Google replied to an email I sent them. Not only did they reply, but the response I got was exactly what I was looking for – you see, they read my question, and actually answered it!

This is a first for me, as the first response I always get is some auto-generated form response that doesn’t come close to addressing the original question. After several days of email tag, the question is eventually answered.

The problem with this response I got was that it isn’t really the answer I was hoping for.

We all know that Google does not allow the same keyword to be live in more than one AdGroup or Campaign. This is common sense because if they did, you could essentially have multiple ads appearing at the same time under the same search.

But what happens if you throw in the wrench of having each of these unique campaigns target different geographic areas? In my mind this should work – unsure I thought I would check with Google before putting in the time to set everything up.

My Question:

“I may be setting up a new account in the coming weeks that will target 12 different geographic locations.

Essentially I will be creating 12 campaigns, one for each specific geographic location. The Ads will all be similar, with the main differences being the geographic location mentioned in the ad. Each of the 12 campaigns and their corresponding AdGroups will target the same Keyword set.

Will this work?”

Their Answer:

“…As you are aware if you have the same keywords across multiple campaigns, in
this case twelve, only one ad (the better performing one) from the twelve campaigns will show. Hence, setting twelve campaigns each with a unique geographical location and having the same keywords will not be feasible…”

In short, it won’t work. Perhaps this little adjustment to the AdWords system would make perfect sense, and may even happen some day – but I’m not holding my breath. I will happily give credit where credit is due – Thank you Genevieve for actually reading my question and answering it without simply pulling a response from your database.

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Monday, January 21st, 2008

Google Increases Video Share

According to a recent CNN Money report published Thursday, more than 75% of American web users viewed at least one video online with an overall average time spent of 3.25 hours per person.

Google, during November, held on to a 31.3% market share when it comes to video services including YouTube and Google Video, which is a 2% increase over stats for the month of October.

With a total of 9.5 billion videos viewed back in November, and nearly 3 billion of these on Google properties, it is a wonder why Google has not yet capitalized on the money making opportunities these massively popular sites provide. While a variety of ideas have been put out there such as pop-ups & pre and post roll ads, very little has been done to date.

I suppose it is just a matter of time and as video popularity continues to grow on the web, ads will become an unavoidable reality, so we may as well enjoy it as is, while it lasts.

Google Webmaster Central Blog logoSusan Moskwa and Trever Voucher from Google’s Webmaster Tools Team published a synopsis of the questions they received at Chicago’s recent Search Engine Strategies Conference. If you have ever had a question about Google Sitemaps and the effect they may or may not have on your site, this is a helpful read.

Get the answers to the following questions:

  • I submitted a Sitemap, but my URLs haven’t been [crawled/indexed] yet. Isn’t that what a Sitemap is for?
  • If it doesn’t get me automatically crawled and indexed, what does a Sitemap do?
  • Will a Sitemap help me rank better?
  • If I set all of my pages to have priority 1.0, will that make them rank higher (or get crawled faster) than someone else’s pages that have priority 0.8?
  • Is there any point in submitting a Sitemap if all the metadata (, , etc.) is the same for each URL, or if I’m not sure it’s accurate?
  • I’ve heard about people who submitted a Sitemap and got penalized shortly afterward. Can a Sitemap hurt you?
  • Where can I put my Sitemap? Does it have to be at the root of my site?
  • Can I just submit the site map that my webmaster made of my site? I don’t get this whole XML thing.
  • Which Sitemap format is the best?
  • If I have multiple URLs that point to the same content, can I use my Sitemap to indicate my preferred URL for that content?
  • Does the placement of a URL within a Sitemap file matter? Will the URLs at the beginning of the file get better treatment than the URLs near the end?
  • If my site has multiple sections (e.g. a blog, a forum, and a photo gallery), should I submit one Sitemap for the site, or multiple Sitemaps (one for each section)?

Again here is the link to the Google sitemaps Q&A.

chart of the top 50 web properties of December 2007 according to comScore MetrixcomScore released statistics of U.S. consumer activity for the December ’07 holiday season. Included was the always interesting list of the Top 50 web properties:

“Yahoo! Sites continued its reign as the top U.S. Web property in December with nearly 137 million visitors, followed by Google Sites (133 million visitors) and Microsoft Sites (120 million visitors). Apple Inc., which benefited from interest in popular holiday gifts like the iPod and iPhone, moved up one spot to capture position 10 with 47.7 million visitors. Holiday shopping also lifted Sears Sites, which jumped 10 spots to number 21, Best Buy Sites, which rose 5 spots to 22, and JCPenney Sites, gaining 5 spots to position 40. NBC Universal, iVillage.com: The Womens Network, and Weatherbug Property all entered the rankings this month capturing positions 48, 49, and 50, respectively.”
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Thursday, December 20th, 2007

MSN Displaying Google Adwords Ads

Years ago MSN stopped displaying Google AdWords ads in favor of their own PPC advertising platform, MSN Adcenter. So why, after all this time have they begun to display AdWords ads again?

On Tuesday Jon Henshaw blogged an interesting find: A search for the phrase “colorations paint” brought up the standard MSN Adcenter ads at the top, a typical #1 & #2 listing for DiscountSchoolSupply, and a rather interesting third and fourth result. Sitting at #3 for this phrase appears to be Google. The URL indexed a link generated for DiscountSchoolSupply’s Google AdWords account! Read more…

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Thursday, December 20th, 2007

China Can't Spell Google

An interesting article posted last week at Bloomberg, noted that China can’t spell Google, and that this may be playing a role in Google playing second fiddle to Chinese search giant Baidu.

“Internet addresses in China are based on the Hanyu Pinyin system that translates Chinese characters into roman letters. Sounds such as “gle” don’t exist.”

“G-O-O-G-L-E is not a normal Chinese spelling and people don’t pronounce it right,” Kai-fu Lee, Google’s president for Greater China, said in a Nov. 30 interview in Beijing. “Most people call us `go go.’”

As a result Google acquired the ‘G.cn’ domain to help users who misspell Google’s name.

China holds the internet’s second largest market with 162 million users, and Google only sees approximately 30% of this market, compared to Baidu with 61%. Credit Suisse Group estimated that in 2006 only 1 percent of Google’s revenue was generated in China.

In this article I am going to explain logfiles and their importance in website analytics from my perspective as a ClickTracks user. Before I begin, however, I want you to know that although I offer essential analytic consulting, I am a certified ClickTracks Analytics Professional and have dabbled in books on analytics, I don’t consider myself to be an analytics expert. In fact, I constantly find myself humbled by how much more there is to know. That said, I do know more than the average site owner and I hope that this article can shine a little light on this often confusing subject and save you some future headaches.

As many of you may know I am a huge fan of the logfile version of ClickTracks Professional, a website analytics package that I find indispensable for myself and my clientele. ClickTracks can do a lot to determine what is or is not working on a website; much more than expected in most cases. The one thing, however, that ClickTracks or any other logfile-based analytics tool cannot do is interpret information in your logfiles if it is not recorded. Unfortunately this is a common occurrence and many site owners have no idea that their hosting company is not saving information that could help them now or later when they find they need it.

The reality is that over ninety percent of the hosting companies I have dealt with have not been saving the vital data that a higher level analytics program needs; to work at peak performance if at all. In this posting I will provide an overview on this issue so you have enough information to approach your hosting company about making the required updates to their systems. If you are unsure you can even refer them to this article and/or the set of questions and details I provided below.

What is a Logfile?
First, let me explain the very basic idea of what a logfile is and how one is created.

Whenever you visit a website your browser requests information from the server hosting the website. This request is passed onto the server and in turn the server delivers the information requested by your browser. Whenever this exchange takes place your server saves the request along with a host of information about the requesting browser such as:

  • the internet address (loosely connected to location) known as the IP
  • browser type (Internet Explorer or Firefox or..)
  • the screen resolution of the browser used
  • time and date of the request
  • the page requested for viewing
  • the website the visitor came from (known as a Referrer)
  • if applicable, the keyword(s) that were used to find your website on a search engine
  • etc.

Once this data is collected it is saved on the server in a logfile for later use and over time it is often overwritten with new data so the files do not get too large; they bulk up very quickly especially on high-traffic websites.

How Can Logfiles Help Improve Your Website?
Now that you know what data is collected it is time to explain, in general terms, how this data can be used to help your website. There is a wide variety of information that can be gleaned from a complete logfile such as:

  • How long visitors stay at your website or on a particular page.
  • What pages they visited.
  • Where visitors are viewing your website from geographically.
  • What keywords were used to visit your website and which search engines were driving the highest volume and/or quality traffic.
  • Which pages had the highest or least traffic.
  • The average time a visitor stays at your website: often a great indication of the ‘stickiness’ of your website.
  • You can determine the effectiveness of your pay-per-click campaign by tracking visitors specifically delivered from the campaign.
  • Identify potential pay-per-click fraud using tools like ClickTracks Professional that has a click fraud reporting tool.
  • and much more…

So What’s the Issue?
Many hosting company’s are smart enough to include a basic web analytics program with every account. These programs are decent for anyone who wants to simply find out the traffic to their website and a myriad of other basic stats. However, there is often a pitfall to these basic programs. You see in order to save on computer performance the hosting company usually sets their servers to collect only the minimal data these basic systems require. As a result, more complex logfile-based analytics programs may find themselves starved of the data they need to operate fully. This is where my clients have found themselves before; they have sub-par logfiles and are forced to try and convince their hosting company to change their data collection methods to meet more advanced standards.

If you have no interest in website analytics you may find this whole scenario to be a non-issue. I completely understand, however, put yourself a year or even a month down the road when your website is taking off and you need to know more about the visitors to your website. You just might find yourself in this same frustrating scenario and it will seem absolutely insane how hard you have to push to get this data properly collected. Unfortunately, unless you are leasing your own private (dedicated) server from the hosting company they tend to set up their shared servers with only the basic needs of the majority in mind. As a result, the only way to force change is if more customers consider it a basic need – thus the reason for this article. Help me affect change so that you save yourself a headache in the future!

How to Be Sure Your Server is Collecting the Right Information
Most of you cannot check your logfiles for completeness with an analytics program so you will have to trust your server administrators to do their due diligence based on the following question.

Note: If you like you can just copy and paste the following question (noted in red) and send it to your hosting company support staff:

Hello,

I would like to make sure my website’s logfiles have the necessary information to run a higher end web analytics program. Is your server set up to collect the data on my website? I need this data to properly analyze the traffic on my website.

  • Date and Time
  • Client IP Address
  • HTTP Method
  • Requested file and Query string
  • User Agent
  • Referrer
  • Status code
  • Cookie (preferable, but not required)

If you are unsure of the answer or you need to set this up then please review the settings that need to be enabled on Apache servers or Microsoft Internet Information Servers; these pages include instructions if you need them.

Sincerely,
<>


My Hosting Company Disregarded This as Nonsense

I fully expect some will and that is because many website owners still care little or nothing about web site statistics so they have not even used the basic data to its fullest yet – and hosting company’s are aware of this. In fact, a good friend who owns a hosting company himself guessed around 95% of his website clients never even look at their stats. This is all true, however, does that mean that important data should not be collected for those who do want to delve deeper into analytics? I don’t believe so and the changes you are requesting will only increase the size of the logfiles for your website a small amount. Unless of course you don’t even have logfiles which is enough for me to recommend you take your services elsewhere.

Why Not Use Google Analytics Instead?
Google Analytics is an awesome solution for many small businesses. It does not require logfiles and it takes a marginal amount of work to begin acquiring proper data. In fact, I think it is a great tool for the majority of businesses that want to wade into a mid range analytics solution providing you are comfortable with Google having access to your stats. That said, there is one MAJOR flaw in using Google Analytics… it does not have reliable click fraud reporting. You see many of my clients use ClickTracks to monitor their pay per click campaign for click fraud which is not something I would ever trust Google to police itself on. That does not mean I do not use Google Analytics. In fact, whenever possible I use both ClickTracks and Google Analytics in tandem for redundancy especially when certain capabilities such as cookie tracking are not available from a hosting provider – Google includes cookies by default.

In Summary
Many website owners have no idea what they will or will not need in the future to properly administrate their online marketing campaigns. This article discusses a simple adjustment to the accumulation of website logfiles that I strongly believe all competent hosting companies should implement in order to provide scalability for their clientele. The adjustment will provide the additional information that a competent analytics solution will need to provide accurate statistics.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
Celebrating 10 Years of Web Marketing Excellence
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Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Microsoft Purchases Multimap

In an effort to compete with Google Maps and Google Earth, and to capture the traffic of one of the UK’s most visited websites, Microsoft has purchased online mapping service Multimap for an undisclosed sum.

According to a press release issued by Multimap on Dec 12, “Multimap will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft as part of the Visual Earth and Search teams in the Online Services Group.”

“The addition of Multimap enhances Microsoft’s position as a leading provider of mapping and location platform services,” said Sharon Baylay, general manager of the Online Services Group at Microsoft. “This acquisition will play a significant role in the future growth of our search business and presents a huge opportunity to expand our platform business beyond the U.K. and globally. We are thrilled to welcome Multimap onboard.”

Multimap is among of the UK’s top 100 tech companies, and is one of the leading online mapping services. Their services include street-level maps, road maps, door-to-door travel directions, aerial photos, and links to location information and services.

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