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Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Keyword Research for PPC

Introduction
Back in July I wrote about keyword research for SEO. Although researching keywords for SEO is similar to that for PPC there still are many core differences.

In many cases using the generic targets with high searches can be very costly in the world of PPC. While they can offer a good return, often long tailed, very specific phrases can offer more qualified traffic at a lower price. Read more…

On Tuesday Sept 4th Yahoo announced an agreement to acquire BlueLithium which is one of the few remaining top Internet ad agencies. The $300 million move will increase the technical capabilities and reach of Yahoo’s global ad network by adding BlueLithium’s impressive toolset for data analytics and its significant advertising inventory.

Just how big is BlueLithium’s network? Quoting Yahoo’s press release: “According to comScore Media Metrix, BlueLithium is the fifth largest ad network in the US and second largest in the UK with 145 million unique visitors each month.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.

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Friday, August 31st, 2007

Black Hat Style PPC Techniques

The Fantomaster (a fabled SEO black hat guru) really caught my attention today by noting an article on Search Engine Watch that he admired! In case you don’t know when Fantomaster admires an article you can be relatively certain the article is worth a read. Written for Search Engine Watch by Rob Kerry the article titled “Playing Dirty with PPC” lays out the steps to get around the editorial controls on the major pay per click search engines.

Here are the interesting but somewhat chilling techniques that Rob outlines in his article:

  • How to sneak in advertisements that under normal circumstances would never make it past editorial control.
  • How to steal ALL of the top 10 pay per click positions.
  • How to get your competitor’s campaign dropped in a single, swift move.

Here is the complete article to read if you are interested. Of course I don’t advise ever utilizing the tactics that Rob outlines; however, I believe it is worthwhile understanding the morally challenged tactics that competitors could use against you.

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Friday, July 20th, 2007

Yahoo Invests in Tyroo Media

According to InfoWorld, Yahoo announced Wednesday that it has purchased a 35 percent stake in Tyroo Media, an India based PPC internet advertising company which places ads on a network of around 1200 websites.

“Yahoo India has bought more than 35 but less than 50 percent stake in Tyroo for a significant amount and the tie up would help us cater to our international clients who want to advertise in India,” Yahoo India Managing Director George Zacharias told reporters.”

India offers a huge marketplace and its online presence is growing rapidly. It only makes sense for Yahoo to further tap into this market.

“Yahoo started its search-based advertising business in India about eight months ago and so far has a few thousand small advertisers, Zacharias said. There are millions of potential advertisers in India, which all the search companies and advertising networks are chasing, he added.”

While remaining independent, Tyroo and Yahoo will open up their back end systems so that advertisers will have access both networks.

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Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Yahoo's Quality Based Pricing

The new quality based pricing system being rolled out by Yahoo will allow advertisers to enjoy reduced click charges based on ad relevance and quality.

Yahoo announced in a mass mail out yesterday the launch of Quality Based Pricing. Discounts will be automatically applied to an advertisers account based on conversion rates and other measures. The roll out of the system has already begun as of yesterday.

There is nothing you need to do to receive this discount, simply continue creating quality relevant ads for your campaign, and assuming the quality is high enough you will start to see some reduced costs.

For more information visit the Yahoo Search Marketing Help page for Quality Based Pricing.

If you are currently using long descriptions for your Yahoo Ads, be warned that effective this June, the short description option will be the only way to go.

Until end of day today, advertisers have had two options for ad copy; short descriptions utilizing a 70 character limit, and long descriptions providing up to 190 characters. As of June 2007, long descriptions will be eliminated, and those who are unprepared will see their ad copy truncated with an ellipsis. Read more…

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Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Panama Launches in Europe

The US and Canada have had access to the new Panama platform for some time and now advertisers in Europe are able to use the new version, just launched this week.

There have been many comments on the new system on both the positive and negative side of things, but hopefully most of the initial issues that plagued US users have been corrected in time for this launch.

When it first launched in North America, Panama caused chaos for some advertisers when the transition saw ad campaigns completely shuffled about. Some key phrases were lost, where others were moved into different groups and some groups disappeared entirely. While not everyone had issues with the account switch, there was plenty to be said in the forums regarding the changeover. (see “Yahoo Panama Pros and Cons, and Part 2“)

Hopefully Europe will see a smoother transition into the new system with the correction of some of the known bugs. Currently, Google has approximately 70-80% market share for search in Europe.

An AdWords Exploit has been put to rest recently by Google after scammers running “smarttrack.org” attempted to capture users banking details and other private information.

At Inside Adwords, the official AdWords Blog, a post was noted late last month regarding the problem. Read more…

At the 2007 SES New York, Google’s Shuman Ghosemajumder responds to the question: (abbreviated) “How is it possible for Google to identify click fraud when an aggressor utilizes rotating proxies?”. Shuman responds by discussing the Clickbot A botnet case and how Google deciphered the click fraud in that situation. This video was taken during the “Auditing Paid Listings and Click Fraud Issues” seminar that took place on April 12, 2007.

This video is courtesy of the StepForth SEO Blog. Video taken by Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth SEO Services. Special thanks to Matt McGowan of Incisive Media for allowing StepForth to record this footage.

After publishing last week’s article on “Yahoo Panama – Pros and Cons” I have had a few readers contact me with notable “Cons” they have experienced with the recent upgrade process. While I know I had not covered all possible negatives to Panama in my article, these items are certainly worth adding to the list.

Keyword specific URL’s

Michael wrote noting that you can’t easily manage unique URL’s per keyword. This is absolutely correct. While the ability to specify a unique URL on a per keyword basis does exist, it would be quite a hassle to apply this to any large campaign.

Google has a very straight forward system for unique URL’s. You can bring up a list of all the keywords along with a nice simple field to enter the URL’s, hit submit, and they are all done. With Yahoo, you must do this on a one-at-a-time type routine.

To have unique URL’s per keyword in Yahoo here are the steps you will need to take (starting from your “Dashboard”):

  1. Click on the Campaign Name
  2. Click on the AdGroup
  3. Click on the specific keyword
  4. This will bring you to a page with specific stats on that keyword including a chart. At this step, click the edit link near the top of the page beside “Custom URL”
  5. In the pop up window enter the URL for the keyword and click submit.

After these steps have been entered, you will have to wait for an editorial review before the new URL will be put to use.

While the feature is available, the process is very cumbersome. This is certainly a ‘Con’ that needs to be added to the list. Perhaps the ‘con’ should be changed to include all the changes that require far more steps than are really necessary, after all, there are quite a few of them. This seems to be a common issue with much of Yahoo Panama and I anticipate these types of things will be much more streamlined in the future.

Brand Awareness Just Got More Expensive

The following comment was posted to our blog by ‘Paul’:

“On the CON list, you overlooked the adverse affect to brand advertisers who want to promote something unrelated to the search to create some buzz, awareness, or association with their brand (i.e. Jeep bidding on terms like “beetle” or “bug” to coincide with their ad campaign). The quality score, while beneficial to most, means those advertisers have to spend more to appear prominently where their ad is not relevant.”

I have to say I both agree and disagree with this. First, yes, this is certainly a big ‘con’ for any advertiser that fits into this category, no question about it. This has also been a reality for AdWords advertisers for some time now, and it makes sense that Yahoo would follow suit. If you want to bid on seemingly irrelevant phrases and have your ad appear, things just got much, much, more expensive for you. That said this is also a ‘pro’ in terms of relevant topical advertisements.

By having irrelevant ads essentially cost more, it can have the reverse impact on relevant ads. By driving irrelevant ads lower in the results, it will in a sense create less competition for relevant ads making the top ranking spots less expensive. Under the new algorithm Volkswagen could secure the rank for “beetle” at a lower cost than Jeep, and would have the potential to outrank Jeep regardless of bid strictly due to relevance.

From the perspective of advertisers trying to build awareness by bidding on popular, yet irrelevant terms, this is certainly a ‘con’, but from the perspective of the majority of advertisers, I would have to slide this over to the ‘pro’ category.

Note: I also want to say that for these purposes “irrelevant” refers to a key phrase not directly related to the destination URL. I do understand that while on the surface, a phrase may appear irrelevant, however, when considering target demographics, may make considerable sense.

Yahoo Not Prepared for the Upgrading of Very Large Accounts

I had an interesting letter from a Yahoo advertiser who had very big problems with the new Yahoo Upgrade.

With an annual advertising budget on Yahoo of between $150,000 and $250,000, he found the upgrade to be a complete nightmare.

Under the old system he was running hundreds of ads using thousands of keywords. Many of the keywords were geographic in nature very specific to the ad copy and categories being used. After the upgrade was complete, the account was a complete and total disaster. “Thousands of keywords and ads had been jumbled into completely nonsensical categories, all created by Yahoo.”

Not only were the keywords moved into inappropriate groups, but much of his ad language had also been altered. He estimated that this colossal rat’s nest it would take upwards of 80 hours to correct. As a result he did what any level headed advertiser would do, and called Yahoo.

While Yahoo certainly felt sorry for him and could sympathize, they did nothing to help solve the problem. Yahoo simply suggested that he do all the footwork himself to bring things back in order. For an advertiser with a monthly spend in excess of $15,000, he felt this was plenty of money for Yahoo to assign someone to sort this out for him. I for one agree completely.

After he started the process of re-organizing from scratch, ads which were previously approved were suddenly being disapproved. He called Yahoo again. After being passed off from one agent to another finally he reached someone who told him the ads were in fact running (which they were not), and that no one could tell him what the problem was other than it being a “computer glitch.”

Ultimately, to make a long story short, Yahoo has lost one good and high spending advertiser.

Panama Browser and Validation Issues

Susan wrote in with a few ‘cons’ that may cause smaller scale problems for some advertisers, but problems never the less.

The first is with browser compatibility. Now I don’t use any of these so I will have to take her word for it, but apparently Panama has some functionality issues when accessed using Safari, some older browsers, and is not at all compatible with Mac classic browsers.

She also noted that some of the problems with Panama and access via older browsers is due to the html itself. A W3C Validation check of the new sign in page shows items that are a miss, the most obvious being a lack of declaration of the doctype. While this is an issue common with an incredible number of websites out there, I am surprised to see it with a company such as Yahoo.
After signing on and noticing errors, Susan went on to check her browser error logs and found the following:

https://login22.marketingsolutions.yahoo.com/adui/
signin/loadSignin.do?signt=true
HTML error (5/16): The DOCTYPE declaration is missing.
HTML error (231/12): Illegal character ³/² in tag.
HTML error (237/25): Illegal character ³/² in tag.
HTML error (243/146): Illegal character ³/² in tag.
HTML error (249/73): Illegal character ³/² in tag.
HTML error (323/11): Illegal character ³/² in tag.
HTML error (345/15): Illegal character ³/² in tag.
HTML error (352/16): Illegal character ³/² in tag.

https://login22.marketingsolutions.yahoo.com/adui/

CSS Error (49/135): Unknown CSS property ³zoom².
CSS Error (79/77): Unknown CSS property ³zoom².
CSS Error (105/9): Unknown CSS property ³opacity².
CSS Error (114/9): Unknown CSS property ³opacity².

The server’s certificate chain is incomplete and the signers are not registered

“The certificate on the server has expired”

A script on this page failed to execute. This may keep this page from functioning properly.Statement on line 11632: Expression did not evaluate to a function object:0.addevevtlistner

Now I have to be honest – this goes beyond my level of expertise, however, it is still surprising to me for a site with such a large budget, name, and many months of testing. I would personally expect issues such as these to have been dealt with prior to launch. Perhaps solving these items will allow a wider array of browsers to function properly with Panama.

I am very curious to hear more comments on the new Yahoo Panama. Not only would I love to hear specific ‘cons’, I would also like to hear the ‘pros’. While I do not argue that this new system is certainly with its flaws, I see it overall, as being a positive step. What are your opinions? Please email them to me at scott@stepforth.com. I would love to write another article on the many positive experiences encountered by our readers; after all, there are two sides to every story.

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