Google Announces AdWords Enhancements – Real Time Quality Score Calcs and No More Minimum Bid

By Mike Churchill and Jim Gilbert

Google announced some upcoming AdWords changes that affect the way that they handle the Quality Score calculations. These changes have been made to improve the accuracy of the Quality Score calculations and to improve the usability of the AdWords accounts. They were announced on 21 August 2008, and will initially be rolled out to a few PPC customers for feedback, with the rollout to the full AdWords client base occurring over the next two months.

There are four enhancements announced:

Quality Score Timeliness

Google will now be calculating the Quality Score for your ad each time it matches a search query. In the past, the Quality Score was only recalculated periodically, which could cause some lag in the improvement to Quality Score once the problems were corrected. By calculating the Quality Score “on-the-fly” your ads will be more likely to display when relevant (and less likely to display when not).

“Minimum Bid” to be Retired (but not really)

The Minimum Bid calculation was added to Google AdWords about three years ago (July 2005), and has been the bane of many PPC advertisers. We believe that the Minimum Bid calculation was a work-saving measure that allowed Google to limit the number of phrases to be considered for a particular search query and provide better speed-of-service to the searcher. As a result, though, many phases would be turned off, and an inattentive PPC manager could be caught unawares. Users of the Google API and the offline AdWords Editor will still see the Minimum Bid field until these tools are updated, so while they no longer show in the Google GUI, they are still being calculated (based on the new Quality Score calculations).

As a part of the real-time Quality Score improvements, in the GUI, the Minimum Bid metric is being replaced with….
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I’m A Social Media Goody 2 Shoes … And Proud Of It

By Liana “Li” Evans

Goody Two Shoes Comic by Flickr User ebbourg So yet another controversy when it comes to social media. I woke up to a plether of IM’s, Private Tweets and emails, to find out I’m a “Goody2Shoes”. I guess I could be upset, but I’m not. It’s par for the course in the world of Search these days. I could lash out at SEOMoz, because as many have pointed out, they let a post go to their own blog that attacks competitors (It has now been edited, but point being they originally let it out with the rather rude attacks on Matt Cutts, Lisa Barone and myself). I’ll let all those comments on the post speak for themselves. I’m sad that SEOMoz chose the path of inciting drama and discourse, but in the end that’s Rand’s business decision where to take his business, not mine. The drama gets the site links, and traffic, and I guess that trumps everything.

As for what Marty wrote about both Lisa Barone and myself and choosing to post it on SEMoz rather than taking ownership for it on his own blog, I can only guess he really needed the larger audience for the message he wanted to convey. I read Marty’s apology, “Lii and Lisa are pillars in this community…”, while I’d like to think it’s genuine, I was on the panel in Toronto, where I heard his example of vanity baiting in his presentation, I can’t help to think and question that this might another example of it.

As for my stance, I also guess when you take a position that fake profiles on StumbleUpon, and adding lots “fake” friends to make yourself look more popular, is not a sound strategy for entering the social media space, undoubtedly you’ll get flack, from those who find no flaws with this strategy. It happens, we all have different moral compasses, we all have different things that drive us to be what we perceive as a “great marketer”.

When I was taken aback by the tactics my co-panelists in Toronto presented and posted about it, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t off base. I asked a few people who just use social media without any knowledge of search or marketing what they thought of these tactics. The first person I asked as a 14 year old son of a friend who is an avid MySpace user. I asked him what he thought about adding all these famous people as friends, his reply was just one word “Lame“. I asked a friend I hang out at karaoke with the same question, her reply was “that’s just stupid, why would you friend them unless you liked them?

Next I asked a few people who I know use StumbleUpon for pure enjoyment, they have no marketing background, what they thought about people building fake “avatars”, or “fictitious profiles” on the service (btw, that’s a blatant violation of StumbleUpon’s TOS). My one friend from the EU said, “isn’t that illegal here?” (only illegal in the UK, sorry to say), another said “people do that? why in the world do they do that, that’s just crazy, and wrong, can’t they be honest?

Now if everyday people (not marketers) are saying this about these strategies, why would I advise my clients to implement those strategies? I wouldn’t and I wouldn’t promote doing this in a session at a major online marketing conference. I don’t see how creating fake profiles (or avatars) gains anyone any kind of ground in the end, when you are found out to be a fraud, all trust is lost.

What’s wrong with being honest? Really now, what’s wrong with starting a conversation, and honest one with real brand representatives, not one greeted immediately by fake/automated avatars that want to be my friend?

The only reason I can understand why SEO’s seem so fascinated with “gaming” social media by creating fake avatars and adding all these “non-friends” is for power and links. That’s really not what social media is about, not to the people inside the communities – only to SEO’s does this seem to matter.

If advocating that in social media, marketers be real, engage honestly in conversations with an audience or their customer, is deemed as “Goody 2 Shoes”, well I’ll gladly, and proudly wear that badge.

*****

Now, I don’t know about you, but all this reference to Goody 2 Shoes, I really can’t get Adam Ant’s 80’s tune out of my head. :)

Photo/Comic Credit: ebbourg

Matt McGee Joins Our KeyRelevance Team

By Li Evans

Matt McGeeWe’ve got some exciting news here at the SEMClubhouse. Another great SEO mind has joined not just the clubhouse, but the KeyRelevance staff as well.

Matt McGee of the Small Business Search Marketing Blog, joined our team yesterday!

With companies needing to stretch their marketing dollars, adding Matt McGee, who specializes in working with clients to maximize the return on their online marketing investment, was a great expansion to the KeyRelevance team.

“Google’s Universal Search changed the rules of online marketing,” said Christine Churchill, President and CEO of KeyRelevance. “Search engine optimization still rules, but now it’s the tip of the iceberg of what we need to provide to clients. Online marketing now encompasses not only SEO and Pay Per Click, but blog and video optimization, local and mobile search, social media marketing, and much more. Matt’s specialized knowledge in these areas makes him a valuable addition to our already robust team.”

KeyRelevance’s online team includes well-known SEOs Bill Slawski (SEO By The Sea), Li Evans (Search Marketing Gurus), Jim Gilbert, and now Matt McGee.

“In addition to being a first class SEO, Matt is one of the most positive people I’ve ever known,” added Churchill. “He infuses the element of fun into the workplace.”

A seasoned marketer, Matt has been online since 1994. Matt is a regular speaker at major search industry conferences including Search Engine Strategies, Search Marketing Expo, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also a columnist at Search Engine Land. In his spare time, Matt runs the Small Business Search Marketing blog and one of the oldest and largest independent U2 sites on the Internet at @U2.com.

“KeyRelevance is one of the most respected companies in the search marketing industry, and it’s an honor to join a team with such impeccable credentials. I’ve known Christine, Li, and Bill for years as friends and peers. I’m excited to join them and the rest of the KeyRelevance crew,” says McGee.

SES Toronto – Combine Professional Development with Family Fun

by Christine Churchill

Toronto CN TowerIf you’re looking for inspiration for a summer trip that combines professional development, culture, and natural beauty, here’s a suggestion: combine professional training with a family vacation. Treat yourself to the high powered Search Engine Strategies Toronto Conference and instead of flying straight home, bring the family and explore Toronto and Canada.

SES Toronto is scheduled for June 16-18.  The first day is a full day of training consisting of  four-hour blocks of personalized instruction given by some of the top experts in the country.  Toronto’s training sessions include Link Building taught by the Link Goddess herself, Debra Mastaler, SEO Tools taught by the creative and fun loving Todd Malicoat, Search Engine Marketing Metrics and Myths taught by ex-Googler Adam Goldberg, and Social Media Marketing taught by KeyRelevance’s own social media dynamo, Liana Evans.

June 17 and 18 are the actual conference dates. I was pleased to see my dear friends Fredrick Marckini and Bryan Eisenberg giving the keynotes. When you walk out of their keynotes, your mind will be going a hundred miles an hour, filled with a fresh perspective and stimulating ideas.

Alan K’necht, President of K’nechtology and I are teaming up on the second day of the conference to do the Keyword Research session. Alan and I have spoken together on panels in the past and he is one of my favorite people. Alan doesn’t hold back on his advice. He is one of the most open and forthright people in the industry. I’m excited about our session and our goal is that after our presentations you will have an arsenal of keyword research techniques at your disposal.

Plan a few extra days to explore Toronto and Canada. Toronto is an exceptional Canadian city, and you would be well served to take advantage of the opportunity to get to know it better. The CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Harbourfront on Lake Ontario offer something for every member of the family. Hope to see you there.

A Chat with Analytics Guru Jim Sterne

By Christine Churchill

SES London 2008 is nearly upon us. Looking over the agenda and speaker list I was happy to see Analytics expert and all around good guy Jim Sterne. I’ve known Jim for a couple of years and I continue to be in awe of the man.

Jim Sterne PictureJim is a prolific author of books and articles, a famed speaker, and the producer of the eMetrics Summit Conferences. Energetic and engaged in life, Jim runs Target Marketing and is the Founding President and current Chairman of the Web Analytics Association, a wonderful organization of which KeyRelevance is a proud Premiere Corporate Member.

Jim and I will both be in London next week speaking at SES London. Jim is legendary on stage and I’ve heard other speakers playfully call him the PowerPoint King. He’s one of those rare people you occassionally meet in life who exude positive energy and great ideas. I caught up with Jim the other day and asked him a few questions.

Christine: Most of us running online businesses are going in many directions and have to prioritize where we spend our time. Here’s a question for all those harried business owners who are trying to make every minute count. If I only had 15 minutes a day to spend on analytics, where should I spend my time?

Jim: That would depend on my goals. If my obsession for the day were in conversions, then I would spend my time looking over the persuasion path to see where I could improve the visitor interaction. If my goal was to sell more advertising, I would be measuring what makes people look at more pages so I can display more ads. If my goal is to bring in more qualified leads, I would watch how well my advertising money is being spent – where are people coming from and are they the sort of people I’m after?

Christine: Now here’s a related question. When evaluating a new site, what’s the first measurement you would look at?

Jim: It completely depends on the goals of the website. The first thing would be to get the basic numbers, just as a benchmark. How many visitors? How many events (what we used to call pageviews) per visit? How often do they come back? That way, we have something we can compare with tomorrow’s numbers.

Christine: Since both of us will be in London next week, let me as a question related to analytics and geography. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are important measurements that companies track. Do you see any regional or national differences in KPIs?

Jim: None at all. KPI’s are particular to industries and website types. Even the ability to track those KPI’s is the same. There are very smart companies in every corner of the globe and some of the most advanced places harbor the least capable companies.

Christine: That is excellent news for businesses with global aspirations and your answer makes perfect sense. Jim, you are well known for your clear thinking and forward looking approach to life. Where do you see Analytics heading?

Jim: Given enough traffic for statistical significance, I think we can use the activity on a website to measure the impact of all our marketing. The web is so much a part of daily life now that an ad in the newspaper, an ad on the radio and a direct mail postcard will all have an effect on the behavior on the website. Capture that activity, sift through it and the impact of your marketing spend will be revealed. We’re not there yet, but it’s right around the corner.

Christine: In the good old days of the web, the “hit” was the unit of visitor interaction, at least until we figured out that it was a lousy metric. Then, the “impression”or “page view” became the standard. Now along comes Web 2.0 sites with their richer, more interactive mode of interfacing with a visitor. Google Maps, for example, may occupy a visitor for several minutes, without the URL on the Address line changing. When a visit can no longer be accurately be measured in “impressions” how do we properly quantify web site traffic?

Jim: While those better and brighter than me are working on measuring “engagement”, I am happy to break down a visit to a website into “actions”. Searching for an address is an action. Scrolling the map is an action. Zooming in on a location is an action. Commenting on a blog is an action. These actions add up and spell out the flow of individual activity and quite readily replace the pageview as a means of understanding behavior.

Christine: The search engines are offering analytics tools as a part of their offerings. I’m frequently asked this question by students and clients who invest heavily into online paid advertising. From a web advertiser’s perspective, is there any danger in letting the search engines have such a detailed view of a company’s conversions, revenue, and other business metrics?

Jim: One first has to assume that your website is interesting enough and the data about your website is valuable enough to put a $166.2 billion enterprise at risk.

Christine: Jet lag or bad food? What’s the worst part about travel?

Jim: The worst part about travel is yet to come: when they allow mobile phone on airplanes.

Christine (laughing): Thanks much Jim. I’ll see you in London!

Jim: Looking forward to it!

Ninja Power Training – Key Relevance Style

By Christine Churchill

Last Spring, my friend Jim Boykin of WeBuildPages contacted me about participating in a new training program he was developing. Jim’s goal was to create a training package with help from some of the best minds in the industry. It sounded like an intriguing endeavor. Shortly after, Jim interviewed and videotaped top experts in the industry – three of whom are now with KeyRelevance – myself (Christine Churchill), Jim Gilbert, and our in-house search engine patent guru Bill Slawski.

In our videos, Jim Gilbert and I present a combination of formal Pay Per Click training and Q&A, where we provide practical advice to people or companies who want to do paid search more successfully. My goal in the putting the training material together was to have actionable information that you can go out and use today. It’s the kind of information that I wish someone had told me when I was starting out in PPC. The advice presented in the videos should help both beginners and experienced marketers get better returns on their paid search dollars.

If your interest in on organic search, you’ll love Bill Slawski’s videos. If you’re a regular at Bill’s blog, SEOByTheSea, then you know that Bill is probably one of the smartest guys in search and I can tell you from working with him on a daily basis, he is also one of the nicest. Bill has a knack for taking complicated subjects like search engine patents and explaining them in layman’s English so the rest of the world can understand. It’s a true gift. I guarantee you’ll learn a lot about the inner workings of search engines by listening to Bill speak. His advice and clear explanations will expand your understanding about search engine optimization. There are actually four videos with Bill, making up nearly two hours of solid SEO advice from one of the most knowledgeable guys in the industry. If you want to expand your education about search engines and organic rankings, Bill’s videos are perfect. Check out the SEO Traiining Videos today.

Jim Boykin sweetened the Ninja training deal by throwing in his incredible array of SEO tools. These tools provide you an amazing amount of SEO and link information on your site and your competitors. The tools save you a lot of time from pulling the data manually and free you up to make better marketing decisions.

In addition to the video interviews with Jim Gilbert, Bill Slawski, and myself, Jim Boykin gathered an A-list of search marketers including such notables as Aaron Wall (SEOBook), Andy Beal (Marketing Pilgrim), Cameron Olthuis, Neil Patel (ACS), Jeremy Schoemaker (ShoeMoney), Jill Whalen (HighRankings), Jim Boykin (We Build Pages), Lee Odden (TopRank), Todd Malicoat (Stuntdubl), and others!

The price for the training package is $2995. That is a chunk of change, but when you consider what you get, the price is reasonable, especially since many of the experts on the tape charge $300-$600 an hour for consulting. When you join Internet Marketing Ninjas, you get access to the private SEO tools, plus over 15 hours of “tell-all” videos by some of the sharpest people in the industry. Get the details on Internet Ninja SEO Training here.

Congratulations to Bill Slawski for Best Search Engine Research Blog of 2007!

By Christine Churchill

Search Engine Blog AwardI am honored to announce that SEO By The Sea was named Best Search Engine Research Blog of 2007 by Search Engine Journal. KeyRelevance’s own Director of Internet Marketing, Bill Slawski, is the man behind the blog.

Search Engine Journal announced the results of the contest today and described the blog in this way:

“Bill Slawski’s endless research on search engine patent filings has unearthed some intriguing plans by all of the search companies and brought reason to projects like Google Universal, Personalized Search or Yahoo Paid Inclusion.

Instead of being reactive to the changes in search, Bill’s patent filing coverage helps us become more proactive, analyzing the trends which may happen, and preparing for them. Thank you Bill for all of your hard work, and to all of the nominees in this category.”

Congratulations Bill. We know you’ve earned it.

Musings On PubCon 2007 – Las Vegas NV

By Christine Churchill

This year’s PubCon was the biggest to date with five different tracks going on simultaneously. The tracks included Social Media, Linking and WebMasterWorld, SEO:Organic Search, SEM: Search Marketing, and the Advertising Track. The traditional networking pub crawl started on the Friday after the show.

Domainers Round Table

I spoke and/or moderated on four different panels. One of the sessions I moderated that didn’t get a lot of press, but should have, was the Domainers Round Table. Panelists Jeff Libert, Moniker’s Victor Pitts and Dale Porter from TheNameStore.com lead an open discussion on domain related issues. Victor Pitts provided an overview presentation on the world of domains.

Domain Round Table Session at PubCon 2007

In the first picture you can see myself, Victor Pitts and Dale Porter. Photo credit for these first two pictures goes to my long time friend Andy Beal of MarketingPilgrim.com. In addition to being a great photographer, Andy is one of the smartest and kindest guys in the industry.

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2007 Business.com B2B Search Marketing Strategy White Paper Released

By Christine Churchill

Business.com LogoI heard from Ben Hanna, VP of Marketing at Business.com that the 2007 Business.com B2B search marketing strategy survey is officially released.

I read through the document this morning and was impressed. Its more than a survey of opinions. Not only does the paper provide a comprehensive list of companies who provide B2B marketing services, but it provides tips from experts for optimizing B2B paid and organic search marketing campaigns. Wow, a survey with meat. What a novel concept. Definitely worth a read.

Download your free pdf version of the 2007 Business.com B2B search marketing strategy survey today.

SMX Local and Mobile Show Oct 1 and 2

By Christine Churchill

The time for Local and Mobile search is FINALLY here. I know we’ve heard that every year, but look around next time you walk through an airport. Notice how many folks are using mobile phones for more than just calling mom? These handy devices have worked their way into our daily business routines and this trend is only going to grow. If you want to learn the ins and out of Local and Mobile search join me and others at the SMX Local & Mobile show in Denver, Oct. 1 & 2, 2007.

If you’re on the fence about going, here’s a little extra incentive – a special speaker’s friend discount. Just use the code SMX20OffLM when you register and you’ll get 20% off the regular price. 😉

I would love to talk with any of you at the show. In fact one of the benefits of these smaller vertical shows is you do get more time and opportunity to speak directly with the experts.

I’ll be speaking on the Tracking Clicks and Calls to Conversion session, specifically I’ll be talking about ways to capture offline sales. Many companies such as ones with complicated buying processes prefer to steer potential customers to a phone number rather than an online form. Often for these type companies the power of the voice is better than having the customer struggle through a series of online questions.

In my session I’ll be discussing methods to capture these offline sales that are congruent with the company’s budget and tech resources. Offline conversions used to be the missing puzzle piece, but now there are a variety of methods to capture this data.

I’ll be joined on the panel with Cid Jenkins form eStara, Michael Murray from AOL, and Cam Balzer from DoubleClickPerformics. Knowing these guys and their high level of expertise, I can tell you this should be a very informative panel.

Here are the details on the show:


Attend SMX Local &
Mobile!

October 1-2, Denver


SMX Local & Mobile - Denver, October 1st & 2nd, 2007

Produced by
the Search Engine Land editorial team, Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Local & Mobile covers the latest tips and techniques for local search. It’s the only event 100 percent focused on the significant opportunity that the local and mobile space offers to search marketers.

See the Agenda.

Check out the Networking page.

Register today!