Domain Moving Day the Key Relevance Way

Domain Moving Day the Key Relevance Way

So, you’re gonna change hosting providers. In many cases, moving the content of the site is as easy as zipping up the content and unzipping it on the new server. There is another aspect of moving the domain that many people over look: DNS.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the translation service that converts your domain name (e.g. keyrelevance.com) to the corresponding IP address. When you move hosting companies, it’s like changing houses, if you don’t set up the Change of Address information correctly, you might have some visitors going to the old address for a while. Proper handling of the changes to DNS records makes this transition time as short as possible.

Let’s assume that you are changing hosting, and the new hosting company is going to start handling the Authoritative DNS for the domain. The first step is to configure the new hosting company as the authority. This should best be done a couple or more days before the site moves to the new location.

What does “Authoritative DNS” mean?
There are a double-handful of servers (known as the Root DNS servers) whose purpose is to keep track of who is keeping track of the IP addresses for a domain. Rather than them handling EVERY DNS request, they only keep track of who is the authoritative publisher of the DNS information for each domain. In other words, they don’t know your address, but they tell you who does know it.

If we tell the Root level DNS servers that the authority is changing, this information may take up to 48 hours to propagate throughout the internet. By changing the authority without changing the IP addresses, then while visiting browsers are making requests during this transition, both the old authority and the new authority will agree on the address (so no traffic gets forwarded before you move).

Shortening the Transition
The authoritative DNS servers want to minimize their load, so every time they send out an answer to a request address for a given domain, they put an expiration date on it. This is called the “Time To Live”, or TTL. By default, most DNS servers set the domain TTL to 14,400 86,400 seconds, which equals 1 day (thanks Andrew). Thus, when a visitor requests the address of the authoritative DNS, it returns the IP address and says “and don’t bother asking again for 24 hours.” This can cause problems during the actual transition, since the old address might continue to be accessed for a whole day after the address has changed.

The Day Before the Move
Since the new hosting company is the authority, they can shorten the TTL to a much shorter value. We recommend that 15 minutes (900 seconds) is a good compromise TTL value during the transition time.

Moving Day
When you are ready to make the switch, have the new DNS servers change the IP information to the new address(es). Since the TTL was set to 15 minutes, very quickly the other DNS servers on the ‘net will be asking for the IP address of the domain. They will be provided with this info, and the switchover will happen much more quickly than if the authority had not changed. Once the new site is live and you have verified nothing is horribly wrong, you can change the TTL on the new DNS servers back to 1 day. If on the other hand, something IS wrong with the new site, you can change the DNS back to the old IP address and within 15 minutes most if not all traffic should be back to the old servers. We also recommend changing the old DNS info to point to the new IP address as a precaution, but if you follow these steps, most of the traffic should have already trasnsitioned to the new DNS servers.

A Bug in BIND
There is a bug in some versions of the BIND program (which executes the DNS translation). This bug will cause a DNS server to continue to ask the same authoritative DNS server for the info as long as he is willing to give it. To complete the transition cleanly, you need to turn the DNS records for the domain off in the old DNS servers. This will cause it to generate an error, which in turn will cause the requesting DNS server to ask the Root level servers for the new authority. Until you make this change, there is still a chance that some traffic will continue to visit the old domain.

Change of Address Forms
The USPS offers a Change of Address kit to help make moving your house easier. Below is the Key Relevance Change of Address Checklist that may make you site’s transition painless.

 

 

 

Key Relevance Domain Change of Address Checklist

2+ Days Pre-Move
Set up new DNS servers to serve up the OLD IP addresses

  • – handle old subdomains
  • – handle MX records

Once that is complete, Change Authoritative DNS records to point to new DNS servers.

1 Day before move
On new DNS servers, shorten TTL to 15 min (900 sec)

Moving Day
On New DNS Servers

  • – Change IP Addresses to new server
  • – Change TTL to 1 day (86,400 sec), or whatever the default TTL is once you are sure all is OK

On Old DNS Servers

  • – Change IP Addresses to new server to catch DNS stragglers

2 Days Post Move (or when convenient)

  • – Remove DNS records from OLD DNS servers (assuming they are still up)

Key Relevance Review of Google Automatic Match – Measuring the Cost of Skipping Keyword Research

by Jim Gilbert and Mike Churchill of Key Relevance

Automatic Match is Google’s new feature that allows AdWords managers to receive clicks in their PPC campaigns without the need to select specific keywords. According to Google:

 

Automatic matching

Automatic matching is an optional feature that helps your ads reach targeted traffic missed by your keyword lists. It works by analyzing the content of the landing pages, ads, and keywords in your ad group and shows your ads on search queries relevant to this information.

The automatic matching system continually monitors your ad performance and aims to show your ads only on queries that yield a comparable or better cost-per-click (CPC) than that of your current traffic. Automatic matching will only use your unspent budget and will never deliver more traffic than your budget allows for.

 

In two previous posts, Jim took a somewhat negative shot at Google’s “Automatic Match” feature, with little to go on but past experience with “new features”.

 

Well, we’re back and have the results of our real-life testing of this new feature.

After a fairly lengthy process of testing “Automatic Match”, we can now report these facts — Facts at the time of this writing, but Google can always change at any moment without warning or notice.

Facts:

  1. The following statement is still true, so be on the lookout for when Google rolls “Automatic Match” out to your account!
    Quote from an Official Google email dated 23May2008: “The feature will be enabled by default..” – see Automatic Match to be Default
  2. Automatic Match does not start spending immediately… once activated, it takes up to a couple weeks for it to learn what it thinks it should do. So, don’t get complacent if it does don’t start spending on Day One — KEEP TABS — it could take off like a rocket at any time.
  3. Google’s “Automatic Match” IS greedier than expanded broad match! See our original post at: More Greedy than Expanded Broad Match
  4. Still true (if you notice when it shows up): But there is GOOD news — you can OPT out!

    Look for this in your Campaign Settings:


  5. Automatic Match is especially invasive in adgroups that have relatively few keywords.
  6. You can “negate” bad impressions and clicks with negative keywords — if you keep very, very close tabs on them. We use the PPCProbe keyword tool to allow us real-time tracking of the search phrases.

NOW, some actual results:

The Scenario:
One adgroup with 1 PHRASE match keyword, residing in a campaign enabled for automatic match.

The Results:

  • Adgroup spend increased 600%! That’s right… 600%!

While the increase in spend in and of itself is not a bad thing (assuming that’s why we were using Automatic Match in the first place), there is a problem with ther results of our test: spending more money is a good thing only if it is bringing targeted traffic to the site. One of the shortcomings of using Automatic Match is that you don’t get to see the search terms that the searchers are using in the Campaign/AdGroups management screen. We used PPCProbe to allow us to gain the insight into the actual search terms that Automatic Match was matching to in real time.

  • 88% of all clicks were from “Automatic Match”. Only 12% were from the actual phrase match keyword. The CPC of the Automatic Match keywords was a little cheaper than the CPC of the actual phrase in the account, but…
  • The majority (4 out of 5) of “Automatic Match” clicks came from keywords I consider to be not relevant. As we shall see, this makes the Effective CPC much worse in our case.

We ran our test with a single phrase match term in the AdGroup: “wedding table decorations”. Of the clicks collected during our test, clicks for the phrases in the AdGroup broke down as follows:

 

Category Example Percentage of Clicks
Actual Phrase from AdGroup
(non-Auto Match – Very Relevant Hits)
“wedding table decorations” 11.9%
Automatic Match (Relevant Hits) “weddiing table decor”
“decorations for wedding tables”
“wedding cake table decorations”
“wedding table ideas”
7.5%
Automatic Match (Non-Relevant/Close Hits) “table settings”
“party table numbers”
“table numbers for weddings”
9.0%
Automatic Match (Non-Relevant Hits) Chocolate “Hersheys”
“chocolate wedding favors”
“chocolate lollipops”
10.4%
Automatic Match (Non-Relevant Hits) Flowers “wedding flowers”
“wedding florists”
“wedding lily flowers”
47.8%
Automatic Match (Non-Relevant Hits) Wedding Gowns “discount wedding gowns”
“discount wedding dresses”
3.0%
Other (Non-Relevant Hits)   10.4%

 

As result, if we consider the Actual Phrases, the Automatch Hits, and the Near Misses (to give the benefit of the doubt – it is just a computer making these KW decisions and we are being lazy by using Automatic Match in the first place), you can see that only 28.4% of the ad spend generated relevant traffic to the site. This effectively made the CPC of the KW buys in this AdGroup 3.5 times more expensive with Automatic Match turned on compared to manually selecting keywords because of the ad spend wasted on the mis-targeted Keyword clicks.

So, where are these mismatched keywords coming from? Are chocolates, flowers and wedding gowns featured on the landing page for the AdGroup? The short answer is “No”. The word “flower” is mentioned once in the plain text of the page, the words “hershey” and “chocolate” appear in the sidebar navigation that points to other pages of the site, and the words “gown” and “dress” are not on the page at all. None of these off-target keywords appeared in the AdWords Ad Copy or anywhere else in the AdGroup. A new AdGroup was created for this test, so no deleted words were previously in the AdGroup. From this we conclude that Automatic Match seems to be using a variation of the Expanded Broad Match algorithm.

Recommendations

  • Turn Automatic Matching off until you understand the ramifications of what it will do to your ad spend, traffic, and conversions.
  • If you should decide to use it, watch it closely, and track the actual phrases that are being used to drive traffic to the site.
  • Be prepared for nothing to happen on the Automatic Match lines of your AdGroups immediately – Automatic Match takes some time to “kick in”.
  • Compute an “effective CPC” [total $$ / (total clicks - off-target Automatch clicks)] for the AdGroup. Once you discount the off-target traffic you will be better able to determine the real cost of using Automatic Matching in your ad campaign.

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