Issues with Google Adwords Editor 10.0.0 and Enhanced Campaigns

Summary: Be aware that Google Adwords Editor 10.0.0 can mishandle SiteLink and other enhanced campaign information when moving from the desktop to your live account and vice versa.

Google has announced a significant change to Google Adwords in their new Enhanced Campaigns. Since migrating from standard campaigns to Enhanced Campaigns involves merging previously separated desktop and mobile campaigns, a lot of the pain can be mitigated by using the Google AdWords Editor (GAE) to move ads/keywords from one campaign to another.

Support for Enhanced Campaigns within Google AdWords Editor had to wait until Version 10.0 was released. The good news is that Version 10.0 was released on 28 Febuary 2013. The bad news is that it suffers from some growing pains. Here are two of the issues we have identified so far:

Moving Enhanced Campaigns started on the web interface

If you have already started the migration process through the web interface, and have taken advantage of the new SiteLinks at the AdGroup level feature, be aware that these AdGroup level SiteLinks may not import into Google AdWords Editor 10.0 correctly. In our tests, these SiteLinks were lost from the adgroup on import. Campaign level SiteLinks were also lost.

Posting SiteLinks are uploaded to the server, but not attached properly

When you post your SiteLinks in an enhanced campaign, they DO appear to get copied up to your account on the server, but with an issue: the SiteLinks are listed as a shared resource for the account but are NOT consistently being attached to the campaign/adgroup to which they were initially added.

What’s probably going on

I suspect that Google made a change as to how SiteLinks are handled internally. In standard campaigns, the SiteLinks are attached to each campaign. With an Enhanced Campaign, the SiteLinks are being treated as an account-level shared resource (like Remarketing Audiences), and the shared resource has to be attached to the appropriate campaign/adgroup. The transition process for this change of implementation is not being handled completely properly.

Conclusion

As with many software tools, using version 1.0 is often a little chancy. The 10.0.0 release is version 1.0 for Enhanced Campaigns. The good news is that Google is pretty responsive to these sorts of issues, and hopefully an update will be forthcoming.

Defensive tactics

In the interim, take it slow. Migrate one campaign at a time, and double check that this various components are being properly applied. Also, keep an eye out for version 10.0.1.

Google Position Preference is Dead…Long Live Position Preference

On April 4th, 2011, Google announced they are retiring the Position Preference Bidding option in May 2011. If you want to emulate the Position Preference option, you can set up two rules (per campaign, adgroup, or KW, depending on your needs) to control the bidding. The downside is that the bidding adjustments are done at most 1 time per day (but see below) and managing the rules in AdWords is a little clunky.

KeyRelevance’s Recommendations:

  1. Use CPA Bidding instead, if that is an option.
  2. Make small adjustments (e.g. 5-10%, $0.05 – $0.10)
  3. Make sure to set upper and lower limits to bound the changes that can be made Continue reading

SMX East 2008 – Great show, great people, great content

Great conferences don’t happen by accident. That said, the recent SMX East show rates as fabulous. Danny Sullivan, Chris Sherman and the rest of the ThirdDoorMedia folks did an incredible job of putting together a first class show. How they do it is an art form. First, they entice the best speakers in the industry to come and openly share their knowledge. (Looking over the list of speakers, I feel privileged and humbled that I’m even allowed to participate.) Then Danny and Chris develop a killer agenda that has broad audience appeal yet is balanced enough to offer something for everyone from the novice marketer to the advanced expert. Throw in sponsors and exhibitors to help finance the show and provide the attendees cool stuff like wireless connections (thanks Rand), tee shirts, and light-up promotional items that max out the geek meter. Lastly, you need a hard working staff to run the lights, music, microphones, registration, and all the other behind-the-scenes things that make the show the A+ event it was. Great job to all of you.
The week leading up to the show was tough on me personally. Employee and friend Li Evans unexpectedly lost her father. Another employee had to be rushed to the Emergency Room and spent the week in the hospital undergoing breathing treatments. If that wasn’t enough trauma, during the week, a close family friend succumbed to cancer after a long arduous struggle. While that death wasn’t a total surprise, I found myself emotionally drained. The world felt a little smaller and colder.
Arriving in NYC after such a week meant I really wasn’t in the mood for parties. I was craving quieter smaller exchanges with close friends. One positive thing about conferences is that it brings old friends together. Conference friends have a special place. They may not physically live near us but because we share time and adventures in locales far from our homes where we are without our usual support networks, there is a special bonding and closeness that occurs. I have conference friends who are like extended family to me. We take turns looking out for each other and we’ve cried on each other’s shoulders on more than one occasion.
This trip my dear friend Scottie Claiborne popped up to NYC to visit our group of friends and stayed with me. A few years ago Scottie had withdrawn from the conference limelight to focus more on kids and a balanced life. Within a few minutes of seeing Scottie my spirits were brighter. Scottie has that effect on me and most people she comes in contact with. It was great catching up with her.
One night during the conference a group of friends assembled in the hotel bar to celebrate Debra Mastaler’s birthday. It was comforting to be in the midst of friends and I was genuinely happy to see them. Debra is a popular lady in search and a dear long-time friend. Some of the many friends who stopped by to wish her well were Jill Whalen, Scottie Claiborne, Mike Grehan, Brad Neelan, Mona Eiesseily, Andrew Goodman, Stacy Williams, Li Evans, Kim Krause Berg and her charming husband Eric, Kevin Newcomb, Simon Heseltime, and many others.
I sat in on a number of sessions at the conference and was delighted with the content. It would be hard to choose which was my favorite this conference, so many were excellent. If I was forced to pick just one, I would have to say I enjoyed Gregory Markel’s presentation on video search engine optimization the best. I’ve known Greg a long time and consider him a friend. I have also learned over the years that embedded in his enthusiastic presentations are really great marketing jewels. You can tell he loves what he does and Greg is very willing to share his knowledge. If you missed his session at SMX, watch for him at another show. I’ve been in the search business for ten plus years, and I walked out of the session with a few new tricks. Thanks Greg.
That leads me to another topic. The search industry moves too fast to sit on your laurels. You have to actively grow and learn new skills….constantly. If you stand still the industry will pass you by. One of the easiest ways to stay up to date of new changes in the industry is to attend conferences. Books in our industry are outdated before they are printed. Attending conferences gives you more current information and is one of the best professional development practices you can do. Sure, it costs money to attend, but if you get a couple nuggets of new information and network with folks who can help you do your job better, it’s worth every cent.
My next conference, SMX London, is another month away. I’m already looking forward to it. Each conference has its own flavor and the London show is a great place to learn about all things search, but especially learn about international marketing techniques.
I’ll be speaking on two panels in London. Dear friend Tor Crockett (who is not only drop dead beautiful, but is a first class marketer) and I will be paired up in a Keyword Research Bootcamp. I’ve spoken on panels with Tor many times and it’s always thrilling to share the podium with someone as knowledgeable and fun as Tor. There is good chemistry between us. Keeping us in line (or trying to) will be moderator and conference co-chair Chris Sherman. Good luck Chris, we outnumber you. 
My other speaking session at SMX London is the Paid Search Checkup panel. Paid Search wizard Mel Carson and I will interactively review paid search campaigns and provide constructive advice to improve them. Live clinics are my favorite type sessions because you never know what will be thrown at you. They are also where you, as an advertiser, can get free advice from experienced marketers. If you are already an expert marketer, it’s nice to get a second opinion if you’re looking for new ideas on marketing. The cross fertilization of tips and experience in the clinic makes for a rich exchange where everyone benefits.
Well, I’ve managed to ramble on a number of topics and even cross the globe in a very short time. You have things to do, so I’ll close by saying I hope to see you at a conference soon. And please, do come up and say hello if you attend. I’m very approachable, human, and always open to make a new friend.

A Few Interpretations of Google’s Response to DecorMyEyes.com

All the recent hubbub over DecorMyEyes.com, and their claim that treating customers poorly in order to obtain more negative reviews resulted in better Google rankings, has left a small cloud of confusion. The ruckus was sufficient to get Google’s interest, and motivated them to react to it, but what they may have done is worth considering, not least because their statement around it has caused part of the confusion, perhaps purposefully.

First, it seems likely that Vitaly Borker, the offensive proprietor of Decor My Eyes, is likely not some stealth marketing genius. Rather, he sounds more like he rationalizes bad behavior in a variety of ways, according to the NYT article about him, and one of his prime beliefs is that negative ratings have helped his Google rankings. His supposed reasons for this were likely wrong by some degree, but he may’ve accidentally derived some benefits from the practice without knowing actual causality.

What makes him more important is that he got Google’s attention, and caused them to react — or claim they’ve reacted — by making some changes to their algorithms. It’s possible that Google responded mainly out of concern over negative press. It’s also possible that they may’ve said they’ve made a change but did not, but it seems equally possible that they could have indeed tweaked their algorithm. The incident really seems to call for us to consider that “where there’s smoke, there may be fire.” Continue reading

New Yahoo PPC Network Distribution option to go live on Jan 19, 2010

Yahoo! will be launching their new Network Distribution feature on Tuesday, January 19th, 2010. This will allow advertisers to optionally opt out of the Yahoo Search Partners sites for PPC ad display, and will also allow Yahoo! PPC advertisers more control over how they bid on ads.

Advertisers will have the option of displaying ads on:

  • The Entire Network – including Yahoo! Search and Yahoo! Partners
  • Yahoo! Search – includes all Yahoo! O&O properties and co-branded sites only
  • Yahoo! Partners – includes all Yahoo! Partners Only

In addition to opting out entirely, advertisers will also have the ability to apply a premium or discount (measured as a percentage of Max Bid) to their bid on the Search Network. This comes with a couple of caveats:
Continue reading

Image Search Vital To Rankings

A MediaPost article by Laurie Sullivan reported on some of the comments from reps of search engines Google and Bing at the recent SES conference in San Jose. According to them, consumers rely on images in search results more than previously thought, and, knowing this can help SEO professionals to better optimize sites.


Nadella shows current popular content in Image Search: Michael Phelps
Microsoft sees increasing importance of images to searchers - and their search engine's homepage design reflects this

The representative from Microsoft Bing stated that after regular web search, Image Search was their next most-popular feature. This also reflects the same user behavior that Google and Yahoo! have reported in the past (at least until Google purchased YouTube – before that acquisition, Image Search was Google’s second most popular feature).

With the advent of “blended search” or “Universal Search”, where images and other vertical search content are mixed into the traditional keyword search results listings, the usage picture becomes a bit more blurred. Users are now able to find image content in the regular search results, and they don’t always have to click into the specific image search pages to be finding and clicking through to that content. As such, marketers desiring to dominate keyword search page “real estate” must seriously consider targeting some image content to be able to exploit this channel.

If you’re familiar with me, you’ll know that I was one of the earliest SEO experts to write articles on optimizing images for search, and particularly a pioneer in optimizing images via Flickr and optimizing images through other image sharing services. (See also my Comparison Chart for SEO Value of Image Sharing Sites.) I’ve also spoken numerous times at marketing conferences on the value of Image SEO and how to go about optimizing images for search. It’s safe to say that I’m a proponent of it!

Google is also promoting image content in regards to search presence. At SES, Google’s representative, R.J. Pittman stated, “Images are no longer a ‘nice to have, but a must-have’ piece to promote businesses online.”

Google is also continuing to aggressively develope innovations in their image search engine sophistication. Google is no longer merely focusing upon the contextual text keyword content surrounding images in order to interpret their subject matter, they are now using a number of strategies for actually analyzing the graphic content of images and their relative quality compared with other similar images.

One of the biggest issues that I see facing internet retailer sites, travel portals, and other online commerce sites is the fact that they’re often incorporating thousands of product images supplied by their providers. Those manufacturer or content provider supplied photos are replicated across many competitor websites, and the search engines like Google expend great effort at detecting duplicate content such as this so that they can offer up a variety of images when their users conduct searches (trying to avoid offering up a page of search results where all thumbnails reflect the same identical image).

I know a number of ways around the duplicate content filtering in addition to how to optimize for contemporary image ranking factors. If there’s sufficient interest, I might soon provide a list of tips on how to optimize for these paradigms, so leave a comment below if you’d be interested!

Should You Use .TEL Top Level Domains (TLDs)?

.TEL domainsPeriodically, someone will launch a new, specialized Top Level Domain (“TLD”), claiming it’s the next big thing on the net. As we’ve seen time and again (such as with the .MOBI TLD), most of these efforts are never going to achieve the same level of recognition or adoption as the .COM and .NET standards, and businesses which muck about with them are likely to expend valuable resources resulting in zero ROI.

Such is likely to be the case with the .TEL top level domain which launched in March. .TEL, operated by Telnic Limited, is intended to be a sort of domain-based authoritative location for contact information – a sort of grand new evolution of phone directories, white pages, and yellow pages. When you obtain a .TEL domain, you don’t manage it on the servers of your choice, but instead it will generate a site hosted on the Telnic service. Justin Hayward, Communications Director for Telnic, is quoted as saying:

“We consider .tel to be the first global live contact site directory. Once contact details are populated in a .tel, anyone can type a known .tel address into any browser or use keywords that describe the person or business they want to find. Keywords are free so the more keywords that are used and the more descriptive they are, the easier it is to be discoverable.”

On the surface, this all sounds good, but the first problem I see with it is one of adoption: if people know to look for you, they will not be likely to type in a .TEL domain name — everyone looks for .COM. Even if you specifically tell someone about your .TEL URL, you’ll expend extra time explaining that, yes, .TEL *is* a type of web URL, and even then they’re just as likely to type it in as “something.tel.com”, which is operated by Tokyo Electron company, and not the proper Telnic page URL.

This is the exact same issue with .MOBI, which was intended to be used as an authoritative URL for the mobile-friendly versions of websites. Most people don’t know/understand the protocol, so they won’t be naturally typing it in when out and about with their mobile devices (and, .Mobi has the additional downside of creating one-letter-longer URLs, which make it that much more tiresome for someone on a wireless device to type in).

From a marketing perspective, .TEL domains have additional downsides. You don’t appear to be able to control the UI or look-and-feel of the generated contact pages, and slapping on yet another domain can split the effectiveness of your natural search engine optimization work. Links pointing at that additional URL will dribble away portions of the PageRank you could be sending or keeping for your primary domain.

And, how will search engines treat it? As with many of the lesser top-level-domains, they’re likely to be more mistrustful. I see zero toolbar PageRank values for the top-ranking .TEL pages, though this may be due to the domains only getting launched recently. But, their public statements touting keywords (“…Keywords are free so the more keywords that are used…the easier it is to be discoverable…”) and the fact that domainers seem to be excited by having another channel to potentially exploit makes the TLD concerning in terms of potential search engine performance.

Bucking standards in favor of creating your own proprietary one, and flying in the face of established adoption rates in terms of internet consumer behavior are not a good formula for success.

In a very self-serving blog post by Telnic CTO, Henri Asseily, titled, “Why .tel and not a free hcard microformat?“, they seem to also be taking aim against the increasingly popular hCard Microformat standard in favor of .TEL. What’s funny about this is that this is comparing apples and oranges, and Telnic has deployed example domains (see emma.tel, henri.tel) which provide a vCard at the bottom of the pages.

It’s absolutely stunning to me that they took the trouble to provide vCard off of their contact info pages when they could easily also embed all the vCard information into the page itself, using semantic markup! Meanwhile, his blog is suggesting that using .TEL in some way should be done instead of using hCard! And, I totally fail to see the significance of protecting info he’s referring to with privacy settings — are the .TEL pages a publicly-findable directory of contact info, or not?!? It’s disappointing that they wouldn’t simply incorporate the hCard and thereby gain additional advantage from the special display treatments that Google has begun applying to microformat-enriched pages.

Telnic is partly promoting their service as a way of providing individuals’ and businesses’ contact info on the internet, “even if you don’t have a website”. Ummm… don’t the online white pages and yellow pages already do this?

For companies considering adopting the .TEL for online marketing advantage, you should seriously reconsider. This is not going to become the defacto online standard anytime soon, and expending time playing with this domain is going to take resources away from efforts which are likely to be far more beneficial. At worst, linking to new .TEL domains could also subtract some of your existing PageRank value to little advantage.

The only case in which a .TEL domain could potentially provide advantage is in the case of a project to improve online reputation, if you’re looking for additional webpages to come up in SERPs, helping you to push down some sort of negative content which may be ranking for your brandname. However, there are a lot more social media sites, business profile pages, and additional strategies which you should be employing in that case, and the unproven nature of .TEL sites in organic search rankings relegate use of the new TLD to the bottom of your list of possible online reputation weapons.

Is Geotagging Worthwhile for Search Engine Optimization?

I posted an article today on “Should You Geotag Pages For Local SEO?” on Search Engine Land. In it, I describe the cases in which I think you should geotag a webpage.

Geotags

Essentially, I state that locally-oriented webpages for businesses or content pages which have full street addresses should probably be tagged with hCard microformats, as I’ve described before.

Otherwise, if you have a locally-oriented webpage about something which has a place in the physical world, but which is not associated with an actual street address, I believe use of geotagging makes sense. Increasingly, specialized search engines (and even Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, and Bing Maps) are pinpointing such content and making it readily available for online users.

The other frequently-confusing aspect of geo tagging of webpages is caused by the fact that there’s no clearly-dominant standard for formatting of geotag information. At least four major standards have been deployed out into the wild, with no clear winner! Luckily, one could probably use all four simultaneously on a page without taking extreme measures and, considering how relatively easy it is to add the geocoding to the page in the first place, I see no reason not to add all four at once if you have a valid reason to geotag the page.

I believe we’re going to see increasing adoption of geotagging as the major online mapmakers make more geographic information available to map consumers. Google’s recent deployment of “Rich Snippets” is a prime indication that more semantic markup data may become enabled in order to enrich online users’ search experiences, and local mapping data is one of the prime areas where they’re likely to add more functionality. (See also my article on Optimizing Search Listings for more details about how semantic markup such as hCard Microformats may position your site for greater online success.)

Making Your Content Portable For Your Audience

At the beginning of the week I wrote a piece for Search Engine Watch entitled, “Do You Know Where Your Audience Is?” Knowing this is a piece of the social media puzzle that can decide whether your strategy is going to be a successful venture or a failure. There are a few other pieces to that puzzle, but generally, knowing where your audience is is foundational to any social media strategy.

moving-menIt affects even how portable you make your content. What I mean by making your content portable is making it easy to share, making it easy for your audience to move it across one social platform to another. If your audience finds your content valuable they are going to want to share it whether its through social bookmarking, social news, email or twittering, people want to share great things they experienced. Content that has value can create buzz and word of mouth without the author really realizing what’s going on. If it’s really valuable to the audience and there’s no way to share it, that content might not take off, however just the opposite can happen. If you believe you are always putting out valuable content and you want it shared and you have too many options to share it, this can be a turn off as well as confusing to your audience.

Lets take for example a blog, there are a few ways a blog can be shared. The blog itself can be found to have a lot of great content, and people who just get to your blog via a twitter link, Stumbleupon or a link through email might not be quite that educated on RSS. So having a dozen or so of ways to subscribe to your blog by RSS can be confusing and a turn off, rather than a turn on to people coming to your blog. If you use Feedburner or other like services to handle your subscriptions, take a look at your audience – what are they using to read your blog and choose those top 3-5 icons to show for RSS subscriptions. While you may think you need every single RSS aggegator listed, your audience is likely telling you differently, listen to them, they understand what’s valuable to them. For the most part, Google Reader has become the giant here, people share blogs and blog posts through the “share” option in Google Reader as well as porting out their list of blogs so their own readers (if they own a blog themselves) can keep up to date on what they view is valuable.

Then there’s blog posts and making them easy to share. Again, just like having too many aggregator icons listed, having too many social bookmarking and social news icons in a drop down or spread across the bottom of your posts can be a real turn off. Look at your analytics, listen to your audience, what are they saying about how they found your content? Is your content the type that would really get traction on Digg? Is your audience even on Digg? You’re audience might be on a very niche site like Boudica, which caters to women and not on Digg. In this case having a sharing option for Boudica or sites like it, just might be the better option. Generally the audiences can cross platforms and if your audiences feels its good enough for Digg, they’ll get it there. The point is make it sharable for where your audience hangs out, not an audience who isn’t interested.

When making your content portable, it’s also important to keep in mind, content doesn’t always equal text. Content that’s valuable to your audience can take the form of pictures, podcasts, videos or even slideshares. Making these types of content easy to share is just as important as making your text content easy to share. Make it easy for your audience to embed things, provide the embed code or the link code and well as the sharing buttons you’ve decided are valuable to your audience. Don’t forget to also provide ways to share through email and social networking sites – if your audience is there.

Don’t stress that you need to have every way to share out there. Yes there are plugins for blogs that can list all the popular sites, and are easy to install, but is your audience on those sites? Are you loosing out on having your content on a site where your audience is because you are focusing on where someone else’s audience is? Before you decide to plaster your content up with a million “submit to” buttons, analyze your audience and listen to where they want to submit your content first.