This page lists articles from Search Engine Watch and around the web that offer tips on getting more out of paid placement and paid inclusion listings on search engines. It also includes articles generally about how search engines sell listings-based ad units, as paid placement and paid inclusion, along with some search ad partnership information.
NOTE: Article links often change, especially the older an article is. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline. Also, some very old articles flagged "no longer online" might indeed be online -- but the former URL no longer resolves, and it's not worth the time investment for me to try and personally track down these down versus spending time producing new content.
The headline is somewhat misleading. Rather than debunk the idea that clickfraud happens, this is instead a look at the issue and some specific tips to detect clickfraud, prevent it and gain refunds.
Just because no one clicks on your search listing doesn't mean it lacked value in the overall marketing mix. A search listing may add to your share of brand voice. Ensure you can quantify that some way, and you'll be more than a one-hit direct marketing wonder.
Creating Compelling Search Engine Ads and Landing Pages
SearchDay, August 18, 2004
Effective search engine advertising goes far beyond simply bidding on keywords. With both ads and landing pages, you have scant seconds to capture the imagination and clicks of a searcher.
Boost Volume and Lower SEM Costs
ClickZ, Aug. 13, 2004
Tips on how to get your ads appearing for many more keywords quickly, while also hopefully keeping conversion also high.
UK government enters search listing stakes
DMeurope.com, Aug. 11, 2004
To promote its new Directgov site, the UK government is now bidding on keywords with Google, Overture and Espotting. Also see BBC coverage.
A reporter asked me recently what was the first step in getting started with search engine marketing. I said understanding how much you can afford to spend per lead. If you don't know that, you don't know how much you can afford to bid on terms, to spend on natural SEO and so on. I'm hardly the first to say this. Fredrick Marckini from iProspect earlier this year put a great label on moving forward without knowing what you can spend: "ass-backward SEM." In this column, Gary Stein from Jupiter Research covered the same topic at length. Lots of good advice.
Being priced out of paid listings because of higher bids? Increasing your conversion rate might put you back in the game.
Covers tips and advice on buying ads beyond Google and Overture, out of a session at the SES San Jose show. Click prices are going up, so alternatives are desirable. Conversion on alternatives may not be as good, but at cheaper prices, it may be good enough.
Marketers want search and contextual to be kept separate, and for good reason. I can't believe we're well over a year into Google offering contextual ads and we're still getting the entire "we can't unbundle this from search because we're trying to make life easier for advertisers" pitch. Just do it. Advertisers are grown-ups. They can handle the concept of running contextual campaigns separate from search campaigns. They already do this at Overture. Don't make them opt-out. Make it easier to opt-into both separately.
New Data On How Paid Ranking Translates Into Traffic
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 1, 2004
A new study from Atlas DMT tries suggests that top rankings do indeed equal lots of clickthrough and traffic, at least in terms of paid listings.
Buying your own brand name leads to great conversion.
How To Handle AdWords With Thousands Of Keywords
Search Engine Watch Forums, July 29, 2004
10,000 keywords, a unique URL for each of them -- how best to set this up in Google AdWords?
How to Stop Click Fraud (Or at Least Get a Refund)
MarketingSherpa.com, July 28, 2004
Case study on how a firm identified clickfraud in order to get refunds and to deter it.
Overture has launched a bid management feature called Search Optimizer to its existing conversion tracking tool, but the bid management only works for Overture listings. Those with Google AdWords accounts will still need to seek another solution.
Overture Announces New Bid Management Tool
Search Engine Watch Forums, July 23, 2004
Overture is rolling out its own bid management program for advertisers to manage prices automatically, and looking at adding other new features.
Looks at how Yahoo is the last major search engine to still offer paid inclusion within its web results, an amazing change given that just over four months ago, everyone but Google was offering this. Similar coverage from Wired. From ClickZ, also a look at the issue, using a single case study as proof that paid inclusion can improve relevance and that without it, content wouldn't be found.
Suffice to say, plenty of sites have found ways to get their "hidden" content found without paid inclusion. In fact, that's been essential for ages, since otherwise, these sites would lose visibility on Google. Paid inclusion just makes the solution easier for those with budgets -- and if relevancy is improved by having this content, then what happens when the budget runs out and it disappears?
As a reminder, the latest in my series on paid inclusion is here. The issues are complex -- that's why I still have one or two more parts to go.
Overture vs. Google AdWords
Search Engine Guide, July 19, 2004
Very nice compare-and-contrast to some key differences to between how paid listings work at Google and Overture.
Nice long look at the issue of bogus clicks, how search engines monitor for it, but how marketers still have to watch out for themselves. Want some tips to protect yourself? Check out Jessie Stricchiola's guide, Click Fraud - An Overview.
Seasonality Descends on Searches
Wall St. Journal, July 9, 2004
Yahoo says paid listing revenue and query volume showed no major rise from the previous quarter, causing financial analysts to fear the paid search boom is over. Yahoo says it's a seasonal thing. Apparently, it hasn't been noticed as strongly in the past because of other factors that have pushed growth up. More coverage also here.
The first rule about selling PageRank via Google's AdWords program is you do not talk about selling PageRank. The second rule is that you talk instead about how to improve or assist in gaining PageRank. More on the issue of ads that seem to go against Google's rules of SEO behavior being on Google itself.
Ask Jeeves is ending the remaining paid inclusion program it ran for its web search, the flat-fee based Site Submit. My understanding is that those with existing time left on their URLs will continue to receive listing benefits but no new URLs are being accepted.
Efficient Frontier, which has been managing paid listing campaigns for some very big companies, offers its services to the general public. The company aims to predict how a portfolio of keywords will perform over time, in an effort to make ad management easier.
Looking to automate you bid management? Here are some things to consider when looking at tools or services.
Use Caution when Going Broad with Overture and Google
SearchDay, June 23, 2004
Running a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign on Google and Overture can get complicated, especially now that both networks offer different types of keyword matching options when placing bids. Here's how to avoid trouble and maximize your campaign's effectiveness.
Pay-Per-Click Affiliate Deals Come Under Fire at Symposium
DM News, June 24, 2004
Paid search has grown from a pay-per-click basis, but as clickfraud grows as a problem, will the model have to change?
Forget thinking about your campaigns on a keyword-by-keyword basis. Instead, consider that you have an entire portfolio of keywords, which overall you hope will achieve a particular ROI. Think of it as keyword-cost averaging!
Going Beyond FTC Paid Inclusion Disclosure Guidelines
SearchDay, June 17, 2004
A look at how Yahoo might go beyond FTC guidelines about paid inclusion as a means of rebuilding faith in the impact of paid inclusion on relevancy and its listings in general. This version for Search Engine Watch members explains how to decipher listing URLs at Yahoo to spot paid inclusion content, how some results for popular queries may be hardcoded, finds paid inclusion showing up in only 2 percent of listings based on a small sample of 700 queries, and looks how sponsor labeling in Yahoo's directory hasn't appeared to hurt the sites shown there.
The Paid Inclusion Dinosaur
SearchDay, June 2, 2004
Why would Yahoo and other search engines do paid inclusion? Money is a big reason -- the ability to earn off what otherwise would be free listings. But paid inclusion involves a gamble that relevancy won't be hurt. A look at the bet Yahoo's making and alternative plays they could have tried.
Forget thinking about your campaigns on a keyword-by-keyword basis. Instead, consider that you have an entire portfolio of keywords, which overall you hope will achieve a particular ROI. Think of it as keyword-cost averaging!
Transforming Clicks Into Rings
New York Times, June 7, 2004
No web site? No problem. Ingenio plans to insert telephone numbers in place of URLs for small businesses that are web challenged. Perhaps it will work, but I've got one big concern. It's the wrong medium.
Someone who is already on the internet and doing a search to me will be more likely to click on an ad rather than pick up the phone. After they've visited an advertiser online and done some research, then I think they might be more inclined to call. But before? You'd do what's normal, surf the web.
Consider the alternative. What if you opened your yellow pages directory and some ads had only URLs, for businesses that had no phone numbers. Would you put down the book and surf to the advertiser? Perhaps, but more likely you'd first call those who did have phone numbers.
Yahoo Advertising on Google
MarketingVox, June 7, 2004
Yahoo's running ads on Google to drive traffic to its shopping area. It's not the first time a search engine has advertised on another one. Indeed, Yahoo's currently running a major campaign in Europe on Google and Espotting to promote some of its portal features.
Tips to consider before you pull a keyword from your advertising campaign.
Managing a Search Engine Advertising Budget
SearchDay, May 27, 2004
You want top search result positions now, and you're willing to pay for them. But is your paid listing launch on hold until you can justify a budget and demonstrate ROI goals?
Yahoo Reawakens The Paid Inclusion Debate
SearchDay, May 18, 2004
Yahoo drew widespread criticism for new paid inclusion programs launched in March. What is Yahoo doing? How does it impact the advertiser and searcher? Are there changes Yahoo should be making? The first in a series of articles looking at paid inclusion.
The latest release of an iProspect study of search interaction shows women were lightly more likely to choose a paid result as relevant than men. Those with full-time jobs are also more likely to click than part-time or unemployed searchers. College graduates are more likely to see editorial listings as relevant over paid.
Image ads can be brand building tools -- so shouldn't Google sell its new contextual ads on a CPM basis? Some competing ad distribution services suggest it should. But hey, why stop there. We know that search ads can also build brand. Overture even did a study a few years ago to support this, in a quest to get more brand revenue from agencies. Shouldn't those be sold on a CPM basis, as well? That's the way it used to be on Google, so I don't expect a flip-flop any time soon. Meanwhile, vertical search site Business.com drops its CPM-based banners entirely.
Use the words "cheap" or "free" and you might see conversion rates plummet. Meanwhile, longer bids may cost less and convert better. Of course, I think eventually the search engines will continue their ongoing rollup of terms. That means eventually you'll pay the same for a five word query (for example, "cool running shoes for marathon") as shorter ones (for example, "running shoes") if these are deemed as relating to the same audience .
Now it's gone, but for a short time, Google was sadly carrying an ad for someone selling a video clip of Nick Berg being beheaded. As spotted by Gary Price, with screen capture from John Battelle.
Google Offers Banners & Image Ads -- But Not On Google Itself
SearchDay, May 13, 2004
Google has debuted a new graphical ad option for its advertisers -- the ability to run banners, skyscrapers and other image-based ad units. However, these ads won't run on Google itself.
Advertisers Bid, You Click, They Pay
Washington Post, May 12, 2004
No revelations here for readers -- a look at how paid placement listings work. But some nice anecdotes from large companies that are using them.
Reality TV and online games
CBS MarketWatch, May 11, 2004
There's a search tidbit buried in here -- Google's claim that it sends half the search traffic to gaming sites. You can also read more direct from Google. Of course, there's a good chance that a majority of that traffic comes from Google's unpaid listings, something the pitch to advertise on Google obviously doesn't mention.
Yahoo Bans Online Casino Ads; Google's Ban Has Holes
The Search Engine Report, May 6, 2004
Both Yahoo and Google decided to drop ads from online casinos by the end of April. But despite this, the ads can still be found lurking on Google.
Yahoo Adds Targeted Ads to its Companion Toolbar
Search Engine Lowdown, May 3, 2004
Andy Beal has a nice screenshot and catch about how the Yahoo Companion toolbar was recently showing ads. But don't get too excited -- it's not going to be a permanent feature. Checking with Yahoo, they tell me the ad was part of a preexisting deal they've had with FTD that's now ended. The ads have been shown on the toolbar before, but they won't any longer. "This deal was the last part of a legacy deal that we had with FTD. There are no other ads in the pipeline and there aren't any current plans to sell additional placements," said Yahoo spokesperson Stephanie Iwamasa.
India's secret army of online ad 'clickers'
Times Of India, May 3, 2004
A look at how people employed in India are paid to click on online ads.
Google's policy against "anti" sites gets more bad publicity, as a T-shirt maker finds he can't advertise his products that target US President George W. Bush or Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry. Pamela Parker rightfully takes aim at Google in this commentary.
Sorting Out SiteMatch
SearchEngineGuide.com, April 23, 2004
Remember the hoopla and fears many had about the rollout of Yahoo's new paid inclusion program. If you don't -- my upcoming series will remind you of the issues. But no need to wait for that. Barry Lloyd provides an excellent rundown on how free listings still survive, how past penalties haven't been lifted in the new program and how a Yahoo directory link appears to be a key way to boost a page.
Mastering Search Engine Advertising
SearchDay, Apr. 22, 2004
Buying your way to the top of search results may seem easy, but managing an effective search engine advertising campaign requires a thoughtful approach with more than a little elbow grease.
Managing Search Marketing Campaigns
SearchDay, Apr. 20, 2004
While search engine paid placement campaigns can be immensely profitable, effective bid management can be time-consuming and can quickly become a drawn out game of chess, or tug of war, depending on your rules of engagement.
Some question Yahoo's 'paid inclusion' plan
Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2004
A month into its new paid inclusion program, this article finds a mix with advertisers. One assumed he should get rank boost and quit when he didn't. Another is happy that his entire site gets spidered. One says the program improved rankings -- though in a follow-up, he also acknowledge that this was after making search engine optimization changes in line with what Yahoo recommended.
Recently, a reader pointed out to me that Overture had raised its minimum bid to $100 per click. What pulls that much money? The term "mesothelioma," a form of lung cancer, has always been a good example to show how high people will go with paid listings. This article talks briefly about how law firms have gone after it. When I looked recently, this had dropped down to a high of around $37. What to use instead, to see those top bids? Try a search for "structured settlement," which my reader hold told me about when mentioning the new Overture limit. Sure enough, the top three bids are all at the $100 maximum.
Ads on Google and Overture are not the same. Tips on how to get the best performance by working to the unique features at both places.
Google, Yahoo ban online casino ads
AP, April 4, 2004
The move comes as US authorities are apparently pressuring media outlets not to accept ads from casinos said to be illegally accepting bets from those in the United States. However, neither Yahoo or Google explicitly cited this as the reason for their pullback.
MediaPost reports on the shock to those in the online casino industry and provides more on pressure being put on media outlets. There's also speculation that the search companies may bring back the ads, if they see the revenue there for when the US football season gets underway.
The Ads Google Just Says No To
The Search Engine Update, April 2, 2004
Want to buy an ad on Google? You might find it rejected after the fact for a variety of unpublished reasons.
Paid Search Programs Finally Growing Up
SearchDay, March 31, 2004
The search industry has come a long way since the days of running poorly targeted banner advertisements on search results pages. Enhanced keyword targeting capabilities and powerful new bidding and analysis tools have raised the value of search as a promotional channel.
Feds Arrest Alleged Google Extortionist
InternetNews.com, March 22, 2004
We've long done sessions at Search Engine Strategies involving how to monitor your PPC campaigns for fraudulent clicks. Despite safeguards in place by search engines, things still get through. But here's an extreme case of a man accused of trying to extort $100,000 from Google. He allegedly threatened to "destroy" Google with software that would run up fraudulent clicks on Google's contextual ads during a meeting with a company. Another good account of the story here from the San Jose Mercury News. For some past Search Engine Watch articles on the topic of auditing your click charges, see Ask the Search Engine: Coping with Fraudulent Pay-Per-Click Traffic and Perfecting Paid Search Engine Listings.
Yahoo's New Paid Inclusion
ClickZ, March 19, 2004
Kevin Lee explains why you might want to try (or perhaps resign yourself) to Yahoo's new paid inclusion programs.
Norton Blocks PPC Ads
MarketingWonk, March 16, 2004
By default, the latest version of Norton Personal Firewall now apparently blocks paid listings at Google and Overture. This is the second such software that I've heard now that does this. Intermute released its AdSubtract tool formally back in December. Like the Intermute tool, Norton probably does not block paid inclusion listings.
Here's some irony. Search for personal firewall on Google. The Norton product now blocks ads from its competitors -- but also from a company that sells Norton's own firewall product. A search for antivirus has less impact on Norton but would wipe out ads from its competitors.
B2B Search: Playing the Odds
ClickZ, March 12, 2004
B2B search marketing may involve long-term or offline sales, making it difficult for the marketer with a fixed budget to measure success. Some tips on estimating the value of your advertising buys.
Manx Parents Win Google Apology
Isle Of Man Online, March 10, 2004
A search for children's stories brings up an ad on Google for violent incest. Google apologizes and removes the ad.
News Sites Seek Readers via Search Ads
DMNews.com, Feb. 17, 2004
The BBC, Financial Times and other media outlets are buying paid listings on Google to drive traffic for special coverage of news events. Ironically, they can't buy ads to appear alongside Google own news search results.
XML Paid Inclusion: Marketing Winner, Search Spam Killer
ClickZ, Feb. 13, 2004
Paid inclusion will be coming big time to Yahoo soon, and it's likely you'll hear some criticisms of this come up in the coming months. Kevin Lee offers a defense as to why XML feeds in particular can be relevancy boosters. No argument here. XML paid inclusion content can in some circumstances indeed help relevancy, reduce spam and offer other benefits. But in other circumstances, it might hurt. I don't know anyone who can universally declare that overall, it's "better" or "worse."
What I can say is that paid inclusion is an ADVERTISING program, pitched to ADVERTISERS. As such, it's time the listings be disclosed in some way as ads. It doesn't have to be anything major. A small icon or something to help those who want to know what is paid versus unpaid content on a search results page. Do that, and the criticisms of paid inclusion largely disappear. But without disclosure, it's nearly impossible for the typical search consumer to distinguish paid inclusion ads from free listings -- and some will want to do this.
By the way, I'm not part of the faction that thinks XML feeds let SEMs generate search engine spam. Rather, I think the search engines offering paid inclusion may hold content in these programs to more liberal rules than would apply to "unpaid" content. In other words, a doorway page may be seen as spam by a search engine when it is outside a paid inclusion program. But feed it via XML, and suddenly the criteria of what makes a good "page" seems much more generous. And that's not spam, since it's the search engines themselves that define spam.
Google pulls an anti-pollution ad, keeping to its often controversial (and still apparently unwritten) policy of not accepting anti-anything ads that has infuriated potential advertisers across the political spectrum and various special interests.
Primarily tips from Inktomi on how they believe you can get more out of paid inclusion. Top tip? Do an XML feed and have an SEM firm "tune" the feed for you. In other words, tweak that page until you get a top ranking.
Of course, Inktomi's content guidelines say it wants, "pages designed primarily for humans, with search engine considerations secondary," warns against "the use of text that is hidden from the user," "pages that give the search engine different content than what the end-user sees" and "pages built primarily for the search engines." XML feeds often break some or all of these rules. Tweaking an XML feed is especially something you do solely for search engine considerations. A human will never see your feed content.
All of this I described last year in my Doorways Not Always Bad, At Inktomi article last year. In short, I agree with Inktomi -- if you are a serious search engine marketer, definitely consider XML feeds. The ability to tweak your pages to improve search engine placement is much more endorsed when you are in this program.
In the second part, Inktomi rolls out the usual arguments about why paid inclusion helps everyone. And some of that's absolutely true. It's also true that Google manages to do a lot of what its competitors make out can only be done through paid inclusion.
Should political candidates be pitching messages via search engine marketing. Kevin Lee votes yes.
Dayparting - What's all the Fuss?
About.com Web Search Guide, Feb. 5, 2004
The headline says it all. You may have heard about dayparting. Why care? As Jennifer Laycock explains, targeting your ads during certain times of the day might improve conversions.
Google Grants Non-Profits a Break
InternetNews.com, Jan. 27, 2004
Seen a public service ad delivered by Google's AdSense program? Those ads are helping drive traffic to charitable web sites.
BBC buys up 'Hutton inquiry' Google links
MediaGuardian, Jan. 26, 2004
Like others in the UK, I'm required to pay over US $150 per year in order to watch television. OK, so the commercial-free children's programming on CBeebies alone is worth it. Still, perhaps there are better things to do with my money and that of others who pay than for the BBC to advertise its coverage of the Hutton Report on Google. Oddly, no news is mentioned on whether the BBC also bought similar ads on Overture or Espotting.
The Graphical Search Divide
InternetNews.com, Jan. 14, 2004
How about a logo next to your paid listing? That's not something the majors offer now, nor plan to, seeing them as distracting rather than helpful. Any other reason? Putting graphics next to paid listings makes them look different from unpaid listings, which might cause consumers to avoid them. That's not good for advertising sales.
FindWhat Adds New Division, New Tool
InternetNews.com, Jan. 5, 2004
FindWhat completes its purchase of Miva, a maker of ecommerce and shopping cart software. The company also rolls out "IntelliMap," a broad matching tool that groups similar words, misspellings and punctuations together under a single term.
Kanoodle Debuts Set-And-Forget Search Terms
InternetNews.com, Dec. 19, 2003
Kanoodle introduces dayparting, the ability to have your ads run for set periods of the day, or on particular days or in particular months. It's a first for any US-based paid listings provider, though European provider Mirago deserves credit for being the first in the industry, to my knowledge, with the feature. Mirago rolled ts dayparting feature out in November.
The "Secret System" of Search Engine Advertising
SearchDay, Dec. 18, 2003
Search engines have become one of the fastest growing venues in the advertising market, bringing clients from the old world of traditional advertising to the new world of paid listings. Yet while ad revenue increases for the search engines, so do the concerns for some long-time search advertisers who have invested a huge stake in the industry.
Blather found itself running afoul of the Google advertising police, who pulled its ads for because the site had content that "advocated against George Bush." What was this verboten content? Blather linked to George W. Bush's official biography as part of the Google Bombing prank (see http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3296101) to make it number one at Google for a search on "miserable failure."
Ironically, by this argument, Google itself should not be able to carry its own ads, given that its own search results are content that some would see as advocating against Bush.
In a further irony, while Blather is not allowed to pay Google to carry its ads, Google seems to have no problem with Blather carrying Google's own ads -- even on the evildoers page in question.
The Power of Paris Hilton
CPU Review, Dec. 15, 2003
Accidentally coming up tops for a search on "paris hilton sex video" for this web site turned out to be a costly mistake.
Shopping Engine Bidding Gets Smarter
InternetNews.com, Dec. 9, 2003
Want to do better on Shopping.com (formerly DealTime)? Now you can bid your way to the top of the results.
Trademarks and SEM
ClickZ, Dec. 5, 2003
Recaps instances where trademarks might be linked to paid listings and ways to seek resolutions if you are a trademark holder with objections.
Brief look at how search engines make money by carrying porn listings.
Google, Overture Limit Pharmacy Ads -- But Not In Free Listings
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 2, 2003
Overture and Google have reacted to pressure to drop ads for unlicensed online pharmacies in the United States. But while the ads will be gone, the access to sites selling prescription medicines without proper approval will remain virtually unchanged.
Overview of types of fees you might want to budget for to undertake a search engine marketing campaign with the aid of an agency.
Dayparts & Other Search Engine Paid Listings Evolutions
SearchDay, Nov. 25, 2003
When it comes to gaining the most bang for the buck from paid search engine listings, micro-managing is a good thing, says our panel of experts.
SEM Arbitrage: Golden or Cooked Goose?
ClickZ, Nov. 21, 2003
Getting affiliates to generate search traffic can sound attractive. But if they're making a profit on the difference between what you pay them and what they earn, you might be missing opportunities.
Google Applies Double Standard to Political Vendors
Accuracy In Media, Nov. 19, 2003
Google banned an advertisement for a anti-Clinton book, citing its criteria of rejecting "anti" ads. Ads for Ronald Reagan-related material was then rejected because of other "anti" items for sale on the same web site. However, other web sites selling such material, such as bumper stickers against George W. Bush, have been allowed to advertise.
Yahoo back in X-rated business
San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 17, 2003
Yahoo pulled adult banner ads in 2001, but it's back to selling porn ads return through its ownership of Overture. Porn paid listings don't appear on Yahoo, but they do appear (as they long have done) on the now-Yahoo-owned sites of AllTheWeb and AltaVista. Of course, Yahoo has always had its own directory of adult web sites. Despite the ban on banner ads sales, it always continued to sell listings in its directory to adult web sites at a premium rate.
Affiliates need not be your enemy, when it comes to search engine marketing. For one thing, your affiliates can effectively let you dominate paid listing spots. The major providers generally allow a company to have only one paid listing, but they make no restrictions on how many affiliate listings a company can gain. In short, it's an end run around the rule. That's to the advertiser's and search engine's benefit, but it's also something I expect will change. That's because it's a bad user experience. Other affiliate issues are also explored.
Andrew Goodman lets rip about junk traffic produced by some partners of paid listings providers, praises conversion of those seeing Google's AdSense listings on some partners but is amazed at some of the other sites that also get included as part of the AdSense program.
Study: Overture Better Than Google
InternetNews.com, Oct. 30, 2003
Jupiter Research found that Overture had the best features and management interface of major paid listings providers, according to interviews that were done with experienced marketers and Jupiter's own experience using the toolset. Google ranked second, followed by now-Google owned Sprinks. Also rated was FindWhat. Despite coming in second, don't read the report as a sign that Google will necessarily lose advertisers. Overture and Google have completely different distributions, so most advertisers find it necessary to buy with both, in order to extend their reach as far as possible.
Reader Q&A: October 2003
The Search Engine Update, Oct. 22, 2003
Answers to the following questions from readers:
+ Will paid ads on Google or Overture hurt your unpaid listings?
+ Why can't I find the submit link for an Open Directory category?
+ Do I have to pay a new submission fee if I change my web page?
+ Where can I find out the popularity level of shopping search engines?
+ Why did the Open Directory drop my sites?
+ Do search engines read the words within links?
+ How do we get Google to drop misleading and spammy web pages?
+ Is there an easy way to find out what the cost or a particular term is on the various search engines?
+ I don't see AllTheWeb in the search engine ratings pages you maintain. Why not?
+ I am trying to find out which search engines have the most users and what keywords are used the most when navigating to sites in particular subjects. Can you help?
+ Why do you recommend search engine math commands over Boolean commands?
+ Do you know anything if Froogle will be released in the UK or elsewhere? What other UK shopping search engines are there?
+ Is the meta description tag still worth doing?
ClickZ, Oct. 17, 2003
With expanded matching capabilities introduced recently at both Overture and Google, marketers need to think more about removing terms they don't want to target.
My usual reminder: I'm not an opponent of paid inclusion and fully recognize that it has valuable things to offer advertisers and searchers. But I have to strongly object to the suggestion in this article from paid inclusion reseller Marketleap that paid inclusion "online search at its purest." For more, clickthrough to a longer review.
Dialing in on Channel Conflicts
iMediaConnection, Oct. 9, 2003
Kevin Ryan makes some really good points about how affiliate programs and resellers make for consumer confusion when they all vie to sell the same products via search engine listings. Recently, I've had a number of advertisers complain to me about this. It's hard to argue that the consumer is being well-served by listings dominated in this way. It's also hard to see the search engines changing things on their own, since that means lost dollars to them.
Why Sharis Berries is happy to let affiliates pay the search freight
Internet Retailer, Oct. 7, 2003
Some companies have learned to hate their affiliates, finding they make it expensive when they wants to directly purchase advertising. But Shari's Berries loves them. They don't advertise directly and instead let the affiliates do the heavy work. But from a searching perspective, it's more than a little annoying that this strategy means that Google and MSN results, as cited in this article, are essentially full of junk pages that all lead back to the same company. It's the search equivalent of walking into a store and only seeing one brand on the shelves.
Google Accepts Porn Ads but Refuses Those for Guns
CNSNews.com, Oct. 7, 2003
I reported on this about a year ago, but here's a revisit on how gun ads are not acceptable to Google but porn is OK.
Web Searches: The Fix Is In
BusinessWeek, Oct. 6, 2003
BusinessWeek did more than 30 interviews and analyzed dozens of searches to conclude that paid inclusion seems to provide ranking boosts to customers. Unfortunately, the Lamps Plus example listed is a bad one. The person wasn't listed with LookSmart, which is the primary data source MSN search uses. He signs up and suddenly discovers he's ranking better.
Of course. He wasn't present before, and by getting in, there was a good chance he'd naturally rank well. The same would be true if he wasn't listed in Google, then got spidered. He might then suddenly rank better there, as well. In contrast, the only way to know if paid inclusion really gave Lamps Plus an actual ranking boost, rather than just a chance at ranking well, would be to see if they were already listed, then shifted their listings to a paid inclusion program and found a favorable ranking change.
Despite the Lamps Plus example being bad, other examples like "green sleeping bag" being full of paid inclusion listings do underscore the idea that paid inclusion content seems favored and sometimes can be terribly off-target. It also remains true that paid inclusion content can be helpful in some instances and that "pure" search results are hardly pure. It's just that the search engine itself receives no money directly.
Overall, I think the reason bad paid inclusion results are so annoying is because part of the paid inclusion pitch by search engines offering it is that content is carefully reviewed for quality. Discovering off-target paid inclusion listings causes you to lose faith. In contrast, bad "free" listings can at least be excused since no particular oversight is promised.
For further examination of paid inclusion, see the Buying Your Way In page, which provides a summary and past articles I've written.
Searching For Holiday Profits, Part 2: Seasonal Keywords, Listing Expansion
ClickZ, Sept. 26, 2003
Get ready for the holidays by looking at ways to expand and target your seasonal terms.
Google, Amazon in a war of search words
News.com, Sept. 26, 2003
Google keyed an employment ad to appear on its web site anytime someone searched for the name of the president of Amazon's new ecommerce search unit.
LookSmart Opens Deep Listings Option To Small Businesses
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 5, 2003
LookSmart has expanded its LookListings paid inclusion program so that small businesses can purchase "deep listings" previously only offered to large businesses with big budgets. The article below looks at the changes, as well as the role LookSmart plays in powering search at MSN and elsewhere.
Is SEM Becoming Unaffordable?
ClickZ, June 27, 2003
The price of paid listings is rising, but following the right tactics can ensure you're getting the most out of your spend.
DentalPlans.com Gets 20% of New Customers via PPC Search
MarketingSherpa.com, July 22, 2003
DentalPlans.com used some of its email marketing budget to fund paid search listings. This article shares tips, such as to depend on resources other than search term suggestion tools, fight back to explain why rejected listings may be relevant to a term, track conversions in the long-term to better understand success and to try second-tier paid listing players but watch conversions closely. Also has stats on clickthorugh rates (generally 8 to 10 percent) and conversion rates.
Use IRTA to Measure Search Engine Marketing Success
Marketleap, June 26, 2003
How do you know if you are successful with search engines? I'm listed! So what, do you actually rank well for anything? Yes! So what, does anyone actually search for those terms? Yes! So what -- are you making sales? Ultimately, it's this last part that's most important. IRTA summarizes these four aspects succinctly and is well worth understanding, to ensure you are focused correctly with your efforts.
eBay Starts Keyword Advertising
InternetNews.com, June 24, 2003
Want a higher profile on eBay? Now you can purchase banner ads on a cost-per-click basis. You cannot link these to content outside of eBay, however.
Market Your Website Around Your Budget
Web Host Directory, June 20, 2003
Is paying $15 per click too much? Not necessarily, if you know your cost per acquisition.
The Power of Copy
ClickZ, June 20, 2003
The copy on your pages isn't just helpful for organic search engine optimization. It can pay off on the paid listing side, as well.
Paid Search Handbook, Part 2
ClickZ, June 12, 2003
Looking for alternatives for PPC campaigns beyond Google and Overture? Here are some options. Also has link to the first part of the story, with more.
Inclusion Confusion, Continued
ClickZ, June 6, 2003
Close up with how XML paid inclusion allows you to feed content directly into organic listings and perhaps draw qualified traffic for less than CPC-prices.
Paid Inclusion Confusion
ClickZ, May 30, 2003
A look at XML paid inclusion and how it has been confusing for potential advertisers due to misselling and varied technical standards. Covers the recent move by Yahoo to reduce paid inclusion resellers from 18 to just three (iProspect is a fourth, but only to its own clients).
Writing Effective Search Engine Ads
SearchDay, May 29, 2003
Relevancy is the name of the game when it comes to copywriting for paid listings, not only for your potential customers, but increasingly to meet the stringent requirements of the search engines themselves.
Case Study: PoolandSpa.com
Ecommerce-guide.com, May 12, 2003
Dan Harrison has been selling pool and spa supplies for 10 years, but no advertising venue comes close to driving qualified leads compared to search engines. "It all boils down to the search engine stuff," he says, in this interesting case study. His PoolandSpa.com site, which made $7 million in revenue last year, focuses on free natural or organic traffic, with the site following a strategy of offering a library of content related to pools, rather than just offering product information. Paid listings and paid inclusion via XML feeds are also pursued. I especially enjoyed the comment that Inktomi's XML feed is working for the company to give it top listings because it thinks, "Dan paid us all this money." Inktomi constantly says that its paid inclusion program does not guarantee results. Nevertheless, this customer certainly has the impression it helps, and you wonder if he's gained that impression in part from a sales pitch for paid inclusion. In either case, he certainly feels it is paying off.
Paid Placement Alternatives to Overture and Google
SearchDay, May 15, 2003
In an online advertising world dominated by 900-pound gorillas Overture and Google AdWords, what do second-tier pay-for-placement engines such as Ah-Ha, FindWhat and Search123 bring to the party?
Managing a Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing Campaign
SearchDay, May 13, 2003
The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start - to help you master being found on search engines. Early Bird rates extended through Sept 19. Register today!